February 14, 2018
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces Regional Harmful Algal Bloom Summits

Governor Cuomo Announces Regional Harmful Algal Bloom Summits

Four Summits in Mid-Hudson, Central NY, Western NY and North Country to Allow Residents to Hear from Local, State and National Harmful Algal Blooms Experts

Governor Announces Creation of Expert Panel and Local Steering Committees to Develop Action Plans

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the dates and locations of four summits supporting the state's comprehensive effort to protect vulnerable lakes and waterbodies in Upstate New York from harmful algal blooms. The four regional summits are part of the $65 million four-point initiative unveiled in the Governor's 2018 State of the State to aggressively combat harmful algal blooms in Upstate New York. The increasing frequency and duration of harmful algal blooms threaten drinking water quality and the recreational use of lakes essential to upstate tourism. The first of the summits will be held on Tuesday, February 27, in New Paltz, New York.

"Protecting water quality is a top priority and New York is committed to addressing growing threats like harmful algal blooms," Governor Cuomo said. "These summits are bringing experts from across the country and New York leaders together with local authorities to develop new and innovative strategies to safeguard our water for future generations."

As part of his 2018 State of the State announcements, the Governor directed the state's Water Quality Rapid Response Team, co-chaired by Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos and Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker in partnership with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, to convene four regional Harmful Algal Blooms summits. The summits will bring together national and state experts, including scientists from Kansas, Ohio, Tennessee and Vermont, as well as SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Cornell University, the New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee, and local stakeholders.

Each of the four summits will include an evening session that is open to the public where background information about harmful algal blooms will be provided. The sessions will include talks by experts, a panel discussion and an opportunity for local residents to share recommendations and ideas.

The four evening sessions will be held on:


Tuesday, February 27 from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

SUNY New Paltz Student Union Multi-Purpose Room, 2nd Floor

1 Hawk Drive

New Paltz, NY 12561.

Free parking will be available on the campus

Central New York
Tuesday, March 6 from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
SUNY ESF Gateway Center Building

1 Forestry Drive

Syracuse, NY 13210
Free parking available in all ESF designated lots

North Country

Tuesday, March 20 from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Best Western Ticonderoga

260 Burgoyne Road

Ticonderoga, NY 12883

Western New York
Monday, March 26 from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
R. Thomas Flynn Campus Center, SUNY Monroe Community College, the Forum

1000 East Henrietta Road

Rochester, New York 14623
Free parking in campus lots N and M

At these summits, nation-leading experts will work with local steering committees to begin development of tailored action plans to address the causes of algal blooms in the twelve priority waterbodies across the state. The action plans developed for each waterbody will be used to guide the development and implementation of priority projects, including new monitoring and treatment technologies. The action plans will be complete by the end of May and the lessons learned through these action plans will be applied to other impacted waterbodies.

The state's panel of national Harmful Algal Blooms experts includes:

  • Greg Boyer, Professor, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
  • Karl Czymmeck, Senior Extension Associate, Cornell University Department of Animal Science
  • Tim Davis, Associate Professor, Bowling Greene State University, Ohio
  • Art DeGaetano, Professor, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell University
  • Sally Flis, Director, Agronomy, The Fertilizer Institute
  • Jennifer Graham, Research Hydrologist, USGS Kansas Water Science Center
  • Nelson Hairston, Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor of Environmental Science, Cornell University
  • Dave Matthews, Director, Upstate Freshwater Institute
  • Tim Mihuc, Professor of Environmental Science, SUNY Plattsburgh
  • Hans Paerl, Professor, University of North Carolina
  • Heather Raymond, Program Coordinator, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency
  • Angela Shambaugh, Aquatic Biologist, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation
  • Dr. Steve Souza, Founder, Princeton Hydro LLC
  • Dr. Harold W. Walker, co-director of the New York State Center for Clean Water Technology, SUNY Stony Brook
  • Judy Westrick, Director of the Lumigen Instrument Facility, Wayne State University
  • Steve Willhelm, Professor, Department of Microbiology and Center for Environmental Biotechnology, University of Tennessee

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "At Governor Cuomo's direction, DEC scientists and water quality experts are actively investigating the causes of algal blooms and pioneering new and innovative solutions to address the challenge these blooms pose across the state. With the launch of these regional summits, DEC will work with national experts, our state agency partners and local leaders, to prioritize actions necessary to protect New York's vital water resources."

Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "Protecting New York's drinking water from harmful algal blooms continues to be a top priority for Governor Cuomo. The Department of Health's scientists have been actively testing blooms and monitoring waters statewide. These summits are an important opportunity for these scientists to work with regional and national experts to hone best practices and reinforce the state's robust response protocol which is designed to stay ahead of this environmental threat to public health."

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "Investing in the protection of our state's lakes and waterways now will ensure our precious natural resources remain viable for our future generations. With the Governor's focus on water quality and environmental sustainability, these summits will help New York State better assess the challenges faced from algal blooms and create a blueprint to move us forward."

