State Senator Michael F. Nozzolio recently hosted a Lake Association Meeting at the Finger Lakes Institute (FLI), seeking input from stakeholders in his district to address problems affecting the region – and what the state can do to assist in funding projects for watershed issues.
Delegates from across the district represented organizations including the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association, the Finger Lakes and Lake Ontario Protection Alliance, the Finger Lakes Regional Watershed Alliance, Gas Free Seneca, the Hydrilla Task Force of the Cayuga Lake Watershed, the New York State Federation of Lake Association, Planning of Ontario County, Save Our Sodus, Inc., and the Seneca Lake Pure Water Association.
The discussion was held in a town meeting style, with the challenges of several lakes garnering discussion and attention from Senator Nozzolio. Director of FLI Lisa Cleckner and Professor of Geology John Halfman helped to facilitate the event, providing data collected and studied by the FLI.
Senator Nozzolio, who represents counties that encompass in some part six out of the 11 Finger Lakes, said that he hopes to take proactive steps in preventing any crises from occurring, and that he will continue to help FLI and the Colleges to receive resources to further research on watershed issues.
“We need a coordinated effort,” said Senator Nozzolio. “We need an academic platform to promote, preserve and protect the Finger Lakes.”
The forum was an opportunity to discuss the unique issues faced by the Finger Lakes. Concerns raised included issues of erosion, the quality of drinking water, the need for fill remediation, and the use of the area as the integrated gas storage and transportation hub of the Northeast.
Much of the meeting’s focus was on the problem of invasive species. While zebra mussels have been an issue in the past, Asian clams continue to be a growing problem, as does cyanobacteria, known commonly as blue-green algae. This toxic bacterium not only clouds water, but can also prove harmful from mere skin contact.
Senator Nozzolio acknowledged the ongoing battle against invasive species, and considered the measures it would take to decrease their spread, including altering transport laws – particularly those on canals and waterways between lakes.
He also stressed the need to stipulate awareness for this issue. “We need to take a bigger stand to protect out active waterways,” remarked Senator Nozzolio. “Education is key.”