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Cuomo: Improve water quality by attacking 'growing health threats'

Last year, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo introduced a $2.5 billion program for clean water infrastructure as a way to assist communities plagued by sewage overflows, aged pipes and poor water quality.

The effort will continue this year, Cuomo said during his State of the State address Wednesday.

The state needs to improve drinking water quality and also eliminate harmful algal blooms afflicting many of the state's waters, he said.

"We must attack these growing health threats now," Cuomo said.

Chemicals and excessive nutrients like phosphorus that enter lakes and streams fuel the algal blooms.

In Western New York, a few of the inland waters that are annually affected by toxic algal blooms include Chautauqua Lake, Findley Lake, the Allegany Reservoir, Java Lake and Silver Lake.

Cuomo's water quality initiative relies on wetlands as well as pipes

Divesting the state's pension fund and other investments from fossil fuels was another aim Cuomo cited during the portion of the address dedicated to the environment.

He called for emphasizing cleaner, greener technology as a way to improve the environment and the economy.

"We should put our money where our mouth is," Cuomo said.

Cuomo wants to move pension investments away from fossil fuels

The governor said the state has invested in a pair of offshore wind projects that will, when online, generate enough power for 400,000 households in the state.

Cuomo also re-emphasized the state's position to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency if it certifies General Electric's cleanup of legacy PCB contamination in the Hudson River as complete.

"The job is not done," Cuomo said.

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