Chautauqua Institution has implemented the first steps of a comprehensive Drainage Management Plan that addresses stormwater flow throughout the grounds. This is the first comprehensive action taken by a lakeside community on Chautauqua Lake.

The plan is also supported by two grants awarded by New York state totaling $696,000.

In November 2010, Institution staff was presented with the report conducted by Foit-Albert Associates, an architecture and engineering firm based in Buffalo, N.Y., with a history of designing environmentally proactive stormwater management systems on the grounds. The firm reviewed the existing storm sewer system at CHQ and used topographical data and actual rainfall data to calculate and map the flow of stormwater and performance of storm sewers.

Foit-Albert reviewed state and federal environmental policies as well as local priorities. Specifically, the NYS Draft Chautauqua Lake TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) document that will affect storm water discharge nutrient management requirements and the recently prepared Chautauqua County Chautauqua Lake Management Plan were considered.

The Drainage Management Plan divides Institution property into 13 separate and distinct drainage areas, what are called “mini watersheds.” Improvements for each area were identified and prioritized. The plan calls for significant action:

  • Reduce nutrient input to the lake
  • Retain water where it falls
  • Eliminate or decrease runoff discharge into Chautauqua Lake
  • Remove nutrients from water running into lake
  • Employ best management practices
  • Serve as a demonstration community

This spring, the Institution was awarded two grants totaling $696,000 from Environmental Protection Agency and Clean Water Act funds distributed through the New York State Green Innovation Grant Program for the construction of an environmentally proactive surface and sub-grade stormwater management system. The Institution is required to provide a 10-percent matching investment.

Efforts already taken under the Stormwater Management Plan have proven effective, including a wetlands area near South Gate and rain gardens at Fletcher Hall, Peck Ave. and South Lake, and in University Park; and buffer gardens at the Glidden shoreline.