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Cuomo: Milestone in challenge to combat harmful algal blooms in New York's waters

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Fri, Jul 31st 2020 10:55 am

SUNY ESF & Clarkson University step up to state's challenge to deploy new technologies to reduce algal blooms

DEC to host virtual public information session Wednesday, Aug. 12, on experimental projects to combat blooms at Lake Neatahwanta

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday announced the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and Clarkson University will deploy new technologies to combat harmful algal blooms, or "HABs," in Lake Neatahwanta this summer.

In 2019, Cuomo challenged these premier research institutions to use their scientific expertise in water quality to develop new and innovative technologies to reduce the impact of HABs. SUNY ESF and Clarkson University will demonstrate the effectiveness of their experimental inventions this summer. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will host a virtual public information session about the deployment of the experimental projects from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12.

"New York is home to some of the nation's best research institutions, so I challenged SUNY ESF and Clarkson University to develop new, nation-leading technologies to address the algal blooms that plague our waterways," Cuomo said. "Protecting our state's precious water is a top priority, and this summer Lake Neatahwanta will serve as the testing ground for inventions that have the potential to be put to use across the state to reduce the threat of these harmful algal blooms."

Lake Neatahwanta is a 715-acre lake near the city of Fulton, Oswego County, used for recreation, including swimming, boating and fishing. The lake has widespread HABs each year. Recent lake water quality data, collected by DEC, indicates the lake is eutrophic with high levels of nutrients, algae and toxins associated with HABs. HABs on Lake Neatahwanta have been documented since the start of DEC's HAB monitoring program in 2012, and typically appear in May and persist throughout the summer into late October.

In March 2019, New York state designated Clarkson University and SUNY ESF to co-lead a new Center of Excellence (CoE) in Healthy Water Solutions to deliver synergistic problem-solving on the wide range of water issues impacting the Empire State. A press release said, “Clarkson's world-class technical and engineering innovation expertise in healthy water systems and ESF's renowned expertise in monitoring, watershed ecosystem management, and solution development uniquely position the CoE to create and leverage partnerships across the public-private sectors. Through the new Clarkson-SUNY ESF CoE in Healthy Water Solutions, New York state is creating an international model for protecting the public's health and state's ecosystems while serving as an engine for economic growth and vitality.”

Challenged by Cuomo in 2019, SUNY ESF and Clarkson University each developed a novel HAB mitigation technology: hydrodynamic cavitation with hydrogen peroxide and electrochemical oxidation filtration, respectively. While these technologies are currently in prototype status, DEC anticipates both institutions will have full-scale, deployable devices ready for evaluation of the treatment of HABs this summer.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Working closely with our state, federal, academic and local partners, and with support from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's HABs initiative, DEC is aggressively combatting the environmental, recreational and public health effects caused by HABs. We encourage the public to join us for this virtual public information session to learn about SUNY ESF and Clarkson University's experimental pilot projects to reduce HABs, and will continue to work with the Lake Neatahwanta community to improve water quality in the lake."

Christopher Nomura, vice president of research at SUNY ESF, said, "Through the Center of Excellence, Clarkson and ESF's vigorous research initiatives have surfaced pivotal insights that deepen our understanding and strengthen our efforts to sustain life-giving water resources. The results of this endeavor have far-reaching implications serving one of our region's biggest assets – our natural waterways – assets that are becoming increasingly more valuable in the face of climate change and central to our work to protect human health and the natural environment."

Clarkson President Tony Collins said, "We recognize the national and statewide sense of urgency to protect New York's valuable water resources and, together, we have developed new technology to mitigate new threats and help ensure the quality of our water resources for generations."

To register for the Aug. 12 virtual public information session, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nysdec-webinar-harmful-algal-bloom-project-on-lake-neatahwanta-tickets-115367176330.

When it comes to HABs, DEC encourages New Yorkers to "KNOW IT, AVOID IT, REPORT IT":

KNOW IT – Naturally occurring harmful algal blooms vary in appearance from scattered green dots in the water, to long, linear green streaks, pea soup or spilled green paint, to blue-green or white coloration.

AVOID IT – People, pets and livestock should avoid contact with water that is discolored or has algal scums on the surface.

REPORT IT – If members of the public suspect a HAB, report it through the NYHABs online reporting form available on DEC's website.

For more information about HABs, including bloom notifications, which are updated daily from late spring through fall, visit DEC's harmful algal blooms (HABs) web page. Symptoms or health concerns related to HABs should be reported to DOH at [email protected].

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