Don’t Be Surprised By Opposition To Herbicides In Mayville, Chautauqua

No one should be surprised that the Mayville Village Board decided not to apply for an herbicide permit for an area of Chautauqua Lake located in Mayville.

There have long been concerns raised by the town of Chautauqua and Chautauqua Institution over how herbicides in the north basin of the lake would affect drinking water drawn from Chautauqua Lake. While the herbicides used on Chautauqua Lake have no drinking water restrictions, in our opinion it’s understandable that elected officials would have questions about drinking water especially after the PFAS contamination of Mayville’s water wells a few years ago. Firefighting foam was supposed to be safe, too, and it turned out that wasn’t the case.

Two things will have to happen if herbicides are going to be used in the lake’s north basin. The first is proof, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there will be no harm to drinking water in Mayville and Chautauqua. Science can provide that answer for those who don’t trust FDA, EPA and DEC determinations.

The second thing that needs to happen is harder. Residents would have to come to the town and village boards to make the request. The use of herbicides is one of the hottest button issues regarding Chautauqua Lake. And while the Chautauqua Lake Partnership’s efforts have, in our opinion, done well in other areas of the lake it’s important to note that the CLP’s strength comes from the grassroots nature of its advocacy. And until that grassroots effort springs up in Mayville and Chautauqua the Chautauqua Town Board and the Mayville Village Board have no reason to change their minds regarding herbicide use in their areas of the lake.

There’s a lot of science on the lake, but when it comes to herbicides there may never be total agreement.


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