"Stormwater Runoff Is The Single Biggest Threat to the Water Quality of Lake George"
The above quote comes from the award winning Do It Yourself Water Quality guide published and distributed Basin-wide over a decade ago.
In that time, however, the threat has arguably intensified as algae growth proliferates, fed in large part by nutrients from stormwater runoff. The arrival of harmful algal blooms is another visible warning of the need to significantly reduce the flow of nutrients into the Lake without further delay.
In April 2021, the Lake George Park Commission enacted updated stormwater management regulations. Review the regulations and learn whether they apply to your property. Become a Lake Protector and we can help you in this process.
Stormwater flows off everyone’s property as rain or melted snow running off roofs and across lawns, driveways, parking lots and roads, picking up nutrients and other contaminants along the way and carrying them into streams and, ultimately, into the Lake. The more impervious surfaces (like driveways and sidewalks) your property has, the more runoff that is produced.
Because stormwater comes from everyplace, everyone has a critical role to play in reducing runoff. As everyone does their part, we will reduce algae-feeding nutrients, meaning less algae on our docks, boats, and lake bottom rocks, and, most important, less risk of HABs.
Understand Stormwater On Your Property
We've got work to do. In a 2016 study, we found that only 12% of the properties in the Finkle Brook, one of the Lake’s primary tributaries, watershed had stormwater management controls. You can use this EPA tool to understand how stormwater works where you live. Become a Lake Protector and we can help you use it.
Explore the EPA Stormwater Calculator
Too Much Green Being Seen
Algae is increasingly evident on the Lake. You see it floating on the surface, washing up on shore, and clinging to your dock and boat. Stormwater runoff and faulty septic systems are adding nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous to the Lake and feeding algae growth. The evidence is not just anecdotal: An analysis of 37 years of water quality data by The Jefferson Project found a 32% increase in epilimnetic chlorophyll-a (a measure of the amount of algae growing in the Lake), and a 70% increase in orthophosphate, the form of phosphorus that is readily available to be consumed by algae. Only by reducing nutrients on both fronts will we reduce these trends and the growing risk of more and bigger harmful algal blooms.
What we do together:
Take these seven steps to reduce the amount of stormwater leaving your property and polluting our Lake. Become a Lake Protector and we will assist you in taking actions that will deliver the greatest protection benefit based on where you are.
Reduce Impervious Surfaces
Replace impervious sidewalks, patios, and driveways with alternative materials, like grass, gravel, or permeable pavers. A “green” roof is another great stormwater reduction feature. Maximizing your permeable surfaces allows the land’s natural processes to filter stormwater and reduce your runoff. Learn more about reducing impervious surfaces, and how that helps you qualify for LID Certification.
Limit Lawn Size and Keep Large Trees
Large, grassy lawns, planted to the edge of the Lake, may look nice, but they’re a major source of nutrient pollution, which feeds algae growth. Lawns are much less effective at promoting infiltration of stormwater than areas with trees and other natural vegetation and thus allow considerably more stormwater into the Lake. A mature tree can process up to a 1/2" of rainfall through interception, uptake, and evapotranspiration. Learn about lawn alternatives, and how that helps you qualify for LID Certification.
Build a Rain Garden
Rain gardens, or bio-infiltration areas, are perennial and can include trees, shrubs, flowers and ground cover. They capture, infiltrate, and treat stormwater, and are an inexpensive and aesthetically attractive Lake-protecting addition to your property.
Create or Expand a Shoreline Buffer
Planting and maintaining a natural shoreline buffer is one of the best management practices a landowner can undertake to protect Lake George. A shoreline buffer significantly reduces impacts from land use by infiltrating and treating storm-water runoff and preventing shoreline erosion. A fully functioning shoreline buffer has four tiers: trees, shrubs, woody and herbaceous perennial plants and ground cover, and duff, which includes a layer of decomposing organic matter. Learn how your shoreline buffer can help you earn the LGA’s Low Impact Development (LID) certification.
Create or Expand a Stream Buffer
More than 50% of the water that enters Lake George comes from a stream. A natural buffer along a stream bank, like a shoreline buffer by a lake, is a simple and highly effective way to protect a stream from chemical pollutants and unhealthy levels of nutrients and erosion. The best buffers are made up of trees, shrubs, herbaceous and woody-stemmed ground cover plants and duff. Learn how to create or expand a stream buffer, and how that helps you qualify for LID Certification.
Protect Natural Drainage Paths and Areas
Natural topography is uneven, forcing stormwater runoff to follow a meandering path that naturally slows the water and limits erosion. Avoid making changes in the topography of your property or reinforcing stream banks. This can adversely affect water quality by narrowing flow paths and speeding up water, causing erosion and carrying sediments and pollutants directly to the lake. Learn about avoiding erosion, and how that helps you qualify for LID Certification.
Adopt A Storm Drain
Water from storm drains flows directly into Lake George without treatment. As a volunteer
storm drain adopter, you will spot check your storm drain between rainfalls, (and, if possible, before each predicted rain) to keep it free of debris, litter or pollution. Simply remove any leaves, twigs, cans, cups, or other impairment from the top of the storm grate and note what you see adjacent to the drain. With a garbage bag or bucket in hand, most volunteers can address the storm drain issues within minutes. Each time you check your drain, you’ll complete a brief electronic field report.
What we do for you:
The Lake George Association works closely with property owners and other partners to help ensure the proper management of stormwater on properties of all types and sizes, protecting Lake George from nutrients and pollutants that threaten its legendary water quality.
The Power of Partnership in Reducing Stormwater Runoff
With man-made remediation and filtering ponds, the West Brook Conservation Initiative balances water quality treatment with public use, treating millions of gallons of stormwater in a setting enjoyed by thousands of people each year. Our project goal was to remove 50% of the phosphorus loading and 90% of the total suspended solids from the 90-acre urban watershed. A 2017-18 study of six storm events found that the average removal of phosphorus was 85% and the average removal of TSS was 92% thus exceeding our goal and the project’s vital protection benefits.
Boon Bay Stormwater Management Initiative
The Boon Bay neighborhood sits just north of Diamond Point, along a road that descends steeply from Rt. 9N directly toward the Lake. With technical assistance from the LGA, the neighbors banded together to protect Lake George from the persistent runoff that flowed across a series of impermeable parking areas and walkways and into the Lake. Leading by example, they installed new permeable paver systems on their parking areas, and removed the impermeable walkways, dramatically reducing the amount of runoff that reaches the Lake.