Email – August 1,2020
As you correctly point to and as the chart illustrates, the sheer numbers ABOVE the statutory limitations communicate a source other than migratory water fowl or the neighbor’s dog. Indeed, levels as are published in that chart are indicative of a large number of warm-blooded animals which are directly contributing sanitary waste/s to the lake and drainage area, writ large. However, as you point out, there is only 1 very large number of warm-blooded animals, particularly in the area of the proposed sewer district…people. Additionally, the homes in Buell Heights (mainly) were built in the 50’s and 60’s putting them between 50-60 years old. And, literally, ALL the soils upon which BH was built are “limited to very limited” (tech. terms; USDA, NRCS) for dwellings with basements…in other words it, and has been, my professional opinion that sewerage in that area is long overdue…not just to protect the water quality of the lake, but, that of the residents’ and public health in general. This situation has been in the making for a very long time.
Now, while it is true that the source/s could be something other than sanitary waste water contamination from local residential and commercial sources, given the geo-physical long-term makeup of the area (i.e. a heavily settled area for more than a ½-century), the only other potential source/s of such numbers are human settlement. However, it is possible to identify the source/s of bacteria via gene sequencing. So, if Mr. Hull (and others) really are in need of that kind of positive correlation (vs. the rather-substantial indirect evidence) I would suggest that he/they contact a private facility (lab) and arrange for a sampling and gene-sequencing to be done. For me though, the evidence currently available is more than sufficient to warrant the decision to build the sewer.
In my line of work I have had the misfortune of direct contact with highly contaminated water, such as is indicated by the chart. It is a truly miserable experience AND can be life-threatening if not recognized for what it is early on OR the person exposed has other co-morbidities…other health issues.
Additionally, I have assisted the Town with conducting septic dye testing in BH in the past…all results were positive. And, in one instance, we discovered that the single, “functioning” lateral of the septic system was at-grade…meaning, it was discharging to the surface (ground) and then simply following gravity downhill through yards and along the street…eventually getting to Ballston Lake. My opinion is not based solely on testing, but, on personal experience as well. It is not that I do not have sympathy for any property owner that has taken care of their septic system -done their personal due diligence, as it were- quite the opposite…they should be commended. Sadly though, the same is not true for all…it is a community-level problem and, therefore, a community-level solution is needed.
Blue R Neils CPESC, CPMSM
Program Coordinator Saratoga County Intermunicipal Stormwater Management Program
Cornell University Cooperative Extension of Saratoga County