Lake Clear Association members have requested that the New York State Salt Taskforce designate Lake Clear Watershed as a salt reduction target zone. Numerous residential wells around Lake Clear are contaminated by salt at levels exceeding New York State Department of Health guidance and surface water data indicates that Lake Clear is among the most salt-contaminated lakes in the Adirondacks.
As part of the Upper Saranac Lake watershed, what happens in Lake Clear affects what happens on Upper Saranac Lake. Lake Clear flows out under the Forest Home Road and into the north basin of Upper Saranac Lake. This is why the Upper Saranac Foundation (USF) keeps a close watch on Lake Clear’s water quality.
The State Salt Task Force, which met for the first time on Feb. 28, is co-chaired by the commissioners of Transportation and Environmental Conservation and includes scientists, local government officials, and others with extensive environmental protection qualifications. They are assigned the responsibility to review current salt use practices, assess the impacts of road salt on surface water and groundwater, and make recommendations for a road salt application reduction in the Adirondack Park.
Like Upper Saranac Lake, Lake Clear’s watershed depends on its water quality, both for recreation and human consumption. And like the Upper Saranac Foundation, the Lake Clear Association is actively and aggressively working to protect their lakes water quality.
Research by the Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI) at Paul Smith’s College has indicated that surface and groundwater is being contaminated by winter road salt runoff that is high in sodium and chlorides. AWI estimates that the salt load on roads in the Upper Saranac Lake watershed is approximately 1,242 tons annually. Upper Saranac Lake has a substantially higher concentration level of salt compared to Adirondack lakes without paved roads — 10 times higher for sodium, 35 times higher for chloride — and nearly 4 times greater than it was in 1991.
Road salt is having direct and indirect effects on aquatic ecosystems. Excessive road salt application is leaching into surface and groundwater, releasing toxic substances into our water supplies, harming aquatic life, killing vegetation, and threatening our health. High salinity in groundwater can contribute to high blood pressure and other health conditions in humans, and destroy plumbing and appliances in households. Similar to Lake Clear there are households around the Upper Saranac Lake watershed that have documented contaminated well water and are now forced to purchase bottled water for household use.