Several samples from Chautauqua Lake were recently sent to the NYSDEC for testing by the Chautauqua Lake Association to determine if harmful algal blooms (HABs) were present in the water. This week, several positive test results were confirmed and posted to NYHABS, an online database for HAB activity throughout the state. The CLA and other lake officials have expressed concern over the results and where they appear more prominent.
“It appears that the significant HAB activity is in the south basin of Chautauqua Lake,” said Doug Conroe, executive director for the CLA. “Unfortunately, this early onset is a result of concentrated herbicide use in the affected areas,” said Conroe. Aquatic vegetation in fresh bodies of water help absorb and eliminate nutrients that cause HABs to form. When that plant life is eradicated from a specific area, the nutrient load raises and HABs can form faster and cover larger areas with little competition. It is an unintended but preventable consequence of large scale herbicide use.
Water samples are collected in random locations from both lake basins and sent in to a certified lab for processing. The results are reviewed and interpreted by the NYSDEC and confirmed cases of HAB activity is posted publicly.
HABs usually form near shorelines in spotty locations, however CLA officials are concerned over the fact that open water HABs were also confirmed in the south basin as well.
“Open water HABs specifically relate to overall lake water health. This issue needs to be taken more seriously,” said Conroe.
For more information on HAB activity, visit www.dec.ny.gov and navigate to the NYHAB page for an interactive map of affected areas. For local information on Chautauqua Lake, the CLA website and Facebook page post information on a regular basis.