Senator Betty Little said, "The economy and ecology of the Adirondack Region are intertwined. The quality of our waterways is paramount, and I enthusiastically support this initiative of Governor Cuomo and the DEC to identify the sources and find solutions to address the dangerous algal blooms. This is a very serious problem. I'm looking forward to the summits and the opportunity for collaboration among a variety of stakeholders."

Senator Patrick M. Gallivan said, "By bringing water quality experts together with local leaders and the public, we can share important information on how to protect our lakes and waterways from harmful algal blooms, which threaten drinking water supplies, recreational activities and tourism. I encourage community members to participate in these upcoming sessions."

Senator Catharine Young said, "Upstate New York's beautiful lakes are environmental and recreational jewels that are enjoyed by millions of residents and tourists annually. However, the increasing prevalence of harmful algal blooms poses a health and safety risk that must be addressed. Chautauqua Lake, identified as one of the priority lakes in the Western New York region, has been profoundly impacted - a costly situation which compromises water quality and could undermine the major economic development efforts occurring on the waterfront. I appreciate the Governor's commitment to this issue through these regional summits, which will be extremely helpful in understanding the scope of this critical problem as well as the possible solutions."

Senator Terrence Murphy said, "My district is home to the ponds and lakes most affected by harmful algal blooms and hypoxia. When the reservoir that provides drinking water for New York City turns green for three weeks a year, you know you have a problem. As the author of legislation to create a mechanism whereby the state can study, respond to, and mitigate harmful algal blooms and look forward to working with the Governor on this regional initiative to engage water quality experts who will help craft solutions to protect our water."

Senator Pam Helming said, "The increase of harmful algal blooms such as blue-green algae continue to threaten pristine sources of water in the Finger Lakes region. We must ensure that water bodies across New York State like Seneca, Canandaigua, Cayuga, and Owasco Lakes, which provide drinking water and recreational opportunities to hundreds of thousands of residents and countless tourists, are given the appropriate resources needed to combat this growing problem. Failure to do so could be detrimental to both public health and our region's economy. I thank Governor Cuomo for hosting these regional HABs summits and his continued attention to this growing issue in the Finger Lakes."

Senator John J. Bonacic said, "New York has some of the most pristine lakes and bodies of water in the entire country, and we must do everything we can to protect them from harmful algal blooms. I thank the Governor for convening these important summits and encourage residents to share their recommendations."

Senator Sue Serino said, "Swiftly addressing the growing problem of these hazardous algal blooms is just another way the state continues to make protecting water quality a top priority. Preserving the health and safety of these bodies of water will ensure that New Yorkers and tourists alike can enjoy them for generations to come, and I thank the Governor for working to give our communities important tools to combat this issue."

Senator David J. Valesky said, "I applaud Gov. Cuomo for directing the state's Water Quality Rapid Response Team to hold these summits. We must take aggressive action to protect our clean water sources from the increasing threat of harmful algal blooms."

Assemblymember William Magnarelli said, "One of the lakes affected by harmful algae bloom, Skaneateles Lake, is the main source of drinking water for the City of Syracuse and other municipalities in Central New York. It is imperative that we are committed to addressing the growing threat of the algae bloom problem in the safest way to ensure the quality of the drinking water and recreational use of the lakes. The summits will help find the most efficient and environmentally helpful solutions."

Assemblymember Sandy Galef said, "We have seen algal blooms in my district, and know from experience that this is a very serious issue. I hope that many people will attend these meetings to learn how to best protect our environment to keep our drinking water and recreational waterways clean and accessible."

Assemblymember Billy Jones said, "Algal Blooms have wreaked havoc on our North Country waters and they can potentially produce harmful effects on people, wildlife, drinking water and tourism. I am pleased that the state is committed to combatting this issue and these summits will bring about ideas to protect our waterways from future devastation."

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said, "Harmful Algal Blooms are impacting lakes across New York State. The state is working with citizens on the ground to identify and report blooms, which is critical to keeping drinking water safe. Thank you to Governor Cuomo for his plan to reduce HABs and getting everyone on board to help solve this problem."

Steven Neuhaus, Orange County Executive said, "By swiftly convening state agencies, local communities, and the nation's leading experts for a series of summits to address harmful algal blooms, Governor Cuomo is making a pledge to protect New York's water sources for generations to come. The upcoming HABs summits will help the state study what is causing blooms, educate us on how to control them, and reduce this emerging threat to communities across the state."

George Borrello, Chautauqua County Executive said, "Harmful algal blooms are increasing in frequency and duration across New York State. Our focus must shift from treating the symptoms to treating the disease. Governor Cuomo recognizes that we must address the cause and determine how we can reduce this threat to our economy and the health and safety of our citizens and visitors. I thank the Governor for his leadership so that New York can rise to the challenge and make big investments in research and outreach to ensure clean and safe water for all."

