Posts Tagged ‘water line’

Monday, March 7, 2022

The next major lake survey

lake ice

A group of scientists and representatives of government agencies met this summer in Saratoga Springs with an enormous mission: outline plans for a survey of hundreds of Adirondack Lakes.

The emerging plan hopes to focus on the effects of climate change on Adirondack lakes and would build on the last major survey of Adirondack lakes in the 1980s, which focused on lake acidification and served as a scientific basis for the 1990 federal Clean Air Act amendments. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 15, 2022

A renewed interest in wetlands

DeNeale Property wetlands & woods

Conservationists across the state cheered loudly last month when Gov. Kathy Hochul proposed strengthening protections for wetlands.

Under current state rules, wetlands are only protected if they are included on official wetland maps – even if the parcels otherwise meet protection standards – but Hochul proposes scrapping that approach and ensuring wetlands of 12.4 acres or greater are automatically protected.

» Continue Reading.


Sunday, January 30, 2022

Clean water budget

wetlands protection part of state budget

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s budget proposal unveiled last week included some major investments in clean water and a preview of how she envisions the state spending a proposed $4 billion environmental bond act that will go up for voter approval in November.

The proposal included $500 million for clean water infrastructure spent on local projects across the state. The funds will support improvements to wastewater treatment plants and drinking water systems.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 18, 2022

A salty solution

hague

The salt pollution challenge can be daunting: years and years of salt use have already penetrated surface and groundwater and will stick around for years to come. And salt is still the No. 1 way of keeping winter roads safe.

But the small highway crew in Hague, on the western shores of Lake George has started to show that if you use less salt on the roads, less salt will show up in the water. After the Hague crew reduced its salt use by nearly 70% over the last five years, researchers with RPI’s Darrin Fresh Water Institute have found an average 4% annual reduction in chloride concentrations in Hague Brook. More study is needed but it’s a positive sign that Hague is reducing salt on the roads and in the waters.

Read more about what Hague has been up to and my recent visit to their garage. I also spoke with North Country Public Radio Adirondacks reporter Emily Russell this week about the latest on the state’s road salt reduction task force.

The road salt issue has also started to draw more national coverage in recent weeks after a scientific research review published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment highlighted the dire public health and environmental downsides of rampant salt use – which has tripled in the last 45 years.

Photo: Hague plow operator Tim Fiallo mixing a brine solution at the Hague garage. Photo by Zachary Matson

Editor’s note: This first appeared in Zach’s weekly “Water Line” newsletter. Click here to sign up.


Sunday, January 9, 2022

Cleaner wastewater for Lake George

wastewater treatment

The village of Lake George is days away from turning on its new wastewater treatment plant – a major overhaul years in the making.

I visited the new facility (located in the same place as the old plant) last week and got a tour from plant operator Tim Shudt, who is nearing 10 years in the position. Construction is basically complete, but they are still working out some final details before the new plant can be switched on.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Old trees on opposite coasts

fir treesWhile visiting family in Oregon recently, I spent some time reflecting on what makes the Adirondacks special, while also enjoying some of the incredible nature that makes the Pacific Northwest special.

(Please forgive this small departure from water issues – though forests, as any Adirondack history will remind you, are crucial to water quality.)

I visited Oregon’s largest state park, Silver Falls, about 50 miles south of Portland, which includes a loop trail that passes by as many as 10 impressive waterfalls. While on the coast, I hiked through extraordinary, old-growth forest and across cliffs that opened to admittedly-clouded ocean views.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, December 6, 2021

Skating on thin ice

As water across the park starts to freeze, I thought I would share an interesting paper published this fall that I came across in the Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies, published at Union College. 

The study outlines the potential impacts of climate change on elite hockey athlete development in the North Country, focusing on the potential outcomes of shrinking access to outdoor ice during warming winters. 

The paper, “The Impact of Climate Change on Hockey Expertise in the North Country and Adirondack Region of New York,” analyzes two emissions scenarios and arrives at widely divergent worlds. Jon Rosales, an environmental scientist who studies climate change at St. Lawrence University, authored the paper with four others. 

