The White Family: New Septic System Helps Brighten Future of Dark Bay

When the White family learned that adding another bedroom to their summer home on Dark Bay would require the installation of a new septic system, they didn’t lose sleep over it. They made the investment because it’s good for Lake George.

The Whites are Lake Protectors.


Doing Their Part to Protect The Lake

Located just west of Dunhams Bay in the Town of Queensbury, Dark Bay abuts a shoreline heavy with steep forested slopes and shallow bedrock that make the neighborhood less than ideal for wastewater treatment. The geographic constraints mean that septic systems in the area are typically located in close proximity to Lake George. Complicating matters, many of the systems in the area have been in place, through multiple ownerships, for periods far exceeding their standard life expectancies.

The likelihood that some of these antiquated systems are failing and sending excessive amounts of algae-feeding nutrients and wastewater contaminants into the Lake is real, and the Whites – David and Mary Carol and their grown children and their families – are pleased to do their part to lower the risk.

woman with gray hair styled in a bun, wearing a black & white v-neck shirt, standing next to a white man, wearing a white collar shirt with trees in the background.

The Whites’ new septic system pumps their wastewater up a hill to a newly constructed leach field farther away from the Lake, which allows for more thorough and improved treatment. In addition, the family’s landscaping is heavy on flower beds that capture rain and minimize stormwater runoff from their property. They also have a no-fertilizer policy. 

Without nutrient-loaded fertilizer on the ground and with minimal runoff carrying nutrients into the Lake, the Whites are helping to reduce the risk of harmful algal blooms and setting an example they hope other property owners will follow.

“If you go around the lake, you'll see there are a number of lawns and some of them are a lot greener than they should be. And that's not beneficial for water quality,” says Candice White, the middle of David and Mary Carol’s three children. “So, you know, not having a lawn, not using fertilizer, that stuff is just all really important.”

“From our coffee deck in the morning, where we have coffee outside every day, we can see clearly to the bottom of the lake, probably 30 feet out from the shoreline.”

Mary Carol White

Clearly A Good Sign

It was the late 1960s when David and Mary Carol, then young entrepreneurs and restauranteurs, first visited Lake George at the suggestion of a friend. They loved what they saw and soon opened a KFC restaurant on Beach Road in Lake George Village, followed by an ice cream parlor, a steak house, and a pizza place in the following years. 

In 1972, the Whites made the Lake their summer residence, purchasing the Dark Bay home. Today, the family owns a group of full-service and quick-service restaurants in central and upstate New York, including one of the Lake George Region’s most popular dining destinations, The Log Jam.

Their love of the Lake has grown each year, along with their appreciation for its clarity and cleanliness. 

Mary Carol recalls waterskiing in her native state of Ohio and not being able to see the red water skis on her feet due to the cloudy water.

Contrast that with her 50 years of living on Lake George:

“From our coffee deck in the morning, where we have coffee outside every day, we can see clearly to the bottom of the lake, probably 30 feet out from the shoreline,” she says.And we've seen lots of loons this year. The loons seem to be in greater numbers than they were in years past, which I think is a good sign.”

A Very Unique Lake

Another good sign for Lake George is the commitment the Whites say they’re seeing from neighbors and friends who are increasingly taking actions on their own properties to protect the Lake from stormwater, wastewater, road salt and other threats.

This commitment to personal protection is exactly what the LGA is working to foster through our new Lake Protector initiative. Property owners who register will receive a Personal Protection Plan identifying the most serious water quality threats in their area of the Lake and the actions they can take on their property to address them. They’ll also receive special access to the LGA’s science and technical team for help in implementing their plans.

David says the importance of personal protection was driven home to him like never before during a recent trip he and Mary Carol made to some other lakes in the Adirondack Region. 

“You kind of assume or think that all these lakes up there are going to be nice and clear and beautiful like Lake George,” he says. “They don't even compare. They’re murky. You can't see a foot below the surface. Lake George is just a very unique lake.”