New York Should Invest in its Ocean and Great Lakes

New York State is currently in the middle of its budget negotiations (read: battle) and Governor Cuomo has put forth his proposal. He has thirty days to make amendments and then the Senate and Assembly will put forth their versions.  After the requisite back-and-forth, a final budget will be approved by the Legislature and signed by the Governor.  The budget is supposed to be finished by April 1st.

As you probably know, CCE advocates for the New York State Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) every year.  The EPF is an important piece of the New York State budget, but specifically, I would like to talk about the Ocean and Great Lakes line of the EPF.  In 2005, the Ocean and Great Lakes line was added to the EPF and it is used by eight state agencies to advance important conservation and restoration projects along New York's beautiful coasts.  Unfortunately, the Ocean and Great Lakes line has been stuck at $5 million dollars and there is so much work to be done.  Now is the time to up that investment.  Recently the New York State DEC released the draft Ocean Action Plan, a blueprint for protecting our ocean and estuaries.  Additionally, implementation of the DEC's interim Great Lakes Action Agenda is underway and it identifies the most pressing problems facing the lakes, and provides specific goals and activities to address these problems.  With these plans in place it is time to use them and really invest in our ocean and Great Lakes economies.

In 2010, ocean sector industries like fishing and tourism contributed more than $21.7 billion to New York’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and supported nearly 300,000 jobs.  The largest ocean economy sector is tourism and recreation: in 2010, tourism and recreation contributed more than $16.5 billion to the state GDP and supported nearly 254,000 jobs.  The Great Lakes also contribute significantly to the state’s economic well-being, supporting a sport fishery valued at more than $2.27 billion that generates nearly 12,000 jobs. In addition, Lakes Erie, Ontario and the St. Lawrence River provide the foundation for a multi‐million dollar tourism industry in the New York Seaway Trail region, serve as a key water resource for hydropower generation and manufacturing industries, and allow for recreational boating opportunities that contribute over $600 million a year to New York’s economy.

In order to implement important goals laid out in both of the Ocean Action plan and the Great Lakes Action Agenda,  additional funding is needed in the Ocean and Great Lakes program.  It's time for the Ocean and Great Lakes program to funded at $10 million and for the state to take these resources, and their contributions to the state economy, seriously.

So please take a minute and contact your Senator and Assemblymember.  Ask them to increase funding for the ocean and Great Lakes.






Update: New York's Sewage Right to Know Law

In 2012 CCE secured you the right to know when raw sewage was released into the waters near you.  We've been working the NYS DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) to implement the law and get a system in place to notify you when those overflows occur.  The DEC recently announced that you could sign up through NY-ALERT to receive sewage overflow notifications.  You can sign up for NY-ALERT notifications here: https://users.nyalert.gov/ DEC also created an instructional video to help you sign up for the alert system. You can find it here.

CCE has fought hard to get you these notices.  Sewage treatment operators will enter overflow notifications into the system and they will go directly to you -however you choose to get them.  This system allows you to customize your notifications so you can get them via email, text message, or both.

More about Sewage Pollution Right to Know

CCE started the campaign to get you the right to know because every summer we would phone calls from members and supporters asking if we knew what was going on in the waters where they were recreating.  We recognize that other pollutants plague our waters (things like harmful algal blooms), but unfortunately we know all too well that too many people are exposed to raw sewage pollution because they don't know the pollution is there.

To learn more about Sewage Right to Know Law visit CCE's site or New York State DEC's site. 

There is still more to do

While the Sewage Right to Know law states that all sewage overflows are required to be reported, there are still communities who need updated technology to aid in reporting requirements.  Additionally, some communities have not been integrated into the existing reporting system.  CCE will continue to work for full implementation of the Sewage Right to Know Law and ensure that ALL New Yorkers have access to the information that reduces their exposure to raw sewage.