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FLX Legislators Introduce HAB Monitoring & Grant Funding Bill


A bill in the state legislature would change the way New York monitors and combats harmful algal blooms (HABs).

The Harmful Algal Bloom Monitoring and Prevention (HABMAP) Act would require the New York State Departments of Environmental Conservation, Agriculture & Markets, and Health to compile information regarding HABs from across the state and store that information in a publicly accessible database. The information in the database would include monitoring, mitigation and prevention strategies, and information on grant funding.

State Senator Rachel May has introduced the proposed legislation in the Senate. Speaking with Finger Lakes News Radio, she underscored the importance of a consolidated data collection system in combatting blooms.

“[New York State] need[s] comprehensive information about HABs in order to develop a comprehensive solution to them and we don’t have that information right now,” said May.” So, this [bill] is to make sure we have information, that the information is accessible, and that we have some grant funding to act upon these findings.”

A total of $25 million would be allocated to create the publicly available database and provide funding for municipalities and organizations to monitor and combat HABs.

Citing the threats that blooms pose to drinking water, tourism, and agriculture, May said the funding is necessary to ensure New Yorkers’ quality of life.

“We really need to know where [HABs are] a problem, where is it an increasing problem, whether we can do prevention, and, if we can’t do prevention, what remediation strategies there might be,” May continued.

Four of the Finger Lakes – Otisco, Skaneateles, Owasco, and Cayuga – partially or fully fall within the 48th State Senate District which May represents. Parts of Lake Ontario and Onondaga Lake are also within the district. While the bill would benefit waterbodies statewide, she said it would particularly benefit the Finger Lakes, namely Owasco Lake.

“When we hear Owasco Lake has a serious HAB problem, sometimes people will say ‘Oh, there are HAB problems everywhere. There’s nothing special about Owasco Lake.’ This will allow us to find out if that’s true or not… and that will guide some of the funding ideas as well,” said May.

Corresponding legislation has been introduced in the State Assembly by Assemblywoman Anna Kelles of the 125th Assembly District. Her district encompasses the areas in and around Ithaca and Cortland. In a release, she said the bill would benefit Cayuga Lake.

“Last summer, we saw the alarming rate at which Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) were affecting recreation, wildlife, and drinking water in Cayuga Lake and across the Finger Lakes Region and the State. This bill provides a clear mechanism to understand the causes of HAB’s and start improving our water quality, enhancing recreation, wildlife habitat, and limiting harmful algal blooms. If enacted, New York will be at the forefront of producing data that can be used to offer new insights for agencies, local governments, residents, and more, to reduce polluting runoff into our lakes.”

The bill is currently in each chamber’s respective Environmental Conservation Committee.


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