Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Lake George Association disagrees with Appellate Court decision concerning ProcellaCOR use

The Lake George Land Trust received over $4 million in state grants this month to protect land in the Lake George watershed. Photo by Zachary Matson

Lake George Association asks why state agencies are unwilling to subject their scientific evidence to rigorous, independent review 

Lake George, NY — The Lake George Association (LGA) respectfully disagrees with the decision the Appellate Division issued yesterday, May 2, and is disappointed that the judges simply deferred to the judgment of the New York State agencies that are advocating for the first-ever use of a pesticide in Lake George. The LGA will be requesting leave to appeal to the New York  Court of Appeals. 

Although this decision affects the 2022 permit applications, it does not affect the new applications that are pending before the agencies, and the LGA respectfully encourages the  agencies to review the important new information that has been brought to light before any  permits are issued to apply ProcellaCOR in Lake George. 

While state and federal agencies have concluded that the use of the pesticide ProcellaCOR is  safe generally, they have never conducted a thorough, rigorous examination of whether this  chemical is safe specifically when applied to the unique ecological conditions and water  movement of Lake George. Nor have the agencies been willing to subject their science to  independent review through an adjudicatory hearing.  

Lake George is a drinking water supply and a Class AA-special water body, one of the cleanest  and most pristine waterways in the nation, and any proposal to introduce chemicals to Lake  George warrants the strictest scrutiny of the potential long-term risks. The question is not  whether ProcellaCOR is safe or effective; the question is whether this is safe for use in Lake  George. Since the 2022 permit application process, extensive new information is available to  show that ProcellaCOR will adversely impact Lake George. These issues should be explored  fully in an adjudicatory hearing before new permits are issued. 

“Our simple request to New York State is to make a truly informed and careful decision, based  on the best data from Lake George itself and on peer-reviewed science that has been  subjected to independent scrutiny,” said LGA Board Chair and Interim Executive Director  Peter Menzies. “This is not a battle over who is right, but rather what is right for Lake George.  The LGA is dedicated to keeping potentially harmful substances out of the Lake.” 

Our major science-backed concerns around the use of ProcellaCOR in Lake George are: 

There is no milfoil crisis in Lake George warranting the use of chemicals. The Lake George  Park Commission and LGA have partnered for decades on physical methods of management,  including hand harvesting that selectively and successfully manages Eurasian watermilfoil.  This practice should be enhanced and expanded. 

Lake George is a dynamic waterbody with rapid water movement. New information is  available to show that ProcellaCOR will spread well beyond the applicant’s stated area and  likely impact outside the intended treatment areas and dilution zone.  

Low concentrations of the hormone will actually exacerbate growth of aquatic plants. As a  growth hormone, ProcellaCOR at elevated concentrations will grow Eurasian watermilfoil to  death. However, at lower concentrations caused by dilution and water currents, ProcellaCOR  remains a growth hormone, potentially leading to increased growth of aquatic plants,  including milfoil. (Howell 2022).  

ProcellaCOR will disrupt Lake George’s healthy ecosystem. Aquatic plants are imperative as  the base of the food web in healthy lake ecosystems. Even the ProcellaCOR label indicates  that a wide variety of plants can be harmed or killed. EPA’s own Environmental Fate and Risk  Assessment states: 

“Based on available toxicity data and mode of action, risks to vascular aquatic plants, and  to a lesser extent non-vascular aquatic plants, from the proposed uses of florpyrauxifen benzyl (and its degradation products) are expected. Where these effects occur, they would  be expected to also have indirect effects on organisms that occupy higher tropic levels,  especially aquatic invertebrates, fish and herbivorous, insectivorous and piscivorous birds  and mammals.” (U.S. EPA Environmental Fate and Risk Assessment, pg 115)

Achieving intended efficacy of ProcellaCOR is difficult in a real-lake situation. Recent  research by the Army Corps of Engineers has shown significant challenges in achieving the  expected performance and control of Eurasian watermilfoil because of rapid water exchange  issues. 

“Although small scale research trials have provided beneficial data concerning general  efficacy and selectivity, few trials have documented how to effectively use this technology  (ProcellaCOR) in the field.” (Sartain 2023) 

The LGA strongly supports the safe and effective eradication of Eurasian milfoil. We, and  many local governments and property owners, remain unpersuaded, however, that  ProcellaCOR is safe for Lake George. Since 1885, the LGA has faithfully advocated for the  protection of Lake George and the interests of our members, many of whom have legitimate  concerns given the unknown risks that ProcellaCOR may present. After all, they and their  children and grandchildren drink the water of Lake George, and fish, swim, garden, farm, and  lease properties here.  

Lake George, known as the Queen of American Lakes, is a global travel destination, providing  a high quality of life that fuels a $2 billion annual economy. The Lake boasts multiple  organizations dedicated to its protection, including NY State’s Lake George Park Commission  and the Lake George Association with the Lake George Waterkeeper. Through partnerships  with other organizations, including RPI’s Darrin Freshwater Institute, the LGA has supported  informed protection using leading-edge technology and science, making this waterbody the  World’s Smartest Lake. 

The Lake George Association is a leading Lake-protection organization for Lake George, the  Queen of American Lakes. Our work includes technical and financial assistance to property  owners; world-class research and direct protection programs through The Jefferson Project, the  Lake George Waterkeeper, and an array of public-private partnerships; public education  programs; and public policy advocacy, all with the goal of protecting the Lake’s water quality today and for the future.  

Photo at top by Zachary Matson/Explorer file photo.

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Community news stories come from press releases and other notices from organizations, businesses, state agencies and other groups. Submit your contributions to Almanack Editor Melissa Hart at editor@adirondackalmanack.com.

6 Responses

  1. Julie M Moran says:

    This is laid out like a lead news story — but, in fact, it’s worded merely as a reprint of the news release issued by the association. Besides stating a long-winded, very one-sided opinion piece, what is the actual news here?

  2. Paul says:

    I don’t have a dog in this fight – but I think some of what is speculated here is not true based on the current scientific data they do have for this product? These plant hormone based herbicide treatments have been around for 100 years.

    Isn’t it is used in “real lake situations” all the time?

    • Pat Boomhower says:

      This particular product was just approved by EPA in 2017, less than 10 years ago. I am old enough to remember when DDT was used everywhere. It was 1st introduced in the 1940s and finally banned in 1972 due to vast environmental impact.

      • Paul says:

        Yes, but it is very much based on technology that has been in use for herbicide treatments since plant hormones were first identified over 100 years ago. DDT is a very different type of product, there is no comparison. But that is a good example of how you gotta always look at risk benefit. Many countries still use DDT to control mosquitoes since they don’t want everyone dying on malaria. This article completely ignores any part of the benefits. It is clearly a propaganda piece.

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