Chautauqua Lake Association Reports on Lake Maintenance Achievements and Challenges for the Summer 2021 Season
Lakewood, NY —The Chautauqua Lake Association has removed an estimated 12.14 million pounds of vegetation and debris from Chautauqua Lake in 2021. Of that total, 2.34 million pounds was contributed by Town of Chautauqua’s mobi-trac skimmers.
Harvesting and shore cleanup will continue at a limited capacity through September as the fleet makes the return trip to the association’s Lakewood facility.
This year, the CLA’s lake cleanup initiative kicked off in May with debris cleanup followed by an early June Curly leaf pondweed harvesting operation. Regular season crews started on June 14 and worked through the beginning of September.
On average, the CLA employs 30-40 of laborers annually for the summer season. This year, due to the labor shortage, the numbers were significantly lower, with an average crew size of 7-12. Crews worked 8 hours a day to complete their regular routes around the lake. Executive Director Doug Conroe notes, “We found ourselves facing the same difficulty in recruiting workers as was being experienced by other local businesses and agencies.”
The heavy rains in July, which caused the tributaries to bring in large trees and other woody debris, was yet another challenge faced by the CLA this season. Immediately following these storms, the CLA crews were shifted from their regular routes and engaged in emergency cleanup. Over the course of 2 weeks more than an estimated 380 tons of hazardous debris was pulled from Chautauqua Lake by the CLA crews and the Village of Bemus Point.
“This summer, we were faced with extreme weather and manpower challenges forcing us to adapt and overcome these unusual obstacles throughout the season,” states Heather Nolan-Caskey, Community Services Manager. “Despite these obstacles, the CLA was able to give all lake communities service two or more times throughout the course of the regular season.”
As the only organization on Chautauqua Lake that provides routine Harmful Algal Bloom monitoring throughout the lake, the CLA’s weekly observation of specific sites throughout the lake has resulted in registering HAB occurrences with NYSDEC. These occurrences are less intensive in nature this year as compared to last year. Conroe reports that “We are working with the experts at SUNY ESF along with a Cornell University professor to better understand and recognize HAB conditions.”
As the harvesting equipment makes its return to Lakewood for off season maintenance, lake cleanup will continue through September. All equipment will be removed from the lake in October, cleaned and inspected. Repairs will be completed during the off season to ensure that the CLA is able to fulfill its mission with minimal downtime throughout the summer.
Continued funding for the CLA is a key component to its success. One-third of the CLA’s annual operating budget comes from government agencies including county and state-level grants. Another third comes comes local foundations. The remainder of the budget comes from outreach, fundraising and member support. Ongoing contributions to the annual fund drive are welcomed and can be made online or mailed to the office.