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NYS Cancels Meetings with Auburn Over Owasco Lake

“We are under assault from all angles when it comes to Owasco Lake and our drinking water.”

New York State’s Department of Health has cancelled two meetings in a row with the City of Auburn to discuss rules and regulations to protect Owasco Lake and it’s watershed.

Director of Municipal utilities Seth Jensen told city council on Thursday that this week’s planned meeting was cancelled with under 24 hours notice. He added he believes any communication between the city and state on this issue will have to happen via attorneys.

“When I called to have a conversation with the staff member assigned to this from the Health Department, who’s been great to work with all along, I didn’t get a call back from her; I got a call back from their legal counsel, “Jensen said. “They apologized. I think they even, to a level, agreed that it was unprofessional to cancel a meeting like that.”

These cancellations come after both Auburn and Owasco agreed to use environmental law group, EarthJustice, as legal counsel in their fight to remove the lake’s current Rules and Regulations and have them replaced with updated ones.

Auburn Corporation Counsel Nate Garland added, “one might draw a logical inference from the fact that they cancelled the meeting after they learned that Earth Justice was on the case for us. That’s my opinion, that that was the motivating factor.”

When pressed back in February by State Senator Rachel May, whose district encompasses Owasco Lake and its watershed, about the Department of Health’s plans to update the Rules and Regulations, Acting Health Commissioner Doctor James McDonald said the process would resume within the next three months.

The city council meeting can be viewed on the city’s website.

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