Upper Saranac Lake is one of the most intensely studied lakes in the Adirondacks. The lake has been the subject of numerous scientific research projects, a 28-year water quality monitoring initiative, and an invasive plant management program that has served as a model for lakes around the world. The State of the Lake Report provides a synopsis of the historical and current monitoring data for Upper Saranac Lake, and provides an interpretation of the findings.

The report includes information obtained from the Environmental Monitoring Platform, analysis of hydrological and chemical loading through the lake’s tributaries, meteorological data, influences of road salt on the watershed, and aquatic plant monitoring data.

Long term data sets, such as this report for Upper Saranac Lake, are invaluable, and provide a broad view of lake ecology and watershed function. Analyzing the watershed in the context of time improves our capability to understand slow and highly variable ecological processes and provides reliable information to support lake management.

Highlights of the report include:

  • Phosphorus and chlorophyll-a concentrations of the surface water has exhibited a downward trend since the early 1990’s
  • Water clarity has exhibited a significant reduction. The average transparency across the summer is nearly a meter less than it was in the early 1990s.
  • Oxygen depletion occurs rapidly in the shallow north basin of the lake and this pattern has shown no signs of improvement, while in the south basin oxygen depletion has improved.
  • The concentration of chloride in the lake (a surrogate for road salt impact) is approximately 40 times higher than baseline levels for the least impacted Adirondack l In general, the rate at which tributaries export chloride to Upper Saranac Lake are related to the density of salted roads within the sub watersheds.
  • The average milfoil density across all Upper Saranac locations was 15 stems per acre, substantially lower than the 600 stems per acre observed in 2004. Eurasian water-milfoil would best be classified as a rare plant in Upper Saranac Lake.

The report is now available and can be found on the Upper Saranac Foundation’s web page at: http://usfoundation.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Upper-Saranac-Lake-State-of-Lake-Report-2018.pdf