An aging wastewater treatment plant in the Village of Lake George is in need of major upgrades. Now the project has gotten a boost thanks to state funding announced as part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State agenda.
Governor Cuomo’s 2020 environmental agenda is anchored by a $3 billion “Restore Mother Nature” Bond Act.
Other priorities including banning single-use polystyrene products, expanding electric vehicles, improving energy efficiency in homes and businesses, expanding offshore wind, and protecting Lake George waters.
The Village of Lake George’s wastewater treatment facility has been cited by state environmental regulators for releasing excess nutrients into the southern part of the Adirondack Lake. But the necessary upgrades carrying a $25 million cost would be too much for the village to handle on its own.
Under consent order by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Lake George Mayor Bob Blais said the Village began work at the sewer plant in August.
“So we started the project with a great deal of faith that we would receive some additional funding, which certainly, the governor has rewarded us with,” said Blais.
Governor Cuomo announced $9.4 million to assist with the upgrades at the plant. Add to that another $7 million previously obtained by the village, that brings down the cost to where it’s “almost” affordable.
“Without that funding, the tax rate in the Village of the Lake George, and in the Town of Lake George, the Caldwell Sewer District charges would go up 112 percent,” said Blais.
The need to upgrade the wastewater treatment plant originally built in the 1930s has attracted the attention of local, state, and federal officials. U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer held a press conference at the lake’s southern basin last spring, and in July announced $500,000 for the project.
Mayor Blais said the village has more grant applications in the works and it will continue to seek other funding avenues.
“If we’re fortunate enough to get another one or two million that’ll be great. And I’m also going to Warren County and asking the supervisors to contribute $100,000 a year for ten years, which would go directly toward the debt payment – support similar to what they give the Glens Falls Civic Center.”
Environmental groups are applauding the state’s award to protect the lake. Walt Lender, Executive Director of the Lake George Association, said the group’s biggest fear with the excess nutrients entering the lake is the potential for harmful algal blooms, or HABs.
“And that’s something that we’ve never seen on Lake George, and we certainly don’t want to ever see one here,” said Lender.
In 2018, New York state launched a $65 million program to combat HABs. Lake George was chosen for inclusion in the program due to its popularity as a tourism destination and its infrastructure.
Eric Siy, Executive Director of the FUND for Lake George, said in a statement:
“Our environment and economy are two sides of the same coin, and Lake George is the common currency that will either accrue or decline in value depending on the actions we now take.”