EDITORIAL: Comment now on proposed Lake George septic regulations

ERICA MILLER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER Lake George is pictured from the second story of Fort William Henry in Lake George on May 30, 2019.

Lake George is pictured from the second story of Fort William Henry in Lake George on May 30, 2019.

You’re probably not spending a lot of time these days thinking about Lake George, other than maybe wondering how long it will take to freeze over so you can go ice-fishing.

But if you enjoy the lake in the summer for swimming, fishing and boating, or just care about the future environmental health of Lake George and other bodies of water in the state, then you should pay attention to a public hearing being held today by the Lake George Park Commission.

The commission meets at 4 p.m. in Lake George today to hear the public’s view of new rules for septic systems around the 32-mile-long lake – regulations that could help significantly cut down on the amount of pollutants running into the lake. Leaking septic systems contribute to the growth of lake-choking aquatic weeds and the proliferation of algae, which sucks oxygen out of the water and threatens fish, wildlife and plants. The also introduce bacteria and other contaminants that are harmful to humans.

And a lake overrun by pollution hurts not only residents and recreational users, but threatens the economic and tax benefits that a clean lake provides the communities around it.

That’s why it’s important for the public to offer their support for the new standards, either by commenting during today’s meeting, which will be held in person and on Zoom, or by offering written comments to the Park Commission by next Wednesday, Nov. 30.

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The commission plans to review the comments and make a final recommendation on the proposals next month, and implement the regulations by the spring or summer of next year.

Under the regulations, all septic systems within 500 feet of the Lake George shoreline or within 100 feet of a regulated stream flowing into the lake will have to be inspected once every five years. In conjunction with the inspection, paid for with an annual fee, property owners will have to pay to have their tanks pumped out. Properties that fail to pass have up to six months to bring the septic into compliance.

The Park Commission provides a full text of the proposed regulations on its website.

The regulations will affect about 2,700 properties, and most septic systems around the lake are between 20 and 70 years old. The older a system is, the more likely it is to be in violation of modern setback standards and to be more in need of upgrades and repairs.

In addition to regular users of the lake, property owners affected by the regulations certainly may want to comment, particularly when it comes to potential compliance difficulties and the cost of meeting the new standards.

By requiring regular inspections and forcing property owners to comply with current standards, these regulations could significantly reduce environmental harm to the lake and reduce the economic harm to the communities it supports.

These regionwide regulations could serve as a model for other lakes in the state threatened by faulty septic systems and overdevelopment.

For more information on the regulations, today’s hearing and for where to submit comments before Nov. 30, visit the Lake George Park Commission website at https://lgpc.ny.gov/.

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Categories: Editorial, Opinion, Opinion

One Comment

Bill Marincic

I remember 50 years ago when this was one of the cleanest lakes in America. Not only Septics but also the fertilizers that run into the lake after a good rain. If you can afford a lakefront property on Lake George you can afford a new septic.

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