Another week, another episode of Adirondack flooding, this time on the Adirondack Coast, where flooding caused by heavy rains closed Route 22 in Westport, as well as several roads in Moriah and Schroon. The flood also overwhelmed a wastewater system in Port Henry.
But worldwide the situation is very different. According to the World Resources Institute, 25 countries with a quarter of the world’s population are facing perilous water shortages.
The institute says these nations “face extremely high water stress each year, regularly using up almost their entire available water supply. And at least 50% of the world’s population — around 4 billion people — live under highly water-stressed conditions for at least one month of the year.”
The water stress is driven by both surging demand and less reliable supply. Since 1960 demand for water has doubled around the world, while climate change and poor water-management policies, including a failure to invest in infrastructure or adopt sound management policies.
The Middle East and North Africa are most at risk, followed by South Asia. But water stress in these regions can have worldwide effects, due to the potential impacts on global food supply and GDP.
Wealthier nations are faring better, because they have invested more, while their populations are plateauing. The United States has a medium-high risk (40% to 60%) chance of future stress, the institute projects.
Ongoing marina battle
Legal battles over improvements to LS Marina on Lower Saranac Lake have continued apace, after two green groups filed suits against the Adirondack Park Agency’s handling of its own wetlands policies.
The Explorer’s Gwendolyn Craig reports that the suits come against the backdrop of changes in the APA’s legal team.
Adirondack Wild and Protect the Adirondacks independently sued the APA after it granted a variance to the marina that would allow the marina to upgrade and expand its aging boat slips.
The project has been in and out of court for 10 years, as opponents have objected to the absence of permitting and failure of the state to study the amount of boat traffic the lakes can handle.
In March the courts dressed down the agency for skirting its own rules, which set a high bar for projects affecting wetlands. The marina subsequently reworked its proposal, which the APA agreed to in June.
“Rather than review the project against the value one wetlands criteria, the APA staff and the applicant colluded during secret meetings to devise a strategy to conduct an end-run around the decision. The APA failed to uphold its statutory duty to protect the natural resources of the Adirondack Park,” said Peter Bauer, Executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks.
Dave Gibson, managing partner of Adirondack Wild, said that ignoring wetlands law in this instance would open the door to eroded protections at other sites in the future.
“In this case the agency shrugged at its lawful duties, regulatory responsibilities, and the Appellate Court’s decision,” Gibson said. “That legal carelessness cannot be tolerated or other wetlands elsewhere in the Park will be at immediate risk. We take this action as a last resort and only because the APA’s arbitrary, unlawful actions harmful to Park wetlands compel us to do so.”
The APA and marina were withholding comment while they reviewed the cases.
Eagle Lake residents push back on boat launch closure
Residents of Eagle Lake continue to fight what appears to be a losing battle to keep their state boat launch, which is scheduled to close to trailered boats at the end of next year.
Property owners are persevering, writing to multiple state officials and successfully winning resolutions against closure from the Ticonderoga Town Board and the Essex County Board of Supervisors.
Residents fear the closure will cut off emergency response to camps on the far side of the lake that do not have road access, and are unfair to older property owners used to accessing the lake from the launch.
But it appears the effort won’t be enough. The APA, noting that the launch violates the state master plan, which doesn’t permit launches on smaller lakes, said the closure remains on schedule, although a gate will be provided to emergency responders and people of limited mobility will be accommodated.
Photo at top: Long Lake flooding from July.
This first appeared in the Explorer’s “Water Line” newsletter. Click here to sign up.