Lake George "Salt Summit" Returns For Second Year

Oct 21, 2016

Credit Lucas Willard / WAMC

Over the past three decades, the amount of salt in Lake George has tripled. The reason is road salt applied to surfaces throughout the surrounding watershed.

For a lake that supports a $2 billion annual tourism economy, water quality is a big deal. And increased salt levels can affect clarity and hurt the organisms that live in the lake.

In recent years, a partnership of environmental groups, businesses, and local government has come together to stop invasive plants and animals from entering the lake. Boat washing stations are being supported by state government and similar programs are being adopted in other areas of upstate New York, says Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky.

“Similar to the way that we were successful at aquatic invasive species prevention in the Lake George region, and that has spread out in the Adirondacks, we are taking that same approach on winter maintenance and road salt reduction,” said Navitsky.

Enter the Annual Save the Lake Salt Summit. Started last year, the event brings together state government, municipalities, and scientists to discuss solutions to the salt problem, including demos of the latest salt reducing equipment. 

The cooperation is appreciated by Lake George Park Commissioner Dave Wick.

“I think that’s great, to get them all in the same room, talk about the challenges, talk about the science upfront, and talk about the logistics of what the problem are and what some solutions might be. So I think it’s going to be a good event,” said Wick.

While some strategies have been tried in recent years – one technique applies a “slurry” to the roads around the lake instead of the run-of-the-mill road salt –Wick said there’s really no easy way to control salt.

“Once it is applied down on the roads, it automatically gets into the runoff and gets into the lake. There’s no stormwater system that will be able to manage it and remove those chlorides. And with the increase in chlorides really tripling in Lake George over the last several years, it’s a real concern,” said Wick.

Since a Memorandum of Understanding was introduced in 2015, the eight municipalities within the Lake George Watershed, and Fort Ann, which is part of Lake Champlain’s, have signed on to reduce salt levels.

Again, Chris Navitsky.

“One of our goals this year is to come out of this second Salt Summit with an addenda to that MOU where we will list best practices that will be considered and implemented by the signing municipalities,” said Navitsky.

Navitsky says more than 80 people attended last year’s inaugural event and he expects more in year two.

For more information on Monday’s Save the Lake Salt Summit visit http://fundforlakegeorge.org/saltsummit