Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Water defenders


Last week, I visited the Adirondack Watershed Institute at Paul Smith’s College. After talking with the institute’s staff about a litany of water-related issues the organization works on, I walked around the lakefront campus with AWI’s leaders.

The college, which unsurprisingly is well-regarded for its environmental science, forestry and hotel management programs, has less than 1,000 students, what must be some of the best views of any campus in the country and 14,000 acres of Adirondack land.

AWI staff are keeping an eye on debates around the park about the “carrying capacity” of lakes and ponds and continue to study and track the impact of road salt on local drinking sources.

AWI runs the park’s most wide-reaching boat cleaning program aimed at reducing the spread of invasive species and educating the public on a key lesson: “Clean, drain and dry” their boats as they shuttle between waterways. “The idea is prevention,” said Dan Kelting, executive director of AWI.

Staff said boaters are increasingly compliant with the decontamination requests, but aquatic invasive plants and mussels continue to impact lakes across the park. Some new invasive species, including a behemoth growing water plant called hydrilla, continue to knock on the park’s door and were intercepted by stewards at boat cleaning stations this year.

Cranberry Lake hydro dam photo by Tom French

I also wrote about the dam at Cranberry Lake, where a company that no longer has access to the dam property but is still federally-licensed to operate the dam faces a $600,000 potential penalty. The company had promised to make needed upgrades to the facility when it took over the license in 2015, but it never did and over the summer agreed to terminate its lease after failing to pay rent to the local authority that owns the dam. Now, regulators at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission are saying the company violated its FERC license.

The situation raises a lot of questions in the park about dam ownership, the economics of hydroelectric power and the safety of aging facilities.

ALSO: Check out policy reporter Gwendolyn Craig’s story on a major subdivision proposal filed with APA. The project proposes construction of as many as eighteen 6,500-square-foot “estates” and six 10,000-square-foot mansions, as well as smaller units and a hotel along the Ausable River between Jay and Au Sable Forks.

And this from interim editor James Odato on Ticonderoga’s efforts to revamps its old sewer system.

Editor’s note: This first appeared in Zach’s weekly “Water Line” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

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Zachary Matson has been an environmental reporter for the Explorer since October 2021. He is focused on the many issues impacting water and the people, plants and wildlife that rely on it in the Adirondack Park. Zach worked at daily newspapers in Missouri, Arizona and New York for nearly a decade, most recently working as the education reporter for six years at the Daily Gazette in Schenectady.

One Response

  1. David Gibson says:

    Very happy to learn of your reporting for the Explorer, Zach. For years I’ve been following your byline and excellent writing at the Gazette. Much luck and thanks for your Adk environmental reporting here and to come.