Watersheds and Lake George

The geographic region where all of the water in an area flows downhill to a particular body of water, be it a lake, a pond, a river, or a marsh, is known as a watershed.

If you were to look at the land surrounding a lake, you would see high and low spots. The high elevations of a watershed form its boundaries. You can imagine a watershed as an enormous funnel. As you pour water into the funnel, its sides direct the water to the bottom of the funnel. The boundaries of the watershed are like the top edges of the funnel, or the mountains and hills surrounding the body of water. Because of gravity, all precipitation flows over the land and down to the watershed's body of water, like the bottom of a funnel.

There are 17 major watersheds within New York State. Since the Lake George watershed is small, it is part of the larger Lake Champlain watershed.
Image courtesy of NYS DEC.

Watersheds are not separated, but are connected. Rain may fall on top of a high mountain. The water will flow downhill to a lake or river. Some will move as surface runoff and some will percolate into the ground and arrive at the waterbody in the form of groundwater. The water will continue to flow through the lake, exiting by surface discharge at the lake's outlet, which may in turn, be a tributary for another watershed, and so on. Ultimately, all water will make its way to the sea, with some evaporating along the way.

The Lake George Watershed


The Lake George Watershed

The Lake George watershed is 233 square miles (152,000 acres).

It includes land in the three counties: Warren, Washington, and Essex, and nine municipalities: towns of Lake George, Bolton, Hague, Ticonderoga, Putnam, Dresden, Fort Ann, Queensbury and the village of Lake George.

The Lake's surface area is 45 square miles, which makes the watershed about five times as big as the Lake's surface.

Lake George flows south to north, dropping 226 feet into Lake Champlain by way of the LaChute River.

The water goes all the way through Lake Champlain and out the north end into the St. Lawrence RIver by way of the Richelieu River, and eventually finds it way out into the Atlantic Ocean!

The Lake George Watershed is part of many larger watersheds.

Hydrologic Budget
The majority of the water in Lake George comes directly off the land in the watershed through streams. Over 141 streams flow into Lake George, making up 55% of the water that enters the Lake. There are eight major streams that make up almost half of the terrestrial watershed (44%) or about 1/3 (37%) of the total Lake George watershed. These include Northwest Bay Brook, Indian Brook, Hague Brook, West Brook, English Brook, Shelving Brook, Finkle Brook, and East Brook.

The rest of the water entering Lake George comes from precipitation (27%) and groundwater (18%).




Over 141 streams flow into Lake George
The eight major streams that flow into Lake George

For more information about the Lake Champlain watershed visit the NYS DEC site here.

View "Lake George-Planning for the Future" to learn about future Lake George management plans.

Credits: Text adapted from New Hampshire DES: Interactive Lake Ecology

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