Businesses Impacted Differently By Increase In Lake Algae
The reported increase in algae and weeds has had inconsistent impacts on different boating businesses on Chautauqua Lake.
Greg Swan, owner of Ready About Sailing, said the increase of algae and weeds in Chautauqua Lake has been a growing problem in recent years. “The worst is when the blue-green algae builds up,” he said.
Swan said the level of blue-green algae in the lake has been average for this year compared to other years. However, he warned that based on the information he has seen, the lake’s algae is continuing to increase, which has impacted his business.
“The water is not very inviting when it’s green and smells,” he said. “It’s a deterrent to boaters to use the lake.”
Swan said part of the problem with managing the lake’s condition has been the variety of approaches taken by different lake conservation groups. He warned that the people responsible for maintaining the lake need to make decisions based upon science.
According to Swan, the overabundance of algae and weeds indicate the lake has too many nutrients.
“When we make wholesale herbicide application without relying on the science correctly, what that does is feed the algae more,” he said.“The weeds are a problem from time to time, and it’s not getting better year upon year.”
Swan said one of the main problems for addressing the lake’s issues is the lack of a sustainable funding source. He said the county currently has a limited funding source that has to be renewed each year.
As a result of unsustainable funding, Swan believes conservation and maintenance agencies are not able to adequately plan for each year because they are competing with one other for resources and are never sure how much money will be available for the lake from year to year.
“We need a sustainable funding source for the lake,” he said. “Part of that problem is the competing interests among the groups that are trying to solve these problems. There’s not enough cooperation in general, and that leads to under-funding the methods that could do the most good for us.”
Swan said he supports the goal of the Chautauqua Lake Protection and Rehabilitation Agency to raise revenue to implement measures to improve the lake’s water quality. He stressed the importance of the organization using scientific tests, investigations and measurements to determine what work should be done in the future.
One aspect of lake conservation that Swan believes is essential is prevention. He said the county cannot merely focus on the present situation with the lake. Instead, he suggested the county take measures such as working in the watershed and improving conditions upstream from the lake to prevent future issues with the lake.
“Prevention has to be considered in whatever we do,” he said. “We can’t just think about this year; we need to think about the next decade and generations down the road and how can we prevent this excess of nutrients from causing the increase in weeds and algae. In my experience, a dollar spent on prevention is worth ten in clean up.”
While Swan’s perspective reflected serious concern for the condition of the lake, Deborah Clementi, owner of the Chautauqua Marina, indicated her business had not been impacted by the issue and that other portions of the lake have benefited from various improvement projects in the past.
Clementi said this year’s boating season was successful as a result of the weather being favorable for boating on Chautauqua lake.
“Our business depends on how the weather is,” she said. “It’s been a great summer. Worked hard, but we enjoyed it.”
Despite hearing reports of increasing algae and weeds in other areas of the lake, Clementi said the Chautauqua Marina has not experienced an issue in the area surrounding the Marina.
Clementi suggested one of the reasons the Chautauqua Marina has not experienced the same issues with the lake is the amount of work the business has dedicated to maintaining the area of the lake surrounding it and preventing runoff and erosion.
“We’ve been fortunate we haven’t seen any around the marina area,” she said. “I know it’s been reported quite largely. Hopefully the lake organizations are doing their work and each year making progress and creating a cleaner and healthier lake for us.”
The Chautauqua Marina installed a catch basin about 15 years ago which prevents harmful materials from entering the lake while people are cleaning or working on their boats at the Marina.
Clementi explained the business tries to do everything it can to encourage a clean lake and preserve wildlife.
Over the past couple decades, the Chautauqua Marina has completed projects that Clementi believes has had a major impact on the water quality.
“We had a project 10 years ago where we redid 750 feet of the waterfront with large boulders, and then we planted 750 feet of native plants to help stop the erosion and runoff,” she said. “We have another project hopefully coming up next year in the creek area, so we’re constantly doing what we can to help the lake organizations to preserve the lake. We’ve done a lot over the past 15 years. It takes a long time; we’re not going to clean this lake up in two weeks. It took a lot of years to get where it is. We are very conscious of it.”
Clementi said lake conservation and maintenance organizations are constantly working on different issues with Chautauqua Lake. She said the Chautauqua Lake Association has been working on removing the overabundance of weeds, the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy has been working on preservation and eliminating runoff and the county has expressed additional interest in special lake projects.
“It’s really become an issue and more people are aware of it,” she said. “The more people that are aware of it, more people with homes and businesses around the lake will hopefully takes the steps that they need to do to move this along.”
Clementi said the Chautauqua Marina has not officially expressed any positive or negative opinions about the Chautauqua Lake Protection and Rehabilitation Agency. She explained the business has not had time to fully study the proposals of the CLPRA during the summer months, but is aware of the agency.
While the Chautauqua Marina does not have a decisive opinion, Clementi said the Marina is willing to do “whatever has to be done” to improve and preserve Chautauqua Lake.
“Whatever has to be done, we are certainly willing as a business to move forward and do,” she said.
Clementi also said the Chautauqua Marina recently demonstrated its commitment to improving the conditions of the lake by helping with a fundraiser for the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy.