As the summer winds down into the calmer season of fall, Lake George Association Project Manager Randy Rath speeds toward completion of projects to protect Lake George from stormwater, the biggest threat to water quality decline.
“Two of the bigger projects we are completing this fall capture stormwater and the nutrients and pollutants that it carries and keeps them out of the Lake,” said Rath. “They were both made possible because of grants from the Lake Champlain Basin Program.”
Untreated stormwater is by far the greatest human contributor to water quality decline in Lake George. Stormwater carries nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen, among other chemicals) and sediment which can cause water quality to decline, and can provide a food source for algae and a habitat for invasive species.
The first project will remove concrete sidewalks and bricks – which contribute to the stormwater flow – and replace them with six-inch-thick porous concrete slabs that have been pre-cast to ensure the porosity.
The porous concrete will allow stormwater to flow down into the ground to be filtered and cleaned, keeping it out of the Lake.
“The project area, near the pier at Shepard Park, was decided in consultation with Lake George Village DPW Superintendent Dave Harrington, and the village will provide in-kind services to help extend the value of the grant approved for this project,” Rath said.
“We are happy to support this project to protect Lake George water,” said Harrington. “We have a long history with the LGA doing water quality protection projects like this as partners and colleagues. When Randy approached us, we figured the sidewalk near the pier was the perfect place to do the project, as the area is driven on all year round and it is maintained in the winter.”
“The project and partnership with the LGA is another way the Village is doing its part to protect our beautiful water body,” said Lake George Village Mayor Robert Blais.
The plan calls for replacing 529 square feet of sidewalk with the porous concrete (creating a drainage area larger than a 15-by-30-foot swimming pool).
The project is a test of the precast porous concrete materials, to see how well it works before potentially being used in other areas around the steep sides of the Lake George watershed.
“If it works well, there are many driveways and parking lots that could use this product to better protect the Lake’s water quality,” Rath said.
In addition to the Shepard Park project, the LGA and Town of Lake George will be installing a few of the porous concrete panels in Usher Park to capture runoff from the parking lot and prevent erosion.
Another task this fall will be the second half of the project to replace asphalt stormwater drainage ditches along the Northway, re-directing millions of gallons of untreated stormwater away from Lake George.
“This project is a crucial one to protect the water quality in the southern basin of Lake George,” said Rath. “We are glad to be partnering with New York State DOT and the Soil and Water Conservation District to complete it.”
The wider replacement ditches will no longer be stormwater “highways” that convey the water directly into streams that feed the Lake. Like other Northway ditches that were replaced earlier in the summer, the crews will remove the asphalt and add erosion control mats and vegetation that slow the water, infiltrates it into the ground and allows the nutrients to be taken up by the plants.
The work is being performed by staff from the LGA, the New York State Department of Transportation (Region 1) and the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District.
The Lake George Association was awarded an $86,227 grant by the Lake Champlain Basin Program to perform the replacement project.
The Lake George Association is the oldest and most experienced lake protection organization in the country, whose members support water quality protection, water quality monitoring, education and lake-friendly living programs that benefit the watershed from Lake George Village to Ticonderoga.
All the money raised by the Lake George Association goes to projects and programs that benefit the Lake and the watershed, protecting Lake George water quality now and in the future.