Students at Ticonderoga Middle School and Whitehall High School are raising salmon, through a new environmental education program presented by the Lake George Association (LGA) called Salmon in the Classroom.
Kristen Rohne, the LGA’s watershed educator, visited the schools to help set up a 25 gallon tank, chiller and pump, along with testing materials and fish food. Salmon eggs were provided at no cost by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. This winter the students will raise the salmon from eggs to fingerlings. They are expected to learn to monitor tank water quality, study stream habitats, and perform stream-monitoring studies to find the most suitable place to release the salmon in the spring.
“Our goal is to foster a conservation ethic in the students, while increasing their knowledge of fish lifecycles, water quality, aquatic ecosystems and biodiversity,” said Rohne. “By working hands-on with the salmon, we believe the students will gain a greater appreciation for water resources and will be inspired to sustain and protect our natural environment.”
This year’s program was funded by a grant the LGA received from the International Paper Foundation. The Lake Champlain-Lake George Regional Planning Board and the Adirondack Resource Conservation and Development Council are partners in the project. Trout Unlimited, a national non-profit organization with more than 400 chapters, designed the Salmon in the Classroom program.
Photo: Kristen Rohne, watershed educator for the Lake George Association, works with students at Ticonderoga Middle School to set up a salmon tank, along with testing materials, eggs and food.
The Lake George Association (LGA) has been awarded a $25,000 grant from the Lake Champlain Basin Program for the 2011 Lake Steward program on Lake George. In previous years the LGA had received funds from New York State through the Lake George Watershed Coalition to run the aquatic invasives prevention program, but state budget cutbacks have made future funding unpredictable.
The Lake Steward Program provides invasive species education and spread prevention. Lake Stewards are trained and hired in early summer, then stationed at multiple boat launches around Lake George to educate boaters about the threats of aquatic invasive species, such as Eurasian watermilfoil, zebra mussels, curly-leaf pondweed, and most recently, the Asian clam. » Continue Reading.
The Lake George Association has been awarded a $25,000 grant from the Lake Champlain Basin Program to help protect the English Brook Watershed on Lake George.
One of the eight major streams entering Lake George, English Brook has been of high concern to the Association for over a decade. Land development in the English Brook watershed has increased the volume and velocity of stormwater runoff, leading to increased pollution entering the brook. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) lists the brook as sediment impaired, and its delta is one of the largest on the Lake. According to National Urban Runoff Program reports conducted during the 1980s, English Brook has high levels of total phosphorus, chlorides, total suspended sediments, lead and nitrate-nitrogen. The grant will partially fund the installation of a $48,400 Aqua-Swirl hydrodynamic separator on the east side of Rt. 9N at the Lochlea Estate in the town of Lake George. The system will collect previously untreated stormwater runoff from both the east and west sides of Rt. 9N, as well as the bridge between the two exits at Exit 22 on Interstate 87. The majority of the runoff in the 48-acre watershed will be captured and treated.
Other stormwater solutions requiring a larger footprint were explored but were not possible due to the shallow soil depth and high bedrock found throughout the site. The Aqua-Swirl unit has a small footprint and a suitable location was found near existing stormwater infrastructure.
The project is also taking the opportunity to capture untreated stormwater runoff from the west side of the road. By installing some additional infrastructure, stormwater from both sides of the road will be directed to the new unit.
The cost of the entire project is estimated at $117,000. In addition to the Lake Champlain Basin Program grant, funding for this project has been secured from the Lake George Watershed Coalition and the Helen V. Froehlich Foundation. The village of Lake George will maintain the structure and clean out the system using the LGA’s Catch Vac.
How does an Aqua-Swirl Hydrodynamic Separator work?
Stormwater enters an Aqua-Swirl unit through an inlet pipe, producing a circular flow that makes contaminates settle. A swirl concentrator removes the gross pollutants; a filtration chamber then removes fine sediment and waterborne pollutants. A combination of gravity and hydrodynamic forces encourages solids to drop out of the flow and migrate to the center of the chamber, where velocities will be lower. The Aqua-Swirl also retains water between storms, allowing for settling of inorganic solids when the water is not flowing.
