We Need To Generate Results For The Lake Not Just Discussion

Dave McCoy, Chautauqua County watershed coordinator, hit the nail on the head last week while discussing the proliferation of eel grass in North Harmony.

The bloom was seen from the Bemus Point-Stow Ferry dock to the Chautauqua County Veterans Memorial Bridge across Chautauqua Lake. Eel grass is normally present in the lake but historically it has been closer to the shore and not so far out into the channel. When herbicide treatments eliminated milfoil and curly pond weed, the eel grass moved into the vacated areas.

Having eel grass isn’t a bad thing. Eel grass provides habitat for fish and food for birds while also providing the type of vegetation that can help prevent erosion.

August’s eel grass bloom is emblematic of a lake that still has a long way to go to solve its weed problems. As McCoy told The Post-Journal, there will always be a need for an integrated program that takes into account herbicides, weed harvesting, shoreline cleanup and eliminating the nutrients that make their way into the lake. Coming up with the in-lake management plan is actually fairly simple — coordinate herbicide use with weed harvesting and shoreline cleanup to manage what is in the lake. Our county has made that simple process incredibly complex over the past several years. We hope an appropriate in-lake management plan can be agreed upon in time for the 2020 summer season that includes proper funding for all of the necessary work and cooperation amongst all parties even if they don’t agree with every part of the overall plan.

The really hard part is dealing with the nutrients that are contributing to the growth of vegetation and the continuing algal blooms plaguing the lake. Completing sewers around Chautauqua Lake will help reduce those nutrients, as will doing more to decrease nutrients from farms and other off-lake land uses that make their way into the lake. And, the discussion still needs to happen regarding all of the nutrients that are already in the lake that need to be properly managed. In-lake nutrients are a huge part of the problem and perhaps the least discussed.

Dealing with the weeds on Chautauqua Lake generates a lot of discussion. Dealing with nutrients entering Chautauqua Lake will generate the most results.