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For Release: Thursday, July 16, 2020

DEC and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Announce Virtual Public Information Session About Innovative Pilot Study to Combat Chautauqua Lake Harmful Algal Blooms

Virtual Session on Tuesday, July 28, at 6 P.M.

State Partnering with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to Test New System to Intercept and Treat Harmful Algal Blooms

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today announced a virtual public information session about a collaborative pilot study designed to reduce the impact of harmful algal blooms (HABs) in Chautauqua Lake will be held on Tuesday, July 28, at 6 p.m. (leaves DEC website). The pilot study will use innovative equipment to skim HABs from the lake and convert the material into useable bioenergy and fertilizer.

"Working closely with our state, federal, and local partners, and with support from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's HABs Initiative, DEC is aggressively combatting the environmental, recreational, and public health effects caused by HABs," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "We encourage local residents and other stakeholders to learn more about this initiative to improve Chautauqua Lake at our virtual public information session, and look forward to continuing to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other community partners to support this innovative pilot project's launch."

"The HABITATS research project is developing a capability to remove and efficiently dispose of large quantities of algal biomass, and entrained nutrients, which may someday help protect ecosystems and communities from HAB events," said Dr. Martin Page, material engineer at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center's Construction Engineering Research Laboratory and HABITATS project manager. "By recovering resources in the process, the positive environmental impacts are achieved with reduced operations costs and footprint. Those aspects are key to developing a truly scalable tool that can be used by stakeholders as part of a broader strategy to mitigate HABs."

For several years, Chautauqua Lake has been impacted by large, persistent algal blooms during the late summer months. Part of New York's nation-leading HABs Initiative, in 2018, Chautauqua Lake was listed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo as one of 12 priority lakes and action plans were developed to address the causes of each lake's blooms. Chautauqua Lake offers a unique opportunity to study short-term methods for mitigating the physical presence of large HABs, while the HABs Action Plan and other state initiatives address the factors that contribute to HABs to improve the health of the lake.

The USACE's Engineer Research and Development Center is deploying its innovative research demonstration project - named Harmful Algal Bloom Interception, Treatment and Transformation System (HABITATS) - in portions of the southern half of Chautauqua Lake later this year. The pilot project uses floating skimmers on the lake to collect surface water laden with HABs. Once collected, the blooms are put through shore-based or mobile treatment processes, which detoxify the algae, concentrate it, and convert it into biocrude fuel and fertilizer. During the process, treated water is cleaned, clarified, and safely returned to the lake. For additional information, visit USACE's website.

To register for the Tuesday, July 28, virtual public information session, visit the Eventbrite page for details (leaves DEC website).

When it comes to HABs, DEC encourages New Yorkers to "KNOW IT, AVOID IT, REPORT IT." KNOW IT - naturally occurring harmful algal blooms vary in appearance from scattered green dots in the water, to long, linear green streaks, pea soup or spilled green paint, to blue-green or white coloration. AVOID IT - People, pets and livestock should avoid contact with water that is discolored or has algal scums on the surface. REPORT IT - If members of the public suspect a HAB, report it through the NYHABs online reporting form available on DEC's website. For more information about HABs, including bloom notifications, which are updated daily from late spring through fall, visit DEC's Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) webpage.

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