As part of a plan to spend millions of dollars to combat harmful algal blooms in 12 lakes in New York, four regional summits are being held to help gain a better understanding of the problem and come up with various plans of attack.
The second of those meetings was held this week in Syracuse, where scientists and policymakers worked to formulate a strategy for the defense of Cayuga, Owasco and Skaneateles lakes. The idea is to get state and local leadership on the same page as to the specific needs for this specific area.
On the face of it, a meeting focusing on the lakes in our area is a great step that could ultimately be of great benefit for local water quality. Owasco Lake, for example, has an enormous watershed spread over multiple municipalities, so the solutions to its problem may not be the same as lakes elsewhere in the state.
It is terrific to see so many knowledgeable people involved, and it's great to get people to the table to discuss the problem and brainstorm solutions. But government at all levels — from local mayors to Cayuga County officials to the state Department of Environmental Conservation — needs to ensure that this meeting is followed by action, because all of the study and all of the talk will be for naught if it doesn't lead to concrete steps being taken as part of a comprehensive plan to improve water quality.
And it's important to remember that the $65 million needed to implement solutions is just a theoretical figure at this point because it will need to be approved as part of the state budget. So making sure this funding becomes a reality is going to be the first hurdle. Next will be spending every penny where it will do the most good.
The Citizen editorial board includes publisher Rob Forcey, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.