Planning For Future Lake Cleanups Should Be Happening Now

It is about time that Burtis Bay is cleaned up.

Nearly 3,000 feet of shoreline in the Ellicott bay will finally have rotting weeds removed after several stops and starts to the process over the last six months. A cleanup was to have begun in November, but the onset of winter weather made the job nearly impossible.

Then, a cleanup earlier this spring was delayed because of concerns about regarding what equipment could be used and how the biomass would be tackled from both land and water had been shared by the CLA and other parties. Outsourcing excavation work had been considered before various lake stakeholders were brought together by the county. The Chautauqua Lake Association remains the main contractor for the cleanup, but Borrello has helped bring the resources of the county, town of Ellicott, village of Celoron, Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance, state Department of Environmental Conservation and Jamestown Board of Public Utilities to the project as well. Without all of those partners, Burtis Bay may have remained a mess until the weeds finally rotted away on their own.

Once again, county officials have stepped in to piece together a plan for the lake — leading one to wonder where the lake would be without the efforts of County Executive George Borrello to lead these processes. The chances are good that Borrello won’t always be stationed in his Mayville office to lead these efforts.

We are starting to see a direction — thanks to the county — for how Chautauqua Lake should be maintained in the future. Part of that direction should be contingency planning so that a cleanup like this week’s Burtis Bay effort doesn’t take six months to plan and execute. It shouldn’t take this long to figure out what each agency’s capabilities are, which organization has the requisite equipment to handle certain pieces of these cleanups and what happens with the material once it is removed from the shoreline.

November’s storm was certainly a rare event, but large amounts of weeds showing up on the shores of Chautauqua Lake is not a rare occurrence. We should be planning for these types of cleanups to happen and be ready for the next time. Those who want to be part of these efforts should begin planning now to make sure the county has the necessary equipment and plans in place to mobilize much more quickly in the future.