Sunday, January 21, 2024

State plan includes water quality grants, civic engagement

algal bloom on Rollins pond

Gov. Kathy Hochul will double the state’s grants to local governments that build new or renovate existing water and wastewater treatment systems, her State of the State message noted, vastly widening the pool of Adirondack communities that can now take advantage of state funding.

The Governor also outlined plans to curb harmful algal blooms and to engage more students in civic service that includes working to limit – and cope with — the impacts of climate change, the Adirondack Council noted today.

“Doubling the available clean water money will have an immediate positive impact on water quality across the Adirondacks,” said Raul J. Aguirre, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council. “For many small Adirondack communities, a state matching grant of 25% was not enough to make a multi-million-dollar wastewater project affordable for local taxpayers. Doubling those grants to 50% of the project cost changes the whole landscape for the better. Many more Adirondack hamlets and villages will be able to act to protect their residents, their lakes and the water that flows to the rest of the state through rivers that begin here.”


The Adirondack Council had called for this change four years ago, in its publication Adirondack Clean Water 2020; Successes Made/Wastewater Treatment Needs Ahead, the Adirondack Council called on state government to make a special accommodation for the Adirondack Park’s communities. Preliminary figures show that $134 million in state clean water grants has been allocated to Adirondack projects for engineering and project costs since 2015, with an identified need of $250 million remaining.


The Governor also pledged additional action to curb harmful algal blooms, in the plans she outlined for protecting natural resources. Algal blooms – growth of potentially deadly blue-green bacteria on the surface and bottom of a water body — have become much more frequent inside the Adirondack Park, due to wastewater pollution, increased stormwater fed by a warming climate and other factors. According to the Council’s research, there were six reported algal blooms inside the Adirondack Park in 2021. By 2023, the number had jumped to more than 50.

Algal blooms are a concern anywhere, but especially inside the Adirondack Park where we have an obligation as citizens to protect the legacy of pure water passed down to us through the generations,” said Aguirre. “The Adirondack Park and Adirondack Forest Preserve were created to protect this essential legacy. As global climate change continues to have local impacts, clean, pure water becomes more precious with each passing year.”

Algal blooms are caused by increased plant nutrients in water bodies, including farm and lawn fertilizers, stormwater runoff, poorly treated wastewater, airborne nitrogen from soil disturbances and power plants, and other sources.

In some locations, excess nutrients could be the result of natural plant material decay that has commenced as lakes recover from acid rain. As the water becomes less acidic, leaves and plants that fell into the water and were preserved by the cold temperatures and acidic conditions are now beginning to break down into nutrient-rich soil, just as they would in a compost pile. More research is needed to understand this nutrient-cycling impact.


Education, Leadership and Civic Service

The Governor’s State of the State message also included a new initiative to train students in civic service using the State University (SUNY) and City University (CUNY) systems, by creating and Office of Service and Civic Engagement.

“Opportunities could include tutoring school-aged children, distributing meals to those in need, and taking climate action,” the Governor’s written message noted. It would be overseen by Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado.

“We don’t have all of the details, but that sounds quite compatible with to the Timbuctoo Summer Climate and Careers Institute created a year ago here in the Adirondacks, which brings students from CUNY’s Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn to SUNY’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Newcomb,” Aguirre said. “The reaction from students who attended the first year was overwhelmingly positive. With President Biden proposing something similar recently at the federal level, we are very encouraged.”

Governor Hochul and Legislative leaders have supported the Timbuctoo Summer Climate and Careers Institute with $2.1 million in state funding in each of the past two state budgets. Lt. Gov. Delgado noted his interest in the program during a speech to the Legislature’s Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus in Lake Placid in the fall of 2022.

Timbuctoo (named for a remote city in west Africa) was also made famous as the home of Abolitionist John Brown, his farm and grave site are official state historic sites located in the Lake Placid area. The Timbuctoo Climate and Careers Institute builds on this legacy in the Adirondacks and seeks to create an ever-widening pool of motivated, well-trained students from diverse backgrounds who will have the credentials to choose careers in environmental science and wilderness protection.”

Established in 1975, the Adirondack Council is a privately funded not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park. It is the largest environmental organization whose sole focus is the Adirondacks.

The Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy and legal action. It envisions a Park with clean water and clean air, core wilderness areas, farms and working forests, and vibrant, diverse, welcoming, safe communities.

Photo at top: Algal bloom on Rollins Pond. Almanack archive photo.

Related Stories

Community news stories come from press releases and other notices from organizations, businesses, state agencies and other groups. Submit your contributions to Almanack Editor Melissa Hart at

2 Responses

  1. My understanding (via Sierra Club) is that the ‘doubling’ of the State share is not accompanied by a doubling of monies being made available. I urge the Adirondack Council auger down into the Governor’s budget proposal to ascertain exactly how much money will be available.

    I would also point out that the cost of removing toxins like PFAS from tainted drinking water like that near airports such as Lake Clear in Harrietstown, and the cost of removing them from WWTP effluent means that the funds proposed are frighteningly inadequate to even begin to address this critical problem.

  2. They should use NaturaSolve WaterMix product to kill the Blue Green Algae. a Non GMO mix of Fungi and bacteria that only targets blue green algae and pathogens like EColi is what’s required.

    While Albany takes their time it wont solve the problem

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Wait! Before you go:

Catch up on all your Adirondack
news, delivered weekly to your inbox