LAKE GEORGE — Elected officials and environmental advocates are grateful for the $500,000 federal grant that the village of Lake George was awarded last week for the new $24 million wastewater treatment plant, but say more funding is needed to lessen the burden on village taxpayers.
U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, was in Shepard Park on Tuesday morning to talk more about the grant received from the northern Border Regional Commission. Stefanik worked to get the commission to expand its definition of border communities to include Warren and Essex counties, so Lake George could apply for this grant.
Stefanik said it makes sense to expand the eligibility beyond just the border communities because of the number of tourists that come to Lake George from Canada, Saratoga County and elsewhere.
“This wastewater treatment plant is critically important,” she said at a news conference.
Mayor Robert Blais said the village is continuing to seek additional federal and state funds as construction on the plant is set to begin next month and last about two years.
At a joint meeting of the village and town boards earlier this month, he asked his colleagues to have faith, and now they have received this funding. This grant brings the amount of grant support up to about $7.25 million. Lake George can reapply for a second $500,000 grant from the commission next year.
State Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, said Lake George needs a new plant to keep the water pristine and protect the “Queen of the American Lakes.”
“I don’t think that there’s a village in New York state that increases the number of users of their (sewer) system from the winter to the summer,” she said. “Just look around. You see all the people that are here, all the businesses that depend on tourism in this area. And yet it’s not a large village and there’s no way the residents and business in this area could afford to pay for this system, which is growing and growing and growing in cost,” she said.
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Little said she hopes that Lake George could receive some of the $200 million in state money that has been set aside for water projects.
The village is under a consent order from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to replace the plant, which is severely outdated and releases too many nitrates. An excessive amount of nitrates can cause a harmful algal bloom, which turns the water green.
Eric Siy, executive director of the Fund for Lake George, said the lake has been fortunate so far not to have a harmful algal bloom.
Siy cited a 2015 study that found that since the 1970s, the plant has emitted well over 154 tons of nitrates and over 3,000 tons of chloride.
Replacing the outdated plant would be a big step in improving the water quality of the lake.
“We need all the help we can get,” he said.
Walt Lender, executive director of the Lake George Association, commended Blais for his tireless effort to leave no stone unturned in his search for funding.