Water Quality Matters

Salt? What's wrong with salt? We season our meat and vegetables with it, gargle with it for a sore throat, spray it in our noses to breathe easier, and even put it on the rim of our margarita glasses. Emeril Lagasse exclaims, ?Bam!? as he throws another handful of salt in his pot of soup. We are a society in love with salt.

Unfortunately, salt (sodium chloride) has a downside. Excessive sodium intake contributes to age-related increases in blood pressure, which, in turn, carry an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, renal insufficiency, and peripheral vascular diseases. It's a topic to take seriously.

So the fourth annual Salt Summit was organized by The FUND for Lake George and was held October 3, 2018 at the Fort William Henry Conference Center in Lake George Village. The summit brought together scientists, local government officials, and road maintenance crews to discuss better ways to manage snow and ice removal during the winter months. Not surprisingly, sodium levels have tripled in the waters of Lake George over the last thirty years rising from about four ppm (parts per million) to about 12 ppm. The recommended level for human consumption is no higher than 20 ppm for individuals on a very low sodium diet. It is easy to predict that lake water will not be fit for people on this restricted diet within our lifetime or at least the lifetimes of our children. This is a problem that we created ourselves through the excessive use of road salt.

Okay, you may think, I'll just drill a well and get my drinking water from it instead of the lake. Not so fast! Well water was tested at various locations around the Adirondacks, next to roads treated with salt and those not treated. Those next to treated areas show much higher levels of sodium. In fact, of the seven wells tested in the Town of Hague, four were above the recommended levels and several others were borderline. One was a whooping seven to eight times higher than the 20 ppm recommended level!

Fortunately, the problem has been recognized and governments have been mobilized to better manage snow and ice removal.

In Hague, one plow has already been fitted with a new-segmented blade technology (see picture) that conforms to the road profile to more completely remove snow so that roads require less salt. Another plow in Hague will be fitted with such a blade for the upcoming season.

You will also see new salt brine spray equipment in use. This lays down a precise coating of salt that is applied before a storm so ice does not stick and can be removed more easily. The result is less granular road salt application and the bonus of lower costs.

There is much more information available on The FUND for Lake George website. Look for details on the recent Salt Summit.

Maybe it's time for every person and every road in the Lake George basin to go on a low salt diet!

Visit the Hague Water Quality Awareness Committee on Facebook or contact one of our Steering Committee members: Al Rider (Chairman), Jim Beaty, Lance Clark, Ginger Kuenzel, Steve Ramant, or me.

Related Town: