CLA Needs To Update Lake Data More Frequently

There are no shortage of organizations working on behalf of Chautauqua Lake.

Why is it so hard, then, to find information about what is in the lake’s water?

The Chautauqua Lake Association, to its credit, has historical information developed through the Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program available through 2016. Doug Conroe, CLA executive director, and other CLA volunteers have for years participated in the program and kept historical results available. The information for some years is also available on the state Department of Environmental Conservation website. The county Health Department updates its beach closings information daily during the summer swimming season as it tests for e.coli levels and harmful algal blooms. Currently, one can find out easily if there are algal blooms in the lake’s north or south basin, but that’s about it.

Compare that with Owasco Lake, where the Owasco Watershed Lake Association also updates its harmful algal bloom information once a week but gives much more detail. OWLA has a spreadsheet available on its website showing testing results on 28 areas of Owasco Lake. Where testing is done, lake users can see whether or not an algal bloom was seen, if the bloom has toxins and the levels of chlorophyll, bacteria, toxins and toxicity levels. Having such information available to the general public could put a lot of fears to rest about using Chautauqua Lake during the summer and make it much easier for the public to know which areas of Chautauqua Lake should be avoided and which areas may look bad, but are safe for recreation.

In addition to the harmful algal bloom information, OWLA released a report in mid-August detailing the results of a year’s worth of testing of streams in the Owasco Lake watershed so that it could detail which areas were sending the most nitrate, ammonia and phosphorus into Owasco Lake. The 2012 TMDL report from the state Department of Environmental Conservation has information about where phosphorus in the lake is coming from, but it’s fairly general and is more focused on types of things that are contributing to Chautauqua Lake’s phosphorus problems and not exact locations of the lake where phosphorus is entering the lake. Having such information at one’s fingertips may make it easier to decide which erosion projects to tackle or which areas of the watershed need priority attention.

Both are pretty good ideas that should be implemented here on Chautauqua Lake in time for the 2019 summer season.