Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance
Minutes of the Board of Directors – Public Meeting
Thursday, July 14, 2022 at 4:30 PM ET at The Lawson Center, 73 Lakeside Drive, Bemus Point, NY 14712 & via Zoom
Directors Present: Bruce Erickson, Paul Wendel, Jr., Mike LaTone, David Shepherd, Janis Bowman (via Zoom), Don Emhardt, Martin Proctor (via Zoom), and Ellen Barnes
Directors Absent: Jim Andrews
Staff in Attendance: Randall Perry – Alliance Executive Director, Taylor West – Alliance Project Manager, and Jay Young – Communications Coordinator
Others in Attendance: Lisa Lynde – Chautauqua Region Community Foundation; Cassie Pinkoski – Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District; Craig Butler; Doug Champ; Peter Beeson; John Ford
Member Representatives in Attendance: Jim Wehrfritz – Town of Ellery; Becky Nystrom, John Jablonski– Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy (CWC); Doug Conroe and Rudy Mueller (via Zoom) – Chautauqua Lake Association; Dave McCoy and Pierre Chagnon– County of Chautauqua; Jim Cirbus – Chautauqua Lake Partnership.
I. Call to Order
B. Erickson called the Board Meeting of the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance (Alliance) to order at 4:30 PM. A quorum of 8 out of 9 Alliance Board Members were present at the start of the meeting.
II. Approval of 6/9/2022 Board Work Session Minutes
D. Emhardt made a motion to accept the minutes from the 6/9/2022 Board Meeting. The motion was seconded by E. Barnes and was approved unanimously.
III. Projects Update
T. West gave the following projects update to the group:
Aquatic Invasive Species Early Detection and Rapid Response: Staff from the Alliance, CWC, and the Audubon Community Nature Center have removed approximately 200 water chestnut plants from the areas depicted in pink on the map since late June of this year. The CWC has another volunteer water chestnut-focused paddle scheduled for July 20th at 1:00 PM at McCrea Point Park. For more information on this and other aquatic invasive species early detection volunteer paddles, please contact Twan Leenders at the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy or visit their website.
2021 Town of North Harmony Ball Creek Stabilization Project – The Town has substantially completed the construction work on the Stow Road Bend. Engineering on the Tri-James Bend is underway.
The remainder of the project update was presented as a meeting packet handout, which is below.
- 2018-2022 Invasive Species Early Detection – Volunteer Task Force
- Water Chestnut (>200 plants) found/removed in Chautauqua Lake Outlet in June-July 2022
- Collaborative efforts among CWC, ACNC, Alliance, WNY PRISM, and Volunteers
- 2022 Program Schedule – https://chautauquawatershed.org/aquatic-invasive-species-surveys/
- Contact the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy (CWC) to get involved
- To help observe/report on your own, please sign up for iMapInvasives: www.imapinvasives.org/
- Water Chestnut (>200 plants) found/removed in Chautauqua Lake Outlet in June-July 2022
- 2018 Busti Precision Swales Stabilization (NYSDEC WQIP)
- Final punch list items have been completed by Rock of WNY and EcoStrategies
- Grant closeout underway
- 2021 Village of Lakewood Grandview Stormwater Management Project (NYSDEC WQIP)
- Project aims to create a series of pocket wetland structures to capture and treat ~100,000 cubic feet stormwater from the Grandview subdivision with the goal of reducing flooding along Rte. 394 and sediment and nutrient loading in Chautauqua Lake. A trail is planned for around the project providing an educational and recreational opportunity for the public
- Engineering underway by EcoStrategies
- 2021 Town of North Harmony Ball Creek Stabilization Project (NYSDEC WQIP)
- Project aims to stabilize ~440 linear feet of streambank along Ball Creek in the Town of North Harmony to reduce sediment and nutrient loading in Chautauqua Lake
- Stow Road Bend Substantially Completed 7/8/22
- Engineering on Tri-James Bend underway by EcoStrategies
- 2021 Town of Chautauqua Roadside Swales Stabilization Project (NYSDEC WQIP)
- Project aims to stabilize ~16,000 linear feet of swales within the Town of Chautauqua to reduce sediment and nutrient loading in Chautauqua Lake.
