Town Of Ellery Asks State For Herbicides In Bay

A CLA barge outfitted with a crane removes plant-based material from the Ellicott shoreline. P-J file photo

ELLERY — The town of Ellery has asked the state Department of Environmental Conservation to apply herbicides in Bemus Bay.

Town officials are asking to use Aquathol K and Navigate for one day sometime between July 8 and July 31 to control Eurasian milfoil and curlyleaf pondweed. The state DEC has not made a decision yet to approve or decline the permits. Soliture Lake Management LLC would again be in charge of the application if it is approved.

“We’re in the first stages of it,” said Arden Johnson, Ellery town supervisor. “We’ve just signed some papers. We’ve planned on, as far as I know, if the DEC approves the permits and everything, I’d say the first or second week of August. That’s all I can tell you until we get some approvals.”

According to a letter of notification filed in late June, Bemus Bay was part of the herbicide application Ellery pursued in the spring but the area was not authorized at the time.

Johnson said the area hasn’t been treated in any past Bemus Bay herbicide applications.

“It’s just part of the bay that wasn’t done before and it’s very bad there,” Johnson said. “There’s a lot of weeds. People can’t get their boats out. So we figured we’d try to get the whole bay done.”

There would be water use restrictions if the permits are approved. No swimming, bathing, fishing or animal water consumption would be allowed for 24 hours. Use of the water for drinking, culinary or food processing purposes would not be allowed until herbicide concentrations are less than 50 parts per billion while irrigation would not be allowed for 21 days or until the Navigate concentrations are less than 100 parts per billion.

County Executive George Borrello said he has reviewed the permit briefly while the county Health Department and the county’s water quality staff reviewed the application and made comments. Because Ellery did not sign the Memorandum of Agreement regarding Chautauqua Lake management, the town does not have to abide by the agreement’s limitations on yearly acreage for herbicide applications.

“My only thing I would say is I think it’s challenging to have water use restrictions in the middle of the high season for the lake in July,” Borrello said. “That will be a challenge for a lot of folks around the lake, but from what I understand, what they’re going after as far as the type of nuisance weeds can only be addressed in this time frame because of fish spawning. It can’t be done during the May application. So my understanding is they’re applying for something that can only be done as far as the DEC restrictions at this time of the year.”

More than 70 letters have been sent out to property owners and interested parties who may be affected by the herbicide application.