NYS DOT, Soil and Water District Partnering on Project
LAKE GEORGE, NY – Millions of gallons of untreated stormwater will be redirected away from Lake George thanks to a significant grant from the Lake Champlain Basin program to the Lake George Association.
The $86,227 grant will be used to replace asphalt stormwater channels along the Northway (Interstate 87) in partnership with the New York State Department of Transportation (Region 1) and Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District.
“This project is a crucial one to protect the water quality in the southern basin of Lake George,” said Randy Rath, LGA Project Manager. “The LGA, Soil and Water District staff, as well as DOT staff, discussed the need for this stormwater update following the identification of runoff problems there.”
“We are pleased that the Lake Champlain Basin Program agrees that this is a needed project to protect our watershed,” said Walt Lender, Lake George Association Executive Director. “Their funding is allowing us to partner with New York State and the Soil and Water Conservation District and move forward with this immediate Lake protection project that also protects for the long term.”
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 reason the LGA wrote the grant application is to continue our critical work reducing untreated stormwater from entering Lake George, protecting the Lake now and in the future.
The Lake Champlain Basin Program grant called for projects that would “develop and install large Best Management Practices for pollution reduction” into the Lake Champlain Basin. Lake George drains into Lake Champlain via the LaChute River, and is a significant part of the Lake Champlain Basin.
The grant is among the largest awarded to the LGA from the Lake Champlain Basin Program.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to remove a significant amount of stormwater that is making its way into Lake George,” said Jim Lieberum, District Manager of the Warren County Soul and Water Conservation District. “We have been assisting the LGA with this and many other projects to make positive change.”
That positive change also comes from an evolution of techniques to remove stormwater from roads.
The project focuses on several asphalt “swales” along the Northway that channel stormwater away from and under the interstate and into English Brook and Big Hollow Brook, among others.
The New York State DOT, Soil and Water District and LGA will remove a majority of the impervious asphalt and reshape the resulting stormwater channel.
The channel will be hydroseeded with a specific grass (Little Bluestem) that doesn’t grow any higher than about 18 inches – cutting back on the maintenance needed. Then erosion control mats will be installed throughout the new stormwater channel to allow the seed to grow up through the mats and ensure long-term stability.
The low-grow grass and mats will help to prevent erosion, will remove nutrients and will keep the water channel stable.
In addition, several stormwater catchment basins (or sediment basins) will be constructed to improve water quality by slowing any stormwater flow so sediment can drop out before it reaches the tributaries.
In the next few years, the LGA, Soil and Water District staff and the state DOT employees will inspect the swales after each spring runoff has concluded and after large storm events until the vegetation has established itself and taken root. Any basins created to collect sediment will need to be checked and cleaned as necessary by DOT to ensure functionality. It is similar work that the LGA does with the dozens of other sediment basins throughout the watershed
In addition to meeting the requirements of the grant to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus getting into the water, the project also addresses climate change resiliency in that with a trend toward more frequent, higher intensity storms, the now green swales will allow for greater infiltration of the stormwater, reducing the runoff that reaches the Lake.
Work on the project is expected to start in spring, and will be completed by the end of 2019.
The Lake George Association is among the oldest and most experienced lake protection organizations in the country, whose members support water quality protection, scientific 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 stays in the Lake George watershed, and is used to support and fund projects and programs that protect Lake George water quality now and in the future.