I am very disappointed with the Department of Environmental Recreation (formerly known as the Department of Environmental CONSERVATION) for issuing these permits. I used to make about 20 trips a year to Chautauqua from Buffalo, including renting a place on the lake for the Walleye opener. Last year was my last trip for the Walleye opener and I will not be fishing Chautauqua Lake this year.
Phosphates may be considered pollution, but it is a fertilizer we use for our food. It is not dangerous to our health, outside of stimulating toxic algae blooms which have only been a minor issue. The DEC and other agencies are taking a pure and healthy lake that has little to no industrial or other chemical pollution and dumping harmful chemicals into the lake and calling it a solution. We are actually regressing in our efforts to protect our natural resources and it is a shame.
The lake's biosystem WAS the healthiest I have seen it in 30+ years. I agree that in areas weeds were getting out of control, but there are better ways to address this. The reports showed two main sources of Phosphate load: 1.) farm run-off (contributes to new phosphate load) 2. phosphate load in the sediment (historical accumulations).
There was an argument that addressing the farm runoff will not address the issue, since the majority of the phosphate load is in the sediment. This is poor logic since it is years of farm run-off that would have caused the sediment load. You have to stop the bleeding before you can sew up the wound. Once the farm run-off is addressed the weed harvesting will slowly address the sediment load since the weeds will consume the phosphates in the sediment and the nutrients will be removed as part of the weed harvesting. This progress could potentially be expedited through a 5 year dredging program to remove the top layer of sediment containing phosphates in the shallow water where there is weed growth.
Our issue is that people do not accept a 5 year plan that maintains the integrity of the lake and puts restriction on farm run-off. Instead they want to pollute a healthy lake in order to have a solution now and not have to restrict farm run-off. Solving the issue of excessive nutrient load by dumping chemicals into the lake is a very unsophisticated and socially irresponsible response. The DEC and Governor Cuomo should be ashamed for agreeing to solve the lakes issue of high phosphate levels with an even more harsh pollutant. The lake is still polluted because we are not removing or reducing the phosphate, but now there are additional and more harsh pollutants we are introducing.