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Agreement Hopes To Control Salt Levels In Lake George

Lake George
Lucas Willard

An agreement between local governments surrounding Lake George aims to help municipalities and environmental advocates take steps to reduce the amount of road salt entering the waterway.

Earlier this month, the SAVE Lake George partnership announced a memorandum of understanding to address the lake’s rising salt levels.

The group and its partners have been researching and acting on ways to reduce the lake’s salinity for years, but FUND For Lake George Director Eric Siy says it’s time to act.

“Salt is the acid rain of our time, and Lake George salt levels are 30 times higher than undeveloped Adirondack Lakes, so the time is now.”

The document recognizes that sodium chloride from road salt has displaced the dominant salt in the lake, calcium bicarbonate, and says increased salt levels can affect microorganisms and the lake’s food web. It calls on counties, towns, and villages along the lake to reduce wintertime salt application.

Lake George Association Executive Director Walt Lender said the LGA is working with groups to invest in improving equipment towns use to spread salt.

“Things like temperature sensors so they know when to apply salt and how much to apply, and also more modern spreader technology  — calibrated spreaders, they’re not just pouring salt as they move, they’re actually pouring salt at different rates depending on the speed that they’re traveling.”

Lender said when towns can make small, incremental improvements on their own, it helps reduce the effects of salt on the lake in the long term.

Over the last year the Town of Bolton began using a new type of treated salt as one way to more efficiently de-ice roadways. Bolton supervisor Ron Conover…

“We have these pilot projects, these demonstration projects going on, so that we can evaluate the effectiveness of the program and whether or not the new products in fact do reduce the amount of salt that’s entering the waters of Lake George.”

Conover finds the new memorandum of understanding a terrific tool. What eventually became the Lake George Park Commission’s mandatory boat inspection program also began with an MOU.

“We used it on the effort on aquatic invasives as a way of bringing people together as a way to establish common concerns and common goals.”

Meanwhile, the LGA is also celebrating a $30,000 donation it made toward the mandatory boat washing program. Again, LGA director Walt Lender…

“Last year the Lake George Association helped spread the word about that by doing outreach. This year we’re actually making  cash investment in the program. It’s very important that the program is funded partially by local entities and municipalities around the lake and non-profits, and also by state government, so it’s a shared effort.”

A memorandum of understanding was signed by more than 50 groups to begin this year a voluntary boat washing program across the Adirondack Park.

Siy says as the groups look to tackle salt, a unified voice is vital.

“And it’s going to take all hands on deck, it’s going to take everyone’s involvement to succeed in this other big threat on Lake George.”

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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