By KIM SMITH DEDAM
---- — ALBANY — A new $400,000 grant program will help reclaim Adirondack waterways damaged by acid rain.
The Adirondack Acid Rain Recovery program was announced recently by Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman in an agreement with the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency.
The money comes from a settlement in civil litigation brought against Cinergy Corp. (now Duke Energy Corp.) in 2010 and targets programs designed to restore lakes and streams.
The lawsuit charged that Cinergy, based in Cincinnati, had violated the Clean Air Act in modifying its power plants to increase sulfur-dioxide emissions.
The settlement funds were dedicated to acid-rain research and mitigation projects focused through NYSERDA’s Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Protection Program.
Already, nearly a dozen local scientific research projects are sponsored through the Evaluation and Protection Program, according to the agency’s website.
Included among them is long-term monitoring done by the Adirondack Lakes Survey Corp., which tracks mercury deposits in fish along with toxin deposition in the atmosphere, forests, wetlands, snowpack and waterways. The data shows a moderate decline in the effects of acid rain since the Clean Air Act went into effect.
The new funding looks to hasten repairs with new scientific methods.
“Hundreds of lakes and streams in the Adirondacks are still struggling to recover from this pollution,” Schneiderman said in a news release.
“The Adirondack Acid Rain Recovery Program will speed the recovery of hundreds of lakes and streams by identifying the most effective tools available for reversing the damages of acid rain.”
The program will be managed by NYSERDA and will conducted through an open, competitive project solicitation and grant process, Schneiderman said.
“It is expected that some projects will involve the testing of newly designed methods for neutralizing acidity in soils and waters.”
Ron Urban, chairman of the New York Council of Trout Unlimited, noted that acid rain “has had a severe impact on all of New York’s watersheds but especially on the cold waters of the Adirondacks, where some of the last populations of native brook trout still survive.
“Trout Unlimited commends (Schneiderman) for establishing the Adirondack Acid Rain Recovery Program to find new and innovative solutions for reclaiming these critically important cold-water resources and aiding the survival of our irreplaceable heritage species,” he said in a statement.
In Elizabethtown, the Adirondack Council commended the new funding source and its resolve to hasten mitigation of damage done by acid rain.
Diane Fish, acting executive director of the council, said they are thrilled Schneiderman is using money won from lawsuits to attack acid rain.
“The newly created program will enable the use of modern science to speed the recovery of our lakes, rivers and wildlife from decades of abuse from Midwest smokestacks,” Fish said in a news release.
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