Press Release

As Chautauqua Lake Continues To Suffer From Recurring Algal Blooms, Senators Schumer, Gillibrand Announce Provision To Protect Lake’s Water Quality Passed Out Of EPW Committee, Heads To Full Senate For A Vote

May 30, 2018

Washington, DC – U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today announced that S. 2800, America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, includes a provision that authorizes a Chautauqua Lake Feasibility Study. Chautauqua Lake currently suffers from continued environmental and economic damage caused by repeated algal blooms, and this study authorization would allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to evaluate the excessive phosphorous runoff that causes these algal blooms. Additionally, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 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. Senator Gillibrand voted with her committee colleagues to unanimously advance S. 2800 out of the Senate EPW Committee earlier this week. The bill now heads to the Senate floor for consideration. 

“This critical provision will help us combat the harmful algal blooms in Chautauqua Lake that have negatively impacted water quality and hurt the regional economy,” said Senator Schumer. “Chautauqua Lake is an important tourist destination that brings in millions of dollars to Chautauqua County. All those who rely on the lake should know that the water is clean and safe, which is why I am so proud of the role I played to secure this vital provision in the WRDA bill, which will help us address the toxic blooms that threaten the lake’s ecosystem and the Western New York economy. This is a vital step in the right direction and I promise to fight tooth and nail to make sure that New York State has the tools and resources it needs to protect and preserve its natural resources”

“With this provision, we are one step closer to stopping the algal blooms that have been plaguing Chautauqua Lake’s water quality and harming the economy of the surrounding communities,” said Senator Gillibrand, who worked to secure the Chautauqua Lake Feasibility Study in this year’s America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018. “Chautauqua Lake is an important tourism destination for many people in Western New York, and local residents should be able to trust that the lake is a source of clean water. As a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, I was proud to fight to include this Feasibility Study in this year’s America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, and I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to make sure New York has the resources necessary to protect our local waterways.”

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 phosphorus damage the ecological state of the watershed.

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 algae growth, as well as mitigation for sediments deposited at the mouths of the tributaries, to further minimize the flood risks that are harming the environmental health and economic viability of Chautauqua Lake.

The bipartisan America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 authorizes studies and projects carried out by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the primary purposes of navigation, flood protection, and aquatic ecosystem restoration.