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Invasives roundup

stiltgrassThe late fall and early winter is a time of winding down in the Adirondacks, and that’s the case for the many programs combating invasive species across the park.

Earlier this month a group of around 40 representatives from government, nonprofits and local associations and private individuals hopped on a Zoom meeting to rehash a season of anti-invasive programs. This gathering of the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program — a multi-agency/public-private partnership that coordinates parkwide efforts to combat invasive plant species — was a helpful briefing on the latest in Adirondacks invasives.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, November 22, 2021

Still blooming

HABs map

The HABs keep on happening on Lake George. Shortly after we reported on an early-October harmful algal bloom on Lake George, the state Department of Environmental Conservation updated its useful map of HABs across the state. And state officials confirmed yet more HABs on Lake George on Nov. 8-11.

Harmful algal blooms – or HABs – are formations of cyanobacteria, which can rise to the water’s surface under the right conditions. While HABs have the potential to turn toxic, toxins have not been detected in the Lake George HABs. The HABs on Lake George continued in the Harris Bay area and in November the confirmed blooms included some around Cotton near Bolton Landing, according to the DEC map.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Water defenders

water

Last week, I visited the Adirondack Watershed Institute at Paul Smith’s College. After talking with the institute’s staff about a litany of water-related issues the organization works on, I walked around the lakefront campus with AWI’s leaders.

The college, which unsurprisingly is well-regarded for its environmental science, forestry and hotel management programs, has less than 1,000 students, what must be some of the best views of any campus in the country and 14,000 acres of Adirondack land.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Salt solutions?

Billy Jones salt bill

Lake George has been a leader in road salt reduction and now some of those lessons will be coming north.

Wilmington Supervisor Roy Holzer, who attended the sixth annual Lake George road salt reduction summit last week, said his town has applied for a grant that would pay for cameras on the Whiteface Highway, a steep climb out of the hamlet to elevations where it can snow before it does down below. But not always. With cameras, plow drivers can open an app and assess conditions before driving up and salting a road that may not need it. Salt pollution has been recognized as a threat both to the environment and public health.

Essex County Department of Public Works Director Jim Dugan said some methods used further south, such as brining the highway, aren’t as effective in the mountains where it’s colder. But that doesn’t mean local governments are powerless.

Dugan said the county, with a $750,000 state grant and a $250,000 match, is building a shed to keep its stores of sand under roof. Before it’s stockpiled, salt has to be mixed into the sand to keep it from freezing into unspreadable chunks. Dougan said the shelter will keep the sand dry, and greatly reduce the ratio of salt to sand.

Dugan said he would also like to be allowed to cut trees in the highway right of way to let in the ice-melting sun, but even though environmentalists agree this is an important strategy, in the Forest Preserve that’s not allowed.

Holzer follows the late Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston, for which road salt reduction law is named.

“I certainly feel an obligation to carry through with his mission, and I feel like Wilmington is leading change in the North Country,” Holzer said. Smart salt law can strike a balance between safety and the environment, while saving taxpayer money by reducing the need to purchase salt, he said.

NYS Assemblyman Billy Jones speaks Dec. 4, 2020, at a commemoration of the signing of the Randy Preston Road Salt Reduction Act. More than 10 months later, the task force created by the bill is still without members. Mike Lynch photo 

Editor’s note: This first appeared in Adirondack Explorer’s weekly “Water Line” newsletter. Click here to sign up.


Sunday, October 24, 2021

Watching the salmon run

salmon run

The warm October has slowed the fall salmon run a bit, but the fact that there is any salmon run at all in the rivers that flow from the Adirondacks into Lake Champlain is a point of some celebration. The dams that powered industry, the resulting pollution from this industry and overfishing destroyed the Atlantic salmon fishery in Lake Champlain prior to the Civil War.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, October 16, 2021

Storm water and sewers

Several times a year, usually following a heavy rain, sewage that has not been fully treated overwhelms the Ticonderoga treatment plant and flows into the La Chute River, and shortly after that, into Lake Champlain. (Check out an overview of the latest “State of the Lake” report here)

There’s nothing secret about it; the town sends out email alerts whenever it happens. The Department of Environmental Conservation allows it, up to a point. If there are too many rain storms and too many overflows, the town is fined because, well, you can’t assess a fine on God.

