MAYVILLE - Chautauqua Lake has a nuisance problem with aquatic vegetation, better known as weeds.
And according to Jeff Diers, county watershed coordinator, those weeds have had a negative impact on the recreational and environmental resources in the lake.
So to combat the problem, a submerged aquatic vegetation management plan has been commissioned by the county Planning and Economic Development and Chautauqua Lake Management Commission.
A weed harvester attempts to control aquatic vegetation Friday on Chautauqua Lake.
P-J photo by C. Ralph Heeter
Diers said Cedar Eden Environmental, LLC of Saranac Lake has been hired to complete the plan. A request for proposal was sent out in November, and requested that techniques to control weed growth on the lake be explored. Funding options and implementation of weed-control techniques will also be addressed in the vegetation plan.
"The purpose of this work will be to develop a comprehensive and integrated submerged aquatic vegetation management plan to manage the nuisance aquatic vegetation that impair recreational, environmental, and economic resources in Chautauqua Lake," he said.
Diers said he expects the project to be completed by April 2013, and added that a 2011 watershed management plan first recommended a detailed look at the lake for problems caused by excessive nutrients and sedimentation that flow from the surrounding watershed into the lake.
"We want to have all options available to control aquatic plants."
The watershed management plan, however, did not provide guidance for in-lake vegetation techniques, including harvesting and herbicide use.
Once completed next year, Diers said, the plan will provide "reasonable and practical management alternatives" to control weeds on the lake.
County Executive Greg Edwards said Friday he was pleased to see the weed-management plan move forward.
"Well this is an essential component for the work we have done to form and efficient and effective way to address the lake and the weeds," Edwards said. "This is a joint effort and a significant one between the federal government, the county and some local funds."
According to Diers, the only weed-control method allowed on Chautauqua Lake by the state Environmental Conservation Department is mechanic harvesting, a technique currently utilized. Natural means such as using weevils, an insect known to feed on the vegetation, is also permitted by the state.
To use herbicides, Diers said, the study and an environmental impact statement needs to be completed.
"We will not be able to manage our lake efficiently without completing this plan," he said. "We want to have all options available to control aquatic plants."
"There have been many studies conducted on the lake," he continued. "It is intended that Cedar Eden will provide synthesis and organization of the existing information from all previous research activities that have taken place on Chautauqua Lake over the past several decades, identify any gaps of information and complete the necessary work needed to fill those gaps."
Edwards also alluded to the amount of research completed over the years regarding the lake. He said he is optimistic the plan will allow the county to explore all its options to battle the growing weed problem.
The sooner the better, too, he added, noting how important Chautauqua Lake is to the local economy.
"Timing is always of the essence," Edwards said, "so we can be fully empowered to do the right thing. This plan is an essential part of that."