Trouble With Phosphorus in Lake George

Effects of Phosphorus Loading

Approximately 8.2% (more than 9,900 acres) of the Lake George watershed can be characterized as disturbed, areas where stormwater crosses impervious surfaces and pick up phosphorous, among other pollutants. Sediments wash into streams and out into the Lake, bringing phosphorus attached to the soil particles.

One way to help stop this transfer of phosphorus into the Lake is to stop the sources of it, such as ensuring any fertilizer you use is free of it (New York state's law has certain criteria that needs to be met before you add fertilizer with phosphorus).

Phosphorus is a natural element and an essential nutrient for plant growth, but it is only found in small amounts in lakes and streams. Even small increases in phosphorus to these waterbodies can have a devastating impact on water quality. Increased amounts of phosphorus entering a lake can stimulate algae and plant growth.

Where Does Phosphorus Come From?

Phosphorus has many sources. Some exists naturally in lakes and streams but human activities from residential, urban and agricultural areas contribute a significant amount of phosphorus. Stormwater runoff travels across land and picks up phosphorus from fertilizers, eroded soil particles, septic systems and pet waste and discharges it into nearby lakes and streams.

Phosphorous is food
Green and gross algae in Lake George

More phosphorus, less fish

Excess phosphorus increases algal growth. As algae die and decay, the water is robbed of dissolved oxygen. This can devastate fish populations if it occurs for a long period of time or the fish have no where else to go.

Green and Gross

Excess phosphorus can lead to an explosion of algal growth in the Lake. One pound of phosphorus can produce up to 500 pounds of wet algae!

How Does Phosphorus Affect Me?

Excess plant growth stimulated by high phosphorus inputs can impair many uses of waterways. Boating, fishing, and swimming can become difficult and lake shore property values and tourism can also be negatively impacted.

Phosphorus Expressway

Storm drains are designed to prevent flooding, but they also provide a direct route for phosphorus and other pollutants to enter Lake George. The LGA is working to mark storm drains that lead to the Lake to raise awareness of the connection between stormwater runoff and phosphorus.

storm drain