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State budget fund will help clean up Owasco Lake

Ellen Abbott
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law a $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Improvement Act on the shores of Owasco Lake. The legislation will help communities like the city of Auburn and town of Owasco fund water and sewer infrastructure projects.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act into law in Auburn this week, and a big chunk is going to help officials along Owasco Lake clean drinking water threatened by algae blooms.

Auburn Mayor Michael Quill is pleased that the state will pony up about $2 million to help pay for filtration systems meant eliminate toxins produced by the blue-green algae blooms that plague Owasco Lake.

“It’s like having Christmas come early this year," Quill said. 

Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO News
New York state will be coming up with about $2 million do to help clean the drinking water for communities that draw their water from Owasco Lake. Toxins from dangerous blue-green algae has turned up in lake water that’s used for drinking in the city of Auburn and the town of Owasco.

The city and the town of Owasco are are planning to install activated charcoal systems that will filter drinking water pulled from the lake. Cuomo admits that the treatment option is a short-term fix, noting the state will help work on a more permanent solution going forward.

"That is more septic," Cuomo said. "That is more agricultural controls. That is more sustainable development. That is more geographic work to keep runoff going into the lake. So, we will be working on the short-term and long-term together.”

The New York State Health Department warns residents to stay away from blue-green algae because it can cause health problems for humans and animals.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.