Lake Colby is in trouble
Chloride levels in Lake Colby have more than doubled in the last 20 years. This is due to salt runoff from Route 86 and from the sand/salt storage facilities of the Village of Saranac Lake and the Town of Harrietstown, both of which leach directly into the Lake. Click here for a chronology of the pollution discussion between the LCA, Village and NYSDEC.
In recent years critical measures have worsened rapidly. Total phosphorous loads are increasing (see graph), conductivity (another measure of salt contamination is roughly four times normal (see graph), and water clarity is diminishing (see graph).
Solution of these problems requires rapid action by the Town, Village, and Department of Transportation. We are engaged with all three.
We were members of the CSLAP program from 1999 until 2001. In 2002 we switched to the Adirondack Lake Assessment Program run by Paul Smith's. Paul Smith's College has been monitoring Lake Colby since 1984. Their 1984 study, the 1999 CSLAP baseline, and the 2003-2010 ALAP programs can be accessed by following these links:
- 1984 Paul Smith's study of the Lake
- 1999 CSLAP report
- 2003 ALAP report
- 2004 ALAP report
- 2005 ALAP report
- 2006 ALAP report
- 2007 ALAP report
- 2008 ALAP Report
- 2009 ALAP Report
- 2010 ALAP Report
- 2011 ALAP Report
- 2012 ALAP Report
There are five culverts under Route 86 feeding runoff into the Lake from the east. Three of these are State culverts built when the road was constructed in the 60's. They have no buffers, silt filters, etc. and they dump runoff directly into the Lake. The southern-most culvert can actually create a stream across the Village of Saranac Lake's public beach (click to see photo). We have presented this and other evidence to the State, Town, and Village and are lobbying them to re-work these culverts to provide up-stream silt filters and sedimantation basins and natural foliage buffers of phosphorus-absorbing plants (like cattails).
Adirondack Medical Center has a sedimentation basin for accumulated rainwater that captures water before it flows into the Lake. We have asked, and they have agreed, to plant natural foliage buffers like cattails in this basin.