Posts Tagged ‘Water Resources-Clean Water’

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Backcountry Gear: Gravity Water Filter Systems

One of the most tedious tasks while exploring the backcountry of the Adirondacks is water treatment. Unfortunately much of the water in the Adirondacks may be unsafe for human consumption without being treated so this annoying task is unavoidable. The alternative is to risk an intestinal disease requiring an inordinate amount of time spent running to the restroom.

Adirondack water may contain any one of numerous waterborne parasitic micro-organisms. Many of these parasitic organisms may cause serious adverse reactions within humans anywhere from mild diarrhea to eventually, if untreated, death. These waterborne diseases can be caused by protozoa, viruses or bacteria. Giardia remains the poster-organism as far as waterborne disease-causing microorganisms are concerned in the Adirondacks region. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Adirondack Fish: Rainbow Smelt

The first reported introduction of Rainbow Smelt (Osmerus mordax) to Lake George was in 1918. Approximately 2.5 million smelt were released to enhance the lake trout fishery. Five Million more smelt were released in 1921. Smelt have historically been stocked into bodies of water throughout the Adirondacks as prey for larger game species such as lake trout and land locked salmon. Within Lake George, smelt are replacing ciscoe as the primary prey species. Many organizations around the lake have taken an interest in the smelt population.

In 1988 The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation banned the collection or possession of smelt within the Lake George Watershed, in response to concern over the stability of the population. This ban remains in effect today. In 2002 the Lake George Fishing Alliance collected 1 Million eggs from Indian Lake and stocked them into Smith Brook and Jenkins Brook on Lake George. In 2009 the Lake George Waterkeeper, in cooperation with the Lake George Fishing Alliance and the direction of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, initiated a scientific survey of the smelt population and factors that may be inhibiting the spawning migration. This study was continued in 2010 and will be conducted again this spring.

Rainbow smelt are a small, dark torpedo shaped fish, that have fang-like teeth and have an adipose fin. Smelt reach sexual maturity between 2 and 3 years of age. They can live up to 9 years and can grow as long as 9 inches.

Smelt will begin their annual spawning migration within the next 4 to 6 weeks. Hundreds to Thousands of fish will be seen swimming within streams tributary to Lake George and other bodies of water within the Adirondacks, once the water temperature reaches 42 degrees. The spawning migration will generally last two weeks depending on the weather. During this time, smelt will return to their birth streams to spawn. Spawning takes place at night, however fish can still be seen within the streams during the day. The eggs will hatch in early to mid May depending on the water temperature. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae smelt will drift out to the lake.

Many factors could be affecting the annual spawning migration of the smelt, these include; structural impedance, siltation, foraging pressure, habitat alteration, lack of riparian cover, and excessive nutrients.

For more information on the Rainbow Smelt, visit:
http://fundforlakegeorge.org/assets/pdf_files/Fact%20Sheet%206%20Smelt.pdf

For more information on the status of the Rainbow Smelt in Lake George, visit:
http://fundforlakegeorge.org/assets/pdf_files/2010%20Smelt%20Report%20small%20file.pdf

To watch an interesting video from the 2010 smelt survey, visit:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vanMjnXcqqA

This year the Lake George Waterkeeper and the Lake George Fishing Alliance are asking for volunteers to help monitor the annual spawning migration of the Rainbow Smelt in Lake George streams. If you are interested in assisting, please contact Corrina at: ofearthspirit@yahoo.com or Chris Navitsky at: cnavitsky@lakegeorgewaterkeeper.org

Photo’s: Smelt within streams tributary to Lake George, NY. Courtesy: Blueline Photography, Jeremy Parnapy.

Corrina Parnapy is a Lake George native and a naturalist who writes regularly about the environment and Adirondack natural history for the Adirondack Almanack.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Berry Pond Tract: Headwaters of West Brook

Purchased in 2008 by the Lake George Land Conservancy, the Berry Pond Tract protects 1,436 acres within the towns of Lake George, Warrensburg, and Lake Luzerne. This tract of land contains ecologically important wetlands, ponds, vernal pools and the headwaters of West Brook. The purchase was made possible in part through a loan from the Open Space Conservancy (OSC) and funding provided by the Helen V. Froehlich Foundation.

