Albany, NY - The warm weather is finally here. It is prime time for boating, swimming and fishing. However, the increasing frequency and duration of harmful algal blooms (HAB)s in our lakes is threatening their recreational use to the point that beaches essential to local tourism may be forced to close. Senator Terrence Murphy has announced that three local lakes, Lake Carmel, Palmer Lake and Putnam Lake, have been identified as top priority locations for statewide action plans to combat HABs.
Senator Murphy said, "These lakes are popular locations for residents and visitors that have been identified as being vulnerable to harmful algal blooms. Having action plans to eradicate algal blooms are essential to the economic health of these lakeside communities that count on tourism to stay afloat. The plans will not only allow us to address the present issue of HABs but will also provide measures to keep our waterways from safe from any future threats from invasive species."
Assemblyman Kevin Byrne said, "It's been a pleasure to work with Senator Murphy at the state level to clean up and protect our local water bodies. Senator Murphy has been on the forefront of this issue. Harmful algal blooms are a serious problem in New York. It's great news that our local lakes have been identified by the state for action plans to eradicate HABS from our great natural resources."
"We are thankful that Senator Murphy helped make funding available for three lakes in Putnam County to address the harmful algal blooms issue that has affected lakes throughout the region. Having a concise set of plans to minimize algal growth can enhance quality of life now and in the future," said Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell. "Now the county can further explore building a water treatment plant in Kent that would eliminate the old failing septic systems, reduce the algae blooms and improve the overall water quality of Lake Carmel."
Patterson Town Supervisor Richard Williams said, "Harmful algal blooms are a critical issue facing Putnam Lake. This year, Putnam Lake has already experienced 2 weeks of beach closures due to HABS. The action plans are a great first step towards addressing harmful algal blooms and their causes. I would like to thank the Governor for so aggressively supporting this first step, and Senator Murphy for the continued support he has shown towards addressing the needs of improving Putnam Lake."
The three lakes are part of a group of 12 waterbodies statewide selected for action plans that can reduce the threat of HABs. These plans are a central component of Governor Andrew Cuomo's $65 million, four-point initiative unveiled in the 2018 State of the State to aggressively combat HABs and protect drinking water quality and the upstate economy.
Four regional HABs summits were convened in February and March to bring together nation-leading experts with steering committees of local stakeholders to identify factors fueling HABs and to develop tailored strategies to reduce the frequency of these blooms.
The action plans derived from these summits describe the current conditions of twelve waterbodies, summarize research conducted and data produced, identify potential causal factors contributing to algal blooms, and provide specific recommendations to minimize the frequency, intensity, and duration of HABs to protect public health and the environment.
The action plans will drive implementation of projects and programs on these waterbodies that are tailored to address the key factors likely fueling the blooms. Priority actions identified in the plans range from wastewater treatment upgrades, sewer expansions, and septic system upgrades and replacements, to streambank erosion prevention, stormwater best management practices, agricultural nutrient reduction measures, and open space buffer preservation projects.
Since has made protecting our natural resources a priority since taking office in 2014. Recently, to help protect lakes and ponds throughout the Hudson Valley, Senator Murphy created and sponsored S7752, which creates a Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) program that provides for the control and mitigation of harmful algal blooms in both marine and fresh water. The bill also authorizes the development of rural resources to study the effectiveness of pond and lake management programs; provides for emergency response to water contaminations by algal bloom or hypoxia, and requires a study to be reviewed Governor Cuomo, the legislature, state agencies and the harmful algal bloom and hypoxia commission.
Growing concern over the intrusive algae and pollution affecting our local lakes prompted Senator Murphy to sponsor S4243A, a measure that would designate Little Whaley Lake, Nuclear Lake, Sunset Lake, Sylvan Lake, Whaley Lake and Willow Lake as inland waterways. Through this designation, the municipalities and organizations along their banks of these lakes are now eligible for Department of State and Environmental Protection Fund waterfront revitalization grants. Local communities will be able to pursue improved water quality, preservation of wildlife habitats, and promotion of tourism and economic development opportunities, as well as methods to combat threats to the waterways, including pollution, stormwater run-off, and invasive species.