The money can’t come soon enough.
Last summer likely won’t be remembered as a good one for Chautauqua Lake. Blue-green algae blooms popped up for much of the summer and fall. Weeds and vegetation have been a recurring problem for nearly two decades, with last year no exception to the rule. There is no single fix to the lake’s algae and weed problems, but improving septic and sewer systems around the lake is one of the best ways to remove phosphorus and other nutrients that are part of the cocktail that create blue-green algae from the lake.
It has been estimated that completing a new sewer system around Chautauqua Lake will cost about $81 million. There is obviously not that much money in Chautauqua County’s collective couch cushions to pay for that, nor is there an ability to take out loans for that big a cost. Roughly a year ago, Rolland Kidder, a Stow resident and former state Assemblyman, wrote an op-ed to The Post-Journal detailing the difficulties over the years getting state support for sewer and water projects because they lack the “sizzle” of bigger projects. The cost and lack of sizzle have left some wondering if completing a sewer around Chautauqua Lake is a pipe dream.
The state’s investment of $5 million for a sewer extension in North Harmony and $1 million to help the Chautauqua Heights Sewer District Wastewater Treatment Plant project is only about 7.5 percent of the total cost of sewering Chautauqua Lake. More importantly, the size of the grants are a sign from the state that they realize the importance of Chautauqua Lake environmentally and economically to Chautauqua County.
The five townships that surround Chautauqua Lake constitute 40 percent of the property value of the county with a total assessment of $2.7 billion. Protecting that asset is just as important as shiny new buildings. And it is good to see the state come to the realization that a healthy Chautauqua Lake will bring more tourists to Chautauqua County than any new building.
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