Mayville Village Not Interested In Allowing Herbicides

Pictured are members of the Mayville Village Board. P-J photo by Gregory Bacon

MAYVILLE – Village leaders are not interested in using chemicals in Chautauqua Lake and at least some members appear to be upset that they are being asked.

In February, the Chautauqua Lake Partnership appeared at the Mayville Village Board and pitched the idea of Mayville supporting using herbicides to fight weeds. The state Environmental Protection Agency has the final say, but generally won’t permit herbicides if a municipality opposes them.

There were no resolutions brought before the village board at either the March or April meetings supporting herbicides. No board members requested one be made.

At the April meeting, Mayor Rick Syper noted that board members’ emails were “blown up” from CLP members lobbying for herbicide treatment, many of whom live outside the village limits.

On Friday, Syper clarified that even though they sent these emails, he is not upset with them. “(I) called and spoke to them about making their campaign stronger by sending their mass emails to the correct government body. I’m not upset with CLP for their positive leadership role of Chautauqua Lake and encourage the continuation of open communication amongst all lake shareholders for the betterment of Chautauqua County,” he said.

During the village board meeting, Trustee Bill Ward said he recognizes that the CLP is going to lobby for herbicides, but because they’re part of the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance, he doesn’t think they should be allowed to do that because the alliance also includes organizations that oppose herbicides.

He also believes lobbying for herbicides goes against the Chautauqua Lake Memorandum Of Understanding, which a number of municipalities and lake organizations support, including Mayville and the CLP.

The Chautauqua Lake Memorandum Of Understanding was first adopted in 2021, renewed in 2023, and is set to expire in April of 2025. The MOU doesn’t mention herbicides but does note the Harmful Algal Blooms and nuisance weeds in the lake. It calls on participants to “work together, versus working apart in opposition to each other” and acknowledges there are different views on the best way to protect the health of the lake.

Syper said he has no interest in having herbicides sprayed by their shores.

“I don’t want to be the one who says ‘I gave permission to spray’ when people are drinking water from this end of the lake,” he said.

While Mayville gets its water from wells, Chautauqua Institution and another water district in the town of Chautauqua gets their water from the lake.

“Until someone can tell me for no certainty that this chemical isn’t going to affect somebody’s drinking water or affect them, I just can’t put people’s lives in jeopardy,” he said.

Ward noted that the CLP has stated that the chemicals used in spraying aren’t harmful, however he is skeptical of that statement.

Chautauqua Town Councilman Scott Cummings was at the Mayville Village Board meeting and said he believes everyone should wait until the Jefferson Project at Chautauqua is complete, before allowing any new chemical spraying.

“We just need to let them do their work and then figure out what is the best way to treat this lake,” he said.

The Jefferson Project, which is sponsored by Chautauqua Institution and partly funded by Chautauqua County, focuses on Harmful Algal Blooms. Members with the Jefferson Project gave county leaders an update in January, talking about some of the science they’ve done and plans for 2024.

The Jefferson Project doesn’t necessarily focus on nuisance weeds, although some believe the science being done by the Jefferson Project will help address all weed problems in the lake.

Other Mayville village board members seemed to agree with Syper and did not express any support for herbicides.


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