LAKE GEORGE -- Town officials are considering changes to rules on fertilizer use as groups of citizens around Lake George ask municipalities that ring the water body to adopt uniform restrictions.
Now, four varying fertilizer restrictions are in force around the lake, as the village and town of Lake George and the town of Queensbury all have their own local laws, while the rest of the towns around the lake fall under state restrictions.
“We need one law, that will make it simple and more enforceable,” said Kathy Bozony, a natural resource specialist with the Fund for Lake George. “We need a law that works.”
Bozony for several years has been petitioning Lake George Park Commission and municipalities around the lake for a uniform law. Three years ago, after she went to towns around the lake, the village and town of Lake George and the town of Queensbury adopted their own laws.
Bozony took the law directly to the Lake George Park Commission last year to ask that it to be instituted throughout the watershed, but the Park Commission allowed municipalities to handle the issue locally. Now Bozony is going back to the town level.
She has visited Bolton, Hague and Fort Ann so far, and asked Lake George Town Board this week to adopt the new law, which would increase the setback for fertilizer use from 20 to 50 feet from the lakeshore, streams, tributaries, wetlands and impervious surfaces that direct stormwater flow into the lake.
The proposal calls for only no-phosphorus fertilizer to be applied beyond the 50-foot setback, and bans any lawn fertilizer use between Dec. 1 and April 1. The law calls for fines up to $150 for the first offense, and up to $450 for any further offenses.
The current Queensbury restrictions cover the lakeshores, but not tributaries. Meanwhile the state law calls for a 20-foot setback, but allows for a 3-foot setback if a drop-spreader is used, which Bozony feels largely negates the law’s benefits.
Runoff of fertilizer into the lake is considered a driver of plant growth, which includes algae blooms. Bozony regularly swims along the lakeshore and photographs algae growth. She showed the Town Board photographs Monday night of algae growth in different areas of the lake over the past few years.
Lake George Town Supervisor Dennis Dickinson said officials would try to get the new law on the agenda for next month’s meeting. The town is also in the midst of implementing a sewer initiative, under which officials will check and monitor septic systems, and hold property owners accountable when they have faulty systems.
That initiative came about as a result of algae testing too, because algae samples taken in the Diamond Point area were determined to have been caused in part by organic pollution caused by septic system outflows or leaks.
“With all of this rain and runoff, we need all the help we can get,” Bozony said.