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Gov. Cuomo proposes $65 million plan to address algal blooms in NY lakes

Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks at SUNY ESF on December 21, 2017 (Photojournalist Andy Wolf)

Governor Andrew Cuomo is proposing a $65 million plan to address algal blooms at lakes across New York state.

The Democrat made the announcement at SUNY ESF in Syracuse on Thursday. Cuomo said algal blooms, which proved problematic for portions of Central New York over the summer, pose a threat to tourism and health in areas around affected lakes.

"This is a problem that is here and now. We saw it this year and we don't want to see it in the coming years," Cuomo said.

The governor said a four-step, $65 million plan to tackle the issue would be included in his State of the State address and budget proposal at the beginning of 2018. The plan calls for a focused effort on 12 lakes considered to be most vulnerable to developing algal blooms. The lakes identified were Cayuga Lake, Skaneateles Lake, Owasco Lake, Coneus Lake, Honeoye Lake, Chautaqua Lake, Lake Champlain, Lake Carmel, Putnam Lake, Monhagen Watershed, Palmer Lake and Lake George.

The lakes would be split between four regional summits, consisting of national experts and local stakeholders, that would develop individual plans for addressing algal blooms at lakes within their region.

"We need the community itself to understand the problem and be part of the solution," Cuomo said. The Democrat said solutions found through this process could then be applied to all lakes across the state.

The governor said his goal is to have the summits convening by spring and implementing plans by summer 2018.

"What's most important is that we understand the urgency of this issue and we move with speed and haste," Cuomo said. "This cannot be normal government time because we do want to get ahead of it and we can if we move."

The plan would need to be approved by state lawmakers.

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