Yes, the Queensbury Septic Law Is A Good Model

By Walt Lender,
LGA Executive Director

It’s all about clean water in Lake George.

It’s all about long-term Lake sustainability.

It’s all about being responsible.

Queensbury’s “Septic Inspection Upon Property Transfer” law, passed by the Town in October, took months of community discussion and civil debate throughout the town. Many ideas were shared, were dissected, and were revised so the law could be developed, finalized and approved.

We applaud Queensbury for its concern about water quality (on all water bodies throughout the Town) and its focus on the greater good.

Town leaders and citizens took a step back, examined current and future water concerns, and acted in the region’s best interest – protecting water quality for future generations of residents.

That “step back and review” is what the Lake George Association has asked of all the towns in the watershed. I’d like to explain to you why the LGA is asking for it.

Founded in 1885 at the beginning of the national conservation movement, the Lake George Association’s entire focus is protecting Lake George’s water quality now and in the future.

Our request to review the Queensbury law was made in a letter to the town supervisors and town board members at the end of October. The LGA asked them to evaluate the details of the new law and use the information to spark discussion in their communities about the need for such a regulation. A regulation that would be agreeable to its citizens and would be just as protective of water quality.

It’s about clean water in Lake George.

Every community’s needs and circumstances are different, and many of the communities are already looking at what they can do. In fact, the LGA is assisting the residents in the Town of Hague with a project aimed at reviewing their options.

It’s a community-by-community discussion.

In watershed area and volume, Lake George is big: At 233 square miles, the Lake George watershed is more than two-thirds the size of New York City. With 550 billion gallons of water, Lake George has 176 miles of shoreline.

According to the Lake George Association’s Watershed Data Atlas, there are more than 9,900 housing units in the Lake’s watershed (on the shores and upland) – and that’s more than double the number of housing units than existed in 1970. So there has been growth.

Nearly two-thirds of those housing units use onsite septic systems (or community wastewater systems that function similarly) to process water from showers, toilets, and kitchen sinks. The LGA Watershed Data Atlas details the number of septic systems in each town, and by doing so emphasizes the need for a law like this throughout the watershed.

A majority of the 9,900 housing units in the watershed are using the Lake for drinking water, or using a groundwater well on their property in the watershed. A Septic System Inspection process protects all of those water users (Lake and groundwater) now and in the future.

It’s all about long-term Lake sustainability.

Property owners and visitors have a unique balancing act: Enjoy the Lake without Damaging the Lake. At the LGA we call it “Lake-Friendly Living” (you can see and download lots of ideas and information on Lake-Friendly Living from our encyclopedic website at LakeGeorgeAssociation.org).

An important part of Lake-Friendly Living is ensuring your septic system is functioning properly. Poorly functioning septic systems or damaged systems create many problems, including increased nutrients in the Lake (encouraging weeds, algae and invasive species to grow) or groundwater supplies, and bacterial contamination of Lake George’s Class AA-Special drinking water or well water. Properly functioning septic systems are protective of the Lake’s water quality and of the groundwater, and are respectful to your neighbors, to your community, and to future generations.

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.

It’s all about being responsible.

The LGA understands the potential for financial concerns with repairing or replacing a septic system. Conversely, the potential damage to the Lake and to a property’s value is exponentially greater with a non-functional septic system.

We live in a community in the Lake George watershed that cares deeply for conserving and preserving the Lake’s water quality. We’re encouraging the towns already moving ahead with their own regulations to continue to do so, and asking the towns that are not already considering their own updates to think of the greater good.

We ask you to encourage your town to continue down this path – or start! – so the Lake stays clean.

We also ask you this:  What is best for the Lake?

You already know: Responsible practices. Clean water. Long-term Lake sustainability.

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.

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All the money raised by the Lake George Association stays in the Lake George watershed and is used to protect Lake George from Ticonderoga to Lake George Village.
Lake George Association

Lake George Association