The Case for Replacing Lake George’s Wastewater Treatment Plant

Lake George Mirror

Over the past two summers, Lake George learned what the effectsofaginginfrastructurecanbe:thepollutionthatcaused New York State to close Million Dollar Beach several times. New York State itself appeared to learn from the experience, ordering of cials to cooperate to identify the source of the problems so as to be able to address them. We would hope New York State would apply that same lesson to another problem with potential to harm Lake George and its reputation for clean water: the village’s eighty-year-old Wastewater Treatment Plant. Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky monitored the plant over an 18 month period and found an indisputable correlation between the plant and the excessive levels of nitrates and other pollutants entering West Brook and ultimately Lake George. Those levels of nitrates can stimulate the growth of weeds and algae and can endanger sh life, the quality of drinking water, recreation and even human health. At the end of the monitoring period, Navitsky issued a report that concluded that the plant had reached the end of its life span and needed to be replaced, not just repaired. When a piece of infrastructure has failed and is no longer functioning, that is the only solution. Unfortunately, the Waterkeeper’s report has not received the attention it deserves, among state of cials, especially. This strikes us as especially odd since the Department of Environmental Conservation has called for a more ef cient plant since the 1980s. In 2014, the state itself determined that the plant was discharging unacceptably high levels of nitates into ground water. It ned the Village and ordered it to bring the plant into compliance with state standards. Yet thus far New York State has overlooked Lake George Village’s plant when awarding grants to help communities treat waste and provide drinkable water. “Upgrading aging infrastructure is top priority,” Governor Cuomo stated last week when announcing the distribution of $60 million in grants to communities across the state facing comparable challenges. Cuomo added, “This funding is critical and will help protect public health, preserve our natural resources, and lay the groundwork for future growth.” We could not agree more – we simply wish Governor Cuomo’s administration would extend the same concern to Lake George. It is, after all, a state resource that is responsible for at least half the tourism dollars spent in the Adirondacks and produces the largest share of revenues derived from state campgrounds within the Adirondack Park. The state is currently investing hundreds of thousand dollars every year to help contain the spread of invasive species. It only makes sense that it would protect its investment, and its revenue streams, by building a new wastewater treatment plant to protect Lake George’s water quality for the next eighty years.

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