Additional work protecting the English Brook Watershed
Significant work in the English Brook watershed has already been completed by the LGA in conjunction with Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District (WCSWCD). In 2009, design work for a 150-foot-long sediment basin at the mouth of the brook was completed. Permits for this project have been submitted to the appropriate agencies. The basin will be about 6 feet deep with a capacity to trap over 700 cubic yards of material. Further upstream, at the Hubble Reservoir, the LGA hired Galusha Construction to remove a non-functioning sluice gate and valve that were making it difficult to maintain the site. The site was dewatered and almost 600 cubic yards of sediment were removed. The LGA acquired funding for both projects through grants from the Helen V. Froehlich Foundation and the New York State Department of State and the Environmental Protection Fund.
Once this important upland work is completed, the culminating step is to remove the sediment that has built up in the delta over the course of generations. The nutrient-rich sediment in deltas supports invasive plant growth, hampers fish spawning, and harbors nuisance waterfowl. By removing the delta, safe navigation is restored, the health of the Lake’s fisheries improves, the Lake returns to its original bottom, and property values are retained.
Photo: The English Brook delta in Lake George taken by the LGA in November 2010.
The Lake George Association will hold its historic 125th Annual Meeting this Friday, August 20 at 10 am at the Lake George Club. The public is invited to attend and the meeting is free; an optional lunch afterward is $21 per person. Reservations are required.
Ken Wagner, Ph.D. will be the keynote speaker. Ken is editor in chief of Lake and Reservoir Management, the international journal of the North American Lake Management Society. For decades, Ken has played a valuable role in environmental research conducted on Lake George, working with the Lake George Association and other lake organizations. He is owner of Water Resource Services, a lake management consulting firm. Ken has worked for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and has 25 years of experience with northeastern consulting firms, working on a variety of water resources assessment and management projects. Ken holds a B.A. in environmental biology from Dartmouth College and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in natural resource management from Cornell University. The public will also have the opportunity to learn more about the environmental status of Lake George, and to meet others with a passion for its protection. Updates on many environmental initiatives taking place around the Lake will be given. Executive Director Walt Lender will give an update on the West Brook Conservation Initiative, considered the most important lake saving project in the LGA’s 125-year history. Randy Rath, LGA project manager, will provide summaries on the LGA’s other lake saving projects, such as those at English Brook, Hague and Finkle Brook deltas, Indian Brook, and the town of Putnam. Emily DeBolt will speak on the LGA’s educational and outreach initiatives, as well as New York State’s new phosphorus law, and the status of wall lettuce, a new invasive species growing in the watershed. Emily will also provide results from the work of the LGA Lake Stewards and from the Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program.
New members, and those who care about the lake and would like to learn more about protecting it, are welcome to attend the meeting to meet the board of directors, staff, volunteers and other members. Members will be voting on new directors for the organization: Thomas Jarrett and Salim Amersi, as well as returning directors Holly de Buys, William Dutcher and John Schaninger.
The New York State Legislature adopted a joint resolution commemorating the LGA’s 125th Anniversary in April of this year. The resolution recognized the LGA’s “long unyielding commitment to excellence,” and commended the “efforts of thousands of LGA members who, over the years, have increased the public’s awareness and understanding of Lake issues and have actively worked to preserve the purity of the Lake George waters for future generations to come.” The resolution also recognized many of the organization’s accomplishments throughout its history, including:
The LGA was “the first to re-stock the Lake with popular fish species.”
The LGA was “the first to provide a non-point source pollution program for the Lake.”
The LGA was “the first to establish a buoy system in the Lake.”
The LGA “advanced proactive management by government to protect the Lake’s water quality and influenced state leaders … to undertake the first series of technical studies of the Lake,” and later “ensured that effective storm water controls and wastewater treatment systems were included in development plans.”