The Berry Pond Tract is home to many forms of wildlife. There are several active beaver populations and a small Great Blue Heron rookery. This purchase provides expanded outdoor recreational resources including some amazing views of the lake. It also connects nearly 10,000 acres of protected land and protects the headwaters of West Brook, the single largest source of contaminants to the South Basin of Lake George.

West Brook is one of the largest, most polluted streams in the Lake George Watershed. A substantial section of the downstream portion has impervious surface streamside, which contributes large amounts of stormwater runoff. Studies have indicated high readings of specific conductance (indicator of instream pollution), excessive amounts of Nitrogen and Phosphorus as well as substrate covering algal blooms. West Brook is important habitat for wildlife and spawning fish, however most of the downstream substrate is silt and sand. The streams course has been altered and channalized, thus speeding up the current. There is very limited riparian cover along the downstream portions, most being of non-native species. The lack of cover results in higher water temperatures and lower dissolved oxygen levels.

Protecting the headwaters of a stream is important to the overall health of the stream, however what takes place in the downstream sections can adversely impair the lake. That is why the West Brook Conservation Initiative was formed. This project to restore and protect Lake George is a collaborative campaign between the FUND for Lake George, the Lake George Land Conservancy and the Lake George Association. The main goal is to eliminate the largest source of contaminants to the South Basin. For more information on the West Brook Conservation Initiative and the science behind West Brook, visit the FUND for Lake George website.

Access to the Berry Pond Tract hiking trails is via the Lake George Recreation Center Trail System. For more information on the Berry Pond Tract, check out the Lake George Land Conservancy website at: http://lglc.org or join me in a snowshoe during the Winter Warm Up, at the Lake George Recreation Center on Saturday March 12, 2011 from 10am till 2pm. Bring your family and friends to this free event hosted by the Lake George Land Conservancy. Warm up by the bonfire; enjoy tasty treats donated by local businesses and take part in a guided snowshoe or other activities for all ages.

Come out and join me during the snowshoe and learn more about the Berry Pond Tract and West Brook. I hope to see you there.

Photo: “All” West Brook, Lake George NY. Compliments Blueline Photography, Jeremy Parnapy.

Corrina Parnapy is a Lake George native and a naturalist who writes regularly about the environment and Adirondack natural history for the Adirondack Almanack.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Corrina Parnapy: The Importance of Snow

During this winter, it seems to have been snowing almost every week. Snow is piling up making driving hard and causing roofs to collapse. While the snow may be causing problems for people, it is just what the environment needs. Winters with thick snow packs mean a productive, drought free summer.

Snow falls to the ground, insulating the soil and roots of plants. When the snow melts it sinks into the ground between cracks and crevices of the bedrock replenishing the groundwater supply. The snow-melt will seep into the pore spaces between the soil particles or flow over the ground, filtering out into the streams, springs and lakes, thereby recharging the surface water. Snow is the major form of precipitation in the Adirondacks. Mild winters threaten soil productivity, plant growth and freshwater resources. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dave Gibson: Common Road Salt is Toxic

Outside my house, and in the forest back beyond the land is carpeted with crystalline beauty, affording quietude, serenity, thermal shelter for critters, and some nice ski runs. Out on the county road, just two hours after the recent storm the pavement is bare – right on schedule with transportation departments’ standard for road maintenance and safety. To accomplish it, a corrosive pollutant will be laid down in quantity – 900,000 tons of road salt will be used across the state this winter according to the Department of Transportation (DOT) website. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Lake George Stewards Program Receives Some Funding

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.


Monday, December 27, 2010

What A Wonderful Life: Lowville’s Erwin Eugene Lanpher

Research has taken me to more cemeteries than I can remember. Surrounded by hundreds of gravestones, I frequently remind myself that every person has a story. What often impresses me is that many people who are largely forgotten actually made a real difference in other people’s lives. Uncovering those stories from the past is humbling, carrying with it the realization that I’ll probably never approach the good works done by others.

