LAKE GEORGE — Paved ditches along roadsides are common throughout the Adirondacks, but a filtration project replacing them on the Northway could lead to a cleaner Lake George and other water bodies downstream.
Randy Rath, project manager with the Lake George Association, said these ditches are used to divert water off roadways. With concrete and asphalt difficult to permeate, however, they could be bringing a rush of nutrients to whatever water body is downstream.
Working with the state Department of Transportation and the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District, Rath and the Lake George Association have been breaking up the ditch lining material off of Exit 22 on the Northway and replacing it with vegetative swales and sediment traps.
Bryan Viggiani, public information officer for DOT, said “maintenance forces in Warren County completed the removal of approximately 500 feet of old concrete gutters in two out of five locations near Exit 22 of the Northway.
“We expect to remove the gutters at the other three locations by this fall,” he added.
For the ditches along Exit 22, northbound leads to English Brook, which eventually flows into Lake George, and southbound leads to an area behind the Lake George High School, Rath said.
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With the new stormwater treatments in place, the runoff making its way to Lake George is cleaner. The vegetation doesn’t cause headaches for DOT crews either, Rath said. That’s because they’re growing a plant called little bluestem, which typically grows to a height that doesn’t require mowing or as much maintenance.
Rath told the Lake George Park Commission at its meeting Monday in Hague that the northbound side of Exit 22 was nearly finished, and crews would soon be working on the southbound ramp.
The project was funded by an approximately $86,000 Lake Champlain Basin Program grant.
That means the materials and work can only be used for this particular project, but depending on how it goes, Rath said he could see it being implemented across the state.
“The department continues to work with our partners in support of this project,” Viggiani said.