“We recognize that the health of the Finger Lakes is tied to the wellbeing and economics of the region,” said President Joyce P. Jacobsen at the sixth annual Harmful Algal Bloom Symposium. Hosted by the Finger Lakes Institute on July 31, the event brought together over 200 scientists, water activists, policy makers and citizens in the Vandervort Room to discuss harmful algal blooms and their impact on health, tourism and the vitality of the region.
Presentations throughout the day discussed research and water quality improvement initiatives taking place in the Finger Lakes region and in New York State. State initiatives have been supported by $82 million in competitive grants allocated by New York State, including nutrient runoff mitigation linked to the growth of harmful algal blooms. Research scientist at NYSDEC Jacqueline Lendrum presented on the “interagency, collaborative efforts” that have brought municipalities, nonprofits, governmental agencies and citizen action groups together.
In her remarks, the keynote speaker and Delaware Riverkeeper Maya Van Rossum offered a “new pathway for protecting the environment.” As the founder of the national Green Amendment Movement, Van Rossum has spearheaded legislation to protect the environment. She has championed the national dialogue to include a Green Amendment in every state constitution and at the federal level. The talk was followed by a book signing of Van Rossum’s book, The Green Amendment: Securing Our Right to a Healthy Environment.
Lendrum also introduced the NYHABS platform to the symposium. The technology allows the public to report photos of potential algal blooms, which are then analyzed by scientists to determine whether or not they are potentially harmful and whether further testing is pursued. The information is uploaded to an interactive map on a daily basis. The platform will increase public awareness, reporting and monitoring of harmful algal blooms.
The Harmful Algal Bloom Symposium was co-sponsored by the New York Upstate Chapter of the US Green Building Council, Corning, Inc., the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the State University of New York at Fredonia. The event is the first of many events celebrating Year of Water, a yearlong series of interdisciplinary programs and events covering topics from water quality and watershed management, to water’s importance in the local economy and culture, to the recreational value of water and its spiritual significance.