Rising phosphorus levels are slowly killing Ballston Lake, with dire consequences likely if something isn’t done to reverse the situation soon. Taxpayers can’t afford the most effective remedy — installation of a sewer system — and government aid for such systems is no longer available (as it once was). Still there are a couple of things the town of Ballston could try, in conjunction with the Ballston Lake Improvement Association, to get a handle on the problem, which according to a new study has gotten significantly worse over the last decade.
The two most likely culprits are compromised septic systems and runoff from nearby streams that have either been contaminated with fertilizer runoff or soil from construction activity.
So the town needs to monitor all septic systems around the lake to make sure they are working as they should; and if not, to get them fixed, pumped out or whatever is necessary to keep them from polluting the lake.
The next obvious step is to make sure that area residents and small farmers aren’t using any old phosphorus-containing fertilizers they might have (most contemporary fertilizer formulations avoid phosphorus).
Finally, the town needs to make sure that regulations governing development near the lake imposed several years ago are being strictly adhered to, thus keeping runoff of contaminated soil into the lake to a minimum.
It may already be too late to save the lake from being overrun by oxygen- and life-depleting algae, but given what’s at stake — people’s health, an attractive resource and wildlife habitat — it’s important to at least try. But the town can’t waste time; it and the Ballston Lake Improvement Association need to come up with a plan to monitor residents’ septic systems right away.