Clean water is without a doubt the most important ecological and economic resource in the Adirondack Park. Our many ponds, lakes, rivers and streams provide for habitat, drinking water and recreation. Property values are intrinsically tied to the water bodies they border. Acidification from air pollution has for long wreaked havoc on Adirondack waters. Climate change poses many threats to native species, our winter economy and property damage due to heavy rains and flooding. Perhaps the greatest threats to our water quality today are invasive species and salinization from road salt.
Increasing acidity levels in many of our Adirondack lakes make for an inhospitable environment to fish populations. Toxic levels of Mercury break free from rock and soil because of acidic water, making Adirondack fish unhealthy to eat. Additionally, sewage leakage from aging septic systems add nutrients to water bodies that not only contaminate swimming areas but also creates a suitable environment for aquatic nuisances, such as milfoil and algae blooms. Road salt in the north country results in elevated salt concentrations in lakes, reducing water circulation and severely affecting drinking water supplies, harming fish and other aquatic life.
Addressing these major threats to our water quality is no simple task. In part because of the multi-front assault on our air and water, mitigation requires multiple and varied solutions. Fortunately in the Adirondack Park we have many organizations leading the fight, from small grassroots organizations, like ESSLA, to stakeholders at the State level, such as Adirondack Council and Adirondack Lakes Alliance.
ESSLA regularly samples and tests the waters of Schroon Lake through partnership with Adirondack Lake Assessment Program. ALAP is the largest, most professional volunteer-driven water quality monitoring program in the Adirondack Park. It is a partnership between PROTECT and the Adirondack Watershed Institute at Paul Smith’s College. Water samples gathered by ESSLA volunteers are analyzed for pH, alkalinity, calcium, calcite saturation index, phosphorus, chlorophyll-a, transparency, nitrate, chloride, conductivity, color, aluminum and dissolved oxygen. You can find more information as well as the ALAP water testing reports on our website at essla.org/water-testing
The septic pump-out initiative was another successful program ESSLA was involved in. To read more about that, visit our blog at essla.org/SLSC
Each year, in addition to the Scout Program, which identifies concentrations of milfoil for harvest, our volunteers sieve the shoreline for evidence of Asian clams, which we are happy to report have not been found. ESSLA continues to be vigilant in its stewardship programs, collaborating with other local communities and municipalities in pursuit of preserving and protecting our precious resources.uality, mitigation requires multiple and varied solutions, and rarely are they simple solutions. Fortunately in the Adirondack