- Currently awaiting receipt of contracting documents from NYS
- List of Alliance-partnered NYS grants that have been closed out:
- 2015 NYS Invasive Species Management Grant (C. Young Senate Initiative), closed ca. Apr 2019
- 2016 Lakewood-Busti Stormwater Mgmt. Engineering Study (DEC/EFC EPG), closed ca. Jan 2019
- 2013 Celoron Breakwall & Boardwalk LWRP Phase I Grant, closed ca. Sep 2018
- 2016 Celoron Breakwall & Boardwalk LWRP Phase II-III Grant, closed ca. Aug 2019
- 2017 Mayville-Chautauqua Stormwater Mgmt. Engineering Study (DEC/EFC EPG), closed ca. Feb 2020
- 2015 County Round 12 WQIP Streambank Stabilization Projects at Ball, Bemus, Goose, Prendergast, Dutch Hollow (Phase 1 & 2), and West Dutch Hollow Creeks, closed ca. April 2022
- 2017 Celoron Park Improvement (Amenities Building) LWRP Phase IV Grant, closed ca. Mar 2021
- 2018 Lakewood Chautauqua Avenue Green Street Retrofit (NYSEFC GIGP), closed ca. Jan 2022
- 2018 County Round 15 Skimming Capital Equipment (NYSDEC WQIP), closed ca. Apr 2022
IV. 2022-2023 Alliance Membership Drive Update
R. Perry thanked Members who have already renewed or are considering renewing their membership with the Alliance for 2022-2023. R. Perry indicated that the membership drive response has been very positive so far, and that he is happy to speak with any Members about the renewal request.
D. Emhardt thanked R. Perry for his presentation at a recent Town of Chautauqua Meeting.
R. Perry thanked D. Emhardt.
V. 2022-2023 Alliance Consolidated Local Funding Program Update—Request for Applications
R. Perry indicated that the Alliance Consolidated Local Funding Program is now live for 2023 applications. R. Perry indicated that the request for applications along with a blank application was sent to Member’s primary and secondary contacts via email on July 13. R. Perry indicated that a copy of the RFA is in today’s meeting packet. R. Perry indicated that the program will be similar to last year, and that written applications are due on September 7, 2022 at 4 p.m. via email, mail, or delivery to the Alliance office.
J. Wehrfritz asked if there will be any changes in the evaluation criteria or process for this year.
R. Perry indicated that the process will be tied to the 2020 update of the Multi-Criteria Analysis Tool. R. Perry indicated that the process and criteria will be the same as last year.
VI. 2022 NYS Consolidated Funding Application (NYSCFA) Update
R. Perry indicated that this year’s NYSCFA was opened in early May of 2022, and offers funding opportunities for a variety of projects through a wide range of different programs. R. Perry indicated that applications will be due on July 29, 2022, and expressed his excitement for the applications that the Alliance has been working with Members to develop. R. Perry indicated that the Alliance is preparing to submit an application in partnership with the Town of Chautauqua to perform an engineering assessment of problem culverts in the watershed, which would produce recommendations for future improvements. R. Perry indicated that the Alliance is preparing to submit an application in partnership with the Town of North Harmony to perform and engineering assessment of Ball Creek from Route 394 to the lake, which will recommend stream corridor improvements. R. Perry indicated that the Alliance is assisting the Village of Celoron with its application to construct a new playground at Lucille Ball Memorial Park. R. Perry indicated that the Alliance has worked with the Village on previous improvements to the park, including the amenities building, boardwalk and kayak launch. R. Perry indicated that fourth and fifth applications are also being pursued, including a high-priority commercial storm water engineering assessment in the Village of Lakewood. R. Perry indicated that the Alliance has also been in contact with Chautauqua Institution about the possibility of an application for a storm water project. R. Perry indicated that dialogue and collaboration with Members throughout the application process has been encouraging.
