Doug Conroe, President of the Chautauqua Lake Association, Jane Conroe, Citizen Statewide Lake Assessment Program CLA volunteer and CWC Conservationist, and John Jablonski III, Executive Director of the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy attended the New York State Federation of Lake Associations Annual Conference at Lake Moraine, NY on May 3 and 4.
They attended presentations on the need to implement invasive species prevention programs on lakes statewide and the factors influencing harmful blue-green algae blooms. Speakers reported on the successful implementation of launch steward programs in other states in efforts to limit the spread of invasive species and progress reports on those programs on New York's lakes.
The NYSFOLA is requesting that lake associations across the State work for the adoption of a statewide invasive species transportation law that is similar to laws adopted by other states to slow the spread of species such as hydrilla, Brazilian elodea and Asian clams from waterbody to waterbody across the State. It was noted that control and eradication, if even possible, is generally much more expensive to implement than preventing infestations.
From left to right Scott Kishbaugh, NYSDEC, John Jablonski III, CWC, Jane Conroe, CLA & CWC, Dr. Gregory Boyer, SUNY-ESF, and Doug Conroe, President, CLA.
Those attending the harmful algae blooms sessions learned that shallow lakes enriched with high levels of phosphorus, that regularly stratify and then mix, and hosting populations of zebra mussels, like Chautauqua and Honeoye Lakes have been most susceptible to excessive blooms of cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae over the last few years. Dr. Gregory L. Boyer, Chair of the Department of Chemistry at SUNY-ESF at Syracuse was the lead presenter on this topic. He noted that these algae need sufficient nutrients, light, calm winds and temperatures above 50 degrees (F) to reproduce rapidly creating a bloom. Blue-green algae can rise to the surface to absorb sunlight and then drop in the water column to maximize their growth. Wind and wave turbulence and moving water impede their weak movement. It was noted that climate change has brought optimal growth temperatures an average of three weeks earlier in the spring and lengthened the growth season by three weeks in the fall, prolonging the period in which blooms can start, and remain a problem. Zebra mussels tend to consume the non-blue-green algae, selecting against more beneficial types of algae favored by other consumers in the food web. Several species of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) may produce neurological and liver toxins. Where blue-green algae blooms have been confirmed, toxins have been confirmed at unsafe levels for drinking and swimming primarily in near shore areas where the algae blooms are amassed from wind action. Scott Kishbaugh, Environmental Engineer III, Lake Monitoring & Assessment Section of the NYSDEC presented information on algae blooms at various lakes across the State. Mid-lake locations have only been rarely confirmed to possess toxins at unsafe levels. Lake users and pet owners should not go in the lake or allow pets to go in the lake where suspected harmful algae blooms are occurring. Dr. Boyer has been confirmed as the Chautauqua Lake Association annual meeting speaker on June 30.
The NYSDEC maintains a Harmful Algae Blooms website to alert lake users to conditions on lakes across the state and is working with participating CSLAP organizations, the State Health Department and county health departments to monitor and communicate lake use advisories when potentially harmful algae blooms are identified. It was noted that the only way to control harmful algae blooms over the long term is to reduce the external inputs of phosphorus to lakes.
Other sessions presented included basic lake ecology, lake dam maintenance, watershed stewardship and the Lake George Shoreland Protection Program.
Jablonski of the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy was elected to a second three-year term on the Board of Directors of the NYS Federation of Lake Associations at the annual meeting held as part of this conference. Lake area residents, lake users and local government officials are encouraged to become members of the New York Federation of Lake Associations to receive their informative seasonal Water Works publication and support effective lake management across the State. For more information on this conference, or lake and watershed management, please contact the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy at 664-2166, Chautauqua Lake Association at 763-8602, or NYSFOLA at (800)796-3652 or visit the websites of these organizations.