CHAUTAUQUA LAKE — In a joint effort to combat harmful algae blooms on Chautauqua Lake, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are conducting a study seeking a possible solution to the problem.
The study, known as the Harmful Algal Bloom Interception, Treatment and Transformation System (HABITATS), has been shown to convert the matter from the algae blooms to biofuel and fertilizer.
The pilot project will collect blooms on the surface by using floating skimmers. After collection, the blooms are detoxified, concentrated and converted into biofuel
Chautauqua Lake was listed in 2018 by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as one of 12 priority lakes in the state needing attention for bloom issues.
The DEC said most, but not all, algal blooms are harmless and are a key part of the food cycle.
Jessica Wuerstle, public health sanitarian with Chautauqua County, told WNYNewsNow that the risk is some blooms create a toxin that can be unhealthy for people and pets.
She said the Southern Basin of the lake is a traditional starting place for the blooms because it is more shallow than the Northern Basin.
One of the key factors in creating some of the bloom population is nutrient loading in the lake. The loading is caused by runoff, poorly treated septic systems and fertilizers. However, algae blooms are a natural part of the lake’s life.
“Blue green algae is a natural part of the Chautauqua Lake ecosystem. It’s been here a lot longer than we have,” she said.