Monday, August 14, 2023

Speculator gets serious about water quality

High water levels in Lake Pleasant following the Halloween storm flooding in 2019. Explorer file photo by Mike Lynch

The village of Speculator, whose three lakes are its life blood, has passed septic-inspection regulations for properties that are being transferred.

Mayor Jeannette Barrett said the village has watched inspection programs in larger jurisdictions such as Lake George and Queensbury, and is taking “measured steps” to follow along.

“We’ve been very concerned about our lakes,” she said. “If we don’t have our lakes our communities will basically die.”
The regulations apply to Lake Pleasant, Whitaker Lake and Lewey Lake.

Lakes of all sizes have been threatened by excess nutrients, in some cases related to agriculture, but in waters ringed with camps the problem is more attributable to failing septic systems. Nutrients feed plant life, which can lead to harmful algal blooms and growth of other aquatic plants that can block sunlight, knocking the lake ecology out of balance.

The Lake Pleasant-Sacandaga Association (LPSA) has been monitoring nutrient levels in the water and the continued expansion of native weeds in the lakes for over 20 years. “We’re seeing over the years the amount of the nutrients and weeds increasing, and we take that very seriously,” Barrett said.

Speculator’s new ordinance would apply to houses within 250 feet of the lakeshore. While the current law applies to properties that are being sold, the next step would be regular septic inspections on all lakeside properties.

Septic systems and sewers were top of mind during a recent event at the Adirondack History Museum looking back and ahead to the future of the Adirondack Park Agency. 

Flooding aftermath update
The long-term impact of this month’s flooding in the heart of the Adirondack Park continues to be felt, both in terms of road repair and scientific research.
The Explorer’s Gwendolyn Craig reports that repairs are proceeding in communities of Newcomb and Long Lake, a couple of the harder-hit communities in the Adirondacks.

Crews are installing a temporary bridge over Fishing Brook on State Route 28N in the town of Long Lake, hoping to reopen the road to Newcomb by early August. Other repairs are commencing on Rts. 30 and 9 and Interstate 87.

The flood also wiped out public and scientific access to SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s Newcomb Campus, whose facilities are currently closed to the public. Craig writes that “Several long-term wildlife, climate and scientific monitoring projects conducted on the campus’s 15,000-acre Huntington Wild Forest are also on hold or revised, said Stacy McNulty, associate director.”

Pictured above: High water levels in Speculator’s Lake Pleasant following the Halloween storm flooding in 2019. Explorer file photo by Mike Lynch

This first appeared in the Explorer’s weekly “Water Line” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

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Tim Rowland is a humor columnist for Herald-Mail Media in Hagerstown, Md., and a New York Times bestselling author. His books include High Peaks; A History of Hiking the Adirondacks from Noah to Neoprene and Strange and Unusual Stories of New York City. He has climbed the 46 high peaks, is an avid bicyclist, and trout tremble with fear when they see his approaching shadow. He and his wife Beth are residents of Jay, N.Y.




5 Responses

  1. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “We’ve been very concerned about our lakes”

    > And very well you should be!

    “threatened by excess nutrients, in some cases related to agriculture, but in waters ringed with camps the problem is more attributable to failing septic systems.”

    > And to think what waters ringed with new homes can bring (McMansions), never mind a puny camp! We should know by now that pollution follows man wherever he settles. We should know that water is the lifeblood and should be preserved at all costs, even if an exaggerated sense of self-importance is crushed. We should know that short-term pleasures by boaters should not be key in decisions regards preserving bodies of water, ‘even if’ the town coffers are forced to endure without that source of revenue. We should know that only we, us humans, have the power to save ourselves, and wouldn’t it be wonderful if we thought about the other lifeforms while we’re at it!

  2. Worth Gretter says:

    Some home-owners will resent the “heavy hand” of government if inspections are mandated, but they should stop and consider the investment they have in their lakeside property. If the lake is polluted and filled with algae, home values will take a big dive.

  3. Thomas Tesar says:

    Excellent Idea !!!

    Why was Lake Sacandaga not included ???

  4. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “If the lake is polluted and filled with algae, home values will take a big dive.”

    Some homeowners don’t think about these things Worth. All’s some of them see is short-term pleasures, a body of water outside their windows and whatever oil-spewing mechanism they can impose upon it while privilege allows. And if the water goes south….sell, move on, find another body of water to set a jet ski upon! That’s all that’s to it, happens all of the time.

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