Wastewater treatment facilities aren't the only source of phosphorus or nutrients feeding the growth of weeds and algae in Chautauqua Lake.
Other contributions come from groundwater, septic systems, agriculture runoff, land development and internal loading, which are phosphates already in the lake. In the north basin, groundwater contributes 36.7 percent of phosphorus and internal loading adds 25.1 percent, which are larger sources than wastewater treatment facilities, which contribute 19.6 percent.
Bill Boria, county Health Department water resource specialist, said the state Department of Environmental Conservation is also looking to reduce these nonpoint sources, as well.
"There are calls to reduce agriculture inputs by 82 percent. The Health Department is looking to have changes to the septic system program to where it is more rigorous for inspections around lakeshore homes and cottages," he said. "Soil and Water is working with the agriculture community for agriculture and environment management and nutrient management on their farms. The inter-municipal committee is looking at implementing a site plan review process for soil erosion. A lot is going on right now."
The county has received $900,000 in aid from the state to prevent agricultural runoff from entering Chautauqua Lake. The aid is part of an $11 million initiative that has been divided amongst 27 counties. It will be used by the Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District to implement agricultural best management practices in the French Creek and Chautauqua Lake watersheds.
According to David Wilson, Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District field manager, $598,310 will be used to control sediment and nutrients from entering the Chautauqua Lake watershed from agricultural practices. How the remaining $299,971 will be spent has yet to be determined.
Jeff Diers, county watershed coordinator, said all officials involved in managing Chautauqua Lake are trying to figure out what is needed to lower phosphorus from all sources from entering the lake.
"We're trying to sit down with officials on how to do these upgrades," he said. "We're assessing where we need to be and how to go about doing something."
As far as removing phosphates already in the lake, Boria said that is not practical.
"There isn't anything available to do that," he said. "They do harvest weeds, which are nutrients, but it is not a significant portion of the internal load or phosphorus already in the lake."