MAYVILLE – Chautauqua County tax dollars will not be able to be used to help pay for the use of chemical weed killer on Chautauqua Lake.
That was the result of Wednesday night’s Chautauqua County Legislature meeting in Mayville, where lawmakers amended a resolution allocating $100,000 for the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance, adding language that prohibits any of the money from being used for the purchase or application of herbicides in the lake.
The decision came after a dozen different people addressed the legislature to speak out against the use of Herbicides on the lake. The concerns were brought up after a small portion of Bemus Bay was treated with the herbicides Aquathol K and Navigate (also known 24D) at the end of June by the Chautauqua Lake Partnership, a member of the alliance which had received permission from the state DEC to move forward with herbicide treatment to combat the large amount of weeds in that area of the lake.
Among those who spoke was Maple Springs resident and retired teacher Jane Conroe, who said no other herbicide use should take place until the impact of the recent herbicide application is fully known.
“This is a science experiment in progress,” Conroe said. “24D is not going anywhere for about three years. It is in the sediment of Bemus Bay. It’s half-life is 186 days and the plants continue to adsorb the 24D for as long as its there in the sentiment. So about three years from now, there’s still going to be a quarter of a ton of 24D in the sediment of Bemus Bay.”
Chautauqua Institution resident John Dilly also voiced concern, saying that he was puzzled that the state gave permission to use the Navigate herbicide, despite it being banned elsewhere.
“Massachusetts did a similar study of 24D and recommended that it not be used in any pond or lake that fed a drinking water source,’ Dilly said. “Also, there’s multiple provinces in Canada that have banned 24D and multiple countries in Europe. So I don’t understand why if the local plan for the lake said don’t use this, how it still got to be used.”
Dilly was referring to the Chautauqua Lake Management Plan of 1990, which provided information on how to combat weeds in the lake, and also stated that the herbicide 24D should not be used.
Chautauqua Institution gets its drinking water supply from the lake. Chautauqua Representative John Shedd urged the legislature that the Department of Environmental Conservation and local science committee hold a forum to sort out there opposing views on herbicide use, before any further application takes place.
“We are asking the legislature to advocate for the DEC to create a forum where the important points of disagreement are vetted with all interested parties at the table. We suggest that no further use of herbicides, or testing be pursued until the disagreements are vetted and understood by all parties,” Shedd said.
Others who spoke out against the use included representatives of the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy and the Conewango Creek Watershed Association, noting that the herbicide poses negative consequences for animals and plants not only in the application area, but also in other areas of the watershed.
Later in the meeting, the legislature considered a funding resolution for the alliance, to apply $100,000 of bed tax money to be used for various projects and other expenses that may come up from the alliance and its members. Prior to voting on the resolution, legislator Mark O’Dell (R-Portland) offered an amendment that stated the money could not be used for the purchase or application of herbicides on Chautauqua Lake.
Legislator George Borrello (R-Irving), who’s also running for County Executive, reminded the legislator that even with such an amendment in place, herbicides could still be used on the lake.
“The alliance is not solely funded by this legislative body. they receive funds from other source,” Borrello Said. “There for us to restrict this money really doesn’t do anything, because at the end of the day they can say we didn’t use your money, we used the other money. I know this for a fact because I’ve had similar situations like there, where unless we 100 percent fund that body, there’s no way for to designate that they can not use herbicides. I bring this up because while this is certainly a nice gesture, it really does nothing.”
Legislator Paul Whitford (D-Jamestown) responded to Borrello’s comment, saying that the amendment would send a message to the residents and lake organizations.
“We need to send a clear message to the alliance that we do not approve of this, and I will be voting for this to send that message. It may not make a difference on what money they spend, as far has herbicides, but this legislature needs to let them understand that we stand with the populus here when it comes to the herbicide issue.”
Following discussion, the legislature approved the herbicide amendment by a vote of 17 to 0.
The final version of the funding resolution was approved 13 to 4, with some legislators concerned about giving money to the alliance without first knowing the specific purposes for its use.