By Walt Lender, LGA Executive Director
I was pleased to be asked to testify before a New York State Assembly Task Force on Water Quality in late October. It was an opportunity to showcase the LGA’s successful projects and programs that we’ve performed to protect Lake George’s water quality as well as provide information on what our staff and our 2,000 members see as immediate and long-term concerns for our Lake.
While the Lake George watershed is the beneficiary of many natural blessings, there is growing pressure on the Lake from a variety of forces, including:
- Stormwater pollution,
- Aging wastewater treatment infrastructure,
- Development in the watershed,
- Invasive species, and
- Climate change.
I told the Task Force that our watershed needs state financial assistance and increased state focus on these issues to continue our successful protection of our drinking water and our economic engine.
The Lake George Association has been conserving and protecting the waters of Lake George for 135 years, wisely investing member financial support and grants in high-impact projects and programs. The Lake continues to be a drinking water source thanks to the efforts of the LGA members and staff and, more recently, many other groups, municipalities and state agencies.
To continue that protection, we cannot let down our guard. We – the state, the municipalities, the state agencies, the nonprofits – must seek out and use every resource to develop and enact stronger and stronger water quality protections.
For example, we need to enact the updated Stormwater Management Regulations proposed by the Lake George Park Commission, now being reviewed in Albany.
In another example, the LGA’s efforts over the last few decades with municipalities and homeowners to reduce stormwater have resulted in great successes. Working with State agencies, the Lake George Park Commission, the soil and water conservation districts, highway departments, the Regional Planning Board, homeowner associations, and many others we have made great strides. But we need to do more, and we can do better.
We know what we have to do. We must push for more investment in wastewater treatment infrastructure and technology, improved stormwater management, and invasive species spread prevention. There was no disagreement on these priorities at the hearing.
At the LGA, we are doing our part by raising funds from private sources and leveraging public funds each year – grants that we identify and apply for based on how that money could be used to pay for projects to protect water quality. In the last ten years, the LGA has directly invested nearly $7 million in protecting the Lake’s water quality.
But we cannot do it alone – as the long discussion over the Lake George Wastewater Treatment Plant has shown. Our priority project list to protect the watershed from stormwater pollution is very long and very expensive – more than $64 million in anticipated costs.
So we absolutely need state assistance and investment to continue to protect Lake George’s water.
And we need our members, our donors, our municipal partners and our grantors to continue their support of our work keeping Lake George clean.
With increased state investment in our stormwater and wastewater infrastructure and on increased invasive species protections, Lake George can be protected well into the next century.