CLP Responses to article in Chautauquan Daily

The post below includes Chautauqua Lake Partnership comments regarding…  Discussions and Concerns — Recent Application of Herbicides in Areas of Chautauqua Lake Continues to be Closely Monitored published in The Chautauquan Daily, June 23 of 2018

Overall

Paragraphs 1-5: Very good introduction

Inaccuracies

Paragraph 49: “The CLP did not respond for comment on the herbicide application…”. The Chautauquan tried but did not make contact with anyone from the Partnership for input even though a significant portion of the article’s content concerned CLP activities. The sources for CLP-related information were not identified and CLP was not given an opportunity to correct, add critical information or comment.

Paragraph 9: “…increases in…density of milfoil weeds and other macrophytes within the southbasin…”  Weed densities are high in the North (e. g., Mayville, Hartfield Bay, Warner Bay, Stow) as well as the South Basin as documented in Spring and Fall 2018 weed surveys and as is obvious to lake users.

Paragraph 10:” …NYSDEC granted permits to the towns of Ellery, Busti and North Harmony…”  DEC granted five, not three, permits, to the Towns of Ellery, North Harmony, Ellicott and Busti and the Village of Celoron.

Paragraph 14: “…application on June 11 and 12…” “This is the only application planned this year”  We’re unaware of any other applications for aquatic pesticide permits having been submitted for Chautauqua Lake. However, now that a new (2018) SEIS is complete, it is possible that other applications could be submitted.

The DEC required an SEIS prior to herbicide permitting after a 1986 DEC/CLA agreement. A County-lead SEIS was completed in 1990. The DEC required its update after 14 years in 2004.

The County included the required update in its Macrophyte Management Strategy (MMS) scope but abandoned it in 4Q2016 before completing the MMS in 1Q2017.

Paragraph 15: “The CLP and…SOLitude handled the application…”  SOLitude Lake Management, Inc. an experienced licensed lake management company operating in several states, applied herbicides on behalf of the Towns of Ellery, Busti and North Harmony on June 11, 2018.

Paragraph 16: “…Eurasian water milfoil and curly leaf pondweed were the main targets…”  Eurasian water milfoil (EWM) and curly leaf pondweed (CLP) were the only targets.

Paragraph 18: “area of concern is Navigate… contains components deemed a carcinogen…”   This comment, relative to Navigates active ingredient 2,4-D, was raised during the State Environmental Quality Review Act and responded to in the Final SEIS including “As a requirement for continuing registration of a pesticide, all pesticides are required to undergo a periodic Re-registration Eligibility Decision, which looks at the characteristics of the herbicide using current technology and research. 2,4-D was re-registered by the EPA in 2016. Details of the human health effects of 2,4-D were not considered prohibitive to continued use of the herbicide in aquatic or terrestrial environments.”

Paragraph 20: “Tom Cherry……no way of filtering these toxins…would not be able to detect them until, they’ve been in the system for two weeks…”   Test results on herbicide levels can be made available within a few days of sampling.

Triclopyr, for which the drinking water threshold is 50 ppb, was identified at the Institution (CUD) lake water intake at 25.5 ppb over 24 hours before the June, 2018, herbicide treatments. We expect the CUD and the Institution is attempting to determine the source. Triclopyr is an active ingredient in terrestrial herbicides such as Ortho’s Weed-B-Gone.

Permit-required water testing results, including those described above, were shared upon receipt with the Chautauqua County Department of Health. CLP has yet to receive the promised CUD/Institution sampling/testing results.

It is worth noting that Harmful Algae Blooms (cyanobacteria, blue green algae) occur in Chautauqua Lake. Cyanobacteria can release nerve, skin and liver toxins which Tom Cherry claims can be removed by CUD filtering. However, we are unaware of CUD/Institution drinking water contingency plans or a plan to develop a source other than the lake for Institution drinking and household use. Such plans are especially important considering the potential for toxins entering the water supply from Harmful Algae Blooms (cyanobacteria) as we understand occurred in September 2017.

 

Paragraph 27: “When Institution concerns …were not addressed.”  Institution comments were addressed on multiple levels Substantive comments raised by CUD and the Institution were addressed through the SEIS and SEQRA process. The DEC also received Institution comments and held meetings with the Institution prior to granting the final permits.

