The Chautauqua Lake Partnership is a non-profit organization committed to improving the quality of Chautauqua Lake. We are concerned about water quality, especially the proliferation of weeds and algae and their accumulation near shore and along the shoreline. For years we have had “sludge”, masses of rotting weeds and algae, including blue-green algae and cyanobacteria toxin near shore and on the shoreline. It is time for action and changes necessary to protect our lake.

This “sludge” inhibits water movement and creates stagnant conditions preventing normal water turnover and mixing. It facilitates algae growth creating an unhealthy situation for humans, pets and other animals. We endure an almost constant foul odor along the shore and into our homes and as far away as Lakeside Drive with wading, swimming, kayaking, fishing, watching the sunset, parties, etc. impossible.

It’s time to make Chautauqua Lake the great place it once was. We must get rid of the floating weeds and get rid of the near shore and shoreline weeds, sludge and foul odor. We are entitled to enjoy the aesthetics and recreation which we, as property owners, pay a premium to enjoy.

Weed cutting has been the only weed management method used in Chautauqua Lake for the last 14 years. We don’t understand all the reasons, but we know from a 2014 survey of lake residents that (1) it’s not working…83% of lake residents said the lake was deteriorating, and, (2) it’s not what lake residents want…only 8% of lake residents favored weed cutting with more preferring other options. We’ve been told 2016 weed cutting failed to recover 10% of the weeds cut amounting to 1,400,000 lbs. These weeds end up floating, on our near shore areas, on our shorelines or at the bottom of the lake.

We have approached village, town, county and state government representatives and many others seeking a solution to the problem. Contacts to date have included the following:

  • Chautauqua County: County Executive Vince Horrigan, County Legislator Pierre Chagnon, Planning and Economic Development Department (CCPED) and Health Department staff
  • State of New York: District 57 Senator Cathy Young, District 150 Assemblyman Andy Goodell Department of Environment Conservation (DEC) offices in Albany, Buffalo and Allegheny
  • Town of Ellery: Town Supervisor Arden Johnson
  • Village of Bemus Point: Mayor Bryan Dahlberg
  • Chautauqua Lake Association (CLA): President Paul Stage, Executive Director Doug Conroe

Lake residents remember a time not long ago when lake water was clear and the shoreline, near shore and lake bottom were free of weeds and sludge. We believe we can have that again. The time to consider alternative approaches is long overdue.

Following are our objectives:

1) Support Chautauqua County completion of the Macrophyte Management Strategy (MMS) with lakeside property owner input and with implementation accountable to Chautauqua County taxpayers.

2) Gain New York State, Chautauqua County, the Town of Ellery and the Village of Bemus Point support for our efforts including trial of alternative weed management methods in 2017.

3) Get CLA to upgrade their operations including (1) transparency in its use of government, foundation and homeowner funding in prioritization of activities, (2) mitigate negative near shore/shoreline impact of its weed cutting, and, (3) seriously consider other weed management alternatives, including herbicides.

4) Secure a NYS DEC permit for herbicide treatment of new-growth weeds in selected areas of Bemus Bay, select approved herbicide vendors and applicators, secure funding and manage the activity. With learnings from this treatment, this approach might be extended to other locations on the lake.

5) Secure a US ACOE permit for dredging of weed and sludge accumulations in selected areas of Bemus Bay, select a qualified dredging contractor, secure funding and manage the activity. With learnings from this operation, this approach might be extended to other locations on the lake.

It’s time to make Chautauqua Lake the great place it once was and enjoy the aesthetics and recreation which we’ve all made sacrifices to enjoy. To this end, we’ve formed a group of homeowners and business owners along to pursue our objectives. Please join our group!