CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY, N.Y. — The busy summer season launches this week around Chautauqua Lake and visitors will find the lake stressed but ready. 

"The state of Chautauqua Lake, from an ecological standpoint, it's stressed. It's a complex issue and there are no silver bullets," said George Borrello, (R) Chautauqua County Executive, in delivering the annual state of the lake report. 

The lake's stress comes from weed growth and the threat of algal blooms, feeding off nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen from agricultural runoff and choking the natural ecosystem from oxygen. 

Borrello said he's been working with farmers and landowners to incorporate better land management practices to help improve the lake's health. Additionally, the county has been working to create riparian buffers to provide more space between the land and the water. 



To help curb the weeds, sections of the lake were recently treated with herbicides, while other parts continue to be harvested, a process about which some lake conservation groups  remain divided. As a member of the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance, Borrello said he also wants to focus on algal blooms and work to manage the disease and not just the symptoms.

"There is no single solution. All those interests can come together for a balanced discussion on how to effectively treat the lake and continue to try to work on improving the water quality," said Borrello.

"We just passed a bill out of our committee to put a lot of money into being able to address those issues," said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, (D) New York. 

That bill, called America's Water Infrastructure Act, includes a provision to authorize the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a feasibility study to improve the quality of the lake, she said. 

"So much of our economy, whether you're talking about fishing or you're talking about recreation, or you're talking about tourism, relies on clean lakes," said Gillibrand.

"I'm supportive of anybody that wants to help Chautauqua Lake. The feasibility study is going to draw some attention to where we need to focus," said Borrello.

He encourages people to still enjoy the lake and all it has to offer. 

"Chautauqua Lake is certainly the gem of our county. A vibrant part of everyone's summer here in our county," said Borrello.

The Senate is expected to vote on the bill this summer. A similar version has already passed the House. 

The 2018 annual state of the lake report. 
The 2018 annual state of the lake report.