Schumer calls for more water monitoring for algae blooms

May 16, 2014

Toxins that can cause blue-green algae outbreaks have been detected in 17 waterways in central New York, part of a state-wide increase that has prompted Sen. Charles Schumer to call for more monitoring.

Schumer, a Democrat, says the federal Environmental Protection Agency should better test for the runoff and toxins that cause algae outbreaks.

Blue-green algae can sicken people and pets who swim in contaminated waters and it can harm drinking water.

"Rapid melting this winter caused runoffs from nearby farms and that contributed to the algae populations in many of our lakes," Schumer said this week.

Phosphorus is a main component of fertilizer. Schumer says in recent years algae outbreaks have become more common as phosphorus levels have increase.

"So in general, as human activity near lakes and ponds increases, there are more chemicals that creep into our waterways," he said. "And that’s what feeds our toxic algae, unfortunately."

He's urging the EPA to issue guidelines to local water authorities on how to test for the toxins. And he wants the EPA to develop water quality standards for those toxins.