Sometimes those good works seem to escape notice, and that was the sense that engulfed me as I read the obituary of Erwin Eugene Lanpher of Lowville. It reminded me of George Bailey from It’s A Wonderful Life, a regular guy who, as it turned out, was darn important to a lot of people. » Continue Reading.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Finch Mill Pollution Nearly Quadruples in Two Years

According to a report issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Finch, Pruyn paper mill generated the most pollution of any manufacturing plant in New York last year, 31 percent more than the second heaviest polluter in the state.

The Glens Falls mill discharged some 3.8 million pounds of chemicals in 2009.

Finch’s emissions were less than 1.1 million pounds as recently as 2007, meaning that their pollution has nearly quadrupled since the long-time locally owned company was sold to a pair of outside investment groups in mid-2007. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Grant to Help Protect Lake George’s English Brook

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.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Lake George Invasives Fight Costs in The Millions

Eurasian milfoil was discovered in Lake George in 1985; since then, approximately $3.6 million dollars have been spent to control the spread of the invasive aquatic plant.

Add to that the value of the time spent administering programs and writing grants, as well the cost of educating the public about the dangers of spreading invasives, and $3.6 million becomes a figure that easily exceeds $7 million.

“We’ve been conducting a milfoil management program since 1995, when the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation turned the program over to us,” said Mike White, the executive director of the Lake George Park Commission. “We’ve employed methods like hand harvesting, suction harvesting and laying benthic barriers over the plants, but we’ve only had enough resources to contain milfoil, and not enough eradicate it.” » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

State Museum Enters Invasives Fight With ‘Biopesticides’

The New York State Museum has received a $1 million federal grant to conduct a new research project aimed at protecting endangered species of native freshwater mussels from the impacts of invasive zebra mussels.

With the grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), through its Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Museum scientists will use what they are calling an “environmentally safe invention – a biopesticide” to continue their research with a new emphasis on open water applications. The project will be led by Museum research scientists Daniel Molloy and Denise Mayer. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Commentary: Towns Have Authority to Build Better

I am dismayed by the level of development that many towns tolerate before anything actually gets permitted and built.

In my area outside of the Park in Saratoga County, you can drive by road frontage denuded of trees, with soil blowing in the wind and find out that the town had never issued any building permits or final site plan approvals. Instead, the town simply looked the other way while the developer engaged in so-called “preconstruction” activity, such as excavation for water, sewer, utilities, roads, or for so-called site investigation such as test pits for septic tanks.Years can go by, and nothing is done to remediate the soils, the waters, the landscape, while nothing gets built.

Towns are not mandated to look the other way while developers “preconstruct” before actually building under some kind of permit. They have plenty of legal leeway to say “no” to excavating lands where there is as yet no legal permission to build. The Town Law grants towns full rights to refine the conventional definition of a subdivision to include preconstruction activity, and thus to regulate that activity.

For about thirty-forty percent of development in the Park, at least, the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will not allow developers to preconstruct before receiving a permit to develop. APA defines subdivision to include any “grading, road construction, installation of utilities or other improvements or any other land use and development preparatory or incidental to any such division.”

I thought of this with respect to the proposed Adirondack Club and Resort (ACR). Outside of the Park, an ACR-scaled development might still be under local permit review while all sorts of roads, excavations, and perforations of the land were actively underway for lack of any town regulation. One may be safe in presuming that the APA Act will keep graders and backhoes off the lands of Oval Wood Dish in Tupper Lake unless and until a permit is granted following the scheduled adjudicatory public hearing and review of the hearing record.

The levels of engineering scrutiny of an ACR-type development just increased. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has told the ACR applicant that individual stormwater prevention plans for all of the project’s components parts must be completed and must be more rigorous in order to meet new DEC standards which seek to protect smaller waterbodies from downstream sedimentation and pollution. Those standards are statewide, not Park standards, so I hope that they will be equally enforced elsewhere.

