A mechanical aquatic weed harvester is stirring up controversy on Honeoye Lake.
Residents lined up about nine boats on Monday to prevent the weed harvester from being used. The machine clears vegetation in the lake that hinder residents and their boats.
Some residents believe the device stirs up sediment and other debris that pollute the lake and creates toxic algae blooms.
Jeff Moore owns a marina on the lake. He organized the protest to keep it clean.
“It’s my business on the lake, and my grandkids," Moore said. "I’m the fourth generation here, and I remember it being beautiful and clean, and it’s just getting worse, and worse and worse every year. And it’s my livelihood here.”
The county denies the claims, and says no science proves the machine creates algae blooms.
Betsy Landre with the Ontario County Planning Department says they have been managing aquatic vegetation for more than 30 years.
“County has collected water quality samples in before-and-after harvesting scenarios which are analyzed by a state-certified, independent laboratory," Landre said in a statement. "To date, no correlations between harvesting and changes in water clarity or chemistry in localized sites have been detected.”
She says though the number of those tests are limited, more are being planned.
Instead she points to a study by Cornell University and Finger Lakes Community College that “suggests a different set of factors are associated with the timing of large scale blooms on Honeoye Lake. Other research is looking at the role zebra and quagga mussel population dynamics" play into triggering “conditions favorable to algae blooms.”
The harvester is back on the lake after being vandalized several weeks ago, and the county says residents can still call and request its use for harvesting and shoreline pickup.
Meanwhile, Moore says he will keep protesting to keep it out of the lake.