Chief Concerns as Revealed by Science
Released as part of a two-volume set that includes The Fate of the Lake: A Blueprint for Protection, this new publication focuses on the fundamental threats now facing Lake George—invasive species, rising salt levels, and declining water quality and clarity. Applying latest science, the publication calls for “an unprecedented commitment to reversing present trends and preventing Lake George from slipping into a state of irreversible decline.”
This12-page volume summarizes 30 years of water quality monitoring (conducted by Rensselaer’s Darrin Fresh Water Institute and underwritten by The FUND) which has revealed a complex, yet solvable, set of problems. These include: invasive and introduced species stressing the lake’s native species and food web; an alarming threefold increase in salt concentrations from road de-icing favoring blue green algae that can be toxic; measureable declines in water clarity with ensuing impacts on key species including the lake’s Nitella meadows, considered vital to maintaining clarity; increased nutrient loading from stormwater runoff, wastewater, fertilizer use, and land disturbance; and significant increases in chlorophyll concentrations reflecting increases in algal growth.
The State of the Lake Report
The State of the Lake: Chief Concerns as Revealed by Science is a summary of the 72-page State of the Lake Report, the result of 30 years of continuous monitoring that found Lake George to be in “remarkably good condition.” However, the report also outlines specific ecological factors that now threaten water quality. Over the 30-year period of the study, researchers found that “while some of the threats to Lake George water quality have receded since 1980, others are worsening.”
State of the Lake findings are the product of RPI Darrin Fresh Water Institute’s Offshore Chemical Monitoring Program that began collecting data in 1980 with sustaining support from The FUND for Lake George. The monitoring program was designed to assess water quality in order to help address concerns related to nutrient loading. It represents one of the longest and most consistent sets of lake chemistry data in North America, providing a valuable benchmark for long-term change in temperate lakes worldwide.
The partnership between RPI and The FUND for Lake George continues, with the addition of IBM as a third partner, in The Jefferson Project at Lake George, that began in 2013. The project combines advanced data analytics, computing and data visualization techniques, new scientific and experimental methods, 3-D computer modeling and simulation, and historical data to gain an unprecedented scientific understanding of Lake George. State of the Lake recommendations are already guiding The Jefferson Project by building upon the monitoring program to fully understand the lake.