DEC announces start of $1.6 million in repairs, foundation finds suspected HAB
By Gwendolyn Craig
The Upper Locks providing boat access between Lower and Middle Saranac Lake will close on Sept. 18 for $1.6 million in repairs, the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced on Tuesday.
The repairs are expected to be finished sometime in 2024. Kingsbury Companies of Middlesex, Vt. will complete the work under DEC supervision. It is funded by NY Works.
“The Saranac Lakes Locks are a unique and essential structure for recreating on more than 5,000 acres of water, including several large lakes,” said DEC Region 5 Director Joe Zalewski. “Rehabilitation of these structures is crucial to safe recreational access between Lower and Middle Saranac Lake.”
The work begins as residents along Upper Saranac Lake fear that a harmful algal bloom has developed. The blue-green algae was spotted Sept. 5 in Back Bay in the northern most section of Upper Saranac Lake, the Upper Saranac Lake Foundation reported, adding that state agents and water researchers are monitoring the situation.
The Upper Locks at Saranac Lake. Courtesy of state Department of Environmental Conservation
Mike Damp, owner of Saranac Lake Marina, provides boat rentals for Lower and Middle Saranac Lakes. He said the lock restoration work is needed, but the timing of shutting the locks down is “never easy.” After an influx of rain in the Adirondacks this summer, Damp said this past weekend’s sunny skies made for busy days on the lakes.
“As long as everything goes as planned and gets done, I think it’s great, but that’s many months of shutting down,” Damp said.
There are several private camp owners who will have no motorized boat access during that time, Damp added. The DEC said canoes and kayaks may still be carried around the locks to access either lake. Damp said there is a canoe cartop launch at South Creek, too.
For lock use by motorboats, an average busy weekend totals about 70 entrances or exits, with about 30 on most weekdays or slow weekends, DEC said. In addition, several paddlers often use the locks.
Repairs, according to the DEC, include:
- Refurbishing the upstream and downstream miter gate lock doors and wicket (filling/emptying) gates, including replacing all seals and bearings;
- Replacing deck boards on the push decks and lever arms;
- Replacing downstream boat dock and shelter; and
- Replacing concrete deck slabs and fixing concrete lock chamber walls and floor.
This story was updated to include DEC lock usage data and to note the suspected HAB discovery.