Thursday, September 29, 2022

HABs plans

DEC scientist and section chief Lauren Townley presents an update on the state's HABs action plan at a Lake George Park Commission meeting in Bolton on Tuesday. Photo by Zachary Matson

Harmful algal blooms were first confirmed on Lake George in October 2020, suspected to have been spurred on by a warm, dry fall.

With Lake George residents and advocates keeping a careful eye on the lake, DEC scientist Lauren Townley (pictured here) updated the Lake George Park Commission on the state’s latest HABs action plan for Lake George, which was updated in August. She shared the update in Bolton at the Lake George Park Commission’s first in-person meeting since prior to the pandemic.

The plan includes an overview of the latest water quality data, an update of priority projects and an explainer of what may be causing the blooms. A key mitigation strategy is reducing points vulnerable to heavy nutrient influx as a result of shoddy wastewater practices or storm runoff.

“Reducing nutrients is the best way we have control over to prevent or reduce the incidence of HABs,” Townley said.

Townley also pointed to the commission’s proposed new septic regulations –  up for a public hearing on Nov. 9 at 4 p.m. at the Fort William Henry Hotel – as a key strategy to mitigate HABs. Townley and commission officials acknowledged that funding will need to be available if residents can afford to replace failing septic systems, noting programs were in the works.

According to the state HABs map, blooms have occurred on the following Adirondack lakes this year: Willis Lake in Hamilton County; numerous sites on Lake Champlain; Otter Lake in Oneida County; Fern Lake in Clinton County; and Whey Pond, Copperas Pond, Rat Pond, Barnum Pond and Upper Saranac Lake in Franklin County.

In other Lake George news, Park Commission Executive Director Dave Wick said invasive Asian clams have continued to spread to new spots in the lake. First spotted in 2010, the invasive clams, which prefer sandy shorelines, have spread to 32 known sites around the lake, including three new sites this year.

“We are finding new sites that pop up in unexpected places,” Wick said at the meeting.

Multimedia reporter Mike Lynch and I visited Lake Colden last week with Phil Snyder and Sue Capone of the Adirondack Lakes Survey Corporation. The nonprofit formed in 1983 has conducted scientific monitoring at hundreds of Adirondack lakes during its history and plans to join the Ausable River Association in January. A story on the organization’s history is in the works for an upcoming magazine.

Photo at top: DEC scientist and section chief Lauren Townley presents an update on the state’s HABs action plan at a Lake George Park Commission meeting in Bolton last Tuesday. Photo by Zachary Matson

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.

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