Phosphorus reduction efforts continuing

MAYVILLE – Further efforts are being taken to monitor and decrease the amount of phosphorus entering Chautauqua Lake.

At last week’s meeting of the Public Facilities Committee, Tom Carlson, director of the North Chautauqua Lake Sewer District, discussed new regulations for load limits, set to be finalized by June 1, 2018, and put forward by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

“As part of compliance with the DEC to reduce phosphorus coming out of the plant, we are mandated to supply a report that will outline what we’re going to do to meet that compliance schedule,” Carlson said.

The County Legislature must approve such a report, which Carlson said will provide information about capital improvements to enhance the process of the plant.

Phosphorus is often the limiting nutrient in temperate lakes and ponds and can be thought of as a fertilizer and food for plants. However, excessive phosphorus can result in algae blooms and excessive weed growth, while an aging infrastructure around the lake contributes to the issue.

“There’s a lot of areas out there that aren’t sewered that need a treatment plant,” Carlson said.

The Chautauqua County Water Quality Task Force is also in the process of studying phosphorus management strategies to achieve designated load reductions.

The process also involves the three sewer districts surrounding the lake: the South and Center Sewer District, the Chautauqua Institution Sewer District and the North Chautauqua Lake Sewer District.

“In a perfect world, if we were able to find the right configurations of however those sewer plants are tied together or not tied together and continue with this, it would all come together,” said Vince Horrigan, county executive. “We’ve got to keep these things moving forward, and if the timing is right, we can beat the DEC guidelines before 2018.”

In other matters, George Spanos, director of Public Facilities, attended the meeting to discuss an area of forest on Irish Road in the town of Ripley that was timbered by the county, and owned by Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation.

Spanos said Chautauqua County Soil and Water personnel received contact in June from Niagara Mohawk that a portion of property totaling 22 acres should not have been timbered, as it was not the county’s land to harvest.

“Unfortunately, the boundary line had not been determined,” Spanos said, adding that nearly 70 total acres of forest were harvested, at a total contract amount of $54,000 for the sale of the timber.

Niagara Mohawk has drawn up a settlement in which Chautauqua County will compensate the corporation $15,000 in damages for the 22 acres, which is the valued amount in timber sales.

The full legislature must approve all resolutions, which will be voted on at next week’s meeting on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Gerace Office Building in Mayville.