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Officials Petitioning Governor to Protect Finger Lakes from HABs


Auburn City Councilor Terry Cuddy speaks at City Hall (Ed Vivenzio - Finger Lakes News Radio)

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Elected officials and environmental advocates are renewing their calls for Governor Hochul to protect the state’s drinking water from harmful algal blooms.

At a press event Thursday at Auburn Memorial City Hall, City Councilor Terry Cuddy explained their purpose.

“[We are making] a new coalition letter that is requesting that Governor Hochul provide waterbody clean-up plans for New York State,” Cuddy said.

The letter requests the governor “strictly enforce all New York State water pollution regulatory requirements in order to eliminate Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) and other pollution hazards” for waterbodies that provide drinking water to people throughout the state.

The governor is further called on to include all of the state’s waterbodies with documented HABs on the state 303(d) Registry of Impaired Waters and propose Total Maximum Daily Loads for such waters. and The TMDLs would then need to be implemented, updating them every five years until the waterbody can be removed from the list.

City Councilor Jimmy Giannettino also spoke at the event. He chastised the state for his inaction, citing a letter recently discovered claiming the EPA told New York nearly a year ago that Owasco Lake needs a TMDL.

“We recently discovered a letter from the Environmental Protection Agency was sent to the State of New York on October 26th of 2022 saying all along [the City of Auburn has] been correct, that Owasco Lake needs a TMDL.”

While Auburn activists are specifically advocating for Owaco Lake, Walter Hang of Toxics Targeting said at the event that these water quality issues are being seen throughout the Finger Lakes.

“Unfortunately, harmful algal blooms are so common in the Finger Lakes region,” Hang said. “Seneca Lake, Skaneateles Lake, Honeoye Lake, it’s just a huge problem.”

According to data compiled by Toxics Targeting, each of the 11 Finger Lakes, along with Lake Ontario, has suffered from HABs in 2023.

If you’d like to add your name to the letter being sent to Hochul, you can do so online at

The announcement of this letter came just days after officials, including two state senators, were at Owasco Lake to reaffirm their commitment to protect the drinking water source for 45,000 people.