News | April 13, 2018

As Algal Blooms Continue To Cause Environmental And Economic Damage To Chautauqua Lake, Senator Gillibrand Urges EPW Committee To Take Steps To Improve Lake's Water Quality In Upcoming Water Resources Development Act

Chautauqua Lake Suffers from Harmful Algal Blooms, Causing Water Quality to be Impaired; Gillibrand’s Provision Would Authorize Army Corps of Engineers Feasibility Study to Develop a Strategy to Restore the Lake’s Watershed

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand recently announced that she is urging the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) to authorize a Chautauqua Lake Feasibility Study in the upcoming Water Resources Development Act to address the continued environmental and economic damage caused by algal blooms. This study authorization would allow the Army Corps of Engineers to evaluate excessive phosphorous runoff causing repeated harmful algal blooms to impair the lake’s water quality. Additionally, the Army Corps will study flood risk management measures, assess ecosystem restoration efforts, and address the accelerated erosion along the lake’s tributary streambanks. Erosion along Chautauqua Lake’s tributary streambanks have resulted in excessive sediment deposition.

“This study for Chautauqua Lake is an important step that will help our communities combat harmful algal blooms and other threats to the lake, its ecosystem, and the surrounding region,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. “We need to do everything we can to make sure Chautauqua Lake continues to be a source of clean drinking water and a safe destination for boating, fishing, and other recreational activities. I will always fight for the resources we need to protect New York’s waterways.”

“I appreciate Senator Gillibrand’s support and recognition of the important need to address erosion concerns in the Chautauqua Lake watershed,” said Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello. “The flow of phosphorus into the lake is the major contributing factor in the growth of harmful algal blooms, which threaten human health as well as the delicate balance of the ecosystem in the watershed.”

Chautauqua Lake is an important recreation and tourism destination for boating and fishing. The lake is approximately 13,000 acres in size and is fed by an approximately 100,000-acre watershed with 14 major tributaries. About 34 percent of the lake’s watershed drains from agricultural and developed lands. Excessive nutrients like phosphorus damage the ecological state of the watershed. The Chautauqua Lake Feasibility Study would enable the local communities to better understand changing flood risks and provide tools to help guard against future environmental degradation and property damage. The study would inform best practices concerning excessive weed and algae growth, as well as mitigation for sediments deposited at the mouths of the tributaries to further minimize the flood risks that are harming the environmental health and economic viability of Chautauqua Lake.

SOURCE: U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand