Tonetta Lake Beach in Southeast was the backdrop for an announcement by Assemblyman Matt Slater (R-Yorktown) Monday morning aimed at combatting toxic algae blooms.
Slater was joined by town and county officials in support of a bill he is sponsoring that would help protect the lakes and ponds in Putnam and Westchester and throughout the Hudson Valley.
Southeast officials had to close Tonetta Lake beaches for about two weeks in July when toxic algae bloom surfaced in the water.
“Harmful algae blooms continue to threaten the area and every municipality I represent is facing the same issue,” Slater said. “I’ve introduced Save Our Lakes legislation, which is a comprehensive approach to finally tackling the issue that every one of our municipalities are grappling with.”
Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are toxic growths in ponds and lakes that can cause harmful health effects in people and animals when water with blooms is touched or swallowed or when airborne droplets are inhaled.
Slater referred to a 2018 action plan introduced by former governor Andrew Cuomo to combat HABs.
“The actions plans are great because they provide a roadmap to deal with the issue,” he said. “But the problem is the plans lack funding. In the action plan for Putnam Lake, the number one thing they talk about is sewers. All our municipal officials know that the cost of sewers is tens of millions of dollars.”
According to the Sierra Club, sewage waste residue, or effluent leaching from old or faulty septic systems put excessive amounts of nutrients into water bodies, thereby contaminating the water by producing microorganisms such as algae and cyanobacteria, which forms “blooms.”
Slater referenced a report issued last September by Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress and the Construction Industry Council claiming that only 11 percent of the state’s $3.9 billion infrastructure budget in the last fiscal year had been spent, money that could be tapped into to help address the issue.
“The state is still sitting on billions of dollars we can be using right here in places like Lake Tonetta, Lake Peekskill and Lake Carmel, funds which can really help our local environment and improve our quality of life for all our residents,” Slater said.
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