Ticonderoga is not alone. A half century ago, communities saw no reason not to mix sewage and storm water and send it all to the treatment plant, and that worked until more development led to more effluent, which in time exceeded sewer-plant capacity.

The growth, however, has not been sufficient to pay for sewer plant expansion. Small communities in tourist areas lack enough people among whom to divide up the cost of expanded capacity. Also, sending flow through a treatment plant comes at a cost, and treating clean water makes little financial sense.

The Ticonderoga story has a happy ending, however. Within the next few weeks the town will “throw the switch” on an $8 million project primarily designed to separate storm water from sanitary sewer effluent. The storm water will be channeled into a “day stream” that is dry except in times of high water. It will receive some basic treatment for removal of trash and litter before being diverted to the river. The rainwater will not go through the treatment plant, which will be freed up to do the job in which it was intended.

Storm water, of course, has its own issues and its own set of needs. But municipalities are coming to understand that storm water and sewer flow are two different things.

Top: Highway and water supervisor Jason Monroe, left, and Town Supervisor Craig Leggett discuss water and sewer needs in the town of Chester. Photo by Cindy Schultz

Editor’s note: This first appeared in the Explorer’s weekly Water Line newsletter. Click here to sign up.


Wednesday, October 6, 2021

The secret life of water

At the recently opened Essex Quarry Nature Park, a classic Adirondack brook winds through a cedar forest, chatters over boulders artfully accented with moss and ferns and then — disappears.

Like water running down a drain, it plunges down a stony crevice in the earth and is gone. Trail stewards say it doesn’t reappear again until it reaches Lake Champlain. Precisely where it goes and what it encounters along the way will likely forever be a mystery.

The Secret Life of Water is a fascinating story that escapes most people as they appreciate the beauty and charm of Adirondack lakes, rivers and streams. Paddlers might not realize that beneath the surface Mirror Lake, to pick one example, has important work to do, and some of that work is fraught.

Water sustains life, but it is also a mover, a builder, a gardener and an excavator. What it encounters in one spot can have implications in another, as we’ve seen with road salt and excessive nutrients.

Gov. Kathy Hochul was in Lake Placid on Friday, talking about the importance of water quality and showing off permeable pavement that allows rain to seep through the ground before it reaches the lake instead of running along the surface collecting man-made toxins as it goes.

Water is the reason the Adirondack Park was created. Left to its own devices, it does its job well. But where development has knocked it off its game, sometimes it can use a little help.

 A scene from the Essex Quarry trail. Mike Lynch photo


Tuesday, September 28, 2021

After the flood and before the next storm

bridge

On the heels of the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Irene, comes commemoration of another calamity: It’s been almost two years since the Halloween Storm of 2019 dumped a frightening amount of rain in the Southeastern Adirondacks, an event that probably received less attention than was due because it centered on a less populated part of the park.
The storm washed out the road to the much-ballyhooed Boreas Ponds, scarcely six weeks after it had opened. One small victim of the storm was a bridge leading to Hammond Pond, a sparkling blue sheet in the Eastern Adirondacks. It took two years, but the state has finally replaced it with a beefy piece of infrastructure that is part bridge, part work of art (see photo above).

It may seem like overkill for such a small stream, but as the climate changes, that’s what it’s going to take to withstand the beating that trails, roads and bridges are likely to absorb from rising rivers and streams. Notably, the Restore Mother Nature Bond Act on the ballot next year would spend no less than $1 billion to brace against the impact of flooding. Many have fretted over the costs of lowering carbon emissions. But failing to lower carbon emissions is likely to cost us far more.

— Tim Rowland, Explorer contributor



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