Salt still problem for Mirror Lake, but maybe less so

LAKE PLACID — The Ausable River Association and Paul Smith’s College’s Adirondack Watershed Institute released their 2019 Water Quality Report for Mirror Lake, which shows that Mirror Lake continued to be negatively affected by road salt last year.

However, things seem to be looking up so far this year, according to the report’s primary author, Brendan Wiltse of AsRA.

“The report summarizes monitoring in 2019,” Wiltse wrote in a press release. “So far in 2020 we’ve seen below average salt concentrations in the lake. This is likely a result of efforts by the state, town, village, and several businesses, combined with a mild winter.”

The report commends efforts by the town of North Elba and village of Lake Placid to protect Mirror Lake. The village’s new stormwater redesign is expected to help the lake return to its natural turnover by reducing salt runoff.

Nevertheless, the lake is still not turning over — mixing its colder deeper water and its warmer surface water — in the spring, as first documented in 2017 by AsRA’s science team. The highest chloride concentrations ever documented for the lake were observed in February and March of 2019.

As detailed in the report, the lack of spring mixing limits habitat availability for cold-water species such as lake trout, increases internal phosphorus loading, and makes the lake more susceptible to harmful algal blooms. Wiltse notes that “last year we published these findings in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, providing clear evidence of what we have been telling the community for the past four years.”

The village and town are working with the Ausable River Association to measure their salt use, part of a larger effort funded by the Lake Champlain Basin Program and New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission to identify exactly how much salt is entering Mirror Lake and the Chubb River.

A full copy of the report can be found at www.ausableriver.org.


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