LAKE GEORGE — The FUND for Lake George and Lake George Waterkeeper last night encouraged the New York State Assembly Minority Conference’s Task Force on Water Quality to work toward increasing the availability of dedicated state funding for water quality protection projects across the state.
Speaking at a regional forum hosted by the Task Force at the Lake George Town Hall, FUND Executive Director Eric Siy and Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky provided examples of how direct investments by The FUND and Waterkeeper are helping make Lake George a global model for freshwater protection, and suggested that increased water quality funding on the part of the state could similarly make New York a national leader, particularly when it comes to preventing harmful algal blooms that have devastated the ecologies and economies of lakeside regions across the country.
In addition, Kathy Flacke Muncil, chief executive officer of the Fort William Henry Corp. in Lake George and chair of The FUND’s Council of Business Advisors, reminded the Task Force of the importance of clean, healthy waterbodies to the state’s economic health.
The Task Force is co-chaired by Assemblyman Dan Stec of Queensbury, a longtime advocate for the health of Lake George and other state waterbodies.
Mr. Siy, citing a FUND-led effort to create a statewide Clean Lakes Collaboration among lakeside communities, said, “Central to our shared commitment to reducing the risk of HABs (harmful algal blooms) is securing dedicated state funding.”
Mr. Navitsky encouraged the state to provide assistance by increasing funding of the Clean Water Infrastructure Act and opening funding opportunities to a wider array of regions in need, including Lake George, than is currently provided for by the Act.
“The focus of your Task Force is critical for the vitality of our communities and our quality of life, especially in this time of increasing concern and occurrences of harmful algal blooms,” Mr. Navitsky said.
Mr. Siy explained how The FUND has invested more than $8 million in recent years in initiatives that have created the strongest aquatic invasive species prevention program east of the Mississippi, a national best practices model for reducing the use of road salt, and breakthrough programs on curbing the impacts of wastewater and stormwater pollution.This investment has spurred an additional $56 million in public- and private-sector funding.
“Guided by science, The FUND is working to build the future of freshwater protection — to make Lake George a model for others to learn from,” Mr. Siy said. He added, “Powering our progress are partnerships, innovations and investment. This is the prescription for protection of our waters at Lake George and anywhere.”
Mr. Navitsky provided specific examples of the wastewater and stormwater mitigation efforts, and their importance in preventing the types of harmful algal blooms that have devastated the ecologies and economies of lakes across the country. These efforts include the development of a prioritization algorithm to identify aging private septic systems in need of replacement or repair; a matching grant program that has helped upgrade or replace 20% of the septic systems in Dunham’s Bay in the Town of Queensbury; an award-winning algae biomonitoring program to identify areas of concern; and a $50,000 grant to the Town of Bolton for construction of a woodchip bioreactor that has proven successful in reducing nitrate releases from the town’s wastewater treatment plant.
Ms. Flacke Muncil said, “At Lake George, we are leading by exampleto demonstrate what is possible when diverse stakeholders join together to protect our waters, the lifeblood of our regional economy. Dedicated State funding for water quality protection is the linchpin to our lasting success and a direct investment in our future.”
Mr. Siy offered The FUND’s and Waterkeeper’s help in developing and implementing statewide water quality programs. “As the problems only intensify,” he said, “there is no time to lose in this essential work.”