Lake George is an American treasure. Thousands of people every year travel to what is known as the “Queen of American Lakes.” They come to swim, boat, fish, and relax along the lakeside, or hike one of the lake’s many nearby mountain peaks.
The 32-mile-long lake includes 110 miles of shoreline, some 170 islands, and is surrounded by extensive forests and mountain ranges. Its diverse landscape of sandy beaches, rocky shoreline, wetlands and meadow provides habitat for a wide array of animals and plants. Many of the summer and year-round residents use Lake George as their primary source of drinking water.
The high quality of the lake, the heart of where many of us now call home, is in danger of being irreversibly altered. Lake George water quality has steadily declined over the past several decades due to land use practices and development. Only 5% of the land around the lake is developed. Yet, what seems like a small amount of development is causing a decline in the historically high water quality of Lake George.
Areas of the lake that once were clear have experienced algal blooms. The formation of a “dead zone,” an area in which fish and other aquatic animals cannot survive due to lack of available oxygen, is an annual occurrence in the south end of Lake George. Many say that the lake water is no longer as clear as it used to be.
Fortunately, there is much that individual property owners can do right now to help stop this downward trend. As you will see in this Do-It-Yourself Water Quality guide, how the land is developed and the way that property is managed on a day-to-day basis are critical to the lake’s health.
This guide recommends ways that longtime property owners and newcomers alike, as well as local municipalities, can mitigate the impact of land use around the lake. There are step-by-step instructions on how to build shoreline and stream buffers, how to plant rain gardens to help treat and control stormwater runoff, and how to design and maintain septic systems. These stewardship activities will help to significantly reduce pollution that enters
The guide also details the importance of preserving wetlands and the serious consequences of using fertilizers, harsh pesticides and herbicides. It explains how these and other pollutants are degrading the lake’s water quality and destroying wildlife habitat at an alarming rate.
A series of land management and development practices are presented in this guide in the effort to preserve Lake George. All residents around Lake George, from those who live on the shoreline to those on mountainsides, have a role in protecting water quality for the beauty of the lake and vitality of the region. We hope you will join us in working to maintain this natural wonder.