The LGA worked toward “protecting the interests of dock owners, shoreline property owners and those who navigated the lake” by advocating for “a long-awaited and fought for verdict by the New York State Supreme court regarding lake levels, requiring a commission to supervise maintenance of water levels between 4.0 and 2.5 feet at the Roger’s Rock gauge between June 1 and Oct. 1.”
The LGA has “overseen over 100-plus lake-saving projects to stabilize eroding stream banks and shorelines, reclaim ponds for sediment retention, enhance wetlands, install roadside storm water catchments, and dredge deltas.”
The LGA has “expanded its programming to include active and participatory educational programs for lake users, including but not limited to, a Floating Classroom, serving 1,000 students and visitors each year.”
The Warren County Board of Supervisors issued a proclamation naming the month of August “Lake George Association Month.” The proclamation recognized that “the members of the Lake George Association have worked together to protect, conserve and improve the beauty and quality of the Lake George Basin for 125 years.”
A special postal cancellation stamp has been designed to commemorate the historic occasion of the LGA’s 125th annual meeting. On the day of the meeting, August 20, all post offices around the Lake will hand stamp any mail posted on that day upon request. Commemorative caches will also be available in limited quantities.
Area Stewart’s Shops have renamed the store’s Birthday Cake ice cream flavor in honor of the LGA for the month of August.
Since 1885, the members of the LGA have been protecting and improving the beauty and quality of the Lake George basin. LGA is a non-profit membership organization of people interested in working together to protect, conserve, and improve the beauty and quality of the Lake George Basin. For more information, contact the LGA at (518) 668-3558 or visit the LGA website at www.lakegeorgeassociation.org.
Two years from now, the use of phosphorus-heavy fertilizers will be prohibited not only in the Town and Village of Lake George, but throughout the Adirondack Park and, in fact, the entire state.
Governor David A.Paterson has approved a measure that prohibits homeowners and landscape contractors from applying fertilizer containing phosphorus on any lawns within the state.
The Town and the Village of Lake George adopted regulations limiting the use of fertilizers with phosphorus earlier this summer.
The only exceptions to the state law will be for property owners who are installing a new lawn, or if a soil test shows a phosphorus deficiency. Retailers can still sell phosphorus fertilizer for consumers who fall into those categories, provided signs about the dangers of phosphorus are posted. The new law, which takes effect January 1, 2012, also prohibits the application of any fertilizer whatsoever within 20 feet of a water body. Fertilizers can be used within ten feet of water if a vegetative buffer has been established along a shore.
“We think this is a great step forward,” said an official with New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation.
Phosphorus has been shown to contribute to the spread of aquatic weeds and the growth of algae, robbing water of oxygen that fish need to survive and limiting the recreational use of lakes and ponds.
“In time, we’ll see a marked difference in plant growth in Lake George once the full effect of the phosphorus ban is achieved,” said Walt Lender, executive director of the Lake George Association.
According to Lender, the bill also bans phosphorus in dishwashing detergent.
“This will keep additional phosphorus out of septic systems and municipal wastewater treatment systems,” Lender said.
“We’re very pleased Governor Paterson signed the bill into law,” said Lender. “It’s a huge step in the right direction, not least because it has generated a lot of discussion about the effects of phosphorus on water quality.”
New York State Senator Betty Little said she voted in favor of the bill after it was amended to allow retailers more time to rid their shelves of phosphorus fertilizers.
She also noted that the New York State Farm Bureau had withdrawn its objections to the bill.
According to Peter Bauer, the executive director of The Fund for Lake George, the ban on phosphorus-based fertilizers should be followed by a ban on the use of all fertilizers.
A fertlizer ban would reduce pollution by another nutrient, nitrogen, which can be just as harmful to water quality, Bauer said.
“Phosphorus free fertilizers are like low tar and nicotine cigarettes – they’re just as dangerous as the originals,” said Bauer. “We don’t need any of these products for healthy lawns.”
