Chautauqua Lake organizations, local foundations, and other stakeholders met with Congressman Nick Langworthy Wednesday to discuss efforts around the lake.
Chautauqua Lake is classified by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as a “Class A Waterbody” and suitable for drinking water; however the lake also is listed as an “Impaired Lake” because its usability is impacted negatively by nuisance vegetation, including weeds and harmful algal blooms (HABs).
The Jefferson Project has involved bringing in researchers from IBM and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to Chautauqua Lake to try to understand systems and processes that cause Harmful Agal Blooms.
Attendees at the meeting shared that $3.2 million dollars will be invested in the lake this year, of which $1.7 million is for watershed projects, $1.3 million for in-lake projects and a quarter million dollars for lake monitoring efforts. In addition to funding from the 2% Occupancy Tax for Lakes & Waterways, the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance said they are working with its various partners to secure grant funding to help further environmental efforts.
Congressman Langworthy said he and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have agreed to collaborate on Chautauqua Lake and help where they can, “We were dealing with Barcelona Harbor right out of the gate after I was sworn in, dealing with the Buffalo office of the Army Corps and then we were talking about something literally three miles away and we have to go to a completely different branch of the Army Corps, which has a tremendous backlog unfortunately. It’s some of the obstacles that we’re going to look at at the federal level right now and try to cut through. We have obstacles with our appropriation process with some of the gridlock that we face in Washington.”
Langworthy said the health of Chautauqua Lake is important and that the group of stakeholders has to come to an agreement on what their end goal is, “What is that end goal? What is that moon shot? Where do we want to be in ten years because public funding cycles, it takes time to amass enough money. And what is the dollar figure to make sure that this lake is no longer impaired, is clean, is prosperous as we can make it? And if Jefferson (Project) is the first step to finding those answers, well then that’s where we need to go.”
Langworthy said if the “earmark” to fund an Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for Chautauqua Lake can move forward, the Army Corps will then assess problematic conditions in the watershed and lake, make recommendations to restore the ecosystem, and open the door to federal implementation funding.