The HABs keep on happening on Lake George. Shortly after we reported on an early-October harmful algal bloom on Lake George, the state Department of Environmental Conservation updated its useful map of HABs across the state. And state officials confirmed yet more HABs on Lake George on Nov. 8-11.
Harmful algal blooms – or HABs – are formations of cyanobacteria, which can rise to the water’s surface under the right conditions. While HABs have the potential to turn toxic, toxins have not been detected in the Lake George HABs. The HABs on Lake George continued in the Harris Bay area and in November the confirmed blooms included some around Cotton near Bolton Landing, according to the DEC map.
But it’s not just Lake George. Algal formations, many small in size, were confirmed on at least six Adirondack lakes in September, October and November. Loon Lake in late October. Friends Lake in September (and also August). Paradox Lake on Sept. 13. Raquette Lake on Oct. 12. And Silver Lake on Oct. 5. Lake Clear and Otter Lake both had occurrences in August.
“Many New Yorkers have enjoyed the unseasonably warm weather this month, and unfortunately, some species of harmful algal blooms (HABs) have too,” DEC wrote in an email newsletter last week. “These late bloomers have made DEC decide to continue its NYHABS reporting system beyond the usual October 31st season so that the public can continue to be informed about our State’s waterbodies.”
Frankly, I’m not sure what to make of the list of lakes with confirmed HABs. Is it high, low? Let me know if you have any thoughts, and I will work on learning more.
Above: Screenshot of NYHABS. Editor’s note: This first appeared in Zach’s weekly “Water Line” newsletter. Click here to sign up.
Much has been made of the potential harm of chloride caused by excessive road salting. Granted, there are some lakes with a high density of treated roads where that is apparently a problem. Mirror Lake comes to mind. But for most areas the chloride concentrations are quite low. A much bigger risk, I suspect, is posed by lakeside camps with untreated or poorly treated sewage, which can result in excessive nutrients and lead to HABs.
Much has been in local media recently regarding the proposed septic regulations for the Lake George region. Unfortunately the proposed measures do very little to mitigate the problems. Only after a property is under contract for sale does the mandatory inspection of its wastewater system occur. Since many properties remain unsold and in the same hands for decades or generations this does absolutely nothing to address possible contamination sources from these homes and businesses. An amendment to the proposal needs to be made to have all septic systems within 500 feet of the shoreline undergo a mandatory inspection within a much shorter time frame, three year from the adoption of regulations should be the maximum permissible time to have this work completed.. Occupancy certificates should be suspended for non-compliance and revoked if owners refuse to repair systems found to be failing or not functioning.. Not only is this a threat to natural resources, but a public health hazard, as Lake George is a source of drinking water for many households.