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Partnership Aims To Upgrade Lake George Basin Septic Systems

Lake George
Lucas Willard

As multimillion dollar upgrades are being made at the Lake George Wastewater Treatment Plant to protect water quality, a new partnership between local banks and the FUND for Lake George is aimed at upgrading old septic systems in the Lake George basin. 

There’s a link between increased nutrients being loaded into Lake George from septic systems and an increase in algae in the Adirondack lake famous for its clear water.

The Town of Lake George Septic Initiative Program was launched to study on-site wastewater treatment systems throughout the lake. Through a state grant obtained by the town and administered by the FUND for Lake George, a detailed review was completed.

Chris Navitsky is the Lake George Waterkeeper.

“Two-thirds of the systems have reached or exceeded their expected life, or there is no information at all on the systems. More than 50 percent of the systems have no known records or have never been maintained. Fifty percent of the septic tanks are undersized or have no information on their size. But our research has demonstrated that improvements can be achieved.”

FUND for Lake George Chairman Jeff Killeen says he upgraded his 1908 family camp into a four-season home 15 years ago. But the upgrades to the septic system were not easy.

“It was complicated, it was a huge task, and I had, candidly, few resources available to me to advise me or to help me through that project,” said Killeen.

The FUND’s new partnership with Adirondack Trust and Glens Falls National aims to make things easier for property owners.

Mark Yrsha is Senior Vice President of Corporate Development at Glens Falls National.

“This program is a great way to allow for easy access to septic system upgrades and improvements to qualified borrowers around the lake.”

Low-and-no-interest loans are available, according to Matt Harrison, Vice President of Residential Lending at Adirondack Trust.

“We hope to help take the lake to a better level, and we all know that Lake George is so vital to our regional economy.”

Those who own camps or homes around Lake George can visit an online resource to learn how they can help protect the lake.

The guide at Safesepticsystems.org has information on everything from understanding how a septic system works to financing options.

While Lake George has not experienced any harmful algal blooms, the threat remains, according to FUND for Lake George Executive Director Eric Siy.

“Toxic blooms are increasing throughout the state and beyond; indeed, it’s a global crisis and by no means is Lake George immune to the threat.”

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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