Power To Prevent

MAYVILLE – A major project on the streambanks of Goose Creek in Ashville could help significantly reduce nutrient loads in Chautauqua Lake.

Mark Geise, deputy director of the Department of Planning and Economic Development, explained a new grant to the Planning and Economic Development Committee on Wednesday evening to help solve the problem.

When hard rains hit, massive erosion occurs within the stream, sweeping sediment into the lake and worsening the potential for algae blooms and weed growth.

Geise explained a county share would help fund stabilization of 3,800 feet of streambank, which comes to a total cost of $438,120.

A federal grant totalling $298,949 has been awarded to the Soil and Water Conservation District and the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service.

Additionally, the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy and the Sheldon Foundation have come forward to help cover the other half of the project

Still, a gap of $50,000 remains.

“We are coming to this group today to request funding to come from the 2 percent occupancy tax reserve,” Geise said. “It was budgeted this year and would come out of that.”

John Jablonski, executive director of the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, was also in attendance and explained that the creek bed washes thousands of tons of soil down the creek each year, extending erosion all the way to the lake.

“The magnitude of this project is huge,” Jablonski said. “There isn’t anything else like it in the Chautauqua Lake watershed that we’re aware of. If the project goes forward, it’ll eliminate about 90 percent of erosion from this site.”

Committee members agreed that funds from the 2 percent occupancy tax lakes and waterways account would be suitable for the Goose Creek project.

George Borrello, R-Irving, and Pierre Chagnon, R-Bemus Point, have both shown concern for water projects in their respective districts, and both approved of the project.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – projects like this actually treat the disease, not just the symptoms,” Borrello said. “This is an incredibly worthwhile project and a unique opportunity to take some good measures to reduce the nutrients.”

The resolution must be approved by the full County Legislature and will be further discussed at Wednesday’s meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the legislative chambers of the Gerace Office Building in Mayville.