Pictured above, the floating vegetation along Burtis Bay in November 2018.
CELORON, N.Y.: -- Chautauqua County has announced that the waterfront cleanup in Burtis Bay near Celoron, N.Y. is expected to start the week of April 29, 2019.
Last November, Burtis Bay homeowners attended a Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance (Alliance) board meeting to bring attention to the extreme conditions along their lakefront properties. Through a combination of excessive floating aquatic vegetation, high water levels and high winds, property owners experienced large deposits of weeds and a fish kill in Burtis Bay.
Chautauqua County and the Alliance quickly responded by working with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to determine a practical option for removing the weeds. A total of $73,000 in funding was secured for the emergency project through contributions from Chautauqua County, the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, and the Alliance.
“We had hoped that the cleanup would occur before the snow set in last year but it was not feasible,” said Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello. “Once the ice was off the lake, leaders met in the end of March to further develop a clean-up plan, which provided some unique challenges.”
Some of the key challenges were low water levels impacting water side approach options, private property and infrastructure impediments for a landside approach of removing the debris, and any approach with heavy equipment in the water along the shoreline would require dual dredge permits from DEC and Army Corp of Engineers which would also impact timing for action.
“Despite our delay, I am thankful for our joint effort as leaders from Chautauqua County, Town of Ellicott, Village of Celoron, Alliance, Chautauqua Lake Association (CLA), NYSDEC, and Jamestown BPU have collaborated and agreed to accomplish this much needed clean up in Burtis Bay,” said Borrello.
The area of the bay to receive work is approximately 2, 950 linear feet of shoreline that stretches from the southern end of the Ellicott Town Park to the northernmost point of Burtis Bay at the Ellicott Shores Apartment, which is just north of the lakeshore terminus of Duquesne Street in the Village of Celoron. The project, which is subdivided into three work areas, will include waterside and landside effort s with multiple partners.
The first work area is CLA’s primary work area. It is about 1,800 linear feet and is in front of the residential section of shoreline between Reid Street and Duquesne Street. This waterside cleanup will include equipment and in-water laborers as debris is collected and transported by barge to Lakewood where it will be loaded into a CLA dump truck and transported to the dewatering site in the Ellicott Town Park.
Upon completing work in the primary work area and if time and budget allow, the CLA will then continue to a second work area. This area is about 700 linear feet and runs from Reid Street south to the edge of the town park.
The third area is the Chautauqua County and the Village of Celoron’s work area, which is about 450 linear feet and runs from Duquesne Street and the point to the north. They will work concurrently with CLA’s waterside work to clean up what can safely be reached from the shoreline by using the county’s excavators and trucks. The aquatic debris from this land side operation will be loaded into the dump trucks and transported to the dewatering area at the Ellicott Town Park.
“The intensity of last year’s event was unusual and it has required ongoing discussion and collaboration to finalize a multi-partner approach,” said Scott Schrecengost, Mayor of the Village of Celoron. “It is great to see this many community leaders working together to provide assistance under these challenging circumstances and I believe this cleanup project will be successful and beneficial for lakeside property owners and everyone who enjoys Chautauqua Lake.”
“The Town of Ellicott is pleased to work with our partners to provide a temporary staging area for the waterlogged debris so it can dry for a few months before it is transported to the landfill for disposal,” said Patrick McLaughlin, Ellicott Town Supervisor. “This is a very timely project and we look forward to having these excessive weeds in Burtis Bay taken care of before the peak summer season.”
In addition to the CLA’s role as the prime contractor for work from the waterside, the agreed plan of work relies on combined efforts as follows:
Chautauqua County will provide in-kind contribution for one to two concentrated days with use of excavators, trucks, and operators to work from land near the top of the break wall; assist with likely disposal at the County landfill of dewatered spoils later in 2019; coordinate Warner Dam operations with NYSDEC and Jamestown BPU; and provide project management to ensure multi-partner approach is implemented as envisioned during real time work in the coming weeks.
Town of Ellicott will provide a dewatering area at the town park; hold material on site as necessary; and assist with load and transport of dewatered spoils to County Landfill later in 2019.
Village of Celoron will provide in-kind equipment and labor to assist the County and the Town of Ellicott; general logistical support to County workers at the County/Celoron work area; landowner coordination for access beyond the Duquesne Street right-of-way; and site cleanup and restoration in work area.
Alliance will hold the service contract with CLA and provide in-kind staff assistance to operate CLA equipment as directed by CLA.
NYSDEC will provide a review of the proposed plan of work, allow rule curve exception for the Warner Dam operation to decrease flow over and through the dam to increase pool level of Chautauqua Lake.
Jamestown BPU will implement modified dam operations allowed by NYSDEC and requested by Chautauqua County.