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Legal battle over Owasco Lake watershed regs heads to Albany

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

A lawsuit filed by the cities of Auburn and Owasco concerning watershed regulations for Owasco Lake is being transferred to Albany County Supreme Court.

The legal action, initiated against the state of New York, contests the adequacy of current watershed management practices and seeks to enforce stricter nutrient management to curb harmful algal blooms. This move was ordered by Acting Cayuga County Supreme Court Justice Jon Buddelman, aiming for a resolution that better protects the lake’s water quality.

The municipalities, alongside the Owasco Watershed Lake Association, argue that the Department of Health’s refusal to update the lake’s management rules, unchanged since 1984, violates residents’ rights. They demand the implementation of a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) system to limit pollutants entering Owasco Lake, which they believe is crucial for reducing the prevalence of algal blooms that threaten water safety and environmental health.

To strengthen their case, Auburn and Owasco have partnered with Earthjustice, an environmental law firm offering pro bono services.