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Time For Those In Charge Of The Lake To Act Like Adults

The Chautauqua Lake hyperbole machine is in high gear.

After one year of relative peace regarding lake treatments, threats of lawsuits are being bandied about while age-old divisions among lake agencies and personalities are rising to the surface like pesky eurasian milfoil leaves.

Towns and villages are upset that the Chautauqua Lake Association hasn’t been following the 2019 Memorandum of Agreement that most towns, villages and lake-related agencies signed. Chautauqua Institution is threatening lawsuits over the possible use of ProcellaCOR north of Long Point. The Chautauqua Lake Association continues to push its position that herbicide use is destroying the lake. The town of Ellery, the only lakeside town that isn’t a signatory to the Memorandum of Agreement, is asking towns and villages around the lake to help it pay for a possible lawsuit over its proposed herbicide program this year.

It’s time for all of it to stop.

Everyone needs to understand that herbicides, harvesting and off-lake maintenance activities will be necessary to satisfy as many of Chautauqua Lake’s competing interests as possible. There will be a mix of activities, and all activities should receive vigorous oversight to make sure they are what is best for the lake. In our opinion, it long past time for the Chautauqua Lake Memorandum of Agreement to be enforced strictly on all parties and for all tenets of the MOA to begin being implemented. A rough accounting of the MOA shows that a centralized lake authority has not been created to define responsibilities, funding priorities and organizational structure for a Comprehensive Lake Management Strategy. That strategy is supposed to address water sampling, monitoring and sampling during lake maintenance activities and inform decision making. GPS technology isn’t being used to track weed management activities by all parties working on the lake. A feasibility study to provide alternative drinking water supply connections as a backup to Chautauqua Lake hasn’t happened. A weed fragmentation and clean-up policy hasn’t been developed.

Three things must happen. First, the MOA actions that haven’t begun should begin post-haste. They were included in the original MOA for a reason.

Second, organizations that can’t abide by the MOA should not receive any Chautauqua County bed tax funding or help through the Chautauqua Lake Watershed and Management Alliance. Period,

Third, it is apparent after talking to the various agencies, towns, villages and elected officials that a clear-headed decision making group needs to exist to implement the MOA’s required Comprehensive Lake Management Strategy once it is finished. None of the current lake groups should have a seat at that particular table. There are too many bad feelings and too much mistrust among the various officials that no plan coming through existing groups will ever be trusted.

Interagency squabbling will always exist on Chautauqua Lake, but hindsight has made apparent that those squabbles need to take place away from the policy-making table. Any group that plans an overall lake strategy should do so in partnership with the Chautauqua Lake Watershed and Management Alliance, which would be in charge of implementing the strategy. None of the current established players should sit at the decision-making table of the Chautauqua Lake Management Strategy. The planning group obviously should not be paid. Any alliance member agencies that choose not to implement the planning group’s recommendations should receive no funding through the county or alliance.

The infighting and excuses need to stop. In short, it’s time for the adults in charge of working on Chautauqua Lake to act like adults.

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