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Auburn, Owasco sue New York over watershed management

The city of Auburn, town of Owasco, and the Owasco Watershed Lake Association have filed a lawsuit against New York State agencies over proposed changes to watershed regulations. The legal action, initiated in Cayuga County Court, challenges the state Department of Health’s decision to deny requests for nutrient management regulations, a crucial factor in controlling pollution in Owasco Lake.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

According to The Citizen, the lawsuit alleges that the Department of Health failed to follow proper procedures for updating watershed rules, and accuses it of violating New Yorkers’ constitutional right to clean water, established in a 2021 amendment. This dispute arose after efforts to revise nearly 40-year-old policies, following harmful algal blooms in Owasco Lake which threatened the local water supply.

Local officials, represented by Earthjustice, argue that the state’s revised watershed rules, released last summer, weaken existing protections and overlook key nutrient management measures.