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Fund for Lake George unveils septic replacement program

Fund for Lake George unveils septic replacement program

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LAKE GEORGE — The Fund for Lake George has partnered with two regional banks to offer low- or no-interest loans to improve faulty septic systems surrounding the lake.

The partnership between Glens Falls National Bank and Adirondack Trust Co., unveiled Wednesday, was created to remove the financial barrier homeowners in the Lake George region face in improving aging or failing septic systems.

“We’re doing this to remove cost as a barrier to taking action,” said Eric Siy, executive director of The Fund for Lake George, during a virtual press conference.

Nutrients released into the water from faulty septic systems feed invasive algal blooms that threaten the lake’s overall health.

Under the program, Adirondack Trust will be offering no-interest loans to replace or upgrade any septic system for residents living on the south end of the lake’s basin.

Loans will vary in size, depending on need. The bank has allocated $1 million to the program.

Glens Falls National Bank has set aside $1.5 million to offer low-interest loans through its Lake George branch to anyone living along the lake’s basin. Terms of the loan will vary based on each customer’s need, said Marc Yrsha, the bank’s senior vice president of corporate development.

“We can come up with a structure that can support the borrower’s need,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a one-stop, cookie-cutter approach here.”

Representatives from both banks said additional funding may be allocated, depending on demand.

Costs to upgrade a failing septic system vary. A new system typically costs between $17,000 and $30,000, depending on its size.

Faulty septic systems are one of the biggest threats to the lake’s health, Siy said.

Nutrients entering the lake from faulty systems feed invasive algal blooms and contaminate drinking water.

An estimated 6,000 septic systems are located around the lake, and an estimated two-thirds of them may be failing, according to the Fund.

A study last year by the organization’s Waterkeeper program analyzed 400 septic systems along the lake. Two-thirds of the systems were near or past their life expectancy, which can be as long as 40 years, depending on the system.

One out of five systems analyzed in the study were found to be undersized, and half had no maintenance records.

In addition to the loan program, the Fund unveiled a new website — safesepticsystems.org — with information on how to maintain a septic system and pay for upgrades.

The site also contains information on how algae is impacting the lake.

Both banks are now accepting loan applications.

To apply through Adirondack Trust, residents should contact the bank’s president of residential lending, Matthew Harrison, at 518-584-5844, ext. 2222.

Those interested in applying through Glens Falls National Bank should contact Helen Tobias, the branch manager at the bank’s Lake George office, at 518-668-5461.

Chad Arnold is a reporter for The Post-Star covering the city of Glens Falls and the town and village of Lake George. Follow him on Twitter @ChadGArnold.

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