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A Look Back At The 5-Year Implementation Strategy For Chautauqua Lake And Its Watershed

This image outlines the recommended allocations of resources for watershed, in-lake and monitoring projects as suggested in the 2018 report “5-Year Implementation Strategy for the Management of Chautauqua Lake and Its Watershed”. Information provided by EcoLogic/Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance

Much attention has been focused in recent months on finding a reliable, stable source of funding for Chautauqua Lake management and protection programs and deciding which activities should be prioritized for action in the lake and its watershed. It’s a good time to take a look at prior research recommendations. Here’s a fairly recent example:

In 2017, as a result of “heightened community concern about the health of the lake and differing views on which expenditures and projects would have the most beneficial impact,” the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance (CLWMA) hired experienced lake and watershed scientific consultants Ecologic, LLC and Anchor QEA, LLC to review previous lake and watershed studies and interview stakeholders as a means of finding an “… objective, transparent approach for prioritizing projects and allocating resources” as part of a 5-Year Implementation Strategy for Chautauqua Lake and Its Watershed.

First, this document laid out a multi-criteria analysis (MCA) tool to guide the CLWMA in evaluating, scoring, prioritizing, and funding annual proposed watershed projects to reduce nutrient and sediment loading, in-lake projects to address lake algae and aquatic plant problems, and lake and watershed monitoring projects to “assess progress and the need for additional actions or modifications to ongoing management activities.” Second, the report developed a “5-Year Implementation Strategy,” which was to guide overall funding investment between watershed, in-lake and monitoring projects over the 2018-2022 period. The Strategy called for utilizing 20% of funding resources over this period, starting with 60% of funding going to in-lake projects for “immediate relief” of excessive aquatic plant growth in 2018 and reducing that over the five years to 20% in 2022. At the same time, it recommended investing 30% of funding in watershed projects in 2018 and increasing that to 60% of funding resources in 2022. The report noted that, “ultimately, addressing the sources of impairment (i.e., excess nutrient loading) is the only sustainable approach to protect water quality, habitat, and human uses. Reduction in watershed [nutrient] sources is critically important to ensure the long-term health of the lake, which forms the basis for the increase in watershed resources over time.”

The report suggested revisiting this after the New York State harmful algae bloom (HABs) action plan for Chautauqua Lake was released and added that, “reducing the external loading of nutrients… is ultimately the only way to address the cultural (human-induced) eutrophication of the system and to minimize the frequency, magnitude, and duration of HABs.” It went on to note that, “an ongoing commitment to reducing point [from a pipe] and nonpoint [diffused] sources of phosphorus and nitrogen is essential.” The report also noted that 20% of external phosphorus loading had come from wastewater discharges, but those have been largely addressed by recently completed public wastewater plant upgrades.

The report then discussed non-point pollution sources and the need for landowner participation in the success of implementing agricultural best management practices. It stated that, “permanent conservation of forested areas and wetlands can help to prevent erosion and nutrient/sediment loading in the watershed and that timber harvesting practices can also contribute pollution.” Moreover, developed areas contribute nutrients and sediments, and municipalities play a critical role in “ensuring that urbanization is carried out in ways that incorporate best land practices and minimize stormwater runoff.” The report concludes the watershed section by stating that “watershed municipalities are strongly encouraged to adopt, modify, and enforce local land use laws to guide actions by developers or private landowners in the watershed, and to adopt municipal best management practices in the areas they manage directly.

There is much more useful information on in-lake and watershed management to consider in this report, which may be read in its entirety at: http://www.chautauquaalliance.org/category/projects/5-year-implementation-strategy-mca-tool/. We hope that you will review this and other reports available on the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management alliance’s website at chautauquaalliance.org to learn more about this important lake and watershed.

Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy is a not-for-profit organization with the mission to preserve and enhance the water quality, scenic beauty and ecological health of the lakes, streams, wetlands and watersheds of the Chautauqua region. For more information, call 716-664-2166, visit chautauquawatershed.org and follow CWC on Facebook and Instagram.

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