Paragraph 31: “Borrello…The prescription is to try to treat the disease and not try and manage the symptoms. The public side of this is managing the symptoms, unfortunately”.  We believe that Borrello may be referring to high levels of nutrients in the lake as a “disease”. Numerous organizations, including the CLP, are working to devise an effective strategy to reduce these nutrients. However, the level of invasive weeds in the lake is also a “disease” that the CLP, Towns and Villages, through permitting and application of herbicides, are working to address so that invasive/non-native weeds no longer out-compete and displace natives and create a nuisance in the lake.

Paragraph 36: “Borrello…the people in favor of herbicides have been aggressive rather than waiting to hear from the other side to avoid risks and possible mitigation.”  We disagree withthe use of the use of the word “aggressive” given its negative connotation. CLP has been assertive in regards to the SEIS and herbicides given the deteriorating state of the lake.

Individuals and organizations lake-wide had the opportunity to participate in the SEIS process. The Town of Ellery conducted two public hearings and gathered over 800 SEIS comments from 75 individuals and organizations. Over 2000 Letters of Notification soliciting permit application objections resulted in only 10 objections returned to the DEC. The herbicide treatment plan considered risks and included mitigations to avoid those risks.

“Borrello…The County’s role has been to be the “’adult in the room’ in these discussions.”  In CLP’s experience, the County is rarely “in the room” actively discussing lake-rated issues with CLP and other lake organizations, including the Chautauqua Lake Association (CLA), the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy (CWC), the Chautauqua County Soil & Water Conservation District (S&W) and the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance let alone acting as a mediator in those discussions.

Paragraph 39: “Borrello…The CLP has used this (census-based population decreases) as well as decreasing home values and tourism, as evidence of the lake’s poor health in its efforts tobuild support for herbicide use.”  CLP has not yet used census-based population decreases as evidence. However, we agree that this would be worth looking into.

Borrello dismissed what he labeled as ‘misrepresentations’ and ‘rumors’ that tourism and property values were declining.”  Realtors and business/lake property owners would disagree with this statement. Annual County Executive statements that the “lake is in great shape”are not supported by the facts (e. g., impaired water body), the experiences of year-round and seasonal residents and visitors or the ongoing efforts of lake organizations at improvement (including this dialogue).

 

Paragraph 43: “Conroe…The warning signs essentially say don’t use the lake for irrigation all summer…”  The irrigation restriction is 120 days or when Renovate is measured at less than 1 ppb, whichever comes first. Less than 1 ppb were achieved in the vast majority of the lake within 10 days with the remaining areas likely to be achieved in less than 20 days.

Paragraph 44: “Conroe…The test treatment done by the DEC in 2017 provided the same services the CLA would have provided…but at over five times the cost.”  The CLA’s “weed harvesting” (mowing/pruning) operation provides only a carbon-intensive and temporary solution with significant negative environmental impacts. The negative environmental impacts of weed cutting are well-documented by the DEC but continue unmitigated and unregulated. Comparing the effectiveness, impacts and cost of weed harvesting’s temporary measures to regulated and impact-mitigated herbicide-based weed control is comparing“apples to oranges”.

Paragraph 48: “Conroe…a strong push for immediate results has set back efforts and public understanding by 20 years.”  The use of herbicides does not undermine longer term lake improvement efforts, on which the CLP is also working. Agreements between CLA and DEC in the 1980s made herbicide use all but impossible and has resulted in an unsuccessful 25-year weed cutting/no herbicide experiment.

Paragraph 51: “Shedd…the Institution received no notice of the testing done in Bemus Bay last year until signs were posted…”  CLP, Town of Ellery and Village of Bemus Point 2017 Bemus Bay herbicide treatment communication was comprehensive, exceeding DEC requirements and common practice. Pre-treatment notices were sent to over 600 lake side property owners to be affected by water use restrictions and notices were placed in the Jamestown Post-Journal and other media outlets. A County-organized Coordination meeting and a CLP- organized public Information Session were held several days prior to the treatment. One should be able to assume that Institution management is aware of notices in local media outlets and have relationships with County government so that they understand what is occurring in the Chautauqua Lake community.

