U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer is calling on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to combat toxic algae in the lakes of Upstate New York.

At least 260 toxic algae blooms took place this year in the Rochester-Finger Lakes region, according to Schumer, who cited data from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Potentially harmful algae was also detected in Cuba Lake, Rushford Lake, Allegheny Reservoir and Chautauqua Lake this past summer and early fall.

Canandaigua Lake, which until a few years ago never had a toxic algae bloom, in 2019 may have experienced 66 toxic blooms. Seneca Lake may have experienced 89. Schumer noted the Finger Lakes as sources of drinking water, surrounded by agriculture and with an economy dependent on recreation and tourism.

“That’s why today I’m calling on the Army Corps of Engineers to take the algae-combatting pilot programs that have worked so well in states like Florida and bring them Upstate as soon as possible,” Schumer said. “To successfully battle these harmful algae blooms, Upstate New York is going to need the Army Corps’ expertise and support.”

All told, lakes across upstate “have suffered well over 1,000 of these harmful algae blooms just this year — they are being plagued, and require federal help to implement a cure,” Schumer said.

In a letter to Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Schumer asked that Semonite “include several important New York projects” in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ 2020 work plan related to harmful algal blooms. Schumer pledged to work with his colleagues in Congress to increase funding so the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can expand its research and pilot programs to fight toxic algae in upstate.

In the letter, Schumer noted that freshwater bodies in Upstate are close together and also relatively isolated — especially those in the Finger Lakes — making these lakes ideal candidates to be studied and for pilot programs.

Jim Eckstrom is executive editor of the Olean Times Herald and Bradford Publishing Co. His email is jeckstrom@oleantimesherald.com.)