Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance
Minutes of the Board of Directors Meeting
Thursday, February 8, 2018
4:00 p.m. at Stow Senior Center
Directors Present: Jim Andrews, Linda Barber, Pierre Chagnon, Sally Carlson, Ken Shearer, Dave Shepherd, Dave Spann, and Dave Wesp.
Absent: George Borrello.
Others in Attendance: Erin Brickley – Alliance Executive Director & Randall Perry – Alliance Project Manager. Tory Irgang & June Diethrick – Chautauqua Region Community Foundation. Linda Swanson – Sheldon Foundation. Mark Stow – Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services. Interested citizens: Craig Butler, Dan Thomas.
Member Representatives in Attendance: John Jablonski – Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy (CWC), John Shedd – Chautauqua Institution, Cassie Brower – Chautauqua County Soil & Water Conservation District, Dave McCoy – Chautauqua County, Jim Cirbus – Chautauqua Lake Partnership (CLP), Karen Rine – South & Center Chautauqua Lake Sewer District, & Tom Ennis – NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation – Allegany Region.
Scientific Review & Advisory Committee Members in Attendance: Tom Erlandson & Jane Conroe.
I. Call to Order:
Mr. Chagnon called the meeting of the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance (Alliance) to order at 4:01 pm. It was noted for the record that there was a quorum (8 of 9) present.
II. Approval of Minutes:
Mr. Shepherd made a motion to accept the minutes of the 1/11/18 Board Meeting, seconded by Ms. Barber. The motion was approved unanimously.
III. Update on Current Alliance/Member Projects:
Mr. Perry gave an update on the status of the now eleven funded Alliance/Member projects in process:
Water Quality Improvement Project (WQIP) grants (six in total):
- No significant changes since January 2017 report (except reporting milestones)
- Implementation status:
- Quarterly reports submitted to DEC late-Jan 2018
- Reimbursement reports in progress
- Dutch Hollow Creek & West Dutch Hollow Creek: DEC permits granted Dec 2017; USACE permits in review; Target Construction: Summer 2018; firm(s) TBD via public bid(s)
- Ball Creek: Construction completed Nov/Dec 2017; additional site prep/planting coordination with CWC in progress
- Goose Creek: Target construction Summer 2018; construction contract executed
- Bemus Creek: SWCD-led construction completed at Upper (2016/2017) and Lower (2017) sections
- Prendergast Creek: No significant change; construction phase of grant appears to be complete.
- Implementation status:
Invasive Species Management Grant (Senator Young $50K local assistance grant via County pass-through):
- Coordination among Alliance and implementing partners in progress
- Audubon work largely complete; RTPI/Alliance collaboration in progress
- Draft Alliance subcontract in progress with CLA
- Equipment purchase pending.
Lakewood/Busti Stormwater Management Engineering Study (DEC/EFC Engineering Planning Grant):
- Engineering work underway by Barton & Loguidice (Target Completion ca. May 2018)
- Draft report and initial projects list meeting completed 1/31/18
- Selection of top 6 recommended projects for preliminary design in progress.
Celoron LWRP grants (2013/2016):
- Anticipated construction start ca. 2/19/18
- Partial completion scheduled for March 2018; final completion ca. Oct 2018.
Celoron Park Improvement (Phase IV) LWRP grant (2017):
- Coordination between Alliance & Village in progress – e.g., funding, SEQRA/SHPO assistance.
Mayville / Chautauqua Stormwater Mgmt. Engineering Study (NYS DEC/EFC Engineering Planning Grant):
- Project kick-off meeting with Village/Town team held 1/22/18
- Alliance assistance with initial Grant Agreement Checklist items – e.g., resolutions, work plan/scope, engineer procurement.
Mr. Shepherd commented that he had attended the Lakewood/Busti 1/31/18 meeting regarding the draft report from Barton & Loguidice and identification of the six projects being furthered to preliminary design. He observed that the meeting itself went very well and that the consultant and Alliance staff did a really good job facilitating the discussion at this critical juncture in the project.