J. Wehrfritz asked for clarification of some details about stream stabilizations on Ball Creek, and their impact on decreasing sediment and nutrient transfer to the lake.
R. Perry indicated that the Town of North Harmony secured a Water Quality Improvement Project Grant (WQIP) in 2021 to stabilize two sections of Ball Creek. R. Perry indicated that construction on one of those two bends has been completed. R. Perry indicated that the project is intended to reduce nutrient and especially sediment transfer, and indicated that the engineering plans for the project include load reduction estimates. R. Perry indicated that while nutrient reduction is more difficult to quantify than sediment, much of the sediment that moves into the lake is capable of transporting nutrients as well.
J. Wehrfritz asked if there is any plan to do before-and-after testing on the project to measure nutrient and sediment reductions.
R. Perry indicated that the WQIP program does not consider post-construction monitoring to be an eligible expense, and as such the grant is for the design and construction of the project only. R. Perry indicated that Ball Creek is one of the tributaries that has undergone nutrient concentration monitoring since 2019. R. Perry indicated that the monitoring is not tied to the evaluation of any specific projects; it is a general assessment of concentrations of phosphorus and nitrogen at certain tributaries. R. Perry indicated that hydraulic discharge information on these monitored creeks has been lacking, and would be necessary in order to produce data on total nutrient load. R. Perry indicated that concentration monitoring is one piece of the puzzle, and that there are plans to expand the monitoring on Ball Creek. R. Perry indicated that there are also researchers working on Dewittville Creek who are interested in hydraulic discharge. R. Perry indicated that The Jefferson Project is also pursuing tributary monitoring related to these types of data.
J. Wehrfritz asked how much money has been spent on streambank stabilization in the last six or seven years. J. Wehrfritz indicated that he was surprised analysis of this type has not been pursued at any stream stabilization sites in order to confirm effectiveness.
B. Erickson indicated that the question could be submitted to the Alliance Watershed Committee, and noted that a before-and-after monitoring project would need sponsorship and funding.
J. Wehrfritz indicated he was not suggesting the development of such a program, but that he was interested in learning how much money has been allocated for stream stabilization projects recently. J. Wehrfritz indicated that a large amount of money is allocated for these projects from both the Alliance and other sources.
B. Erickson asked P. Wendel if he would consider making a motion to release the remaining funds provided by Chautauqua County, as the CLA work season is quite far along.
P. Wendel indicated he would discuss the matter at another time.
VIII. Open Floor: Member Representatives and Community Members in Attendance
J. Jablonski indicated that the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy has had strong demand for its Lakescapes Technical Assistance Program for landscaping in the watershed. J. Jablonski indicated that conservationist Carol Markham has been busy with consultations with homeowners.
D. Champ indicated his support for an analysis of funding that has been allocated for lake and watershed projects, and the return on those investments. D. Champ asked how recent developments in research, management and maintenance are going to be communicated to the public.
B. Erickson indicated that the Alliance was established as a funding funnel that would prioritize lake and watershed projects via the Local Funding Program. B. Erickson indicated that the issues raised by D. Champ and J. Wehrfritz are pertinent. B. Erickson indicated that some programs funded by the Alliance can be measured with tangible metrics, while others are less tangible.
J. Cirbus indicated that given the Alliance’s role in allocating the majority of local funding for the lake and watershed programs each year, the organization functions as much more than just a funnel.
J. Wehrfritz asked about the status of the Data Analysis and Research (DAR) Committee.
B. Erickson indicated that there has not been a meeting of the Committee.
D. Shepherd indicated that there have been conversations about the best use of that Committee, but there has not been a meeting. D. Shepherd indicated that in the past the Committee has responded to specific requests made by the board.
