Ballston Lake Information

Regulations, annual reports, and more


Town of Ballston Dock Ordinance

Local Ordinance Regulating: Docks, Moorings,
Boathouses and Marinas on Ballston Lake

Effective: June 1, 2007

Click Here for More Dock Ordinance Information

NYS Boating Speed Regulations

NYS has a 5 mph limit within 100’ of the shore OR a dock extending into the lake. Most of the narrow southern end of the lake ranges from 232’ to 348’ in width. In other words, the center of the lake only ranges from 116’ to 174’ from either of the shorelines. Visit the link below to see what that shoreline regulation looks like on Ballston Lake.

See the 100' line on Ballston Lake

Controlling Phosphorus

Recommendations for Homeowners for controlling Phosphorus

Phosphorus significantly increases the amount of algae and weed growth in lakes, streams and rivers. The most recommended control of phosphorus is thru watershed management, that each of us doing our part to limit phosphorus coming from our property. Lawn fertilizer control. Have soil tested at Cornell Co-op extension office 50 West High St. Ballston Spa Use only phosphate free lawn fertilizer like 20-0-15 Follow rate of application recommendations Sweep up fertilizer from non grassy areas like pavement Avoid fertilizers with atrazine weedkillers that kill birds and fish Keep fertilizer 25 ft away from creeks and the lake shoreline Do not apply fertilizer on frozen ground Do not apply fertilizer when HEAVY rain is expected

Best to apply fertilizer in cool months like mid Sept - Oct.

In Addition:

  • Keep burn piles or ashes 50ft from the lake
  • Keep yard debris from entering the lake
  • Have septic tank pumped every 2-3 years
  • Follow septic system maintenance ideas (Link)
  • Pick up pet litter and dispose of it
  • Use phosphate free detergents in the home, on the car and boat
  • Dispose of unused medications at the drug store
  • Dispose of unused household chemicals and paints at an approved Hazmat site
  • Lakeshore buffer strips of rooted plants filter phosphorus from entering the lake

A Study of Phosphorus

Beaver Report

Download the Beaver Report

Here is a summary of the report:

The Ballston Lake Improvement Association is a voluntary group of residents dedicated to addressing lake and life quality issues for Ballston Lake landowners. Increasing lake levels and shore owner vegetation destruction, due, in part, from an exploding beaver population has prompted BLIA to address beaver management. Historically, the beaver population has been small, and the BLIA has obtained landowner and DEC permissions in the outlet area (Ballston Creek) to destroy beaver dams contributing to high lake levels. Despite this effort, shore owners report a continued steady increase in mean and peak water levels, and a reduction in the rate of receding levels after significant storm events. In recent years, beaver activity has increased the size and number of dams, and resulted in near instantaneous dam rebuilding, rendering BLIA removal activity relatively ineffective.

Within the past few years, beaver have been migrating out of the wetlands area to other wetlands in the Ballston lake watershed and onto the main body of Ballston Lake in search of food, enlarging the impacted area. It has been an ongoing goal of BLIA to encourage vegetative buffers along shorefronts for nutrient interception and shoreline

Septic System Maintenance

Septic System Maintenance Information

A poorly working septic system can release harmful bacteria that can cause illness and result in polluted drinking water wells. Septic systems are a source of phosphorus, nitrogen, organic matter, bacteria, and viral pathogens that can enter the lake. The reasons septic system failure are inadequate design, inappropriate installation, neglected maintenance, or a clogged leach field.

Signs of trouble

  • Smelly leach field
  • Wet grassy area in the leach field
  • Unusually green area in leach field
  • Slow draining toilets
  • Septic tank pumping depends on
  • Tank size, normal is 1000 gallons
  • Family size
  • Garbage disposal adds additional solids, pump yearly
  • Normal pumping frequency every 2-3 years
  • Septic system maintenance
  • Use water conservers such as flow reducers in the shower, sinks, and toilets
  • If replacing toilets use new low flow model
  • If replacing washing machine consider a water saving model
  • Do not pour chemicals in sink or toilet, thy pollute the leach field
  • During a tank pump out, inspect tank for cracks and baffle for flow
  • When soil in saturated with water, heavy rain or snow melt space washing machine and dishwasher use so you give the leach field time to drain
  • Direct rain water gutters and flow away from the tank and leach field
  • Consult with your septic system professional about use of draining chemicals and yeast
BLIA Library

