CELORON - Some steady rain Monday evening could not dampen a late-summer field trip on Chautauqua Lake.
County lawmakers and area elected officials were invited for an hour-and-half boat tour on the lake to see first-hand how nuisance weeds and algae blooms have affected the watershed this summer. The tour took place on the Summer Wind cruise ship.
"We have some great people here that have helped put this thing together," said legislator Vince Horrigan, R-Bemus Point.
Lyle Hajdu, Chautauqua Lake Management Commission, speaks to area lawmakers during a boat tour Monday on Chautauqua Lake.
Lyle Hajdu, Chautauqua Lake Management Commission chairman, and Jeff Diers, county watershed coordinator, were guest speakers on the tour. The duo outlined what is "wrong" with Chautauqua Lake, what could be "fixed" and how to pay for recommendations by the county and the lake commission. The presentation was similar to one Hajdu recently gave on behalf of the CLMC to the legislature's Planning and Economic Development Committee. That report included funding recommendations for the first time in the volunteer lake commission's seven-year history.
Hajdu said he has a "bucketful of good ideas and recommendations" on how to handle the diminished water conditions in Chautauqua Lake.
"We have some options," Hajdu said. "But how are we going to implement them?"
Diers, meanwhile, alluded to the county's current watershed management plan and a submerged aquatic vegetation management plan. The latter is expected to be completed next year and will explore all in-lake options, including biological and chemical use.
"All options will be explored," Diers said. "We want to have every option available to handle aquatic vegetation."
Asked by Legislature Minority Leader Lori Cornell, D-Jamestown, what needed to happen first to help the CLMC implement its recommendations, Hajdu said, "If I knew, it would have happened 30 years ago."
"I suppose if we had the funding, I would go back to the CLMC and tell you what we could do first."
As an advisory committee to the legislature, the CLMC cannot authorize any projects or obtain funding. Hajdu has suggested discussions take place with County Executive Greg Edwards to establish a watershed and lake district - capable of applying for grants and following through with its own recommendations.
Edwards said earlier this month he was willing to sit down with the CLMC. It remains unclear, however, what changes could be made for the all-volunteer group.
"Maybe we should become a district," he said. "Maybe we can find some seed money and get some things going. Right now I'm hoping everyone here can help us out with some suggestions."
Hajdu then questioned whether a task force should be formed to study the CLMC and its role for the county and lake.
Joining the crew were U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, and state Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Chautauqua County.
"To fix this problem will take a serious partnership with everyone," Goodell told The Post-Journal. "We will need everyone to make a serious dent with these issues."
Goodell said he hopes to obtain another $100,000 for the lake in next year's state budget. The former county executive was able to secure two separate $50,000 funding blocks with the help of Cathy Young, R-Olean. The funds were used to get a third weed harvesting crew on the lake by the Chautauqua Lake Association.
"I'm certainly going to try and get the funding again," Goodell said.