A study of Lake George septic systems that are within a critical distance of Lake George shows a startling number of residents are not upgrading or pumping their systems properly. An article in The Glens Falls Post Star stated that one-third of the systems are operating past their life expectancy, which is about 30 years. One-third of systems are operating within their life expectancy, and the remaining third are unknown. The study was funded by a state Department of Environmental Conservation grant. It looked at properties within 500 feet of Lake George, considered environmental critical areas.https://poststar.com/news/local/more-than-half-the-septic-systems-along-lake-george-in/article_2c88c5aa-1a4b-50f6-9e2f-d70f51e303d7.html
As part of a septic education campaign for the Upper Saranac watershed, the Upper Saranac Foundation, in collaboration with the USLA, conducted our own survey in 2017. Some of our findings were similar to Lake George, including the number of households that lack septic upkeep (35%). Our findings also indicated that 24% of the systems in the watershed are over 30 years old, or their age is unknown.
Findings from the Lake George study prompted The Fund for Lake George to recommend the town put in place programs for inspecting septic systems, pumping out systems and monitoring algae. They’re also recommending the town adopt a septic system law similar to the one passed by the town of Queensbury just this past summer. This law requires the inspection of septic systems upon the transfer of properties. https://www.queensbury.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/ADOPTED-Chapter-137-NEW-CHAPTER-Septic-Inspection-Upon-Property-Transfer-October-15-2018.pdf . The Lake George Association has also asked municipalities around the lake to consider passing similar laws, requiring septic system inspections whenever a property changes hands.
Most Upper Saranac Lake waterfront properties utilize a private septic system. As owners of a septic system, you have the responsibility to protect your family’s health, as well as protect the quality of our lake’s water from contamination. A properly designed, constructed, and maintained system can provide long term effective treatment of wastewater, and help protect our lake and your property investment.
Malfunctioning septic systems can be extremely harmful. Pollutants found in household wastewater systems include nitrogen, phosphorus, and disease-causing bacteria and viruses. If these pollutants seep underground into the Lake, aquatic plant growth and potential algae blooms are possible consequences. Effluent can also result in direct contamination of well or drinking water sources, and could cause serious human health risks.