Chautauqua Lake algae bloom worries residents

Posted at 10:55 AM, Aug 29, 2016

The Chautauqua County health department and Department of Environmental Conservation are warning residents to stay away from the lake, due to a blue-green algae bloom. This is worrying residents and some businesses in the area.

"I do think it's an enormous concern for us in Chautauqua Lake," said Mike Kingsley, owner of Evergreen Outfitters. "The viability of this water affects the entire county."

Evergreen Outfitters rents out kayaks, canoes, and other equipment. His business is located in the Northern basin of the lake, which so far, has not been affected badly by the bloom.

"It affects the health of our water and our economy in this area," said Kingsley. "It affects our ability to do business on the water because there are days we may not be able to go out because we're concerned for the health of our participants."

Greg Swan has owned a sailing business along Chautauqua Lake for 15 years. He says he is not too concerned about the bloom, but has seen his business suffer due to algae blooms in the past.

"When the bloom occurs my business is hurt by it because people stay away from the lake a little bit," said Swan.

Swan also hopes people understand the dangers of fertilizer running into their beloved lake, and therefore, keep a close eye at the fertilizers they use.

"This lake is our most precious natural resource in this area," said Swan. "If we ignore the needs of this lake, we're hurting ourselves, we're hurting our businesses, so we need to be vigilant and we need to work and continue to work together to make the lake conditions better.

Jessica Wuerstle is a Public Health Sanitarian in Chautauqua County. Wuerstle said the Southern basin is most prominent to these algae blooms. She also explained that these mostly happen in summertime, during the later months, when it's very warm.

"Blooms occur when we have warm, sunny days," said Wuerstle. "It activates the chlorophyll in the cyanobacteria -- blue-green algae."

She warned that swimming in these waters could bring health consequences.

"Dermal contact would be the potential for a rash," said Wuerstle. "If you ingest it, you'll have a wicket stomach ache and there can be other complications. Depending on how high the toxins are you can have some problems with your liver."

They say water in Lakewood Village Beach is currently unsatisfactory to swim in. They recommend to avoid contact with the water in the area, and wash hands if exposed to algae.