Programs Aid In Debris Removal From Lake

In the fall of 2018, a large mass of floating aquatic plants drifted into Burtis Bay, causing stagnant conditions, which allowed sediment and other suspended solids to accumulate in the bay.

The conditions hindered recreation and aesthetics in the bay until the spring of 2019, when they were removed through a collaborative effort among Chautauqua County, Ellicott, Celoron, the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance and the Chautauqua Lake Association, with funding provided by the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, the Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation and the county. In an effort to avoid a repeat event in late 2019, the alliance secured and administered local funding through the Lenna Foundation for the Chautauqua Lake Association to provide extended season near-shore and shoreline maintenance services from Sept. 3 through Oct. 4. During that one-month period, CLA staff removed 80 small truckloads of macrophytes from Chautauqua Lake totaling 158 tons, or 316,000 pounds, or an estimated 160 pounds of phosphorus and 800 pounds of nitrogen from Chautauqua Lake. Alliance officials said local funding investments for in-lake maintenance projects and programs are important due to the lack of readily available state funding for in-lake macrophyte management projects and programs.

In 2019, the county and the town of Chautauqua deployed two new Mobitrac units, amphibious aquatic maintenance vessels, on Chautauqua Lake, representing a first of its kind service for shoreline owners. Chautauqua operated both Mobitrac units from July 1 through October. The pair of Mobitrac units removed more than 450 tons of floating vegetation from Chautauqua Lake, which equates to 450 pounds of phosphorus and 2,250 pounds of nitrogen. The Mobitrac services were focused primarily in the northeast corners of the lake where most of the floating vegetation piled up in 2019. Chautauqua also provided Mobitrac services to Bemus Point for a week at the end of August removing a few truckloads of floating vegetation from the village’s shoreline. The town hopes to extend these services to a larger portion of Chautauqua Lake in 2020.

The programs resulted in the removal of an estimated 28,719 pounds of nutrients from Chautauqua Lake in 2019 through a combined approach of harvesting, near-shore and shoreline maintenance operations. Removing weeds before they decompose promotes water movement, improved recreation and a more aesthetically appealing shoreline environment.

For more information regarding these programs, call Vince Horrigan, interim alliance director, at 661-8918.


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