Lake George needs reasonable care, not radical action

Lake George's water quality remainshigh. Photo by Carl Heilman II
Lake George’s water quality remainshigh. Photo by Carl Heilman II

Recently the Adirondack Explorer reported on the decline of Lake George, pointing to shoreline and upland development and the lack of adequate land-use controls by the Lake George Park Commission.
The water is still clean, pure, drinkable, and rated as AA Special. The lake is still one of the cleanest and clearest in the state, if not the nation.

The water quality has remained relatively stable due to the concern of property owners, environmental groups, and local municipal leadership. Property owners and business owners recognize that it is the water quality which keeps the local economy going and protects property investments.

The water clarity has remained remarkably stable as have the total phosphorus levels of the main lake. The latest long-term chemical analysis in 1995 covering thirteen years of data at ten sampling points throughout the lake found no substantial increase in nutrient availability. The water-clarity depth has remained remarkably stable at least by scientific measurement, as have total phosphorus levels, with historical trending of increased clarity from south to north.
Chlorides, on the other hand, have shown increasing concentration and will no doubt continue when the next long-term analysis is publicized.  Unfortunately road salt is a necessary evil of our modern mobile society, and any changes will only be made at the margin.

The present concern with storm-water runoff is exacerbated by the historical placement of the early dirt roads close to existing streambeds with little room remaining for modern retrofitting devices. The historical lack of awareness for environmental concerns is just a problem our community needs to deal with as best we can. The recently created wetland of the West Brook/Gaslight Village project is a significant step in the proper direction. Early estimates projected a reduction of 85 percent of the nutrient loading from that major southern watershed.

The most pressing immediate concern is the control of the present four invasive aquatic species and the prevention of future invasives. These are expensive efforts which have significantly drawn down available local resources. Financing one specific control effort entails a more limited investment in controlling other invasives.

Can we do better? The community has demonstrated it can and will make the necessary investments. But until abrupt changes in water chemistry are determined, radical action is not necessary by either the Park Commission or local governments. Situations like the recent Asian clam infestation in 2010 demonstrate the ability of all parties to respond to real threats. Such responses require ecological awareness, scientific basis, and the desire to leave a positive legacy for future generations to enjoy this “Queen of American Lakes.”

Alexander G. Gabriels III, Bolton Landing

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