There is a BLIA library of books and reference material for your use. To access the library call Dave Pierce at 518-399-6308 or email at

Books in the library are:

  • Conservation Buffers Design Guidelines for Buffers, Corridors and Greenways
  • Diet for a Small Lake The expandable guide to New York State Lake and Watershed Management
  • Do-It-Yourself Water Quality
  • Lake and Pond Management Guidebook
  • Maine Field Guide to Invasive Aquatic Plants and their common native look a likes
  • Invasive plant identification photos
  • Lawn care guidelines
  • Septic system maintenance and info on new or replacement systems
  • Non chemical lake weed management
  • Construction of shoreline buffers and shoreline lakescaping
  • Lists of plants to use in lakescaping projects
  • Historical Documents
  • Watershed Protection and Management Plan for the Ballston Lake Watershed
  • CDRPC June 2001
  • Watershed Protection and Management Plan for Ballston Lake Executive Summary
  • Stream Corridor Protection in the Town of Ballston Town of Ballston Land
  • Conservation Committee sept 27, 2005
  • Ballston Lake Dock Ordinance
  • Most recent CSLAP report
Water Quality Report

Review Entire Report

Below are the Key findings of the 2010 Water Quality Report.

  • Nitrogen nutrients show wide fluctuation, but are statistically stable for last 20 years.
  • Phosphorus has increased significantly in the last 10 years
  • Measures that correlate with increased phosphorus have also increased (chlorophyll, total coliform).
  • Phosphorus is the limiting nutrient for biological activity in Ballston Lake, increased nitrogen would not dramatically affect water quality.
  • High lake levels and watershed inflow are the primary suspects in increased Phosphorus
  • More measurements are needed to fully assess the source of increasing phosphorus
Algae Information

Algae Fact Sheet

Blue-green algae, technically known as cyanobacteria, are microscopic organisms that are naturally present in lakes and streams. People should suspect that blue-green algae could be present in water that is visibly discolored or that has surface scums. Water affected by blue-green algae is so strongly colored that it can develop a paint-like appearance. Only laboratory testing will verify its presence.

A. Causes of algae blooms.

  • Warm water
  • Sunny days
  • Reduced rainfall
  • Increased phosphate concentrations in the water.
  • Decreased lake level.

B. Results of an algae bloom

  • Blue-green hue of the water.
  • Scum especially around the weeds on the eastern shore of the lake.
  • Some algae produce toxins, that may sicken pets
  • Blue-green algae toxins are not removed from water taken directly from the lake with chlorine, ultraviolet light or boiling
  • Algae that develop mats inhibit boating and swimming
  • Algae decomposition causes a decreased oxygen level in the lake.

C. Ways to reduce phosphorus levels in the lake.

  • Follow a septic system maintenance protocol
  • Only use non-phosphorus lawn fertilizers
  • Do not place lawn debris or wood ashes in or near the lake
  • Fast boating stirs up the lake bottom releasing phosphorus. Go slowly in water shallower than a depth of 12ft.
  • Shoreline vegetation filters phosphorus. It is best to have a 15-25 ft buffer of deep rooted plants at your shoreline.

D. Algae controls

  • Copper sulfate works best at a pH of 6.0-6.8. Ballston Lake has a pH of 7.6
  • Copper sulfate is toxic to some fish and could cause a carp fish kill.
  • Copper products cause algae cells to break releasing their toxins.
  • Copper sulfate works best if applied when algae begins to increase in late July.
  • Copper sulfate would cost $6,000 per application. May need 2 applications
  • Algaecides would cost $11,000 per application. May need 2 applications.
  • Aeration systems cost $150,000
  • Decreasing algae would increase the amount of rooted plants like milfoil.

In general, high nutrient (phosphate) levels fuel nuisance algae and plant growth. Killing the algae is a short term control. A long term solution is to reduce nutrients in the water.