Though the vacation season is over, residents should not forget about what it takes to keep Chautauqua Lake clean and healthy.
The Chautauqua County Department of Planning and Economic Development has scheduled a meeting for Wednesday at 5 p.m. to discuss the preparation of a comprehensive Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan. The public is encouraged to attend.
"In preparation for our SAV management plan, which is anticipated to be finalized around April, we are completing the state requirements from the New York SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review Act) as well as the Environmental Impact Statement," said Jeff Diers, Chautauqua County watershed coordinator.
Eurasian milfoil and water chestnuts have been two of the recent vegetation problems affecting Chautauqua Lake.
P-J file photos by C. Ralph Heeter
"Before the plan is completed, we are seeking public comment on the draft scope of the SAV management plan during its development," Diers continued. "This will aid us in making sure we have a well written document that can immediately be implemented."
According to Diers, before a plan can be implemented, approval from the state must be granted. In order to have approval from the state, the SEQR and Environmental Impact Statement process must be completed, which is a series of public announcements and public hearings.
At the end of the public hearings, the department hopes to have everything in place for the state to give final approval to implement the plan.
"Some people wonder why we're not able to do anything other than mechanical processing on the lake so far," said Diers. "It's because of the lengthy process the state imposes upon us. After many years we're at a stage where we're ready to change the plan and we've done our best to get public support and state approval. The whole intent of the SAV management plan is to identify where the weeds are in the lake, where man's uses are in the lake, and where weeds and man's uses are in conflict with one another. From that information, it will be determined what the sensitivity of those conflict areas are, and based on those results, what the management techniques available for specific zones in the lake are."
There is the real possibility that new invasive species could be introduced to the lake after the SAV plan is drafted. Just this summer, the lake saw a new invasive species, the water chestnut.
However, Diers said that an outline for how to handle new species will be included in the SAV plan.
"As part of the overall plan, we will develop an emergency action plan to specifically address any new invasive species that might be identified in the lake," said Diers. "It will be a set of steps that, once identified, we would go through the stages of who needs to be contacted and what needs to be done to locate and eradicate new species."
According to Diers, the goal of Wednesday's meeting is to obtain public input on the scoping document that will inevitably determine the final product for the SAV plan. The meeting is intended specifically to encourage public support in the development of the SAV management plan.
"It is essential to obtain public input on such an important and often controversial topic such as SAVs in Chautauqua Lake," said Diers.
The meeting will take place at the Ashville Hewes BOCES in Building A. The meeting begins at 5 p.m. and will conclude at 6:30 p.m.
For more information about the SAV plan and scoping documents, please visit www.planningchautauqua.com. Any additional questions may be directed to Jeff Diers at 661-8915.