The topic of learning and adjusting based conceptually on best management practices (BMPs) was also discussed. Ms. Brickley advised that it is most certainly the case and the most clear cut example is the staggered but similar efforts of the Lakewood/Busti stormwater study that is set to be completed this May and the newly initiated Mayville/Chautauqua stormwater study that is just getting underway. After working through the process with Lakewood, we learned that it would have been beneficial for the municipal staff if we had provided a clearer timeline of when and how expenses would occur during the life of the project, which we made sure to do when kicking off the Mayville project. At the Mayville meeting, a need to highlight project team (Alliance, Village & Town) participation versus public comment meetings whereby the full boards and general public will have the opportunity for inputs into the project was observed and addressed shortly after the kick off meeting. Ms. Brickley noted that details of each project and the corresponding layers of partnership are often specialized, but that the Alliance is absolutely learning and improving with each new project and with each new partnership as we go forward.
IV. Update from 2/7/18 Science Committee Meeting:
Mr. Spann, the chair of the Science Committee advised that the group had met on 2/7/18, initially focused on defining a procedure for updating and/or amending the MMS as discussed and directed at the 12/14/17 Alliance board meeting. Mr. Spann advised that it was a brainstorming session and that there was discussion for the best approach for amending the MMS as well as a more overarching discussion of the need for a clearinghouse for all studies and projects. The committee also expressed a strong desire for continued monitoring. Mr. Spann advised that the group would continue to work on some official recommendations going forward.
V. Update: Alliance RFP for 5 Year Implementation Strategy:
Overview: The overall intent of creating a 5 Year Implementation Strategy is to create a neutral way to bring everyone together and gather all relevant stakeholder perspectives, in order to document a strategic way to implement current guidance documents. This is not meant to rehash the efforts already expended on the creation of existing guidance documents but rather a balanced approach for implementation and prioritization. The Alliance Request For Proposal (RFP) was issued 8/16/17 and identified the scope of work as integrating existing Guidance Documents (Watershed Management Plan, Total Maximum Daily Load for Phosphorus, and Macrophyte Management Strategy) into a cohesive and useable Strategy that allows for evaluation, prioritization, and proportional funding allocations among both in-lake management techniques and watershed-based management categories. After receipt of four qualified proposals by the September deadline and documented proposal evaluations, the Alliance Board approved the recommendation of the evaluation committee to select EcoLogic, LLC (and identified subcontractor Anchor QEA) for this project based on their overall approach and focus on facilitation and community based inputs at the November Alliance board meeting. An initial kick-off meeting was held between EcoLogic/Anchor QEA and Alliance board and staff on 11/28/17. The initial steps taken by EcoLogic/Anchor QEA team and general next steps include: background data/guidance document reviews by consultant team; development of stakeholder questionnaire and focus group agenda, development of multi-analysis prioritization tool, etc. The stakeholder questionnaires were sent out via email on 1/9/18 and these surveys were qualitative rather than quantitative and were meant to get members thinking about the challenges of prioritization and what was truly important to each of them, prior to small group meetings.
Update: Ms. Brickley advised that nine focus groups were held the end of January/ beginning of February categorized as: Municipalities, Agriculture & Parks, Business & Tourism, Local Scientists, Chautauqua Lake Association, Chautauqua Lake Partnership, Conservation & Environment, Local Foundations, and Chautauqua Institution. The Alliance invited stakeholders from 42 organizations (including the 31 founding member organizations of the Alliance) which resulted in attendance from 35 separate community groups. The focus group meetings were facilitated by EcoLogic and all nine started with a common understanding presentation so we could focus on people’s perceptions, concerns and priorities for the majority of the session rather than to debate the science. EcoLogic is currently reviewing meeting notes and identifying themes and community priorities for incorporation into the draft 5 Year Implementation Strategy. The goal is for a draft report to be done in April for additional community/member feedback followed by final Strategy presented at the May Alliance meeting. Ms. Rine asked why the CLP was offered their own session versus being in a mixed group category as they didn’t get a chance to engage about their mission with others. Ms. Brickley noted that a number of primary organizations were offered their own sessions. Mr. Chagnon clarified that the goal of each session was to gather inputs from each organization about their priorities and to allow us to really hear from all the various perspectives. Mr. Chagnon advised that he spoke with EcoLogic after the focus groups and noted that they were delighted by the number of people participating, the passion, and the local knowledge. Mr. Shearer commented that he attended one of the focus groups and that everyone in the room was engaged in the discussion and felt that was a key to successful focus groups.
