Algae Work On Chautauqua Lake Begins Monday

AECOM engineering is expecting to begin an algae removal demonstration project on Monday, as part of an ongoing pilot study coordinated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The efforts will be based out of the Chautauqua Lake Association's Lakewood workshop, along with harvesting equipment pictured above. P-J photo by Jay Young

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will begin the first stage of a collaborative pilot study of harmful algal blooms in Chautauqua Lake on Monday.

The Chautauqua Lake Association announced in a statement that the organizations have partnered with the Los Angeles-based engineering firm AECOM on a demonstration project to remove algae from the lake.

“AECOM has been contracted to manage the demonstration project,” the CLA said. “AECOM has also been piloting similar demonstration projects at Lake Agawam in New York and at sites in Florida. AECOM has selected the Chautauqua Lake Association headquarters facility in Lakewood to serve as the host site for the demonstration project. The facility is situated on the shoreline of the lake’s south basin. The south basin experiences the greatest prevalence of HABs.”

Since 2013, CLA Executive Director Douglas Conroe has collaborated with the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s HAB monitoring and analysis program. CLA volunteers continue to collect HAB samples for the DEC and New York State Federation of Lakes Association.

“We welcome having the opportunity to assist with this innovative project,” Conroe said. “It fits perfectly into our role of investigating and performing multi-faceted adaptive lake management.”

Pictured is one of two Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute-built vertical profilers that will be installed on Chautauqua Lake in late August. Submitted photo

Information gathered from the sampling of HABs is uploaded online at https://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/77118.html, where it is used to provide information to the public about the location algal blooms.

“We are excited to see this innovative method being investigated. The fact that AECOM is committed to providing an environmentally safe method is especially encouraging,” Conroe said. “No chemicals will be placed in the lake by the project and the removed algae will be recycled for productive use. We thank the governor for designating Chautauqua Lake as one of twelve New York state lakes to receive a special focus that will hopefully in the end provide solutions for all New York state lakes. His designation has made this project possible. I am also honored to have served on his regional steering committee. Together we all can collaborate to find the needed solutions.”


The Jefferson Project at Lake George, a state-of-the-art program for water quality and harmful algal bloom research, will be introduced to Chautauqua Lake in 2020.

In partnership with Chautauqua County and Chautauqua Institution, the Chautauqua Lake Watershed and Management Alliance has finalized the arrangements to bring The Jefferson Project Team from Lake George to Chautauqua Lake later this month. The Jefferson Project is a collaboration of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, IBM Research and The FUND for Lake George, which employs a technological approach to studying fresh water with a goal of understanding the impact of human activity on fresh water and how to mitigate those effects.

“This is a true game changer in terms of a comprehensive scientific approach to understanding the causes of HABs and mitigating their impact on Chautauqua Lake,” said Vince Horrigan, alliance executive director.

The initial phase of the project will involve the deployment of two vertical profilers and acoustic doppler current profilers with attached weather stations in the north and south basins of Chautauqua Lake. The sensors track water conditions from the surface to the bottom every hour, quantify water circulation patterns and monitor local weather conditions. The sensor network data will be integrated with survey data, including water chemistry and algae data that will be collected for advanced analysis of the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of the lake and their effect on HABs. In addition, the team will be creating sophisticated computer models of the local weather, runoff, lake circulation and food webs. Logistical support including housing for the research team and project space will be provided by Chautauqua Institution and other alliance partners as the details are finalized.

“We are delighted to bring our technologies and expertise to the Chautauqua Lake community to help better understand the drivers of HABs, predict their occurrence, and inform decision makers regarding sustainable lake protection,” said Dr. Rick Relyea, director of The Jefferson Project and director of the Darrin Fresh Water Institute at Rensselaer.

The initial phase of The Jefferson Project at Chautauqua Lake is expected to be completed by November when the profilers are removed from the lake for winter storage.


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