LGA Commends State for Newly Proposed Lake George Wastewater Regulations

September 12, 2022

The Lake George Association commends Gov. Kathy Hochul, the Commissioners of the Lake Park Commission, the members of the Commission’s Ad-Hoc Committee on Septic Systems, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for taking a historic step toward sustainable water quality protection with the newly proposed Lake George wastewater management regulations.

For the first time ever, if these regulations are enacted, septic systems in the Lake George basin that are located within an environmentally sensitive distance from the Lake will be subject to mandatory inspections to ensure they are working effectively and protecting Lake George from algae-feeding nutrients that increase the risk of harmful algal blooms, as well as the dangers posed by other wastewater contaminants.

The LGA applauds this first step toward an inspection program, but continues to advocate for basin-wide inspections and believes the findings of the Town of Queensbury’s inspection program to date indicate the need for a basin-wide expansion.

The proposed regulations were published in the Sept. 7 edition of the New York State Register and public comments will be accepted until Monday, Nov. 14. A public hearing will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 4 p.m. at the Fort William Henry Hotel in Lake George. The LGA will be submitting formal comments aimed at improving the final regulations for long-term protection of Lake George and urges others to do the same.

“Lake George is at an inflection point. We are either going to collectively strive to do better by her, or we are going to allow irreparable harm,” said LGA Chairman Pete Menzies. “Through collaboration and consensus building, I am convinced we can all provide the protections that the Queen of American Lakes deserves.”

“The proposed wastewater regulations tackle one of the largest threats to Lake George water quality head-on, as required to realize enduring protection,” said LGA President Eric Siy. “They are the product of a deep commitment and many hours of work on the part of a diverse group of stakeholders, and we look forward to working with the Commission in the weeks ahead to finalize the regulations and ensure they deliver the protections our Lake deserves.”

Data gathered in recent years by the Lake George Waterkeeper, a program of the LGA, estimates that as many as 4,000 of the 6,000 septic systems in the Lake George Basin could be at risk of contaminating the Lake because they are undersized or have surpassed their life expectancy or have not been properly maintained.

“We have long documented the water quality threat posed by wastewater contamination as it relates to excess nutrient loading and the risk of harmful algal blooms and other water quality threats, and we have conducted extensive research, and made significant investments in solving the problem,” said Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky “Just weeks ago we celebrated the opening of the new wastewater treatment plant in Lake George Village, and now it is imperative that we fully address the private-sector side of the wastewater equation.”

Among the many wastewater protection accomplishments of the LGA and The FUND for Lake George (which merged with the LGA in 2021) in recent years are:

  • Completion of a town-wide septic assessment for the Town of Lake George and development of a prioritization algorithm to identify areas of the town where site characteristics, water quality data, and information about the age of septic systems indicate the potential for water quality risks;
  • Creation of a matching grant program for property owners on Dunhams Bay in the Town of Queensbury who wanted to upgrade their septic system;
  • Development of a no-interest and low-interest loan programs for septic system replacements in the Lake Georg Watershed in partnership with Adirondack Trust Co. and Glens Falls National Bank and Trust Company;
  • Creation of the SafeSepticSystems.org a comprehensive online resource to safe septic systems, from fixing to financing;
  • Advocating for mandatory septic system inspections upon sale of a property, which have been enacted in the Towns of Queensbury and Bolton;
  • Extensive research, advocacy, and targeted investment in support of the new Lake George Village wastewater treatment plant, leading to nearly $15 million in New York State funding;
  • Funding of a woodchip bioreactor at the Town of Bolton wastewater treatment plant, which proved effective at reducing nitrate discharges by 38% h as 80%.

The Lake George Association is the preeminent Lake-protection organization, providing technical and financial assistance to property owners; world-class research and direct protection programs through The Jefferson Project, the Lake George Waterkeeper, and an array of public-private partnerships; public education programs; and public policy advocacy, all with the goal of protecting the Lake’s water quality today and for the future.