J. Wehrfritz expressed his concerns with the Committee’s apparent inactivity, organization, and underutilization.
D. Shepherd echoed the comments of B. Erickson regarding the founding of the Alliance as a funding organization. D. Shepherd indicated that in response to comments by D. Champ and J. Wehrfritz, the Alliance was organized and established for a specific purpose. D. Shepherd indicated that purpose is different from that of an overall governing management organization for all lake and watershed projects and issues. D. Shepherd expressed his support for discussing the appropriate role of the Alliance and how it can evolve.
D. Conroe indicated that the Chautauqua Lake Association made the decision to work at full staff despite not knowing if it would be at full funding for the season. D. Conroe indicated that the CLA’s plan was to cut back work in August if necessary, but that remains to be seen. D. Conroe indicated that the normal operation of three crews has been going well, working in conjunction with the Town of Chautauqua Mobitracs. D. Conroe indicated that the fund drive has been going well, and that contributions from the County and other municipalities are behind. D. Conroe indicated that CLA needed to purchase a new outboard motor which was not budgeted, and that other capital expenditures are needed. D. Conroe thanked the County landfill for taking macrophytes removed from the lake free of charge, but indicated that the arrangement has doubled trucking costs. D. Conroe indicated that the summer is proceeding well.
J. Wehrfritz asked if anyone from Chautauqua Institution is present. J. Wehrfritz indicated that at the recent Chautauqua Lake Protection and Rehabilitation Agency (CLPRA) meeting it was noted that Chautauqua Institution has allocated $2.5 million for lake and watershed work. J. Wehrfritz asked for clarification on those funds and how they will be used.
P. Wendel indicated that the investment has been made in part with Chautauqua County to fund The Jefferson Project, and that the funding has not come from the Alliance.
J. Cirbus commended the CLA and the Town of Chautauqua Mobitracs for their work on near-shore/shoreline cleanup, indicating that conditions have been as good as he has seen them.
J. Jablonski asked if plants are being taken anywhere besides the County landfill.
D. Conroe indicated that starting today, plants are being taken to traditional sites.
B. Erickson indicated that the CLA has received calls for service from stakeholders who are unaware of the 30-day prohibition on harvesting in areas that have received ProcellaCOR EC treatments.
A discussion followed of herbicide treatments, harvesting, composting, and CLA service.
D. Champ asked how all of this work is being analyzed for effectiveness in the long term.
J. Cirbus asked if advertising public meetings could be used to drum up public support.
D. Shepherd outlined the relationships that exist between stakeholders that are at work in the lake and watershed as they relate to the role of the Alliance.
A discussion followed of the relationship between the Alliance, Members, and local charitable foundations.
D. Conroe indicated that an organization that is a management entity would have a different board composition than the Alliance and would function differently.
B. Erickson indicated that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) is the relevant governmental body, and they follow a hands-off approach to local funding and programming.
J. Cirbus indicated that NYSDEC is a regulatory agency, and that the Alliance has management in its title.
P. Wendel indicated that if the Alliance is going to dictate the actions of its Members, there is a challenge when it comes to compliance that is distinct from funding.
J. Cirbus echoed the point that there is not enough funding available for what needs to be done, and that the Alliance’s Local Funding Program application process is done each year to prioritize projects based on effectiveness. J. Cirbus indicated that this is a form of management.
J. Wehrfritz indicated that unless cost-management analysis is done, the Alliance is not managing. J. Wehrfritz indicated that management is not in the Alliance’s mission statement. J. Wehrfritz indicated that post-project assessment is absent in the Alliance’s work. J. Wehrfritz indicated he had previously asked that the mission statement be reviewed.
J. Cirbus indicated that the Princeton Hydro Third Party Monitoring study had been done to assess the effectiveness of one program.
