By Walt Lender
Lake George Association Executive Director
You are key to protecting Lake George.
How are you key to protecting Lake George’s water quality?
You control a system that every day, with every use, prevents nitrogen, phosphorus and bacterial pollution from getting into the Lake’s Class AA Special water – and only you can ensure the process presents no danger.
Of course, I mean your home’s septic system.
Even with the Lake’s total water volume of 550 billion gallons, a little septic problem here and a little problem there can quickly multiply the danger and possible damage – especially when there is the potential for many small problems around the watershed.
That potential exists because only 35% percent of the homes on Lake George are on municipal sewer systems, according to our “Lake George Watershed Data Atlas” study (which you can download from the LGA website). And how many of those septic systems were installed in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s? Hundreds ….
Right now, as the summer season comes to an end, you have an increasingly important role in protecting Lake George: It’s time to check on that hard-working septic system to ensure your system is not a little problem that can cause bigger problems in the Lake – now or in the future.
(See below for ways to determine if your septic system is failing.)
“I don’t want to know,” some people say about septic issues. “It is so expensive to inspect or repair.”
Let’s look at it another way: How much more expensive will it be to inspect or fix five years from now? Or when the entire system collapses and causes an immediate environmental danger or damage to the Lake?
I beg you. Please. Schedule an inspection of your septic system this fall, to ensure it is in good working order and not causing a problem for the Lake. If you can’t remember the last time it was pumped out, please schedule that, too.
Failing septic systems can have significant impact on water quality in the near-shore areas, and the problems it cause can spread if not fixed.
If your system is not working properly, it can add phosphorus, bacteria and/or nitrogen into the groundwater, which will eventually make it into the Lake; and groundwater makes up 18 percent of the water feeding your Lake.
We don’t have control over the warmer air temperatures, or the corresponding increased water temperatures that have been reported over the last two decades.
But we do have control over the septic systems, which have allowed us all to live, work and recreate on Lake George for generations. It is the reason we are able to spend quality time with family and friends here at the Lake.
Your Lake George Association want to ensure that future generations can also enjoy the Lake.
As I said, you and your actions can ensure long-term protection for Lake George.
Or, your actions can cause damage to the Lake. Maybe permanently.
We hope you choose the former.
Walt Lender is the Executive Director of the Lake George Association, whose members support water quality protection, scientific monitoring, education and lake friendly living programs that benefit the watershed from Lake George Village to Ticonderoga.
Know the signs of a failed system:
- Pooling water or muddy soil around the tank or drainfield or in your basement.
- Bad smell coming from area of tank.
- Toilet or sink backs up when you flush or do laundry.
- Bright green grass over the drainfield.
If you notice any of these signs – call a professional to have your system looked at right away.