I was taught in school that urbanizing an area by hardening it, paving and sewering it resulted in some remarkable changes in the run-off, or discharge of storm water. “An average peak runoff rate for rural parts of basins …was about 30 percent of the rainfall intensity, while on the impervious areas it was approximately 75 percent,” with the precise effect dependent on the nature of soils and extent of impervious area (Water in Environmental Planning by Dunne and Leopold, 1978). Definitions of urbanization differ, but a majority of rainfall simply runs off when surfaces are paved, or even when they are hardened and grassed over.

Thus, DEC is requiring the ACR applicant to better define what is going to run off and what changes that will have on downstream water quality, since many surveys show that preserving natural ground cover significantly decreases the necessary amount of water treatment, and visa-versa. Preserving natural ground cover is the best and most economical way to prevent flooding and stormwater pollution. Even that great builder of levees the Army Corps of Engineers agrees. They studied the Charles River in Massachusetts and determined that the same flood prevention effect could be achieved by either buying $10 million worth of wetlands or spending $100 million for engineered flood control measures.

There are many other examples of permissive legal authority which are rarely exercised. Another part of the state’s Town Law (Article 16, Section 278) gives a Town Board authority to require its Planning Board to seek an alternative or clustered subdivision plan. A developer like Michael Foxman, for example, could be required by the Town and Planning Boards of Tupper Lake to present alternative ways to develop, including unconventional subdivision which minimizes the amount of cleared land, the number of roads, which clusters homes and which reserves large blocks of contiguous forest – thus minimizing development costs. It will prove interesting in the public hearing and afterward to see how aggressively APA pushes the applicant to present a true alternative design. The Town of Tupper Lake has that same power. Given the burdens this development is likely to pose for Tupper service providers it would seem wise to invoke it.

It’s questionable how many towns exercise this permissive authority to require an examination of smarter growth under the state’s Town Law. None have in my admittedly limited experience. My Town of Ballston, Saratoga County, has yet to respond to my suggestion that it invoke the Town Law to require the Planning Board to seek more creativity in a proposal to build 400 homes on old agricultural and beautiful swampy woods. When and if they do, I may have somewhat higher expectations for Tupper Lake.

Photos: APA staff and Preserve Associates lead a 2007 field trip to the site of the proposed Adirondack Club and Resort at Cranberry Pond below Mt. Morris; Below, Cranberry Pond’s beaver impoundment, where stormwater, sewage and snowmaking issues for ACR concentrate.


Friday, November 5, 2010

New Stream Studies Confirm Lake Groups’ Warnings

New studies by the U.S. Geological Survey confirm arguments that Lake George conservation organizations and agencies have made for years: development threatens the aquatic life of streams.

“We learned that there is no ‘safe zone,’ meaning that even minimal or early stages of development can negatively affect aquatic life in urban streams,” said Tom Cuffney, a USGS biologist.

“When the area of driveways, parking lots, streets and other impervious cover reaches 10 percent of a watershed area, many types of pollution-sensitive aquatic insects decline by as much as one third, compared to streams in undeveloped forested watersheds,” said Cuffney.

Native fish also decline in streams even at low levels of development, levels historically considered safe for stream life, the studies found.

“The studies validate the findings of our Lake George Stream Assessment Project, initiated three years ago by Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky, namely, that land uses impact the health of our streams,” said Peter Bauer, the executive director of the Fund for Lake George.

“We know from the sites we sampled that streams decline in water quality as they pass through areas that are more heavily developed,” said Bauer.

“These studies show that we need to be careful,” said Emily DeBolt of the Lake George Association, which operates a stream biology monitoring program for volunteers.

While even the most developed watersheds within the Lake George basin are not yet urbanized, protection of existing stream corridors should be a priority, said Bauer and DeBolt.

According to the USGS, the studies examined the effects of urbanization on algae, aquatic insects, fish, habitat and chemistry in urban streams in nine areas across the country.