Illustration courtesy the Lake Champlain Basin Program’s Lawn to Lake initiative.
An invasive terrestrial plant, Mycelis muralis, commonly known as wall lettuce, has been identified growing alongside 9N near Dunham’s Bay in Lake George, according to the Lake George Association. Wall lettuce is one of several newer species that was placed on a watch list earlier this spring by the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program. This is the first time that the plant has been known to exist within the Lake George Watershed, although it has likely been growing for a few years without having been identified. Citizens are asked to contact the LGA if they believe this plant may be growing on their property, so that the organization can assess the spread of its growth. » Continue Reading.
Lake George Association (LGA) lake stewards are once again on duty at boat launches around Lake George for the summer, inspecting boats and educating boaters on how to prevent the spread of invasive species. They began their work on Memorial Day weekend.
Coordinated by the LGA, the program seeks to contain the spread of three species already present in Lake George: Eurasian watermilfoil, zebra mussels, and curly-leaf pondweed, as well as a possible fourth – brittle naiad – which was found and removed from Dunham’s Bay last summer. The program also helps prevent new invasive species from being introduced, such as spiny waterflea and water chestnut, which are present in nearby water bodies. » Continue Reading.
Lake George’s Supervisor wants his town to become the first within the Lake George watershed to ban the use of lawn fertilizers containing phosphorus.
If the ordinance that Supervisor Frank McCoy has proposed is adopted in June, Lake George will not only be the first town within the watershed to limit phosphorus, but the first community within the Adirondack Park to take that step, said John Sheehan, a spokesman for the Adirondack Council.
“The Lake George Park Commission should follow the town’s lead and ban phosphorus in fertilizers everywhere on the lake,” said Sheehan. » Continue Reading.
Three Lake George environmental conservation groups have released a final design for the West Brook Gaslight Village Project, a stormwater treatment system that will be located on the parcel on the south side of West Brook. Dubbed the “West Brook Conservation Initiative,” the Lake George Association, the FUND for Lake George and the Lake George Land Conservancy, have been working together to develop the project under the terms of a conservation easement they jointly hold with three municipal partners: the town and the village of Lake George, and Warren County.
The final plan includes restored wetlands and an environmental park that will be built on 4.9 acres south of West Brook Road where the Charley’s Saloon building stands south of the former Gaslight Village. The entire 12-acre project represents one of the most important conservation efforts in Lake George’s history, according to advocates. Designed by the Chazen Companies, the plan for the south parcel of the property will restore wetlands to naturally slow stormwater generated from the Route 9 corridor and adjoining properties, capture sediment and filter pollutants which currently make there way to a growing delta at the mouth of West Brook. Due to the filling of historic wetlands, channeling of the stream, and development in the stream’s watershed, West Brook today is the single largest source of contaminant — pollution, nutrients and sediment — entering the south basin of Lake George. The delta at the mouth of the brook has grown to over 7,000 square meters. The land was once part of the Delaware & Hudson Railroad Yards, and later a string of attractions related to the property next door which housed Gaslight Village from 1959 to 1989.
The project will feature a settling pond to trap and retain sediment, a shallow marsh where wetland plantings will store and treat run-off, and a gravel wetland where dense root mats, crushed stone and a microbe rich environment will improve the water quality before it is conveyed to West Brook. Environmental engineers believe that the best way to treat stormwater is through natural processes of wetlands, where water is captured and retained for a period of time and allowing sediment and nutrients to be dropped out as the water is cleansed.
Project engineers estimate that 90% of the sediment will be successfully treated by this system and over one-half of the nutrients will be removed. The wetland systems are designed to also provide an open environmental park, with interpretative signage, nature trails, elevated walkways, a pavilion, an outdoor classroom, gazebo, overlooks and picnic areas for the general public.
