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Study Finds Continued Problems With Road Salt In Adirondack Lake

Mirror Lake in Lake Placid
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Mirror Lake in Lake Placid

The Ausable River Association has issued its second annual report on Mirror Lake’s water quality.  It finds that the Adirondack lake continues to experience high levels of salt – a threat to aquatic life.
Lake Placid is bordered by two lakes: Mirror Lake and Lake Placid.  Mirror Lake is adjacent to the village’s Main Street and a focal point for tourism and recreation.  A study of road salt deposition into the lake last year found levels more than 100 times higher than other Adirondack lakes.  This year’s report, according to Ausable River Association Science and Stewardship Director and primary author Brendan Wiltse, did not find significant changes in water quality.  “That doesn’t mean that reduction efforts aren’t working.  There’s just so much variability from year to year in weather. We know that 2016 was a pretty mild winter as opposed to something like this past winter. So the efforts that have been made to reduce salt, some reduction has been made but you know it hasn’t resulted in a substantial improvement in the water quality of the lake at this point.”

The village of Lake Placid is in the Town of North Elba which has implemented several salt reduction efforts. Supervisor Robi Politi finds the salt content in Mirror Lake alarming.  “We felt it was necessary to take steps to try and correct the problem by reducing salt by going out and buying a live edge plow. We felt it made a big difference this year.  But you know there’s still there are just on the village side of Mirror Lake there are just so many private parking lots. And the state of New York maintains Main Street and they continue to pour salt on that main thoroughfare. It needs to be a collaborative effort.”

Part of the problem with a buildup of road salt in the lake’s deepest areas is that oxygen in the water fails to mix properly during seasonal changes.  Adirondack Council spokesman John Sheehan says lakes near salted roads across the park are having similar problems.  “The severity of the problem varies from one location to the next. And certainly Mirror Lake because it’s right in the middle of the village is particularly vulnerable to runoff from a variety of sources. But there are both sidewalks and roads being salted around Mirror Lake and it is such an important part of that community’s image it’s really imperative that the Ausable River Association’s work continue and that they be given as much authority as possible to not only collect the data they need but also to recommend changes in the way things happen in the basin.”

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