Supervisor Ron Conover & Town of Bolton: Protecting Lake George With Woodchips

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

June 2020

Ron Conover can’t see one of the biggest accomplishments of his tenure as Bolton Town Supervisor. But he knows it’s there — by the major reductions he sees in algae-causing nitrates heading toward Lake George from the town’s wastewater treatment plant.

“Public-private partnerships have really taken us to a new level when it comes to protecting Lake George.”

Buried beneath the soil on the treatment plant property is a woodchip bioreactor, a 2,000-square-foot container of Adirondack woodchips, through which a portion of the town’s wastewater is filtered. The highly effective technology, funded by a $50,000 grant from The FUND for Lake George, has been removing between 20% and 80% of the nitrates that flow through it since going into service as a state-approved demonstration project in October 2018. Before that, the plant removed virtually none of the problem nutrient, which can spur harmful algal blooms.

Town of Bolton Supervisor, Ron Conover

Supervisor Conover championed the project after it was proposed by consulting engineer Kathy Suozzo following a comprehensive study by The FUND’s Lake George Waterkeeper program that identified the treatment plant as a significant source of nitrates to the Lake. He soon won the support of the Town Board and Treatment Plant Operators Matt Coon and Justin Persons. Construction was performed by the Town’s Department of Public Works staff with volunteer assistance from contractor Barry Kincaid.

“Bolton is doing some pretty innovative things to protect our Lake,” Supervisor Conover says — and the bioreactor is far from the first.

Now in his sixth term in office, Supervisor Conover has played a leadership role in every major Lake protection initiative in that time. He was a founding member of The S.A.V.E. Lake George Partnership and instrumental in its work to establish the most comprehensive invasive species boat inspection program east of the Mississippi. Under the Supervisor's leadership, Bolton is also a participant in The FUND’s highly successful Road Salt Reduction Initiative, and partnered with the Lake George Land Conservancy, The FUND, and donors throughout the community, to purchase and preserve the fabled mountaintop known as the Pinnacle with its breathtaking Lake views.

“Public-private partnerships have really taken us to a new level when it comes to protecting Lake George,” says the Supervisor, whose community stretches along roughly 15 beautiful miles of Lake George’s western shore. “For me, it’s all about the Lake. If we protect the water quality, we’ll be healthy and prosper.”