”This project will capture and treat millions of gallons of stormwater that annually flow into the lake untreated,” Peter Bauer, executive director of the FUND for Lake George, said. The project has been carefully designed to require minimal or no maintenance according to Bauer including the use of drought resistant meadow-like grasses will require no mowing, watering or fertilizing. Minimal mowing is expected to be necessary in selected areas close to West Brook Road for aesthetic purposes, although the grass seed to be used there is a mix of fescues that will produce a low-growing and drought tolerant grass. New native plants, shrubs and trees will require little or no weeding, pruning or fertilizing. Periodically – after a few years of maturity – the wetland plantings will need to be thinned and excess plant materials removed.
Some $200,000 in state and federal funding will be used to complete the construction of the project, but money is still needed to repay for the land. In addition to the $2.1 million loan on the Gaslight Village purchase by the LGA and the FUND, the Lake George Land Conservancy is carrying a $2.7 million loan on the 1,400-acre Berry Pond tract, which protects the upland watershed for West Brook.
Demolition of Charley’s Saloon is expected to begin in mid-June, following the conclusion of Americade; construction of the storm water management complex will begin after the Adirondack Nationals Car Show in early September.
The Lake George Association (LGA), now celebrating its 125th anniversary, has announced its 2010 summer schedule of ecology educational programs for the public. The LGA is the oldest lake association in the United States, and one of the oldest non-profit conservation organizations in New York.
Families, schools, businesses and individuals interested in preserving the Lake George region for future generations are invited to join the LGA for one or more of many educational offerings this summer; most are free of charge. Free family hands-on water ecology programs will take place on Thursday mornings from 10-11 am; topics include Lake Invaders, Creek Critters and Fish Food.
Lake lovers of all ages are invited to participate in on-lake learning adventures aboard the LGA’s Floating Classroom. Trips for the public will take place on Thursday mornings in July and August at 11 am, leaving the dock at Shepard Park in Lake George. Additional times are available for groups.
Four free workshops, entitled Landscaping with Native Plants, Aquatic Invasive Plants – Do’s and Don’ts, Water Conservation, and Lawn Care and Pest Management will be offered on four Saturday mornings this summer.
The public is also invited to participate in two clean-ups – one at West Brook and the other on Log Bay, and in LGA’s annual loon census count on July 17.
The organization’s 125th annual meeting, open and free to all, will take place on Friday, August 20 at 11 am at the Lake George Club. Reservations are required for the annual meeting and for the floating classroom trips.
The Lake George Association (LGA), the membership organization that works to protect the beauty and cleanliness of Lake George, takes an unusual approach to spring cleaning… its called a Catch Vac, and it came out of storage and hit the streets of Lake George Village this week.
“The LGA’s Catch Vac removes large quantities of sand and grit, applied to the roads during the winter, that accumulates in the region’s catch basins,” said Randy Rath, LGA’s project manager. The Catch Vac reaches and pulls out leaves, debris, bottles and cans from as far down as 100 feet into storm water drains, manholes and catch basins. The lGA provides the Catch Vac for lease to area municipalities, contractors, homeowners and private citizens.
“This month the village of Lake George is using the LGA’s Catch Vac. It requires only a couple people to operate, and efficiently removes large quantities of litter and polluting debris, allowing the catch basins to function properly so they can capture additional material before it enters the Lake,” Rath said. “Many storm drains and basins in the Watershed go for years without cleaning, because of perceived difficulty or expense. The LGA’s Catch Vac makes it relatively simple and inexpensive to take care of these cleaning tasks, which are so vital to keeping the Lake clean and healthy, and we are encouraging other area municipalities and contractors to contact us.”
To make a reservation to use the Catch Vac, the public may contact Mona Seeger at the LGA, 668-3558. In cooperation with the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District and other partner organizations, the LGA has applied for federal funding to acquire a larger, truck-sized system that will be shared by organizations across the Lake George Watershed and will more easily capture heavy material. Photo: Catch Vac with crew in Village of Lake George (Lake George Association).
