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Request that the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Comprehensive Watershed Clean Up Plan Adopted for Cayuga Lake Halt Silt/Sediment Non-Point Source Pollution Impairments

Honorable Peter D. Lopez
Region 2 Administrator
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
290 Broadway
New York, NY 10007-1866

Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
The Capitol
Albany, NY 12224


I have recently provided respectful written requests that you take immediate, urgent action to make sure that a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) is adopted for Cayuga Lake that strictly fulfills all applicable requirements pursuant to Section 303(d) of the U.S. Clean Water Act in order to remediate documented water quality impairments that have threatened public health and the environment for more than 50 years.

I write today to request that the TMDL adopted for Cayuga Lake must eliminate phosphorus and Silt/Sediment water quality impairments caused by non-point-source pollution in the Southern end of Cayuga Lake as referenced in the Final 2016 303(d) Registry of Impaired Waters. Please note that the draft 2018 303(d) Registry is unchanged with regard to Silt/Sediment and phosphorus water quality impairments.

The FINAL New York State 2016 Section 303(d) List of Impaired Waters Requiring a TMDL/Other Strategy

For many years, attention has focused on controlling Cornell University's Lake Source Cooling untreated, once-through, non-contact effluent discharge of Soluble Reactive Phosphorus and other nutrient sources, but equal concern must focus on halting uncontrolled silt/sediment problems that contribute phosphorus to Cayuga Lake as well as many other pollutants that impair water quality in the lake.

For example, each and every major rainstorm in the Cayuga Lake watershed releases thousands of pounds of silt/sediment that contains phosphorus and exacerbates excessive nutrient and turbidity water quality impairments. It is imperative that these pollution hazards be eliminated once and for all.

I also recently released extensive documentation that the Cargill Incorporated salt mine in Lansing, NY has been repeatedly cited over more than 40 years due to its failure to eliminate un-permitted discharges of "total dissolved solids, chlorides and cyanide" into Cayuga Lake. In addition, improperly stored waste salt has reportedly leached into Cayuga Lake. These un-permitted discharges contribute to "point" as well as "non-point source pollution" that cause Silt/Sediment and turbidity water quality impairments in the lake.



I request that the TMDL adopted for Cayuga Lake provide a comprehensive watershed clean up plan to identify, assess as well as alleviate and eliminate all of these well-documented contamination problems without further seemingly endless delay.

Cayuga Lake was included in the National 303(d) Registry of Impaired Waters in 1998 because it had been engulfed in algae, aquatic weeds and turbidity since the early 1960s. The lake supplies drinking water to more than 40,000 residents and required a comprehensive watershed clean up TMDL as a "high priority" in 2004. After decades of inaction, no TMDL has yet been adopted.

It would be unthinkable as well as legally impermissible to adopt a TMDL for Cayuga Lake that fails to provide a meaningful plan to resolve all of the water quality problems that impair this beleaguered waterbody from its best use according to its 303(d) mandates. That is why the TMDL adopted for Cayuga Lake must halt turbidity hazards caused by Silt/Sediment associated with non-point source pollution throughout the lake's watershed.

A fundamentally inadequate, endless-study, limited scope TMDL that lacks adequate funding and allows polluters to continue to impair Cayuga Lake would set a simply stunning precedent for not enforcing the U.S. Clean Water Act all over New York State and across the nation. That would be unacceptable at a time when Harmful Algal Blooms and a wide range of other water contamination hazards are receiving greater public scrutiny than ever before.

I trust that you will find my requests self-explanatory and look forward to discussing my concerns with you and your colleagues.

Very truly yours,

Walter Hang

cc: Honorable Steve Englebright
Honorable Barbara Lifton
Honorable Donna Lupardo
Honorable Letitia James
Honorable Terrance Cuddy
Honorable James Giannettino
Honorable Richard DePaolo
Honorable Basil Seggos
Honorable Howard Zucker
Joseph Heath, Esq.
Peter Lehner, Esq.
John Adams, Esq.
Clifford Callinan, P. E.
Ralph Nader, Esq.
Martha E. Pollack