LAKE GEORGE – Approximately 80% of Lake George Park’s wastewater treatment plants are on properties with steep slopes or flat or poor floors, which, according to the Lake George Park Commission, could lead to malfunctioning systems.
Executive Director Dave Wick updated the commission Tuesday on the research a special committee that is looking into whether to develop a septic tank inspection program and implement design standards.
About 65% of the occupied parcels in Lake George Park are in sewage treatment plants. There are more than 6,200 sewage treatment plants in the Lake George Park area, according to Wick.
Additionally, there are approximately 3,400 within 150 meters of a lake or 30 meters of a stream.
Another problem is small lots. The average property size is approximately 0.8 acres, according to Wick.
“There is limited space on the land to move their sewage treatment plants to more sustainable areas,” he said.
Malfunctioning septic systems can contribute to E. coli or fecal coliform bacteria or excessive amounts of nitrogen in the lake, according to Wick.
He said there have been smaller studies that have shown that harmful algal blooms, which are indicative of human pollution, are being reduced by implementing septic inspection system programs.
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There was a bloom in July. There was another bloom at the beginning of the month. Wick said it was mostly identified in Harris Bay, but also identified in other locations in the southern basin.
He added that DEC confirmed flowering but no toxins were detected and the density of cyanobacteria was very low. It was limited to a few localized areas, 5 to 10 square feet in size, where the algae were concentrated enough, according to Wick, to create a thin, varnish-like color on the surface.
Wick said the septic committee had a variety of experts, including local engineers, a representative from the state environment department, and representatives from lake conservation organizations, including Walt Lender, executive director of the Lake George Association, and Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky.
“We have a very good mix of people who advise and support this process,” said Wick.
The Lake George Park Commission enlisted the services of The Chazen Companies to assist with this research. Engineers are reviewing other studies of the effects of sewage treatment plants on lakes, assessing the condition of sewage treatment plants around Lake George, and researching other lakes that have carried out similar inspection programs.
Wick said the Commission does not need to reinvent the wheel but can look to other communities as a guide to what they have done.
“Each program is tailored to the respective lake. It was very insightful for us to understand how these people got the program off the ground, how they manage it, and what the funding flow is, ”he said.
Warren County is considering introducing a program that would require a sewage system inspection upon transfer of ownership. Queensbury has a similar program. Wick said commission staff spoke to Queensbury officials and found that the program requires around 100 to 150 inspections per year.
Wick said that if the program were implemented for the entire Lake George basin, the commission would expect 800 to 1,000 inspections per year to be carried out without dedicated personnel.
Wick said Lake George town and village officials support the work of the regulation development commission.
Mayor Dennis Dickinson has been vehemently opposed to the proposed county septic tank clearing bill because it will put a burden on the county.
Wick said the commission wants to be as open and transparent as possible and wants feedback from the public.
The committee meets on Zoom every first Thursday of the month at 2 p.m.
Wick said the goal is for the committee to complete its work and report to the commission by mid-winter.
Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky said the pollution of the sewage system had a clear impact on water quality. The lake is a source of drinking water and he believes the commission should set higher standards than the state health ministry to recognize the importance of the lake.
Michael Goot covers Politics, Crime & Courts, Warren County, Education, and Business. Reach him at 518-742-3320 or [email protected]
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