MAYVILLE - The status of the Chautauqua Lake Management Commission is strong.
That was Lyle Hajdu's message to county lawmakers at the legislature's regular August business meeting.
Hajdu is the chairman of the CLMC and updated the body on the commission's progress in 2012, highlighting new members and projects undertaken.
Lyle Hajdu, chairman of the Chautauqua Lake Management Commission, addresses the County Legislature in this photo from the body’s Aug. 24 meeting.
P-J photo by Nicholas L. Dean
"We added the Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District represented by Dave Wilson," Hajdu said.
"We also added the Conewango Creek Watershed Association ... Soil and Water is an obvious fit because everything we're doing is soil and water and Dave Wilson has been involved in our group since the beginning," Hajdu continued. "The Conewango Creek Watershed Association is our neighbors downstream."
Local water quality and use has an impact on others, Hajdu pointed out by highlighting the Conewango Creek Watershed Association's participation. Additionally, by linking with Conewango Creek Watershed Association and other organizations, Hajdu said the CLMC can seek additional funding for the tasks and projects which it undertakes.
FIXING WHAT'S WRONG
Weeds and algae, while the original impetus for the creation of the CLMC, are still an issue of concern in the lake.
"You asked us when you created our commission to do two things, figure out what's wrong and then to report back how to fix it," Hajdu said. "And we did that. We achieved that vision and we came in front of this legislature in the spring with the Chautauqua Lake Watershed Management Plan. That does precisely that. It tells you what's wrong and how to fix it."
The good news, Hajdu said, is that now that officials have their bearings and are pointed in the right direction, they're ready to begin work. The bad news though, he explained, is that with such limited funding, only baby steps can be taken to achieve the CLMC's goals.
"I can tell you that we have squeezed as much as we can possibly squeeze out of a volunteer organization," Hajdu said. "We have picked all the low-hanging fruit that's on the tree and we have lifted up all the light boxes, but there are other bigger projects that are coming in years two or three ahead that are going to require significantly more resources than what we presently have available."
Hajdu and the county's former watershed coordinator, Rick Constantino, presented the Chautauqua Lake Watershed Management Plan to the legislature late last year. This year marked year one of the five-year plan, with 12 of the 14 municipalities in the watersheds around the lake recently signing a compact to implement the plan.
The CLMC's biggest achievement in 2011, Hajdu said, was the creation of the compact which county and local officials recently signed.
The biggest disappointment remains the fact that there is still not an in-lake plan like the one developed for Chautauqua Lake's watersheds.
"What we have is the Watershed Management Plan and it will help the lake, but all of the recommendations are from the shoreline up into the watershed," Hajdu said. "One of the first and primary recommendations under this plan was to develop a separate lake plan which is called a Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Plan."
With the Watershed Management Plan, Hajdu said, recommendations are made from the shoreline up - meaning future harm is being addressed. However, it's the weeds and algae already in the lake that so many people want to see something done about.
"When we talk about addressing it in the short term," Hajdu said, "you can't even begin talking about it until you get approval from the Department of Environmental Conservation, and the DEC don't give you approval until you have a plan and we're at that point now where we're trying to develop a plan, but we don't have enough money to do it.
"I close my remarks," Hajdu continued, "by letting you know we're working very hard but we do need your help. We've got some very heavy boxes to lift, primarily that Lake Management Plan and I would argue that one of our most precious natural and economic resources is Chautauqua Lake and I would urge you to do everything within your power to protect our lake for our children and future generations."
STUDYING THE SITUATION
Legislature Chairman Fred Croscut, R-Sherman, questioned Hajdu on why an in-lake study now has to be done when the county has been studying the issue for so many years.
"We have studied it too damn long," he said.
Hajdu told Croscut he agreed and explained that studies aren't done because individuals involved locally want to do them, but because they are required to do them.
"I can tell you that it is as simple as this," Hajdu said. "If you want to do something in the lake, we'll give you five options. You can do nothing, you can look at mechanical harvesting, you can look at chemical treatment, you can look at biological - the little critters, the herbivores that eat it. Or you can do these other things that they call physical treatments, which are too complicated even to talk about. Those are your options.
"In order to do it, you need permission from DEC," Hajdu said. "DEC will not give you their blessing unless you have a plan and not just a plan but a plan that has passed the environmental review."