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Recent Actions Taken On The Lake

I think it was a mistake for the Town of Ellery and Chautauqua Lake Partnership to bring a lawsuit against the DEC as to herbicide application. Lawsuits tend to cement people into immovable positions. In addition, under state law in a legal action against a state agency, the presumption of legality is in favor of the agency, not the litigant. So, I see a lot of lawyer bills being paid and not much progress being made by this action for the lake itself.

Despite this “bump in the road,” significant progress has been made this year on research being conducted on the lake.

A new initiative was started this summer substantially increasing the amount and diversity of data collection. It has been a collaborative between Bowling Green State University, SUNY Fredonia, and the Chautauqua Lake Partnership. Four phosphorus sensors have been deployed in the lake, and water samples are being collected from tributaries to the lake to quantify the internal and external nutrient loading. This could guide lake managers in how future treatments of the lake’s waters should be handled. It will also help establish where the largest sources of phosphorous pollution are located. Experiments are also being done evaluating what levels and combinations of nutrients are promoting different types of algae in our lake.

The Jefferson Project at Lake George, a partnership between Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, IBM, and the Fund for Lake George, has also begun research on our lake. Two vertical profilers are now anchored – one in the upper basin and one in the lower basin of the lake – gathering data. The Jefferson Project has a similar smart sensor network installed on Lake George to collect high frequency data on weather conditions, tributaries, lake currents, and open waters of that lake. This data should also be beneficial as we seek to understand more about our own lake and move us from science to solutions.

Perhaps the most interesting new initiative on the lake has been the involvement of the Army Corps of Engineers. They have now included Chautauqua Lake in a national study they are conducting on how to mitigate harmful algal blooms and the potential of using algae as an energy source. The Chautauqua Lake Association has been assisting the Army Corps in this project.

The Army Corps has historically been known primarily for its ability to say “No!” In the past, they would often tell you what you couldn’t do on a body of water which comes under their jurisdiction, but little money or positive effort was offered on rectifying or addressing the actual needs of such waterways.

Thus, I find it heartening that the Corps is now involved in a more positive way on Chautauqua Lake.

Where all of this will lead is hard to say. However, when you are trying to implement a comprehensive management plan for Chautauqua Lake — scientific research is important.

The oversight and coordination of these efforts by the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance is also important as is the leadership of the County Executive and other county officials.

Another lawsuit seems counter-productive, but these new research programs are good news. (Two steps forward, and one step back.) Let’s hope that 2021 brings us more good news than bad. The health and well-being of Chautauqua Lake is what should unite us.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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