Removing Toxins

Algae Programs In Full Swing On Lake

An AECOM engineering researcher checks on algae that has been removed from Chautauqua Lake as part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers pilot program last week. Submitted photo

Scientists from the Engineer Research and Development Center, a laboratory of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and AECOM engineering, have spent the past week deploying new harmful algal bloom mitigation technology on Chautauqua Lake.

The program, which runs Aug. 19 to Sept. 4 and is based out of the Chautauqua Lake Association workshop in Lakewood, is part of a pilot program called the Harmful Algal Bloom Interception, Treatment, and Transformation System (HABITATS).

First demonstrated in Florida in 2019, HABITATS is designed to skim algae from the water, where it can be broken down into useful products such as biofuels and fertilizer. The process, known as hydrothermal liquefaction, also destroys algal toxins that can be harmful to humans.

“In 2020, the ERDC and its partners are assessing new technologies to improve the fuel yields, scalability and deployability of the HABITATS process,” according to a ERDC news release. “To make the system more deployable, the ERDC is also developing a mobile shipboard treatment system that will undergo initial testing on Chautauqua Lake for harvesting microalgae while cleaning the water in a contained system.”

Dr. Martin Page, ERDC operational water research team leader, said “Information learned from the Chautauqua Lake demonstration will improve the technology so that one day a full-scale, longer-term deployment may be possible.”

Deployment of the system on the lake will help to test HABITATS during active bloom conditions, validate a upgraded on-shore treatment system, generate data for full-scale designs and deployments, and perform preliminary testing in order to optimize future use.

“Residents and visitors depend on Chautauqua Lake for drinking water, recreation and economic activity, but it is vulnerable to harmful algal blooms that we must mitigate and prevent,” U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer said. “I am pleased that the Army Corps has heeded my call to tackle the threat of harmful algal blooms with this demonstration study.”

Representatives of the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance and local political representatives have coordinated with Schumer to help bring the resources of the Army Corps to bear on the issue.

The results of the 2020 HABITATS demonstration will be published in a technical report later this year.


Boaters are advised to be on the lookout for a pair of vertical profilers deployed on Chautauqua Lake by The Jefferson Project.

As part of a collaborative effort to study the effects of HABs, the project has placed one profiler in the north basin between Dewittville Bay and Irwin’s Bay and another in the south basin between Colburns and Cheney’s Point.

The profilers, which are yellow and white platforms, collect data on water conditions from the surface to the bottom every hour, quantify water circulation patters and monitor local weather conditions.

Boaters are advised to use caution around the VP’s as they traverse the lake this summer and fall to avoid contact with the platforms and their mooring lines, which extend beyond the footprint of the barge.

From dusk to dawn the platforms will be illuminated with a white light indicating that the platforms are anchored and not underway.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)


Starting at $4.75/week.

Subscribe Today