MAYVILLE – Chautauqua County officials unveiled a plan to attack the overabundance of in-lake weeds on Chautauqua Lake Wednesday morning.
Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello told WNYNewsNow the strategy will allow lake agencies and municipalities around the lake to work together to tackle the weed problem head on.
Borrello said the agreement, which includes 24 tenets, will allow the group to more effectively implement agreed upon methods.
“We’ve outlined a series of short-term and long-term strategies in this memorandum of agreement,” said Borrello. “This means that everyone that signs on to this agrees they will not enter into litigation and as long as everyone stays within the bounds of the tenets of the agreement.”
“Also we, as funders, particularly the county, are only going to fund those who stay within the tenets of the agreement,” explained Borrello. “In addition to that, those folks who step outside of the agreement that have signed it will not have the protection of the multiple folks who have agreed to not bring lawsuits.”
The county executive said as outlined in the strategy the group will address nuisance weed issues using herbicides. To start, they plan to clean up Burtis Bay using a combination of herbicides and harvesting methods to manage weeds.
The tenets include:
- Creation of a Centralized Lake Authority, which will define responsibilities, funding priorities, and an organizational structure for the creation and implementation of a Comprehensive Lake Management Strategy (CLMS).
- Development of a Consensus Strategy Memorandum of Agreement, which will be a two-year agreement that will be re-evaluated annually for renewal purposes.
- Promotion of Transparency, which calls for an independent, qualified, third-party entity to monitor any aquatic plant management techniques used on the lake.
- Utilization of Science-based Decisions, which will ensure weed management decisions are based on science with pre, inter and post-sampling and monitoring, and will be carried out in accordance with the Chautauqua Lake Macrophyte Management Strategy (MMS) as a guidance tool.
- Control of Algae, which will ensure algal monitoring and management decisions are considered in the development of the CLMS.
- Protection of Fish Habitat, which will ensure aquatic plant management methods employed will mitigate, to the extent possible, negative impacts to fish and fish habitat.
- Integration of Management Methods, which will offer and prescribe a coordinated approach in the CLMS using herbicides and harvesting in accordance with the MMS as a guidance tool.
- Utilization of Herbicides as a Management Tool, which will restrict herbicide use to 25 percent or less of the littoral zone South of Long Point only.
- Management of Nutrients through Aquatic Plant Management, which will focus on reducing plant biomass and phosphorus.
- Completion of a Pilot Study/Environmental Review to Determine Impacts of Aquatic Plant Management Methods, which will be a pilot project developed under the oversight of the Alliance, with results to be evaluated by a third-party entity. This monitoring program will test for direct and incidental impacts, as well as the efficacy of both mechanical and chemical treatment techniques employed.
- Utilization of Plant Surveys to Determine Treatments, which will ensure all aquatic plant management activities, such as plant surveys, are planned, evaluated, and monitored by an independent third-party entity, and are evaluated and updated annually to keep the MMS current.
- Implementation of Monitoring Treatments, which will require that all aquatic plant management activities, such as monitoring treatments, are planned, evaluated, and monitored by a qualified, third-party entity, and are evaluated and updated annually to keep the MMS current.
- Management of Curly Leaf Pondweed, which ensures that treatment of this macrophyte occurs early in the growing season.
- Improvement of the Effectiveness of Treatment Methods, which, with proper funding, will employ more skimmers to collect aquatic plant fragments to help reduce their spread within the lake and on the shorelines.
- Treatment of Invasive vs. Naturalized Status of Eurasian Water Milfoil (EWM) and Curly Leaf Pondweed, which will ensure the CLMS has, as a primary goal, the reduction in the densities and abundance of “nuisance-level” aquatic weeds in zones where they conflict with public uses, regardless of whether the weeds are invasive or not.
- Utilization of Herbicides and Internal Loading of Phosphorus, which will ensure aquatic plant management techniques are selected, in part, based on reducing plant biomass and available phosphorus.
- Selection of Herbicides for Use, which provides that the herbicides used will be evaluated by a third-party entity to determine their effectiveness and impacts to non-target organisms.
- Timing of Herbicide Treatments, which will ensure herbicides are applied so they have the least impact on spawning fish.
- Litigation Avoidance, which provides that all parties who sign the MOA will not pursue litigation against any other party to the MOA who is not in violation of its tenets.
- Management of Weed Fragmentation, which ensures a Weed Fragmentation and Clean-up Policy is a part of the CLMS to address fragments caused by harvesters, boat propellers, and natural processes.
- Implementation of Annual Assessments and Subsequent Treatment Recommendations, which will provide annual assessments through an established monitoring and reporting program in order to review the evidence and make a determination for subsequent treatment recommendations.
- Cost of Treatments, which will develop and provide detailed cost estimates for all potential weed management techniques.
- Utilization of Global Positioning Systems (GPS), which will assist in tracking all weed management activities.
- Promotion of Drinking Water Safety, which provides that the county will partner with entities that draw drinking water from Chautauqua Lake to perform a feasibility study aimed at providing alternative municipal water supply connections as an emergency backup, and eventually as a primary source of drinking water.
Borrello was joined by Deputy County Executive for Economic Development Mark Geise; County Watershed Coordinator Dave McCoy; County Legislator and Chair of the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance Pierre Chagnon; and P.E., Principal of Ecology & Environment, Inc. Tom Heins during a press conference in Mayville.
The executive ceremonially signed the Memorandum of Agreement following the conference. A copy of the MOA is available on the County Executive’s website at www.co.chautauqua.ny.us/186/County-Executive .