“As a watershed becomes developed, the amount of pavement, sidewalks and other types of urban land cover increases. During storms, water is rapidly transported over these urban surfaces to streams. The rapid rise and fall of stream flow and changes in temperature can be detrimental to fish and aquatic insects. Stormwater from urban development can also contain fertilizers and insecticides used along roads and on lawns, parks and golf courses,” the USGS said.

The Lake George Park Commission is authorized by New York State law to protect stream corridors within the Lake George watershed, said Mike White, executive director of the Lake George Park Commission.

The Commission has drafted regulations that will limit construction and the cutting of trees and vegetation within 35 feet of a tributary of Lake George.

The regulations are currently under review by the Governor’s Office of Regulatory Reform. Once that office approves the draft, a series of public hearings will be held, said White.

“Stream buffers are the most efficient way to protect the water quality and ecology of streams, and regulations are the only effective way of preserving those buffers,” said Peter Bauer.

“Once a buffer is disturbed, it’s very difficult to restore it to its original function,” Bauer said.

Investing in stream corridor protection is also an investment in the water quality of Lake George, he said.

“One half of all the water entering Lake George comes from streams,” said Bauer. “The fate of Lake George is tied inextricably to the health of its streams.”

Photo: Lake George Stream Assessment monitors, 2008.

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Northeast Natural History Conference Announced

The 11th Northeast Natural History Conference (NENHC) will be held on April 6-9, 2011 in Albany. The meeting will also include the historic first meeting of the new Association of Northeastern Biologists (ANB).

As in the past this conference, held at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany, promises to be the largest regional forum for researchers, natural resource managers, students, and naturalists to present current information on the varied aspects of applied field biology (freshwater, marine, and terrestrial) and natural history for the Northeastern United States and adjacent Canada.

It is hoped to serve as a premier venue to identify research and management needs, foster friendships and collegial relationships, and encourage a greater region-wide interest in natural history by bringing people with diverse backgrounds together.

Information about registration, submitting proposals for abstracts, organized sessions, workshops, field trips, and special events can be found online. Student volunteer opportunities are also available and offer free registration.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Lake George Watershed Coalition’s Water Quality Forum

The Lake George Watershed Coalition will hold it’s 6th Annual Forum on Water Quality & Resource Conservation on Tuesday, October 5th at the Fort William Henry Conference Center. Speakers at the event will include Lake George Mayor Bob Blais, Lake George Waterkeepers Chris Navitsky and Kathy Bozony, Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Laurel Gailor and more. A panel discussion will focus on the West Brook watershed project. Registration begins at 8:15, and the cost to attend, including lunch, is $25. Click here for a registration form.

Here’s the full agenda:

Welcome Address – Department of State/Mayor Blais

The State of your Lake: Influence of Land-use on Stream Chemistry within the Lake George Watershed DFWI – Mark Swinton PhD & Charles Boylen PhD

Stream Assessment Report Results Chris Navitsky, P.E., LG Waterkeeper

Observations on the Impact of Fireworks Displays on Water Quality Emily Debolt, LGA

Documented Observations of Increased Algal Blooms in Lake George Kathy Bozony, LG Waterkeeper

Invasives in the Watershed Laurel Gailor, Cornell Cooperative Extension

Watershed Headwaters & Their Importance to Water Quality Rebecca Schneider PhD, Cornell Cooperative Extension

Presentation of Stewardship Awards Mayor Blais

Prudent Measures for Turf Management – Property Management in Critical Watershed Areas Frank Ross PhD, Cornell Cooperative Extension

Project Reviews:

* Town Highway Department Stormwater Improvement Project
* Eurasian Watermilfoil Management Program
* The Floating Classroom
* Lake Steward Program
* Shepard Park – Native Plantings Demonstration Project
* Upland Protection Activities
* Do It Yourself – Water Quality Guide

Panel Discussion: The West Brook Watershed Stormwater Improvement & Conservation Initiative – Update

Roundtable Discussion: Watershed Management – Challenges & Success in our Watershed & Others Across the State.

Photo: Lake George, courtesy the Lake George Watershed Coalition.



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