Wednesday, June 26, 2019
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Don't Feed the Weeds.....or Algae!

CWC’s launched a “Don’t Feed the Weeds!” campaign in 2007.  It is a lake nutrient-reduction program aimed at raising awareness of the link between the amount of nutrients (such as phosphorus) entering Chautauqua Lake and how it contributes to the Lake’s excessive weed growth and algae blooms.  The program is also aimed at informing residents on what they can do to help reduce the amount of nutrients entering the Lake.  Its most visible contribution are the hundreds of “Don’t Feed the Weeds!” lawn signs distributed throughout Chautauqua County.

Algal blooms appear to be a new addition to the occasional inability to enjoy Chautauqua Lake and other lakes in the county.  The presence of algae is not new, but the increasing number of blooms seems to be.  A bloom occurs when the proper growing conditions and abundant nutrients allow the algae to multiply.  A bloom often appears as green-colored water, a thick scum or even a leathery mass.  If a blue or turquoise color is present, it is often called “blue–green” algae, which is really cyanobacteria.  This type of bloom is often called a “hazardous algal bloom" (or HAB) because toxins released by the bacteria are harmful to animals and humans.  

Hazardous algal blooms are being monitored by the New York Citizens’ Statewide Lake Assessment Program (CSLAP) and the New York State Health Department.  If you observe a blue-green scum, keep yourself and your pets out of the water.  Please report the bloom to the local contact person at 716-665-0721.  Please give your name, the location of the bloom and a phone number where you can be reached. 

So what can you do to help?  

  • Use only phosphate-free automatic dishwasher detergents and lawn fertilizers!  Did you know that just one pound of phosphorus can produce 1,100 pounds of algae in the lake?!  Phosphates are commonly found in lawn fertilizer and dishwashing detergents, so only purchase those without it.  (There has not been phosphorus in dishwashing soaps or laundry detergents since the 1970s.) 
  • Pick up after your pet!  Pet waste is loaded with nutrients as well as bacteria.  When left out in the yard, on sidewalks or on roadsides, it washes away into the nearest storm drain or waterway, which ends up in the Lake.  Dispose of pet waste properly by putting it in a sealed bag in the trash, flushing it down the toilet, or burying it in your yard.
  • Plant a waterfront buffer!  Don’t mow or cut plants within 10 feet of shorelines.  Trees, shrubs and other plants with deep roots help hold shorelines in place, which helps to filter out nutrients from storm water runoff before it enters the Lake.

Be sure to avoid contact for you or your pets with algal blooms areas and call 716-665-0721 to report them.

Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy
413 North Main Street
Jamestown, NY 14701