Borrello discusses lake with Army Corp of Engineers

A flood mitigation study is one way county officials are working to improve the water quality of Chautauqua Lake.

Last week, County Executive George Borrello met with U.S. Army Corp of Engineers in its Pittsburgh, Pa., offices to discuss the feasibility study to develop ecosystem restoration and flood risk management projects for Chautauqua Lake.

In October, President Donald Trump signed into law the America’s Water Infrastructure Act, which includes a provision to authorize the Army Corps of Engineers to partner with Chautauqua County to complete the feasibility study.

Borrello said even though the focus of the study will be on flood mitigation, the report will be a comprehensive look at Chautauqua Lake as a whole.

“(The study) will look at several different factors even though it’s titled a flood mitigation study. It will be looking at many things, including the internal loading of phosphorus,” Borrello said. “It will be focused on hot-button areas of the lake where there are high levels of phosphorus and contributaries where they are issues with flooding. It will look at what we can do to help mitigate the impact of flooding when it occurs. Flooding is the not the most important issue (with Chautauqua Lake), but it is from an environmental stand point.”

Borrello said the Army Corps of Engineers is also concerned with water quality issues like harmful algae blooms and weeds because of the negative impact on fish and other wildlife in the lake.

“That is an important focus for them,” Borrello said.

The county executive said the next step is to lobby the federal government to fund the study. Borrello said he will be going to Washington, D.C., next month to assist the lobbying firm, Nexus Government Relations, who the county hired a couple years ago to facilitate meetings with U.S. government agencies to hopefully gain more federal funding. He said he will be meeting with the Army Corps of Engineers in their Washington, D.C. headquarters and with the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

“We had this great meeting with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with a good open dialogue for us to move on and work in conjunction with the corp and federal representatives to get the study funded. Now we need to get the federal appropriations for the study,” Borrello said. “I’ll emphasize it’s not typical for counties and local government to directly lobby in this matter. The Army corp appreciates us and our proactive efforts.”