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Mayville finally approves Chautauqua Lake memorandum

Photo Dennis Phillips Boaters are pictured enjoying Chautauqua Lake last week near Stow.

MAYVILLE — The village of Mavyille has finally approved the proposed Memorandum of Understanding regarding Chautauqua Lake.

With the approval, all 17 municipalities and lake organizations that were approached in the spring have joined the agreement.

The village board this week approved the Memorandum of Understanding. Mayville had resisted signing the MOU, mainly because it states members will not litigate against each other. Village officials balked at that statement, in part because the village has already filed a notice of claim to sue Chautauqua County due to its water problems last winter.

Mayville had to take all three of its wells offline in December after traces of perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) were found in its drinking water. It is believed the PFNA got in the village’s water wells when the county held firefighting trainings using foam at the Chautauqua Municipal Building grounds. Mayville has yet to formally sue the county over the PFNA.

Mayor Ken Shearer told county officials that the village would not agree to the Memorandum of Understanding unless they were told they still had the right to sue the county. On Aug. 30, County Executive PJ Wendel sent a letter to the mayor which states the MOU “is not applicable to the subject matter contained in the Village of Mayville’s Verified Notice of Claim duly served on the County on May 7, 2021.”

After receiving that letter, Shearer said he would support joining the MOU. The board unanimously adopted the resolution.

The county first proposed the MOU in early May, replacing a previous lake agreement among the many lake organizations and affected municipalities. The MOU is not binding and has the following foundational elements:

¯ The agreement encompasses the Chautauqua Lake municipalities and not-for-profits;

¯ The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has full and objective regulatory authority over Chautauqua Lake;

¯ The issues that the Chautauqua Lake stakeholders and regulators are challenged with are much broader than just weed management;

¯ It is not productive or consistent with the existing New York State regulatory framework to establish a local or “Chautauqua Lake specific” regulatory structure to censure or punish those who are accused of unfairly criticizing or denigrating the intent or actions of other MOU participants;

¯ The 2021 MOU is not a prerequisite or rubric that must be navigated to qualify for local funding;

¯ The 2021 MOU is an understanding between those who have similar objectives — that is a sincere interest in improving Chautauqua Lake — which they can trust and rely upon with their fellow stakeholders to collaborate and interact in a mutually respectful manner without the threat of litigation.

The county asked Mayville to approve the MOU, because officials believe it will help them with future grant applications.

Mayville has also resolved its water problems by bringing a new well online that does not have any PFNA in it and also is treating one of its original three wells, to remove the PFNA. Eventually Mayville would like to find another option outside of treating the water and are in the process of searching for another new well.

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