VI. Discussion of New York State led Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Initiative:
Late in December 2017, Governor Cuomo announced a new program regarding the state’s commitment to protect New York lakes from HAB’s via a new state led initiative that partners state experts with local expertise and resources. The HAB initiative identified 12 priority waterbodies that are vulnerable to HAB and are critical sources of drinking water and vital tourism and Chautauqua Lake was named one of these twelve. The state will commit $500k to each of the twelve waterbodies to collaboratively develop a HAB Action Plan and then make $60 million available statewide, likely via its competitive grant process, for action plan implementation work.
Ms. Brickley advised that in an effort to get Chautauqua Lake out in front of the HAB initiative while the process is being defined and worked at the state level, a proposal was sent to the DEC in January regarding a possible demonstration project for the evaluation of the feasibility and appropriateness of alum for in-lake nutrient inactivation to reduce internal phosphorous (P) loading in Chautauqua Lake as it relates to the recent NYS HAB initiative. HAB is a concern to all lake and watershed players but currently we have no in-lake management tools to mitigate. Based on communications with DEC, there are reliable indications that alum is being assessed as a re-emerging in-lake management tool in New York State in parallel with this new state HAB initiative. Alum is an in-lake management tool used in most other states for nutrient inactivation in the water column and/or sediment and is one of only a few that addresses the in-lake internal source of excess Phosphorous. It is understood that this is a short-term to mid-term action. Most other mitigation efforts focus on long term reduction in external P loads from point and non-point sources such as waste water treatment plants, erosion and sedimentation, agriculture, urban stormwater, failing septic systems, etc. Considering the nature and magnitude of the internal sources of P to the lake as documented in the 2012 TMDL, control of external sources alone may not be sufficient to address the acute problem of HAB, given the multiple and varied uses of Chautauqua Lake. Any demonstration project would require data collection prior to, and if deemed appropriate and demonstration were performed, data collection after. This proposal was fully vetted by the current Alliance consulting team. Ms. Brickley noted that it is understood and acknowledged that there are pros and cons to all in-lake short term (and mid-term) management techniques whether it is nutrient inactivation, harvesting, herbicides, biological controls, dredging, etc.
Mr. Spann advised that the State level Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) approached our local Chautauqua County SWCD to provide a list of relevant projects for Chautauqua Lake to share with the state SWCD to then presumably be forwarded to DEC, but were only given a couple of days in which to complete the request. Mr. Spann advised of a twelve page document written by Mrs. Brower that relied mostly on existing guidance documents to provide an “A-Z Projects List” to the state SWCD.
Mr. Stow advised that the Health Department will be participating at the HAB Western New York Summit scheduled for March 26th in Rochester. He noted that is appears the DEC, State Health and State SWCD will be the lead players from the state level. Mr. Chagnon commented that there still seems to be some unknowns regarding finer details but more will likely be gleaned at the Summit in March.
Ms. Barber asked about the health department’s efforts to collect health impact reports related to HABs. Mr. Stow advised that this effort is focused at the state Health Department level but that locally our County Health department sends out local alerts and educational material related to HAB presence at swim beaches and potential health impacts to exposure. Dr. Cirbus commented that a major challenge here is that identifying cause and effect from HAB exposure is a clinical diagnosis with a suite of symptoms versus something that can be tested directly for via something like a blood test. Based on identification revolving around clinical diagnosis, HAB illness is not currently a part of the required reporting list physicians must adhere to. Another challenge is seasonal or short term visitors may not go to local health clinics or hospitals when experiencing symptoms and how to capture that data.
VII. Open Floor / Member Updates:
Mr. Chagnon opened the floor to any Member updates or upcoming events and/or comments from the general public in attendance:
- Mr. McCoy advised that the local 2% Waterways grant program is now open as of 2/1 and applications must be submitted by the 4/1/18 deadline. He also noted he would be attending the Environmental Protection Fund lobby day in Albany next week. Mr. McCoy was also happy to report that he, Mr. Chagnon and the County Executive would be doing a second trip to Washington DC to advocate for water resources in Chautauqua County. Mr. McCoy commented that last year’s trip seemed to pay dividends and so the format of focusing on meetings with our federal representatives and the US Army Corp of Engineers would again be the focus.
Mr. Wesp motioned to adjourn at 4:45 p.m., seconded by Mrs. Carlson. The motion was approved unanimously.