Large crowd for Mirror Lake water quality session

LAKE PLACID — About 40 people gathered to hear about water quality issues in and around Lake Placid last week, with presenters from local government and environmental groups striving to show how much road salt is impacting Lake Placid village’s centerpiece.

The Mirror Lake Water Quality Workshop — hosted by the AuSable River Association — drew a large crowd to the Crown Plaza in Lake Placid last week.

Citing the research that AsRA and others have done, Lake Placid mayor Craig Randall said the village is working on reducing the salt load that goes into the small lake.

“The village has taken a number of initiatives in recent years,” he said. “That I think is a real positive win for the community.”

Randall said some stormwater runoff — which carries in it not just road salt, but essentially everything else that’s on a road or sidewalk — has been diverted from the lake, and the village is planning on using mostly sand on the village streets in the winter. He added that some intersections would still get the salt treatment for safety.

Adirondack Watershed Institute Director Dan Kelting has studied salinization on a park-wide level, and found that a stunning amount of salt gets put on the roads of the Adirondacks each year.

Kelting said that each year, about 192,000 tons of salt are put down within the Blue Line. That means that since 1980 — when the Olympics in Lake Placid spurred a clear-roads policy — nearly 14 billion pounds of salt have been spread on roads in the Adirondacks. Kelting said that’s about 23 billion of those round salt containers that can be bought at the store.

Kelting noted that due to its popularity and relative density of paved roads, the AuSable River watershed — of which Mirror Lake is a part — has the second highest annual salt load in the Adirondacks. Lake George has the highest.

Wilmington town supervisor Randy Preston said his town is already using mainly sand, including up the large hill that goes to the Veteran’s Memorial Highway on Whiteface Mountain. He said his crews also go out in the spring to clean up the sand that gets spread in the winter so that it doesn’t cause other problems, such as filling in small streams of stormwater infrastructure.

“There’s gotta be safe roads, but if we educate I think we can people to go along with it,” he said.

After presentations by scientists from Paul Smith’s College’s Adirondack Watershed Institute and AsRA, the assembled crowd brainstormed ideas to get public guy-in on using less salt, including signage about why there’s more snow on the sidewalks and directions to places that rent wearable traction devices.

AsRA hopes to host another workshop, possibly over the winter or next spring.


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