Weed harvester’s at center of storm over Honeoye algae

Blue-green algae isn’t the only toxin plaguing Honeoye Lake. Controversy over what to do about the lake’s persistent algae problem escalated in August with an online petition presented to Ontario County and police response to vandalism.

At the center of debate is the county’s use of a mechanical weed harvester some say makes the lake’s blue-green algae problem worse. Lake experts say there’s no scientific evidence to back that up. On the contrary, some suggest the harvester has a positive effect because it removes nutrients in the lake’s excessive plant growth that prompt algae blooms.

“We want change, we want something new. We want to see something different done,” said Canadice resident Eric Lang, who grew up on the lake and whose family still owns property there. “There are lots of people very upset,” said Lang, who presented the county Board of Supervisors Aug. 23 with the petition containing nearly 300 signatures. “We don’t care about science or studies now, we want results,” he said.

The weed-cutting boat, used in a weed harvesting program, operates from a state boat launch on the east side of the lake. The harvester was damaged in July — a suspected vandalism around July 17, according to Ontario County Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office announced this past week it will “have a stronger patrol officer presence in the area as well as enhanced surveillance features.” The county and towns of Richmond and Canadice asked for help “in deterring similar actions and investigating the prior crimes.”

Canadice Town Supervisor Kris Singer, who chairs the county committee overseeing the weed program, said the harvester has been used only a few days this summer. First, it needed repair, then it was out of order due to water poured into the engine compartment in the apparent vandalism, she said.

Damage to personal property has also taken place around the lake, tied to the algae issue. Some people contacted for this article with strong opinions about how to deal with the problem declined to give their names, saying their property had been vandalized.

As of Aug. 29, the weed harvester had been repaired and was back in action.

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