Protecting the legendary water quality of Lake George can seem a little daunting when you consider the Lake is 32 miles long, as much as two miles wide, and encompasses more than 28,000 acres and 176 miles of shoreline.
But the nine homeowner members of the Boon Bay Association are showing just how much can be accomplished when neighbors work together in their own backyards — practicing Lake protection bay-by-bay.
“We are the stewards of the Lake. It’s our responsibility. We do it for our children and our grandchildren.” – Debbi Fishner
It all began with a major stormwater management project. The Boon Bay neighborhood sits just north of Diamond Point, along a road that descends steeply from Rt. 9N directly toward the Lake. The neighbors installed new permeable paver systems on their parking areas, and removed a network of impermeable walkways, dramatically reducing the amount of runoff that reaches the Lake.
Next came important preventive maintenance on their neighborhood septic system. A small number of trees whose roots were extending into the leach field were removed before they could damage the system, and the ground over the field was re-seeded to minimize soil erosion and improve system performance. Now they’re exploring the use of brine to prevent snow and ice build-up on their neighborhood road and reduce the need for road salt, which inevitably makes its way into the Lake.
“We’ve taken ownership of it,” says Association member Debbi Fishner of her neighbors’ investments in Lake protection. “They are an incredible group of people who came together as a community to achieve a common goal.”
Inspired by a Grandmother’s Love
Debbi is widely credited by her neighbors for spearheading the protection initiatives. She remembers the exact moment everything began to take shape.
It was one of those gloriously sunny, blue-sky Lake George days that normally warmed her heart and put a smile on her face. But as Debbi watched her then-three-year-old granddaughter playing in the sand at the Association’s beach, all she could think about were the rainy days when gallons of stormwater rushed down the steep roadway, carrying contaminants of all types across the parking areas and walkways, into the sand where Lucy was now playing and, eventually, into the water. On a number of occasions, the storms were strong enough to wash the beach away.
“We really have to do something about this,” Debbi recalls thinking, and then and there she decided to take the lead.
Over the next couple of years, Debbi educated herself, her husband, Allen, and their neighbors about the options for stormwater management, enlisting the expert guidance of Lake George Association Project Manager Randy Rath, Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky, and engineer Tom Jarrett. Randy also brought in staff from the Warren County Soil & Water Conservation District.
An Example Others Can Follow
With their newfound knowledge in hand, the Association set out to address the troublesome parking areas and walkways. First, the compacted crushed stone surface on all four parking areas was replaced with TRUEGRID® permeable pavers, a system of circular heavy-duty plastic rings, filled with stones, and installed over approximately one foot of gravel. Now, instead of rushing across the impermeable crushed stone and into the Lake, stormwater enters the porous system and is filtered into the ground. Association members also had all of the impermeable walkways removed, and planted grass in their place. Each of the members contributed to the cost of the project, aided by a $15,000 grant from the LGA, as well as the pro bono consulting services of Randy Rath (“He handled this project like he lived here,” Debbi says).
Debbi encourages other homeowner’s associations and all property owners in the Lake George Basin to follow the Boon Bay example and explore ways they can help protect the Lake, bay-by-bay, one project at a time.
“We are the stewards of the Lake. It’s our responsibility,” she says. “We do it for our children and our grandchildren.”
Mounting water quality threats demand an unprecedented protection commitment from everyone who loves Lake George. The LGA is eager to help guide and support protection projects large and small, bay-by-bay. Learn how we can work together with you and your neighbors.
Read more stories of your neighbors leading by example.