Gillibrand wants Chautauqua Lake’s toxic algal blooms prioritized by Army Corps Of Engineers

WASHINGTON, DCU.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to prioritize funding to protect the lake’s water quality from toxic algal blooms by including the Chautauqua Lake Feasibility Study in its Fiscal Year 2020 Work Plan.

Chautauqua Lake and its surrounding communities suffer from continued environmental, public health, and economic damage caused by repeated harmful algal blooms, and this study would allow USACE to evaluate the excessive phosphorous runoff that causes these harmful algal blooms.

Additionally, the USACE would be able to study flood risk management measures, assess ecosystem restoration efforts, and address the accelerated erosion along the lake’s tributary streambanks. Erosion along Chautauqua Lake’s tributary streambanks have resulted in excessive sediment deposition, which also impairs the lake’s water quality.

Gillibrand called on the USACE to allocate funding for the Chautauqua Lake Feasibility Study in the USACE FY 2020 Work Plan in a letter to R.D. James, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, earlier this week.

“Chautauqua Lake is one of our state’s great natural treasures, and Congress should do everything it can to help stop the algal blooms that have plagued the lake’s water quality and harmed the local economy in Western New York,” Gillibrand said.  “While I was proud to fight for the authorization of this Feasibility Study, the Army Corps now needs to allocate this funding and actually implement it. I will always work to ensure New York’s waterways are safe and clean.”

Gillibrand successfully pushed to authorize the Chautauqua Lake Feasibility Study in the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018. The Chautauqua Lake Feasibility Study would enable the local communities to better understand changing flood risks and provide tools to help guard against future environmental degradation and property damage.

The study would inform best practices concerning excessive weed and harmful algae growth, as well as mitigation for sediments deposited at the mouths of the tributaries, to further minimize flood risks harming the environmental health and economic viability of Chautauqua Lake.

Chautauqua Lake is an important recreation and tourism destination for boating and fishing. The lake is approximately 13,000 acres in size and is fed by an approximately 100,000-acre watershed with 14 major tributaries. About 34 percent of the lake’s watershed drains from agricultural and developed lands. Excessive nutrients like phosphorous damage the ecological state of the watershed, threatening water quality.

The full text of the letter to R.D. James, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, may be found here.

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