The Lake George Association will offer a Nuisance Waterfowl Workshop this evening, Wednesday, April 7 at 6:30pm at the Hague Community Center, and again tomorrow, Thursday, April 8 at 6:30 at the LGA office in Lake George. A growing population of Canada geese on the lake is causing significant problems for property owners, with negative impacts for both people and the lake’s sensitive eco-system.
Staff from the USDA’s Wildlife Services department will make a presentation and demonstrate techniques, such as egg oiling, that can be used during nesting season to manage the area’s over-population of geese. The workshop is free, and will last approximately one-hour with questions and answers afterward. Reservations are not required.
Photo: Canada Geese resting in a pond during spring migration, Ottawa, Ontario (Wikipedia Commons Photo).
The Lake George Association is co-sponsoring a series of safe boating training courses, leading to certification through New York State Parks and Recreation. Two options are available: a single-day course on a weekend, or a three-day evening course during the week. Students who take one of the sit-down courses this spring will be able to come back in the summer for an on-lake program aboard the LGA’s Floating Classroom boat.
The courses are free and are open to adults and children 10 years of age and older. The course is required for all young boaters ages 10 – 18 and for any person in New York State who is driving a personal water craft (PWC), also known as a jet ski. People 18 and over who complete the course hours and requirements must send in a $10 fee to receive their course completion card. Instructors for the indoor training are provided by the Eastern New York Marine Trades Association (ENYMTA) and the Lake George Power Squadron. Class size is limited to 15 participants.
ENYMTA courses: Sunday, May 16 SNUG HARBOR MARINA, Ticonderoga, 9 am – 5pm Register with Bob Palandrani 518-585-2628
Saturday, June 19 SCHROON LAKE MARINA, Schroon Lake, 9 am – 5 pm Register with Craig Kennedy 518-532-7882
Saturday, July 17 ALPIN HOUSE, Amsterdam, 9 am – 5 pm Register with Kathy Andrews at 518-843-4400
LAKE GEORGE POWER SQUADRON courses: All at the Lake George Association Office – e-mail the LGA at [email protected] or call 518-668-3558 to register. April 26, 28 and 30 (M, W, F) – 5:30 – 8:30 pm May 10, 12, 14 (M, W, F) – 5:30 – 8:30 pm June 7, 9, 11 (M, W, F) 5:30 – 8:30 pm
Later in the summer, aboard the LGA’s Floating Classroom boat, students will experience navigating through marked channels, identifying navigational markers, and using a marine radio, GPS and radar. The LGA will also point out safety equipment, fire suppression, life-saving devices and the proper use of personal flotation devices.
The Lake George Power Squadron is the local squadron of the U.S. Power Squadrons, a nationwide nonprofit advocating boating safety and recreation. For membership information or to learn more, contact Commander Stephen W. Traver at [email protected] or visit the web site at www.LGPS.org.
The LGA is a not-for-profit membership organization of people interested in working together to protect, conserve, and improve the beauty and quality of the Lake George Basin. For more information, contact the LGA at (518) 668-3558 or check out LGA on the web at www.lakegeorgeassociation.org.
Lake George received the best reading on a measurement for clarity among 113 New York lakes in 2009, according to a press release from the Lake George Association, which follows.
Peter Leyh, an LGA member, was one of several LGA volunteers to participate in the 2009 Citizen Statewide Lake Assessment Program (CSLAP), coordinated on Lake George by the Lake George Association. On September 2, Peter was sampling water near Gull Bay on the north end of the lake, and sank a measuring disk for clarity, called a Secchi disk, into the lake. He was able to see the disk in the water at a depth of 13.55 meters, or almost 44 and 1/2 feet. No other lake participating in the CSLAP program last year could match it.
“This is great news for Lake George,” said Walt Lender, Executive Director of the Lake George Association, “but by no means does it mean we are free to relax our efforts to protect the Lake and keep it clean. In fact, it is just the opposite. This reading shows what a unique treasure we have in Lake George, and how diligently we must work to keep it that way. People need to know that this reading was taken at the north end of the Lake on a dead calm day. The clarity and cleanliness in the south end of Lake George, near West Brook, is not anywhere close to this. The water in Lake George flows from south to north, and it takes eight years for a drop to flow from the south to the north. Our challenge is to ensure that in eight years at Gull Bay our Secchi disk reading will remain at or beat 13.55 meters.”
