Protecting the county's liquid assets

DEC: Pollutants keep some bodies of water from supporting appropriate uses

Editor's note: This is the second in a four-part series that examines the Schenectady County Environmental Advisory Council's impact over the past four decades and looks at what still needs to be done to preserve the county's natural resources.

Water recreation is a staple of the summer season, but according to the Department of Environmental Conservation, there are a few bodies of water in Schenectady County that are not always supporting their intended usage because of pollutants.

In order to complete certain requirements for the Federal Clean Water Act, the state DEC must provide periodic assessments of the quality of water resources and if specific uses are being supported. The complete list of water quality information is found in the DEC's Waterbody Inventory and Priority Waterbodies List. The monitoring and assessment cycle for Schenectady County, included in the Mohawk River region, occurs for two years each period, which previously was 2000-02, 2005-07 and the region is currently being assessed starting in 2010 until 2012.

The cause of pollution isn't an easy problem to tackle, according to DEC officials. In Schenectady County, according to the most recent DEC reports, the impaired waterbodies include Collins Lake, Mariaville Lake, Duane Lake and minor tributaries to the Mohawk River. The DEC classification of impaired means the water body frequently does not support appropriate uses. The most severe classification is when a water body does not support uses at all, but there are none in the county that bear such a designation.

"These lakes have a lot of things going on around them, and they get nutrients into them and they get too much nitrogen and phosphorus in them, and weeds grow and that is what makes the lake unhealthy," said Mary Werner, chairwoman of the Schenectady County Environmental Advisory Committee.

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