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Lake George Beach Report

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced that Lake George's Million Dollar Beach will safely open for the 2017 season after the State's comprehensive investigation into the cause of unsafe levels of bacterial contamination last summer. DEC's investigation to protect the health and safety of beachgoers includes the release of Lake George Beach Pollution Source Investigation Report (PDF, 3.49 MB). The report identifies nearby storm and sanitary sewer systems, possible unlawful and not yet identified discharges of wastewater to storm sewer systems, and two overflows from town of Lake George wastewater sewer systems as potential sources of human bacteria contamination, including E.coli.

Summary of Investigation and Results

When the high bacteria levels were discovered, DEC developed a sampling plan that consisted of extensive sampling for E.coli at multiple locations along the beach shoreline and the two tributaries that enter the lake adjacent to the beach. Special testing was done on samples with high E.coli concentrations to help determine the sources of bacteria.

Results of this sampling effort revealed the highest levels of E.coli, along with the presence of human bacteria, near the confluence of East Brook. These findings narrowed the focus of the investigation to nearby storm and sanitary sewer systems.

The following work to identify and eliminate sources of human bacteria in the waters of Lake George in and around the beach has been conducted or is underway:

  • DEC video-inspected the condition of all sanitary and stormwater lines that service Lake George Beach State Park, Lake George Battleground, and Lake George Battlefield to ensure that all DEC-owned sewer lines and connections are intact.
  • The Town of Lake George slip-lined a portion of its wastewater sewer system along Beach Road and continues to video-inspect its sanitary sewer collection system and perform necessary maintenance or repair.
  • The Lake George Association, working with the Town of Lake George, investigated the storm sewer system serving the nearby residential area to identify illicit discharges. Additional investigations are planned to determine if there are any illicit discharges from seasonal use properties and, if found, eliminate them.
  • DEC will continue the current level of beach cleaning and raking to remove debris and other sources of pathogens.
  • DEC will continue to monitor the water quality of the beach.

Next Steps

  • DEC will open Lake George Beach this summer and will continue to take water samples to ensure the water is safe for beach users.
  • Water sampling will also be conducted to determine if there is a correlation between wet weather and high bacteria levels. If so, a wet weather beach advisory and/or closure protocol could be enacted.
  • DEC will continue to rake and clean the beach daily to remove garbage, debris, bird droppings, and other sources of pathogens and will undertake measures to limit the presence of waterfowl. These measures may include harassment tactics, public education to reduce feeding of waterfowl, installation of enclosed garbage cans, and waterfowl population reduction.

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