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Wednesday 23 August 2017
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Reader’s Write: John Katko and the Clean Water Rule

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secret-_writerI was surprised and upset to see Congressman Katko’s whole-hearted embrace of President Trump’s Executive Order to repeal the Clean Waters of the United States rule.

In prior years, Congressman Katko has been a strong advocate for clean waters, especially in the ongoing fight against algae blooms in our local waters. Given his interest in protecting clean waters, it makes absolutely no sense that he’d support the president’s efforts to derail the very protections we need to keep our community waters safe.

The Clean Waters rule was created to protect clean water necessary for farming, ranching, and forestry. That protection extends to our drinking water, and to everyone who enjoys boating and swimming in our local lakes and ponds. The rule does not regulate ditches, or change policy on irrigation or water transfers.

Over the past few years, our lakes have been fighting an on-going attack by algae blooms. These outbreaks can occur when nutrients from lawns and farmlands flow into the water and build up at a rate that ‘overfeeds’ the algae. Five of our beautiful Finger Lakes have had toxic algae outbreaks. Another victim to the algae bloom is the southern Sodus Bay wetland which is one of only a few remaining coastal wetland complexes in the Lake Ontario basin.

Algae toxicity has closed down lakes that we enjoy for boating or swimming, caused beach closures, and harmed our cats and dogs who may have unwittingly licked tainted water. By now, it is clear that the algae could have long-term effects on the livers and nervous systems of the humans and animals who are exposed to it.

This issue is important enough that, only a few months ago, Congressman Katko held a closed meeting with other officials to discuss the issue of toxic algae in our drinking water and in Owasco Lake. Taxpayer money is being used to fight this issue – in 2017, $150,000 was given for studies to determine how to best treat water contaminated by blue-green algae toxins.

My parents always taught me the old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

And, recently the Congressman stated on his Facebook page that he plans to enact a thoughtful environmental policy to keep our waters free from pollution.

The repeal of the Clean Waters of the United States rule is NOT that protection!

If Congressman Katko really wants to protect our waters, he needs to step away from supporting attempts to repeal of the Clean Waters rule and provide a detailed, effective plan for substantive reform that will support and enhance the Clean Waters rule.

-Eric Herriman

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