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Champlain Canal harmful algal bloom

A suspicious harmful algal bloom is seen on the Champlain Canal on Aug. 7 in Fort Edward. 

Although New York is investing in a $65 million initiative to combat harmful algal blooms, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, thinks the federal government needs to get involved.

In a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Schumer said pilot programs to combat harmful algal blooms used in other states, like Florida, should be brought to upstate New York.

There were multiple reports of blooms in Washington and Saratoga counties this summer. Schumer highlights Lake George as a water body of concern, although Lake George has not had any recorded harmful algal blooms.

New York has included Lake George on its list of 12 priority lakes for studying harmful algal blooms, but it was included as a control lake. Still, Lake George stakeholders have seen an increase in algae, which indicates higher nutrient levels.

Harmful algal blooms are actually a photosynthesizing bacteria called cyanobacteria, which need nutrients, sunlight and warm water to grow.

The U.S. Geological Survey is already putting in place pilot programs to combat cyanobacteria blooms on Skaneateles Lake in Onondaga County and is also working with the state Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation Department on studying Moreau Lake’s harmful algal blooms.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation also has several pilot projects happening on lakes across the state, and nonprofit lake groups have also begun projects.

The DEC tracked more than 1,100 blooms this year. Schumer said toxic blooms “not only threaten local communities, drinking water sources, ecosystems and public health, but also hurt our local outdoor economies by closing beaches and limiting recreational activities,” in a news release.

Despite the ongoing programs and studies, Schumer’s news release said the Army Corps “has operated successful pilot programs,” in other freshwater lakes but none in New York. He would like to see one or more of the seven Army Corps pilot programs brought to New York.

Water supply protections

Public water suppliers now have three years to seek legal action against polluters, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced earlier this month.

The original 1986 law was fuzzy about the statute of limitations, according to a news release.

The new law allows a three-year statute of limitations, which commences when a contaminate is detected at above maximum levels set by the state Department of Health or Environmental Protection Agency near an intake, or at the latest pollution event.

“Polluters need to be held responsible for their actions and with this measure we are closing an unacceptable loophole that let them skate for far too long,” Cuomo said in a news release. “With this law, we will be protecting public water supplies and will help ensure that water authorities are able to recover costs they deserve, that the public health is protected, and that taxpayers are not on the hook to clean up after the actions of these bad actors.”

Essity hosts paper shred drive

On America Recycles Day, the paper company, Essity, will host a paper shred drive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 15.

The drop-off location is in Essity’s lot at the corner of River Street and Coopers Cave Drive in South Glens Falls.

Essity will accept up to 10 boxes of paper per person. Items that don’t need shredding will also be accepted for recycling including cardboard, magazines, boxes, junk mail and newspapers.

The recycling event is being held in partnership with Confidata.

Climate change strike

Saratoga Springs High School students have planned a climate strike from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 22 in downtown Saratoga Springs.

Students have organized a group called Saratoga Students för Klimatet, based on Swedish student Greta Thunberg’s protests over climate change.

The strike will be led by students, but all are encouraged to join. Participants will meet at 8:30 a.m. by the Spirit of Life Statue in Congress Park.

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Reporter Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (518) 742-3238 or gcraig@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1.

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