Request specifies limit on water the course pumps
By Phil Brown
The Saranac Inn Golf Club has been around since the early 1900s, drawing water from Upper Saranac Lake to irrigate its fairways and greens. Thanks to a state law passed a few years ago, we now know how much water it takes from the lake.
The golf club recently applied for a permit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to withdraw up to 1,584,000 gallons per day from Upper Saranac. DEC has given tentative approval, but a final decision won’t be made until after the public has a chance to weigh in. The deadline for comments is March 19.
The actual amount of water withdrawn on most days probably will be far less than the nearly 1.6 million gallons allowed in the proposed permit. In a report prepared for DEC, the club’s engineering firm, Chazen Companies of Troy, estimates that 693,000 gallons is withdrawn on a typical day.
The club’s pump houses, however, lack meters to measure water usage. As a condition of the permit, DEC would require water meters to be installed. (Chazen’s estimate is based on the capacity of the pumps.)
The engineer’s report asserts that the water usage does not harm the lake. “The Saranac Inn (Golf Club) has been withdrawing water from the Upper Saranac Lake for irrigation purposes since the early 1900s with no reported issues,” it says.
Guy Middleton, lake manager for the Upper Saranac Foundation, agrees that the amount withdrawn by the club is “very minimal,” given the size of the lake. “We lose more than that through evaporation on a sunny, breezy day,” he told the Adirondack Explorer.
Upper Saranac holds 150 million cubic meters of water—or about 39.6 billion gallons. Thus, the maximum amount that could be withdrawn under the permit is roughly 1/25,000 of the lake’s volume, and actual usage is likely to be much less.
The 6,470-yard Saranac Inn golf course is open from May 1 through Columbus Day. It was designed by Seymour Dunn, a native of Scotland, and his uncle, Willie Dunn Jr. Seymour Dunn also designed the course at the Lake Placid Club. The celebrated golfer Walter Hagen set the course record at Saranac Inn when he shot a 70 in the early 1920s.
Comments or questions on the water withdrawals should be emailed to DEP.R5@dec.ny.gov addressed to:
Rebecca A Smith, NYSDEC Region 5 Headquarters, 1115 St Rte 86, Ray Brook, NY 12977 .