Recently, Governor Andrew Cuomo awarded Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District $898,281 to implement agricultural best management practices in the French Creek and Chautauqua Lake watersheds.
Of these funds $598,310 will be used to control sediment and nutrients from entering the Chautauqua Lake watershed from agricultural practices.
"Since 2006, the CCSWCD has been successful in obtaining approximately $1.4 million in Federal, State and Local funds in an effort to reduce non-point source pollution problems and protecting water quality in Chautauqua Lake," County Executive Greg Edwards said. "These outstanding watershed projects, which often go unnoticed, have included stream and lake shore erosion stabilization, road ditch stabilization, best management practices on farms including nutrient management, manure pits, barnyard projects along with pasture and tillage practices to reduce erosion and prevent nutrients from reaching the lake."
The CCSWCD has traditionally worked with farmers to adopt techniques and conservation practices that prevent soil erosion, improve soil health and protect water quality.
"CCSWCD combines traditional practices with innovative technology that also helps farm businesses remain profitable," Manager of CCSWCD Dave Wilson said. "Innovative manure systems now collect and destroy greenhouse gas, reduce odor, improve farm efficiency and keep water clean."
The CCSWCD has administered over $2.8 million in Federal, state and local funds throughout the major watersheds in the county over the last six years to protect and improve water quality. By combining the county appropriation for the Soil and Water Conservation District with NY State Environmental Protection Funds, the CCSWCD is able to leverage additional funding from various other sources multiplying Chautauqua County's investment. These dollars go directly into the local economy, supporting area jobs and businesses that provide the materials and services to complete conservation projects.
"This translates to getting more conservation on the ground helping to protect drinking water, productive farmland, wildlife habitat, public health and safety," Edwards said. "Their work helps to strengthen our agricultural and tourism industries, save taxpayer dollars and ultimately provide a healthier environment and economy for all residents of the county."
The CCSWCD, a member of the Chautauqua Lake Management Commission, provides the expertise for meeting the county's natural resource needs by working with farmers, homeowners, contractors or communities, on voluntary, incentive based conservation programs. The CCSWC has the unique ability to work on both public and private lands, which allows them the flexibility needed to address local priorities related to all types of land uses, including watershed protection.
"Chautauqua Lake is listed as an impaired water-body under the Federal Clean Water Act 303 (d) due to excess levels of phosphorous present in the Lake," Chautauqua County Watershed Coordinator Jeff Diers said. "CCSWCD has continued its efforts to reduce non-point source pollution such as sediment and nutrients (including phosphorous), from waterways in Chautauqua County, including Chautauqua Lake."
Agriculture and tourism are two of the largest industries in Chautauqua County and for many recreational areas county wide, the economic health of the communities surrounding the lake and streams depend on the ecological health of the water itself. Anglers and boaters alone spend millions annually enjoying the county's water resources and the Soil and Water Conservation District along with farmers, landowners and municipalities protect the natural resources that attract them.