Officials Asking Legislature For Herbicide Consultant Funds

MAYVILLE — With the use of herbicides to be used for a second consecutive year in Chautauqua Lake, members of the Chautauqua County Legislature learned Thursday that a third-party, independent monitor will need to be hired.

During the legislature Audit and Control Committee meeting, Erin Brickley, Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance executive director, Mark Geise, deputy county executive for economic development, and Dave McCoy, county watershed coordinator, discussed the need for the herbicide consultant.

Brickley said it will cost more than $40,000 to hire the consultant, with the hope being the legislature will approve appropriating $35,000 from the 2 percent occupancy tax reserves while the alliance covers the rest of the costs. She said the 2 percent occupancy tax, which is used toward lake protection, has more than $200,000 in its reserves.

Chautauqua County Legislator Pierre Chagnon, committee and Chautauqua Lake Protection and Rehabilitation Agency chairman, said the plan is to use herbicides before the legislature’s May meeting. He said that means the alliance will hire the herbicide third-party, independent monitor before the legislature approves to fund the consultant because no resolution was proposed during legislative committee meetings this month. There was no mention by Chagnon during the Audit and Control meeting whether an emergency resolution will be brought before the full legislature during its April meeting that will happen at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Six municipalities — the towns of Ellery, Ellicott, Busti and North Harmony, and the villages of Celoron and Lakewood — have allowed for the permit process to potentially use herbicides in their Chautauqua Lake waters, and it has led to some accepting environmental findings that suggest Aquathol K and Navigate, if used properly and in moderation, would be a wise course of action for lake weed management.

The permit process was facilitated through the Chautauqua Lake Partnership with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The town of Ellery, the lead agency for the permitting process, accepted the 222-page technical memorandum from the DEC.

Findings indicate that requirements of a State Environmental Quality Review have been met following environmental assessments, but with no additional Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) to be issued for 2019. This year’s process to issue findings and finish herbicide permits is being pursued more quickly by the CLP this year than last year because the organization intends to contract a company to use herbicides on Chautauqua Lake before the summer season begins Memorial Day weekend. Last year’s herbicides were used to treat waters in the towns of North Harmony, Busti and Ellery on June 11, 2018.

Aquathol K and Navigate, containing herbicides endothall and 2, 4-D respectively, will be applied to a to-be-determined acreage of the near shore waters of the six municipalities for which applications are being sought. The herbicides are meant to target invasive weed species known as curly-leaf pondweed and Eurasian milfoil.

Herbicides will temporarily decrease the dissolved oxygen in lake waters; however, and treatment plans will be utilized to minimize the impact on the water column. Part of the reason for potential late April or early May applications is because there is more dissolved oxygen in the lake during spring months.

The 2018 SEIS states that herbicide applications would have a minimal impact on local wildlife as the chosen herbicides have low to no toxicity to fish and aquatic mammals. No rare, threatened or endangered species will be adversely affected according to the SEIS.

Concerns have been raised that herbicides killing off macrophytes in the water will contribute to a higher nutrient load for phosphorus and nitrogen, two substances that contribute to the growth of weed species and harmful algal blooms.

Contingent on the actual dates of proposed herbicide applications, which will be announced at a later date, the majority of water restrictions are planned to be lifted before Memorial Day weekend.