Governor’s Water Quality Summit to Convene March 20 in Ticonderoga

This article appeared in The Lake George Mirror.

A state-sponsored conference on threats to the water quality of Lake George, one of twelve New York lakes identified by Governor Andrew Cuomo as a critical source of drinking water and recreation, will be held March 20 at Ticonderoga’s Best Western hotel.

The conference, one of four planned for February and March across New York State, will include a panel discussion open to the public from 6 to 8 pm.

A $500,000 plan to strengthen Lake George’s defenses against pollution is expected to emerge from the conference, which Cuomo has labelled “a summit.” The point of the summits is to determine an individualized plan for each lake,” Governor Cuomo said in January. “We're going to put national expertise together with local stakeholders:  elected officials, conservation groups, environmental groups. We need the community itself to understand the problem and be part of the solution. That is the point of these summits: to bring people together, to be honest about what the problem is, to come up with a plan to actually remedy it.”

Cuomo has committed $60 million to implement water quality protection plans for all twelve lakes. 

The Lake George Association is among the organizations that will serve on a Steering Committee to guide the development of an Action Plan for Lake George, said Walt Lender, the LGA’s executive director. 

We are pleased to bring the association’s experience to the table in a supportive and cooperative way with the state and many other stakeholders to protect Lake George 
water now and in the future,” said Lender.

Representatives from the Lake George Association, The Fund for Lake George, the Lake George Park Commission and the Department of Environmental Conservation met in Lake George in January to identify projects that might be eligible for funding through the new initiative.

Among them, said Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky, are: wastewater treatment plant improvements, new septic systems and stormwater controls. 

According to Navitsky, every project would help mitigate pollution from nutrients, the source of the sometimes toxic algae the Governor’s initiative is meant to address. 

Walt Lender noted that Lake George’s plan “will help the state develop a plan that can be implemented in any of the thousands of lakes in the state that are both recreational and used for drinking water.”

According to Eric Siy, The Fund for Lake George’s executive director, Lake George is unique among the twelve lakes selected for funding because it has not experienced harmful algae blooms.

Lake George is viewed by the state as the example that other water bodies should emulate. That’s a tribute to the partners working here. It also means that the state will look to us to monitor the success of water quality protection projects that can be replicated elsewhere,” Siy said. 

The day-long March 20 conference in Ticonderoga – described by one state official as “highly technical” - will be closed to the press and the public. 

Officials from New York’s Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation, the Lake George Park Commission, the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District and Vermont’s Department of Environmental Conservation will participate in the public panel discussion that starts at 6 pm. 

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