COUNTY Finding right price on algal bloom study

It’s hard to argue that study is needed of harmful algal blooms on Chautauqua Lake.

We tend to agree with Legislature Chairman Pierre Chagnon that they are a bigger issue than the weedy masses that dominate the discussion over Chautauqua Lake, yet we know precious little about exact causes of algal blooms and how to deal with them. That’s what makes a proposal to spend $1 million in additional county funding, after a previously approved $250,000, to help pay for the Jefferson Project’s work on Chautauqua Lake so interesting. The County Legislature will vote on the proposal Wednesday.

The study is necessary — but it must lead to action. That was the concern raised by legislator David Wilfong, R-Jamestown, who said he’s concerned that this $1 million can be seen as “just another study.” County Executive PJ Wendel agreed that action is necessary and that the finished study will include action plans to deal with some of Chautauqua Lake’s issues.

In our opinion the legislature should make sure of that before approving such a large amount of spending on the Jefferson Project study. Legislators should ensure they get what we’re paying for by making sure there is a defined scope of work for the Jefferson Project, a defined product that the county will receive at the end of the process and a study plan describing what has been done and what will be done in the future. Much of what was discussed during last week’s Planning and Economic Development Committee meeting was interesting information much of the public hasn’t seen yet, so perhaps the Jefferson Project should take on more public outreach of their work so far. It would advance understanding of algal blooms before they hit this year and perhaps increase public support for the Jefferson Project’s work.

The Jefferson Project brings necessary expertise to an urgent Chautauqua Lake problem. But that doesn’t mean they should get a no-strings-attached check.


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