BRIA GRANVILLE | Staff Photographer At top, sunset over the north basin of Chautauqua Lake. Above, lake advocates Doug and…
For several years, Chautauqua County, the Institution, local civic and tourist development boards, and various lake conservation groups and coalitions have been struggling against the rising tide of weeds, pollution and the seemingly inexorable death march of Chautauqua Lake.
Thousands of visitors each year flock to Chautauqua Lake to take in its beauty, but how many of these people actually see it? This is one of the questions conservationist and retired high school teacher Jane Conroe will address at her Bird, Tree & Garden Brown Bag lecture “Chautauqua Lake: Seeing Her with New Eyes,” at 12:15 p.m. today in Smith Wilkes Hall.
Every other weekend, at an hour when most Chautauquans are eating breakfast or attending worship services, two boats set out onto Chautauqua Lake.
In the northern basin, Jane Conroe steers her motorboat away from shore. In the southern basin, Jeff Moore winds down the winch for his small rowboat and sets a course for the center of the lake.
Moore has with him a box of equipment — bottles, a thermometer, a clipboard and pencil. When he gets to a point in the lake marked by a nearby outcropping, he puts down the anchor and pulls in the oars. He takes from the crate a Secchi disc, a circular device cut into quarters of alternating black and white. He drops it on a cord into the lake, marking the depth at which he can no longer see its outline.
The day dawned bright and clear Tuesday of this past week. It was a good day to start a military-style campaign to protect Chautauqua Lake.
The place was Stow, south of the Institution and near the ferry. Chautauqua County Watershed Coordinator Jeff Diers, who has held that job for 18 months, was already organizing his battle plan almost a half hour before his troops were expected to arrive.
Diers’ foe is an invasive aquatic plant called water chestnut, which is botanically different from the Chinese takeout staple. This unwelcome water chestnut, a particularly difficult challenge for naturalists and water managers throughout the northeastern United States, was first spotted by accident in Chautauqua Lake earlier in July during a dredging survey.
The Bird, Tree & Garden Club’s last Lake Walk during “Water Matters” week is at 6:30 p.m. tonight. The Lake Walk is sponsored by BTG in cooperation with the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy and is led by representatives Deb Naybor and Jane Conroe. The topic today is “Water Testing.”
On Wednesday, Lake Walk participants took part in water sampling and performed chemical tests to determine water quality, but today’s participants will take that testing one step further using both simple chemistry and advanced equipment.
“Sometimes tests cannot be done that quickly,” Conroe said. “It takes time.”
Today, Conroe and Naybor will bring some field kits for a different type of water testing.
The Bird, Tree & Garden Club’s Wednesday Lake Walk topic is “Water Sampling: Gathering of Water Samples from Various Sites to Determine its Quality.”
The walk is sponsored in cooperation with the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, whose representatives, Deb Naybor and Jane Conroe, will lead it at 6:30 p.m. tonight. The group meets at the covered porch at the Heinz Fitness Center — below the YAC — on South Lake Drive at the corner of South.
Although the muddy or weedy condition of water is ready visible, Conroe cautioned against judging water quality.
To reflect Chautauqua’s week-long “Water Matters” theme, the Bird, Tree & Garden Club has scheduled additional Lake Walks in cooperation with the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy.
At 6:30 p.m. today, Conservancy representatives Deb Naybor and Jane Conroe will present, “Global Water Experiences: The dream of fresh drinking water for all.” The group will meet at the covered porch at the Heinz Fitness Center (below the YAC) on South Lake Drive at the corner of South.
While most Americans are accustomed to turning on a faucet for water, some people in other countries do not have that privilege.
Coordinating with the theme of the week, the first Lake Walk sponsored by the Bird, Tree & Garden Club will address the question, “How Valuable is Water?”
The program is presented in cooperation with the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, and conservancy representatives Deb Naybor and Jane Conroe will lead the walk. The group will meet at 6:30 p.m. tonight under the covered porch at the Heinz Fitness Center (below the YAC) on South Lake Drive at the corner of South.
“We will look at the quality of lake water and try out different filtration systems to turn lake water into clear, safe drinking water,” Naybor said in an email. Using about four different methods, she will also talk about which methods work and which are a waste of investment.
Sparks fly when Jane Conroe speaks.
“I’m passionate about our Chautauqua Lake,” she said, with emphasis. “The lake is in danger. The problem is the sum of an enormous number of small things that have been done during the past 100 years of development along the lakeshore and in the lake’s watershed.”