J. Bowman indicated that in order to oversee the large amount of work done in the lake and watershed, and prioritize funding for projects, a free flow of data is needed. J. Bowman indicated that harmful algal blooms (HABs) are perhaps the greatest concern right now, due to their ability to produce toxic situations. J. Bowman expressed an interest in utilizing the DAR Committee on these points.
P. Wendel asked what toxic situation was being referred to.
J. Bowman indicated that the cyanobacteria in HABs can be toxic.
D. Conroe indicated that the South Basin was a location of concern.
P. Wendel indicated he was not aware of the County Department of Health alerting the public of a toxic situation.
J. Bowman indicated that there are toxic cyanobacteria in the lake that have been ramping up over the years. J. Bowman indicated that there are also HABs that are not reported and do not make their way into the state database.
J. Wehrfritz asked if J. Young had written a recent Chautauqua Current article discussing HABs safety.
D. Conroe indicated that he does HABs reporting and monitoring through the New York Harmful Algal Bloom System (NYHABS). D. Conroe indicated that there are serious HABs in the South Basin. D. Conroe indicated that he has been in contact with Director of Environmental Health Services Jessica Wuerstle about HABs. D. Conroe indicated that members of the public have also made submissions to NYHABS this year. D. Conroe indicated that the majority of the problem areas are in the first 10 feet of shoreline, and that it is important to distinguish between these specific problem areas and the overall health of the lake.
B. Erickson indicated that ten days ago there was a sewage leak in Lakewood at 15 E. Terrace Avenue. B. Erickson indicated that the state sent out a report on the situation, and he had alerted people of the situation and directed them to leave the water at the Lakewood Yacht Club.
J. Cirbus indicated that he received information from Dr. George Bullerjahn that algae blooms are actually produced by decaying, dying algae which is less toxic than areas where algae is still alive. J. Cirbus indicated that having cyanobacteria is a normal situation for freshwater lakes, not a toxic situation. J. Cirbus indicated that people need to be aware that is important to wash themselves off after swimming and follow standard protocols.
B. Erickson indicated that it is a matter of concentration when blooms become toxic, it is a matter of degree.
D. Conroe indicated that he was aware of a situation where swimmers at Cheney’s point had developed rashes, and that he had reported that to the Health Department.
J. Bowman echoed the point that cyanobacteria are a normal part of the lake ecosystem, and indicated that we are doing things in the lake and watershed that are fueling algae populations. J. Bowman indicated that blooms can develop and produce high levels of toxins, and that nitrogen can play an important role. J. Bowman indicated that the increase in HABs is related to global climate change and is being seen worldwide. J. Bowman indicated that cutting out the plants that produce some of the inhibitors for mycrocystis may not be the best approach when herbicides are used, while harvesting may be preferable.
J. Cirbus indicated his position that J. Bowman’s point about harvesting vs. herbicides is a hypothesis and has not been proven.
J. Wehrfritz indicated that the DAR Committee should be asked about HABs, after they are added to the Alliance’s mission statement.
D. Champ indicated that the Alliance could develop a public health committee.
A discussion followed on the relationships between HABs, state and local agencies, public health, and tourism.
E. Barnes asked about the possibility of hiring a central lake manager.
M. LaTone indicated that the discussion had taken place previously, and provided some details.
E. Barnes indicated that the CLPRA is in the process of gathering information from the public about these issues.
J. Cirbus indicated that the only way he would support a lake district is if there was some kind of central lake manager.
A discussion followed of how best to inform the public of lake and watershed information.
B. Erickson indicated that the Alliance Executive Committee will consider today’s discussion on the role of the Alliance and its organization, and thanked everyone for their civility.
D. Champ offered his help in any future endeavors.
M. LaTone made a motion to adjourn the July 14, 2022 Board meeting. The motion was seconded by D. Emhardt and was passed unanimously. The meeting adjourned at 5:40 PM.
The Alliance Board of Directors passed a motion to approve these 07/14/2022 Meeting Minutes on 08/11/22.