Every summer since 2004, the Lake George Association has coordinated volunteers to assess water quality and clarity through the CSLAP program. The data gathered is used to help manage and assess trends in New York’s many lakes. The program is sponsored by the New York Federation of Lake Associations. In addition to CSLAP, the Lake George Association actively encourages adults and children to learn more about lake monitoring and stewardship aboard its Floating Classroom, a specially equipped catamaran which takes groups out on the Lake from May through September.
To learn more about CSLAP or how you can help Lake George, contact the LGA at (518) 668-3558 or visit the website at www.lakegeorgeassociation.org. Illustration: 2006 graph showing Secchi depths for various locations around Lake George; from the Fund For Lake George website.
A Lake George Association study of weekly fireworks displays on Lake George found that there is apparently no significant increase in key contaminants found in fireworks in the lake’s water and sediments. The Association warned, however, that the study was limited in its scope and there is still questions about what level is safe for a key environmental pollutant, perchlorate. Perchlorate is absorbed by the thyroid gland in place of iodine, which can interfere with the thyroid, essential to metabolism and mental development. Perchlorates, barium, and antimony are all associated with fireworks. Each year lakes around the around the Adirondacks are host to dozens of fireworks display. Lake George sees the most, with weekly displays in Lake George Village, and regular displays at other town parks such as Bolton, and at private organizations and hotels. There is, however, no registration or permitting process for fireworks, so no way to know exactly how many. The sense of some members of the Association that the displays were becoming more numerous each year led to the study.
The Association collected water samples from three sites in Lake George Village before and after five fireworks events last summer and also made a comparison of sediment samples from the village and those taken near Shelving Rock, where no large fireworks displays are believed to have occurred. The samples were analyzed for perchlorates, barium, and antimony. The entire study is available in pdf, but this is what the Association said in a press release this week:
There is no federal or NYS drinking water standard for perchlorate. In 2006 Massachusetts was the first to set such as standard, and set the drinking water standard for perchlorate at 0.002mg/L. Part of the problem is that there isn’t really much agreement on what is or isn’t a safe amount of perchlorate. But for the purposes of our study we used 0.002 mg/L as a reference point. Our results showed no change in perchlorate, with perchlorate levels less then 0.002 mg/L for all tests, before and after firework events. We also did not find a change in antimony levels, and while barium levels slightly fluctuated, the results were also not significant. We also found perchlorate levels of less than 0.002 mg/L in the sediment samples from both locations. Perchlorate-free fireworks are available for use, however they are much more costly than traditional fireworks. Since perchlorate has implications for human and environmental health, a switch to perchlorate-free fireworks for fireworks used over Lake George might want to be considered.
However, our initial findings did not find changes in perchlorate levels in the water attributable to fireworks, so they do not necessarily support the need of this additional expense at this time. We would still like to caution that this study was by no means comprehensive, so we can not know for certain if there is need for a concern over perchlorate or not. We can only weigh our options based on the knowledge we have available to us and do our best to protect Lake George and the economic viability of the region.
Other studies that did find changes in perchlorate levels measured at much smaller intervals. For instance, one study we reviewed had a method detection limit (MDL) of 0.003 ug/L, compared to the MDL of 1.2 ug/L that our lab was able to achieve. So we might not have been able to detect changes that were present. However, the question of what levels are relevant in terms of safety for human and environmental health is still unanswered. Do we need to be able to detect 0.003 ug/L of perchlorate in our drinking water? We don’t have that answer right now.
What does at least seem to make sense at this time is to track the fireworks displays that occur over Lake George every year, so that we can have a better idea of the number and locations of these events. This is at least a starting point. And then in the mean time we can look for answers to some of the questions that are still out there.
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