By Walt Lender, LGA Executive Director
The Lake George Association was pleased to participate in a water quality research study with Syracuse University, the Upstate Freshwater Institute and the New York State Federation of Lake Associations that gave us a glimpse of what Contaminants of Emerging Concern are in Lake George’s water.
The reports from the study are available on our website.
And while the study raised a number of questions, it led to one conclusion: Lake George residents, businesses and visitors still have a lot of work to do to protect our water quality now and in the future.
The time to start? Right now.
The discovery of caffeine in the water, for instance, at our water sampling site near Diamond Island (half a mile or more from any shoreline) was surprising. The primary way for caffeine to be in the water (even at the very tiny concentrations we found) is through leaking septic systems or some other improper wastewater discharge.
Fortunately, the discovery does not mean we all need to give up drinking coffee!
What the discovery means is that wastewater – whether processed or not – is getting into the Lake. It is a very early indicator of potential water quality problems down the road, and it means that as we look ahead to the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Septic Smart Week” next week (Sept 16-22, 2019) everyone must step up and do their part:
- Inspect Your
You’ve heard the LGA say it many times – but if you haven’t done it in the last
five years, are you sure you are not part of the potential problem? The New
York DEC and US Environmental Protection Agency recommend septic inspections
every two to three years and septic pumping every three to five years or as
needed. The Town of Bolton has made it easier for many residents in the
watershed to find a professional inspector because the Town now has a list of
certified inspectors and licensed septage haulers following the passage of
their septic inspection law: https://www.boltonnewyork.com/upload_files/town-ordinances/Bolton%20Septic%20Inspection%20Program%20Booklet.pdf
- Require Septic
Queensbury and Bolton have led the way with new regulations that require
certification of a working septic system before a property changes hands (in
Queensbury, it is waterfront properties; in Bolton it is the whole town). For
the rest of the communities in the watershed, it is only protective of the
short term and long term water quality for such laws to be on the books. We highly
encourage town board members and supervisors to consider septic inspection laws
that make sense for their communities. It is one way to ensure that properties
are protective of Lake George’s famed water quality.
- Support Our Efforts To Consolidate: The LGA is working in two separate shoreline communities with homeowners and homeowner associations to create sewer districts or develop plans for sewer line additions in order to take dozens of aging septic systems off line permanently. Need help, encouragement or information about how to do this for your community? Let us know how we can help!
It’s our job to protect water quality – and it is your job to protect water quality. The Lake George Association hopes you will join us to ensure our Lake is protected for the long term.
The LGA plans to continue water quality testing – including for the contaminants of emerging concern, but we expect the results will show what we all already know: human influence on the water quality of the Lake continues, and without changes made from all of us, the human influence will degrade our Lake’s water quality.
That cannot happen, and the LGA will not allow that to happen.
We have more work to do – more water quality protection projects to complete, more hearts and minds to educate, more monitoring to do.
Fortunately, we have you, and you have us. One of the benefits of belonging to the Lake George Association is that we all share the burden of managing the Lake conditions. It’s not an easy lift, but it is easier with 2,000+ of us who all have a stake in the Lake’s well being.
So: Have you scheduled your septic inspection yet?
Walt Lender is the executive director of the Lake George Association.
The Lake George Association recommends to our members that they inspect their septic systems every two to three years and pump the systems as needed. Inspections are the primary way, and really the only way, to protect water quality from household wastewater throughout the Lake George watershed, where eight towns, three counties and a village share the water source.
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.