Thunder rolled over a news conference Monday at Million Dollar Beach. An announcement interrupted: All swimmers must leave the water.
Soon enough, a heavy thunderstorm hit Lake George’s southern basin.
Such downpours will cause less runoff into the lake in the future because of one of the environmental protection projects state officials announced Monday.
The Department of Environmental Conservation will spend $3 million to repave the Lake George Beach parking lot and the section of Beach Road in front of the beach with porous asphalt.
“Porous asphalt helps diminish the amount of stormwater going into the lake,” said DEC Region 5 Director Robert Stegeman.
Such pavement drains water more quickly from the driving surface, allowing the soil underneath to absorb and filter it, reducing the amount of potentially contaminated runoff going into the lake. The state’s project will complement a $7.5 million porous pavement project Warren County is just completing on Beach Road. When the state project is finished in 2015, a mile of highway along the lake’s southern rim will have porous pavement.
The Warren County work was the first use of porous asphalt on a public road in New York state.
“It costs a little more, but they really believe it is worthwhile for the environmental effect,” said state Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury.
“We’re pleased the state will be joining with us on the cutting edge of stormwater management,” said Warrensburg Supervisor Kevin Geraghty, chairman of the Warren County Board of Supervisors.
The porous pavement project was the largest among $17 million in environmental protection and public access improvements announced statewide on Monday. About 100 projects are being funded.
Of the total, more than $12 million is being spent in the Adirondacks, where there’s a concentration of state-managed land and DEC-operated campgrounds.
“Improving the infrastructure of New York’s outdoor recreation hot spots will help spur economic development and job creation, boost tourism and strengthen regional economies,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a news release.
Of the spending, about $12 million is coming from the New York Works program and $5 million from the Environmental Protection Fund.
Another project on the southern Lake George waterfront will move a state boat launch located west of the beach — closed in the summer to avoid conflicts with swimmers — to the east side of the beach, farther from the swimming area. That launch can then be open in the summer, Stegeman said.
Other Adirondack projects will facilitate public access to the former Finch Pruyn lands along the Hudson River between Newcomb and Indian Lake, which opened to the public this summer. Projects on those lands include establishing designated parking areas, signs and kiosks.
Similar projects will be done on the Essex Chain of Lakes land south of Newcomb, which will open this fall.
Other Adirondack projects will repair roads at DEC-run campgrounds and $190,000 will be spent on work at the Northville boat launch on Great Sacandaga Lake in Fulton County.
In Saratoga County, there is $450,000 budgeted for construction of a public fishing access on Route 9 in Round Lake.
The Lake George porous paving project must be approved by the Adirondack Park Agency and Lake George Park Commission before work starts, but all indications are that it will be approved.
“Stormwater runoff from the large development complex and the system of paved roadways at the southern end of Lake George has long been a concern for the water quality of Lake George,” said Bruce Young, chairman of the Lake George Park Commission.
Young said it will complement the West Brook project, which will filter millions of gallons of runoff from around Lake George village.
The Warren County paving project, completed just before Memorial Day after 18 months of work, is performing well, county officials said.
“We’ve had some significant storm events since putting it down and so far, so good. It has gone well,” said Warren County Public Works Superintendent Jeffrey E. Tennyson.
The $7.5 million project received 80 percent federal transportation improvement funding and another 15 percent from the state, so the cost to Warren County was only about $375,000.
“You’ll notice no sheen on porous pavement,” Tennyson said. “It just disappears.”