BEMUS POINT - The health of Chautauqua Lake is at the top of U.S. Rep. Tom Reed's agenda these days.
Rep. Reed, R-Corning, met with other area lawmakers in Bemus Point on Friday to reveal a new effort in Washington, D.C., that would spotlight the needs of Chautauqua Lake, ensuring a positive future for the lake and the community around it.
"Chautauqua Lake is such an economic engine and such a way of life in Chautauqua County that I wanted to start some legislation in Washington to make sure this lake is prosperous for generations to come," said Reed. "Next week we'll be dropping the Impaired Water Improvement Act."
The Impaired Water Improvement Act will focus primarily on waterways that have been declared impaired due to various reasons, including phosphorus levels or the total maximum daily load of the waterway. Through that legislation, funding and resources for those waterways will be provided from a pot of money provided by those responsible for the impairment of the waterways. Penalties that are paid due to violations of the Clean Water Act would go back to areas that are in need of improvements.
"I hope that we'll be able to make Chautauqua Lake a priority in Washington, D.C.," said Reed. "It all stems from the fact that I heard from so many folks around Chautauqua County how much they care about this lake. I wanted to come today and say that I care about the lake and that this is a priority in Washington, D.C., and in my office."
County Executive Greg Edwards was also on hand Friday to announce the completion of a recent study regarding the dredging of Chautauqua Lake, as well as an initiative to create a public sewer system around the entire lake.
"We've known for years what some of the challenges with this lake are," said Edwards. "Over the course of the last eight years at the local level, we've invested more than $2.5 million in Chautauqua Lake to identify those challenges and their solutions. Now we're poised because we know what the challenges and what the solutions are, we just need the partners and the finances to make those solutions happen."
The need for a public sewer system around Chautauqua Lake was first identified in 1970, but since then only a portion of the lake has received the treatment. According to Edwards, they are now working to complete the installation of a public sewer system around the remainder of the lake.
"We have a price point and we've developed the partners to help make that a reality," said Edwards. "Led by Congressman Reed, I'm confident that we can get enough funding at the federal level that when we put it together with the state funds and the business people that want to invest in this, we can have public sewers all the way around Chautauqua Lake. It's not just a wanted thing, it's known that we need it, and we have the means to get it done this year."
According to Edwards, this lakewide public sewer system would also allow the migration of private septic systems around the lake onto a public line over the next few years. This would not only solve an essential problem that is immediately apparent, but also solve many potential problems that could show up down the road, and in a cost effective manner.
County legislators Vince Horrigan, R-Bemus Point; Fred Croscut, R-Sherman; state Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-C-I Chautauqua County; and Bryan Dahlberg, Bemus Point mayor, all applauded the teamwork that is being utilized to pave the way for a brighter future for Chautauqua Lake.
"I look forward to being in a partnership with Congressman Reed, as well as Greg Edwards, Vince Horrigan and Fred Croscut," said Goodell. "It really is a partnership that is effective in producing results for the lake, and at the end of the day, our residents look for results. Congressman Reed is taking the steps necessary to improve Chautauqua Lake."
Reed said it has been clear since the beginning that Chautauqua Lake was a top priority when it came to Chautauqua County, noting the strong ties that many residents had.
"This has all been been part of our vision for infrastructure and the needs of Chautauqua County," said Reed. This has been in place since day one."