Adirondack Trust and Glens Falls National Bank: Lending a Hand to Protect Lake George from Outdated Septic Systems

The following profile was prepared by The FUND for Lake George prior to its 2021 merger with the LGA.

July 2020

When research by the Lake George Waterkeeper indicated that a startling two-thirds of the 6,000 septic systems in the Lake George basin may be outdated or failing and seriously jeopardizing water quality, The FUND for Lake George committed to developing a full-scale protection program.

The goal was not only to educate property owners about the importance of updating or replacing outdated systems, but to help them overcome one of the biggest obstacles — cost.

Adirondack Trust Company and Glens Falls National Bank and Trust Company didn’t hesitate to answer the call.

“The FUND's partnership with the banks is enabling us to solve one of our highest priorities in keeping Lake George clear and clean.”

The two locally based banks — long known for their commitments to the economy and environment of the Greater Lake George Region — have helped launch The FUND’s new Safe Septic System Program by allocating an initial $2.5 million in dedicated no-interest/low-interest financing for qualified residential and commercial property owners in the basin whose septic systems need to be upgraded or replaced.

Marc Yrsha of Glens Falls National Bank and Matt Harrison of Adirondack Trust, leading by example to protect Lake George

The loan offerings are essential to the success of the Program, which is anchored by an interactive digital resource, SafeSepticSystems.org, designed to guide property owners in making sure their systems are not harming the Lake.

Increasing levels of phosphorus, nitrogen and other nutrients escaping from failing and aging septic systems are one of the greatest threats to Lake George’s legendary water quality. Most alarming, they risk triggering a harmful algal bloom like those that have devastated lake ecologies and economies across New York State and the country.

The lifespan of a typical septic system is 30-40 years, and replacement costs can range from $17,000-$30,000 depending on the size of the system needed and the natural characteristics of the property. As vital as this investment is to protecting the Lake and local property values, paying for a new system can be especially challenging for those owners of smaller, cottage-style homes that have been handed down from generation-to-generation.

Marc Yrsha, senior vice president of Glens Falls National and a member of The FUND’s Council of Business Advisors, says, “Lake George is a vital part of our economy and we want to help residents maintain or update their systems to be environmentally sound and protect the Lake. We are pleased to partner with The FUND and Adirondack Trust in this collaborative and innovative way to keep Lake George clean and vibrant for many years to come.”

Matt Harrison, vice president of residential lending for Adirondack Trust and also a FUND Business Advisor, recalls family lore contending that he was immersed in the waters of Lake George even before he was baptized. “We all know that Lake George is incredibly important to our region in so many ways, and that protecting The Queen of American Lakes presents many challenges,” Matt says. “Adirondack Trust is proud to be part of the solution by participating in this program.”

Bill Creighton, vice chairman of The FUND’s Board of Trustees, worked closely with the banks and Tom West, secretary of the Board, in establishing this partnership. He says once The FUND decided to tackle the problem of septic system affordability, they knew exactly who to call.   “I was not surprised at all by how quickly Glens Falls National and Adirondack Trust jumped on board,” Bill says. “We are tremendously fortunate to have these two community-focused banks in our region. Their partnership with The FUND is enabling us to solve one of our highest priorities in keeping Lake George clear and clean. Every septic system counts and every property owner can now join us as partners in protecting the Lake by acting on this critical opportunity.”

Find out if your septic system is safe at The FUND for Lake George's Safe Septic System Guide.

Adirondack Trust is offering no-interest loans for qualifying property owners in certain areas of the Southern Basin. For more information, please call Matt Harrison at (518) 584-5844, ext. 2222.

Glens Falls National Bank is offering an array of low-interest loans to qualifying property owners throughout the entire Lake Basin. For more information, please call Helen Tobias, branch manager of the Lake George office, at (518) 668-5461.