A major new report – The State of the Lake: Thirty Years of Water Quality Monitoring on Lake George – has been released by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Darrin Fresh Water Institute (DFWI) and The FUND for Lake George.
The 72-page report is the result of 30 years of continuous monitoring that found Lake George to be in “remarkably good condition.” However, the report also outlines specific ecological factors that now threaten water quality. Over the 30-year period of the study, researchers found that “while some of the threats to Lake George water quality have receded since 1980, others are worsening.”
The report finds that some of the greatest threats to Lake George water quality include: rising concentrations of salt from continued applications to control winter road ice; the high sensitivity of the lake’s ecological health to even modest increases of nutrient loading (from storm water runoff, septic and sewage systems, fertilizers, and more); and changes in the lake’s food web and fish community in response to invasive species and other influences.
State of the Lake findings are the product of DFWI’s Offshore Chemical Monitoring Program that began collecting data in 1980 with sustaining support from The FUND for Lake George. The monitoring program was designed to assess water quality in order to help address concerns related to nutrient loading. It represents one of the longest and most consistent sets of lake chemistry data in North America, providing a valuable benchmark for long-term change in temperate lakes worldwide.
The partnership between Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and The FUND for Lake George in monitoring Lake George is continuing, with the addition of IBM as a third partner, in The Jefferson Project at Lake George, that began in 2013. The project combines advanced data analytics, computing and data visualization techniques, new scientific and experimental methods, 3-D computer modeling and simulation, and historical data to gain an unprecedented scientific understanding of Lake George.
State of the Lake recommendations are already guiding The Jefferson Project by building upon the monitoring program to fully understand the lake. “Based at DFWI, The Jefferson Project will generate massive amounts of data about Lake George that will inform and compel decision-making that leads to lasting protection of the lake,” Dr. Sandra Nierzwicki-Bauer, director of DFWI and a co-author of the study. “The knowledge we will gain about the lake will not only advance the state of science and the practice of ecosystem management to create the global model for environmental research and sustainable water resources, it will also be critical to the region and New York state’s tourism industry.”
The full report can be downloaded at: fundforlakegeorge.org/StateoftheLake or rpi.edu/dept/DFWI/.
Photos: Above, the cover of the new report; middle, conceptual pattern of sub-surface currents induced by surface wind stress along a longitudinal
bathymetric section of Lake George (form the report); and below, the Jefferson Project mapping station which carried out extensive mapping of Lake George in 2013-2014 (photo by John Warren).