DEC Is Clearing Up Herbicide Picture

There has been a lot of fear-mongering and rumors about herbicide treatments on Chautauqua Lake over the past several years.

A few of those rumors are being dispelled as towns and villages move through the second year of the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s permitting process.

Contrary to one of the old tropes that has been floating around the last few years, the DEC is not going to let Chautauqua Lake become so full of herbicides that it threatens the lake’s ecology. It seems some people thought that herbicide use, if it was ever allowed, would be used in thousands of acres of the lake each year in an attempt to make Chautauqua Lake look like a swimming pool. Some on the other side of the issue thought the maximum treatment area of 567 acres included in the Chautauqua Lake Memorandum of Understanding was too limiting. It is clear now that the lake will likely see roughly 250 acres of the lake treated each year. The DEC has made clear, with its review process the last two years, that agency officials are undertaking a careful review process that attempts to balance the needs of the environment and lake users.

It is also clear that towns and villages may be able to set up a rotating schedule of budgeting for herbicide treatments. DEC officials typically don’t authorize herbicide treatments in the same location two years in a row. That makes sense, since the products being used on the lake supposedly will eliminate the targeted weeds for a period of years. There should be no need to treat the same areas every year. If the targeted weeds come back sooner, then it would appear either a new type of herbicide or an entirely new tactic is needed.

There has been a lot of science thrown at county residents the last few years when it comes to Chautauqua Lake. The problem is that a lot of the science being thrown around is conflicting. That’s why the DEC is such an important arbiter in these situations. The DEC has made the right decision in allowing herbicide use the past two years. It is also making the right decisions in using herbicides judiciously.