Mirror Lake, along which the Village of Lake Placid is spread, is no longer flowing like it should, and has been iced-over an average of 22 days less since the 1990s. High concentrations of road salt and climate change are considered the culprits.
The lake has apparently stop its natural mixing in the spring, a issue first documented in 2017. During February and March of 2019, the highest chloride concentrations documented so far were observed.
The lack of spring mixing limits habitat availability for cold-water species, such as lake trout, increases internal phosphorus loading, and makes the lake more susceptible to harmful algal blooms.
The news comes in the Ausable River Association (AsRA) and Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute’s most recent Water Quality Report for Mirror Lake.
The report includes data from the weather station installed by the Ausable River Association near the lake in November 2018. The weather station records air temperature, humidity, wind speed, wind direction, maximum wind speed, maximum wind direction, precipitation, solar radiation, UV index, and water temperature every 5-minutes. Over time, this is expected to give scientists a better understanding of how climate change is impacting Mirror Lake.
The report’s primary author, Dr. Brendan Wiltse said that so far in 2020 he’s seen below average salt concentrations in the lake, which he says is likely a result of state and local effort, combined with a mild winter. The Village of Lake Placid’s new stormwater redesign is expected to help, and the Town of North Elba has been using a Live Edge plow on Mirror Lake for several years an effort to reduce the amount of sand/salt mix they use.
The Village of Lake Placid and Town of North Elba are also working with the Ausable River Association to measure their salt use, part of a larger effort funded by the Lake Champlain Basin Program and New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission to identify exactly how much salt is entering Mirror Lake and the Chubb River.
Ausable River Association launched the Ausable Sustainable Salt Initiative last year, a collaborative partnership to leverage science, technology, best practices, and community engagement to reduce road salt use in the Ausable River watershed.
Work through the initiative includes encouraging creation of the NYS DOT salt reduction pilot program, convening a 2019 SALT Summit in Lake Placid, and securing $175,000 in grant funding.
These grant funds are part of a $600,000 five-year fundraising effort to turn-around the effects of road salt pollution and restore Mirror Lake.
A full copy of the report can be found online.