County Executive Refutes CLA Claim

George Borrello, county executive, is refuting the claim by the Chautauqua Lake Association that the harmful algal blooms in the south basin of Chautauqua Lake were caused by the herbicide application earlier this year. P-J file photo

A claim by the Chautauqua Lake Association connecting the harmful algal blooms in the south basin of Chautauqua Lake with the herbicide application done earlier this year is being refuted by the county executive.

Last week, the CLA stated in a news release that the harmful algal blooms, also known as HABs, were a result of the herbicide application done in Burtis Bay earlier this year.

“It appears that the significant HAB activity is in the south basin of Chautauqua Lake,” said Doug Conroe, executive director for the CLA. “Unfortunately, this early onset is a result of concentrated herbicide use in the affected areas.”

The news release also states that aquatic vegetation in fresh bodies of water help absorb and eliminate nutrients that cause HABs to form. When that plant life is eradicated from a specific area, the nutrient load raises and HABs can form faster and cover larger areas with little competition.

It is an unintended, but preventable consequence of large scale herbicide use.

George Borrello, county executive, said there is no proven connection between the HABs and the herbicide application done in the lake earlier this year.

“There is no direct relation,” he said. “People have known we’ve had harmful algal blooms in general in Chautauqua Lake happening for years prior (to the herbicide application). I haven’t seen all the statistics on where (HABs) were. Some were at Long Point (State Park) and there was no application there. It’s two miles from the closest application. I don’t see the correlation.”

Borrello said he was at a conference in Rochester where national experts talked about how they cannot determine the source of HABs.

“(The experts) don’t know how herbicides or weed cutting connects to harmful algal blooms,” Borrello said. “I think it’s irresponsible for the CLA to make that claim and there is no definitive science to back it up.”