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Yearly Weed Issues In Burtis Bay Call For Outside Evaluation, New Approach

It’s been a few years since thousands of dead fish washed ashore in Burtis Bay – creating a stink for residents and a headache for lake groups that had to clean up the mess.

The rotting fish aren’t back, thank goodness, but the weeds in Burtis Bay are still a problem that need more attention than they’re receiving publicly. Several Burtis Bay area residents have reported masses of decomposing and foul-smelling weed fragments that make the area unusable for boating, fishing and any recreation in Chautauqua Lake’s south basin. And the bay is getting more shallow each year as weed fragments accumulate near the shoreline and lake bottom. There have been emergency cleanups this year, but the floating masses of weeds make their way to shore within a couple of days, rendering the past spending moot. Even when the weed masses are removed, large deposits of decomposed weeds remain in the form of solid, mucky soil along the lake’s shore.

Anyone who lives in Burtis Bay will agree this is a recurring problem, yet the remedy is always the same. Burtis Bay residents — including the owners of the $40 million Chautauqua Harbor Hotel — have dealt with this problem long enough. A yearly problem requires a new approach.

With the time for action on Chautauqua Lake this year winding down, it’s our opinion that it’s time for a serious discussion of solutions to the Burtis Bay mess. It’s ludicrous to have one of the lake’s most populated areas be one of its biggest eyesores, particularly if there are solutions that can be implemented. Chautauqua County should commission a professional evaluation of evaluating potential solutions and costs to keep weed fragments from collecting on the shore. Those who live in the area have suggested things like regular cleanup of weeds during the summer, dredging or removal of sediment along the shoreline throughout Burtis Bay or even a weed boom that would keep the weeds away from the shore where they can be more easily collected. All are ideas that should be considered. We don’t profess to know all the possible solutions to this issue, but professionals with expertise may suggest better options. That’s why a professional evaluation is needed.

There is a lot of talk about a taxing district to help pay for Chautauqua Lake maintenance and improvement. That’s already a controversial topic, but policy makers and those who live inside a potential taxing district should consider the following thought. If we can’t begin to deal with a known, recurring problem like the rotting weeds and stench in Burtis Bay with the groups we have in place now, why should anyone support a taxing district that may not address problems even though we see, and smell, those problems year after year?

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