We were pleased to see that one of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's priorities for 2018 is fighting algae blooms. But with so much work having already been done in this area, any new approach must be carefully implemented so that it enhances the progress already being made.
Cuomo's idea is to spend $65 million to protect drinking water from toxins in algae blooms. The 12 lakes that would be targeted include Cayuga, Owasco and Skaneateles. It's a great idea to ramp up the effort to combat alga, with the potential for $500,000 earmarked for studying each lake and then more money later on to implement plans.
But state and local officials need to be sure that any new studies and actions are coordinated with the existing efforts that have already started in our area. Health and environmental officials in the Owasco Lake watershed have an additional year of experience dealing with harmful algal blooms, and they've made real progress, including the installation of carbon filtration systems in the two water treatment systems, the early stages of a Nine Element Watershed Plan and the start of a watershed rules and regulation overhaul.
The state says that any new plans will be separate from those efforts, which makes us wary that left hand might not know what the right one is up to.
Funding for Cuomo's plan is far from a done deal, because it will need to be included in the overall state budget. And while additional studies and more direct action are certainly needed, the work already going on must continue, as well — and it will need state support to succeed. So any new efforts should be in addition to, not at the expense of, the work already underway.
The Citizen editorial board includes publisher Rob Forcey, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.