LAKEWOOD - The Chautauqua Lake Association announced that more than 15 million pounds of aquatic vegetation and storm debris were removed from the lake this summer. Three crews of CLA employees worked 10-hour days along with Cummins Engine volunteers and Welfare-to-Work participants to tackle the necessary work.
Lake cleanup efforts began in May and continued through September, but the CLA enters its off season with much more work to be done.
"As our season ends, each piece of harvesting equipment is removed from the lake, scrubbed clean and inspected," said Doug Conroe, President of the Chautauqua Lake Association. "Throughout the fall and winter, the equipment is tuned up, repaired and painted to ensure the best performance in the following year," he said. The CLA preventative maintenance program keeps summer season down time to a minimum. Regular maintenance of the harvesting equipment ensures that the CLA is able to fulfill its mission and focus its financial resources on staffing rather than replacing broken equipment.
Three CLA crews worked all summer to help remove 14.8 million pounds of vegetation from the lake.
Continued funding for the CLA is vital to its success. One-third of the lake association's annual operating budget comes from local foundations and another third comes from member support. The rest of the budget comes from government agencies including many county and state-level grants. An additional $20,000 was raised in 2013 through special CLA fundraising events such as the Ice Pick, Paddle for the Lake, Yacht for Pops and annual Light the Lake flare sales. All funds received are utilized for lake services. The CLA is managed by an all volunteer board of directors without the assistance of any professionally contracted fund raising firms. Donor dollars therefore fully expended to provide lake maintenance services.
"Our events help us supplement the crucial grant funding that allows us to provide our annual services," said Paul Swanson, General Manager for the CLA. "The money we acquire helps fund our summer staff and meet the needs of our lake," he said. More than 116 Cummins Engine employees donated more than 450 hours to aid the CLA crews in lake maintenance efforts. Participants from the Welfare-to-Work program also help with staffing by working over 350 hours on debris barges.
"Our crews harvested 14,892,000 pounds of vegetation as well as removing an additional 768,000 pounds of wood debris from the lake this year," Swanson said. The high winds that devastated the region in the early part of spring and through the summer attributed higher than normal wood debris, branches and down trees floating in the lake. This debris posed a severe risk to boaters on the lake. County Executive Greg Edwards understood the urgency of the lake conditions, so his office provided an emergency dump site for wood to be disposed of.
For more information about the Chautauqua Lake Association or to learn about membership, visit the CLA on the web at www.chautauqualakeassociation.org or call 763-8602. You can also stay updated by visiting the CLA on Facebook.
The CLA's mission is to provide effective and efficient lake maintenance services for the benefit of all Chautauqua Lake users. As the "Stewards of the Lake," the CLA serves to promote and facilitate the ongoing scientific monitoring of Chautauqua Lake and its ecosystem.