Comments

Paragraph 6: The Institution’s “…history as ‘stewards of the lake’…”?  We understand that the Institution has gone to great lengths to enhance its own storm water runoff watershed management practices and we commend those efforts. However, we are not aware that the Institution is “stewarding” the lake by taking actions elsewhere and note that the CUD’s relatively recent sewage treatment plant phosphorus removal and other upgrades followed decades of discharges, more phosphorus than all other sewage treatment plants on the lake combined (see 2012 EPA/DEC Total Maximum Daily Limit for Phosphorus report). Discharged phosphorus now resides in lake bottom sediments as “internal loading”, the highest priority nutrient reduction target in Chautauqua Lake. We note that CLA also claims that it is the“Steward of the Lake.”

Paragraph 17: “…multiple groups are concerned about the effectiveness of the herbicides in eradicating the plants…”  Herbicides are effective controlling EWM and CLP. That’s apparent from their wide use in NY, by results in Bemus Bay in 2017, other states and overseas and, most importantly, by the fact that DEC permits their use. Concerns raised by groups, agencies, and individuals were addressed in the SEIS.

Paragraph 18: “…may actually increase harmful and toxic algal blooms…Becky Nystrom…”   To date, this claim is not substantiated by hard evidence or science. It is only a “may,” “possibly,” and “potential” effect which was addressed quantitatively in the 2018 SEIS.

Paragraph 21: “Tom Cherry…we’ve got 10,000 people without any water or fire protection…”   The herbicide treatment areas were significantly further away from CUD’s water intakes than required by the DEC and analysis predicted that these herbicides could not reach CUD’swater intakes in any harmful levels. It is unclear how herbicide levels could affect water used for fire protection.

Paragraph 24: “John Shedd…it was a deal breaker in us being able to support or be part of such a solution. It is still our hope that it will not be used in the future.”  Closed-minded approaches have prevented collaboration on lake management solutions in common use in other parts of NYS and the USA from being available to Chautauqua Lake. Such an approach keeps well- meaning lake organizations from getting together and supporting comprehensive multi- faceted lake-wide solutions. Additionally, it is the DEC, that is responsible and staffed for regulation and permitting of aquatic herbicides in NYS.

Paragraph 25: “Experts created models for lake currents and flow, deciphering under whichconditions chemicals could reach this area…”  We expect these models showed no impacts of concern. We’d like to see the modeling and results.

 

Paragraph 34: “Borrello…We need to find consensus and common ground. What we’ve lacked is true collaboration from both sides…”  We’re unsure what “both sides” Borrello is referring to and are unaware of County facilitation of such consensus. CLP has reached out to the CLA, CWC and S&W seeking collaboration on lake improvement. The County’s ”requirement” for “consensus” among all “sides” has prevented progress on lake improvement giving closed- minded individuals and groups a veto.

Paragraph 27: “Borrello… Just because you think you have a majority opinion on your side,doesn’t mean you won’t face serious litigation.”  We are glad to hear Borrello agrees that a majority supports targeted herbicide control of invasive weeds which is certainly the case (see survey included in the 2017 MMS).

Paragraph 53: “Shedd…The Lakewood community is currently waiting on results to see if herbicides were in fact dispersed in the area.”  Although permitted offshore the entire Town of Busti including the Village of Lakewood, the Town decided to forego application offshore the Village. We read about Chautauqua Lake Association plans to sample/test for herbicides offshore Lakewood several weeks ago and would like to see their testing locations, procedures, results and conclusions.

Of Interest

Paragraph 54: “Hill was adamant that going into the 2018 season, the Institution’s drinkingwater is safe”.  Triclopyr, for which the drinking water threshold is 50 ppb, was identified at the Institution (CUD) lake water intake at 25.5 ppb over 24 hours before the June, 2018, herbicide treatments. We expect the CUD and the Institution is attempting to determine the source.Triclopyr is an active ingredient in terrestrial herbicides such as Ortho’s Weed-B-Gone.

Permit-required water testing results, including those described above, were shared upon receipt with the Chautauqua County Department of Health. CLP has yet to receive the promised CUD/Institution sampling/testing results.

It is worth noting that Harmful Algae Blooms (cyanobacteria, blue green algae) occur in Chautauqua Lake. Cyanobacteria can release nerve, skin and liver toxins which the CUD claims can be removed by CUD filtering. However, we are unaware of CUD/Institution drinking water contingency plans or a plan to develop a source other than the lake for Institution drinking and household use. Such plans are especially important considering the potential for toxins entering the water supply from Harmful Algae Blooms (cyanobacteria) as we understand occurred in September 2017.