$14.9 Million in State Investments Help Fund Village Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrades, Protecting Lake's Water Quality and the Local Economy
Part of New York's Ongoing Commitment to Ensuring Clean Water Infrastructure Statewide
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the completion of a multi-year project to repair and upgrade critical water infrastructure on Lake George that is crucial to protecting the long-term health of the lake and the local economy that depends on it. New York State invested nearly $15 million in the state-of-the-art improvements to the village of Lake George's wastewater treatment plant that will significantly reduce the amount of pollution that enters the lake and create lasting environmental and economic benefits for the region.
"New York State is committed to working with our local communities to safeguard the quality of our lakes throughout the state, making record investments to protect public health and the environment," Governor Hochul said. "Lake George serves as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Northeast and a beloved location for family vacations, sustaining annual traditions that span generations. The critical upgrades made to the village's wastewater treatment plant will protect the future of this majestic waterbody while promoting economic growth and tourism throughout the region."
Lake George is one of New York's most popular tourist destinations. Nicknamed the "Queen of American Lakes", this 28,160-acre waterbody located in the southeast corner of the Adirondacks that has served as a major tourism destination since the Revolutionary War era. Lake George residents and visitors take advantage of the myriad opportunities for outdoor and aquatic recreation in the region.
At the southern end of the lake, the village of Lake George maintains a wastewater treatment plant first constructed in 1932. It services the village and some surrounding communities and experiences substantial influxes in use during the summer tourism season. Since 2014, the antiquated facility was the subject of a consent order with the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) requiring the mitigation of nitrate exceedances that harmed the lake's water quality. In 2016, due to continued exceedances, the order was modified to require the village to upgrade their entire system to improve water quality in the Lake George Basin.
New York State committed a total of $14.9 million, including grants from the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act, State and Municipal Facilities program, and Water Quality Improvement Project program. The remaining cost of the project was funded with the help of an interest-free loan from the state Environmental Facilities Corporation. This investment resulted in a total savings to village taxpayers of approximately $27.3 million. In 2019, the village began construction of the plant upgrades and they were completed this month.
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "For centuries, people come from across the country and around the world to Lake George's unrivaled beauty. New York State's significant investment and ongoing partnership with the village of Lake George to complete these critical wastewater treatment upgrades will protect and preserve the lake's water quality and reduce nutrient pollution while supporting the state's aggressive work to combat HABs in our waterbodies."
Environmental Facilities Corporation President and CEO Maureen A. Coleman said, "Lake George is one of the most beautiful lakes in the country. EFC is gratified to have worked closely with the village and our State partners to ensure completion of this critical water quality infrastructure project to safeguard this vital natural and recreational resource. Governor Hochul understands the importance of supporting municipalities to undertake, and even more importantly, complete these once-in-a-generation projects. EFC anticipates even more water infrastructure success stories as we couple the State's nation-leading water quality investment with the historic funding in the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law."
Senator Chuck Schumer said, "Lake George is a natural wonder that must be protected, which is why I have fought for years to deliver the federal funding needed to upgrade its wastewater treatment infrastructure and take the burden off local taxpayers. I am proud to join Governor Hochul in announcing the completion of this project to finally give the communities of Lake George - and its countless visitors - the modern water infrastructure they deserve and ensure the prosperity of the Queen of America's lakes continues to flow for generations to come."
State Senator Daniel Stec said, "Lake George is an ecological wonder and a cornerstone of our local economy. The importance of its long-term health cannot be understated. That's why for years I've joined with local officials and advocated for the funding necessary to complete these upgrades. I'm pleased that this crucial project has been completed and appreciative of the state's support."
Assemblymember Matthew Simpson said, "The future beauty of the Queen of American Lakes is now more secure for generations to come. The successful completion of this project is a testament to Mayor Bob Blais and the Village of Lake George's commitment to leave no stone unturned with its mission to see this essential upgrade come to fruition by working with key partners at Warren County, New York State, and the Federal levels of government. On behalf of the residents of the 114th Assembly District, I thank Governor Kathy Hochul, Environmental Facilities Corp. Pres and CEO Maureen Coleman, and New York State DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos for their continued unwavering support of both the current and future viability of Lake George and the surrounding area. Now, both residents and visitors alike will be able to continue enjoying an experience that only the one-of-a-kind world-class waters of Lake George can provide while solidifying our ongoing community stewardship of this pristine natural resource and regional economic asset."
New York's Commitment to Water Quality
New York continues to increase investments in clean water infrastructure projects. Under the leadership of Governor Hochul, the 2022-23 Enacted Budget authorizes an additional $1.2 billion, for a total of $4.2 billion, for the landmark Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act. This historic initiative, to be taken up by voters later this year, would update aging water infrastructure and protect water quality; reduce air pollution and lower climate-altering emissions; restore habitats; strengthen communities' ability to withstand severe storms and flooding; preserve outdoor spaces and local farms; and ensure equity by investing at least 35 percent, with a goal of 40 percent, of resources in disadvantaged communities.
In addition, the Budget included another $500 million in clean water infrastructure funding, bringing the State's total clean water investment to $4.5 billion since 2017. It also includes a record $400 million Environmental Protection Fund to support climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, improve agricultural resources to promote sustainable agriculture, protect our water sources, advance conservation efforts, and provide recreational opportunities for New Yorkers.
New York State also continues to develop strategies to reduce pollution and other contributors to Harmful Algal Blooms, or HABs. DEC is leading a multi-agency, statewide HABs initiative to protect drinking water and local economies. To date, New York awarded more than $324 million in grants for projects designed to reduce the frequency of algal blooms by targeting phosphorus and nitrogen pollution, factors that trigger HAB occurrences. Strategic planning efforts on 12 priority lakes across New York that have experienced HABs, including Lake George, were implemented. Just this week, DEC released an updated Lake George HABs Action Plan that includes an updated summary of water quality conditions, a more accurate land cover analysis and estimation of the sources of phosphorus from the watershed, and a revised list of management actions that can be taken at both the local and state level.
DEC encourages New Yorkers to "KNOW IT, AVOID IT, REPORT IT." KNOW IT - naturally occurring harmful algal blooms, 'HABs,' vary in appearance from scattered green dots in the water, to long, linear green streaks, pea soup or spilled green paint, to blue-green or white coloration. AVOID IT - People, pets and livestock should avoid contact with water that is discolored or has algal scums on the surface. REPORT IT - If members of the public suspect a HAB, report it through the NYHABs online reporting form available on DEC's website.
In addition to the municipal infrastructure work completed and underway in the region, New York State also offers the Septic System Replacement Program to support residential and small business owners in the targeted replacement of aging and sub-standard septic systems and removal of cesspools in communities statewide. Last month, Governor Hochul announced additional grant awards focused on Lake George of $300,000 to Essex County, $595,000 to Warren County, and $450,000 to Washington County under the septic program. Eligible landowners are eligible for grants of up to 50 percent of the septic project, up to $10,000 per project. For more information, go to https://efc.ny.gov/septic-replacement.