Before I started working at the LGA I didn’t give much thought to storm drains, and whether they were clogged (like the photo below). Or sand and leaves along the roadways. Or sediment building up in streams or ponds. Or stormwater flowing into a stream. Now I actually notice this stuff.
The LGA focuses significant resources on keeping sediment and debris out of the Lake, and encourages others to do the same. There are many reasons why we do this:
1. Sediment degrades the quality of water for drinking, and MANY people depend upon Lake George as a drinking water source. Known as a Class AA-Special lake, some people drink the Lake’s water without any filtration or treatment… that’s how clean the Lake is!
2. Nutrients and pollutants can be carried by sediment into the Lake. Increased levels of nutrients can encourage the growth of blue-green algae.
3. Water polluted with sediment becomes cloudy, reducing the pleasures of swimming, and making it difficult for animals to see their food, and for natural aquatic plants to grow.
4. Sediment can clog fish gills, reducing resistance to disease, lowering growth rates, and affecting egg and larvae development.
5. Unnatural flooding can occur when storm drains and catch basins are clogged, leading to the potential for unwanted contaminants to enter the Lake.
6. Increased deposits of sediment in the Lake alter the flow of the water and reduce the water’s depth, making navigation and recreation more difficult.
7. Leaves and clippings are loaded with phosphorus. Algae blooms can flourish in waterways overloaded with phosphorus and decomposing plant materials lower the levels of dissolved oxygen in the water, which can be fatal to fish and other aquatic organisms.
These are a few reasons why we all need to work together to keep sediment and debris out of the lake. Here are some ways to get it done:
The LGA owns a Catch Vac — a large trailer mounted vacuum unit used to clean out stormwater catchments. We rent the Catch Vac to municipalities, businesses and homeowners, and it makes cleaning clogged basins and drains a snap! (See a clean-out in the photo above.)
We work full-time on a variety of lake-saving infrastructure projects — like creating enhanced wetlands to naturally filter pollutants (see us here at Indian Brook), installing and cleaning out upstream sediment basins to capture sediment before it enters the lake, stabilizing stream banks to prevent erosion and restoring shorelines to reduce deltas. This past summer we installed a gigantic Aqua-Swirl hydrodynamic separator (pictured here) in the English Brook watershed. This $100,000 system is collecting 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 a 48-acre subwatershed is now being treated.
We also help homeowners and businesses find effective ways to reduce the stormwater runoff on their properties – you may have read about some of these strategies on earlier blog posts: planting rain gardens, using permeable pavement and rain barrels, installing vegetative buffers, and more. The LGA’s technical staff (that’s not me!) are ready to help people find lake-friendly solutions.
Help us keep sediment and leaves and debris out of the lake. Start noticing clogged storm drains, sand building up in the middle of a stream, runoff eroding a stream bank, or contractors ignorantly blowing leaves into the Lake. And call us if you need us – 518-668-3558.