MAYVILLE – The Jamestown Post-Journal is reporting that Chautauqua Institution has filed a lawsuit against the Town of Ellery and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for not providing a “comprehensive study” on the use of herbicides on Chautauqua Lake.
According to an article in today’s paper, it’s the opinion of the institution’s scientific counsel that herbicide treatment that was approved by the DEC may have caused the growth of algal blooms.
A recent increase in algal blooms has worried the institution and concerned officials about the potability of their drinking water and the health of aquatic species.
Native plants help filter out phosphorus and nitrogen, the two main nutrients that can pollute the lake. But with the application of herbicides to control invasive weeds, Institution officials fear the native plants were also impacted, causing a rise in the algal blooms.
Institution officials say they are not directly opposed to herbicide use but are instead in favor of research that makes an effort to understand whether the benefits of herbicides will outweigh the potential dangers.
The Town of Ellery applied for state permission to apply herbicides early this year on behalf of the Chautauqua Lake Partnership group. Following a short public comment and deliberation period that allowed for a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, the state DEC granted permission to treat smaller portions of the lake compared to what was requested in the initial application.
Chautauqua Officials argue that until a comprehensive study is completed, the state should never have allowed for the application of herbicides.
The town of Ellery has turned the matter over to the town’s environmental attorney for recommendations for how to proceed.