One of the biggest issues facing Chautauqua Lake is the nutrients that make their way into the lake.
Too many nutrients and sediment worsen the potential for algae blooms and make conditions better for weed growth - two things that are bad news for tourism on Chautauqua Lake.
That's why it was important that the Chautauqua County Legislature approved a $50,000 allocation from the county's bed tax revenues for a stream bank erosion project on Goose Creek in Ashville. Massive erosion occurs on Goose Creek when hard rains hit, as has happened several times over the past couple of years. According to the Chautauqua Lake Dredging Feasibility Study by EcoLogic LLC, the subwatersheds with the highest percentage of highly erodible soils are Big Inlet (46.6 percent), Mud Creek (40 percent) and Goose Creek and Ball Creek (27.8 percent each). Stabilizing the Goose Creek stream bank is projected to eliminate 90 percent of the erosion from the creek.
"There isn't anything else like it in the Chautauqua Lake watershed that we're aware of," John Jablonski, Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy executive director, told members of the legislature's Planning and Economic Development Committee recently.
The county's $50,000 appropriation from bed tax revenue is the final funding needed for the $438,120 project. A $298,949 USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service grant provided the bulk of the project's funding along with $80,000 from the Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation and $10,000 from the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy. Give credit to the Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation board and Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy for stepping up to the plate on a project that could help treat a leading natural cause of silt and nutrients in Chautauqua Lake.
Best of all is that the money spent over the years on lake studies hasn't been wasted. The Goose Creek stabilization project has been identified in lake plans throughout the past four years before it was singled out, along with Dutch Hollow Creek, for a 2012 study by Barton and Loguidice that identified the root causes of sediment conveyance and ways to fix the problems.
The county was right to step in and provide the final piece of funding for Goose Creek. It should do the same when the Dutch Hollow Creek project comes along.