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell said, "I am thankful that Governor Cuomo is addressing the harmful algae blooms issue that has affected lakes throughout the region, including three in Putnam County. This is a very important issue for the people who reside in these communities—not only for recreational purposes, but for drinking water quality. I am confident that New York State providing funding as well as a collaborative team of experts to ensure clean and safe water in the affected areas will make all the difference in the ability to combat the problem."

Harry McManus, Chair of Clinton County Legislature said, "Governor Cuomo's $65 million 4-point initiative to aggressively combat harmful algal blooms in Upstate New York is a dynamic and aggressive plan to help our communities stay ahead of an emerging threat that endangers water quality for millions of New Yorkers. This first-of-its-kind program is a reflection of New York's national leadership in responding to threats to the environment and will help to implement new strategies to safeguard our waters for future generations. This is an example of the Governor's continuing commitment to put environmental issues at the forefront of his agenda. The people of Clinton County applaud this first step in the right direction."

Randy Preston, Chairman, Essex County Board of Supervisors said, "Thank you Governor Cuomo for recognizing the critical importance of our lakes as vital water sources and economic engines which need to be protected. HABs are a direct threat statewide and we appreciate the Governor's leadership on this issue."

Pat Mahunik Cayuga County Legislature Chairman said, "With today's announcement, New York is one step closer to understanding the threat of harmful algal blooms. Thanks to Governor Cuomo's enduring commitment to our environment, New York is leading national efforts with regional HABs summits that will bring together internationally recognized researchers and scientists and environmental experts with community leaders to develop innovative strategies to attack HABs in lakes across the state."

Charles Sudbrink Cortland County Legislature Chairman said, "For the last several years, Upstate New York lakes have experienced harmful algal blooms with increasing frequency. These blooms have shut down beaches and threatened drinking water sources. Today's announcement marks a significant moment for Governor Cuomo's comprehensive plan to reduce this threat to our communities. By educating communities experiencing blooms, for the first time we can design plans to address the threat of HABs and thanks to the Governor, we have the resources to put those plans into action."

Robert Shipley, Chairman of the Seneca County Board of Supervisors said, "HABs in Upstate New York threaten both sources of drinking water and the recreational use of lakes important to upstate tourism. The state's Water Quality Rapid Response Team is working with national experts and local stakeholders to collaboratively develop community-specific action plans and cutting-edge pilot projects, including new monitoring and treatment technologies. These summits will help inform and guide treatment and in turn, help waterbodies across the entire state."

Jack Marren, Chairman Ontario County Board of Supervisors said, "Once again, Governor Cuomo is showing his commitment to protecting New York's environment for communities today and for future generations tomorrow. Under his leadership, the state continues to make significant investments to investigate the cause, nature, and extent of harmful algal blooms in order to jump start solutions to address this growing threat. Working together with state and national experts, New York will learn from communities first-hand and put what we learn into action plans to protect our waters."

Ron Conover, Chairman, Warren County Board of Supervisors said, "The threat posed by HABs at affected lakes throughout the state is significant and requires action. I commend Governor Cuomo for his commitment to getting ahead of this issue to protect our lakes, our drinking water and our tourism economy."

David LeFeber, Chairman, Livingston County Board of Supervisors said, "Thank you Governor Cuomo for his comprehensive plan to combat harmful algal blooms in Livingston County, and across the entire state. Today's announcement and the upcoming regional summits are the first steps in an ongoing effort to safeguard the state's drinking water while protecting the economic engine many of these bodies of water serve in our communities."

Martha Robertson, Chair, Tompkins County Legislature said, "Protecting New York waterbodies for both recreational opportunities and drinking water quality has been a priority of local governments and Governor Cuomo's administration from the start. Our lakes cross municipal borders so we need the State's leadership, and the upcoming HABs summits will bring all parties together. New York, once again, has stepped up to the challenge with landmark funding and a dogged determination that will ensure clean and safe water for all New Yorkers."

Doug Paddock, Chairman, Yates County Legislature said, "Harmful algal blooms impact many of New York's lakes, and extensive research is needed to fully understand what causes them. Through the state's Water Quality Rapid Response Team, Governor Cuomo continues to make significant investments to study these blooms. These summits will assemble leading national water quality experts together to devise lasting solutions to protect lakes to be studied and other important water bodies across the state."

The four evening sessions will also be available live online. Please visit Livestream to learn the many ways in which these events can be watched in real time including a desktop browser, mobile browser, free livestream mobile app, and others.

Governor Cuomo's Harmful Algal Blooms program builds on the State's $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act investments in clean water infrastructure and water quality protection throughout New York State. The Harmful Algal Blooms initiative will be supported with funds from both the Clean Water Infrastructure Act and the Environmental Protection Fund. Through the Governor's leadership, New York has developed the most comprehensive Harmful Algal Blooms outreach and monitoring programs in the country, led by DEC sampling of ambient waters across the state and DOH sampling at regulated beaches and public water systems.

Contact the Governor's Press Office

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