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Lake George beach cleanup continues, may be open Friday

LAKE GEORGE - While Lake George Village officials now anticipate the Shepard Park beach will reopen Friday July 24 following the sewer line break about three weeks ago, they also expect to receive legal action by the state in the incident.

As state Department of Health water quality samples taken on July 17 showed substantial improvement from two days prior, village officials said Monday they expect that samplings taken this week will show bacterial contamination reduced below state limits due to the natural cleansing action of the sunlight experienced over the weekend.

Lake George Mayor Robert Blais told village trustees Monday night to expect a Consent Order from the state Department of Environmental Conservation most likely levying a fine on the village and mandating action to upgrade aspects of the sewer system to prevent future breaks from occurring.

Most of these tasks, however, have already been accomplished over the past two weeks by village, however, following the pipe rupture that sent 8,000 to 10,000 gallons of raw sewage from a pumping station beside Shepard Park Beach flowing into Lake George.

The village had Entec Associates of Cohoes perform ultrasonic tests last week on the pipes in the sewer system near the beach. The firm reported last week that the pipes, which have walls one and a quarter inches thick, have only worn away less than 1/100th of an inch, indicating they are quite sound, Blais said.

This week, village crews have been continuing to till and regrade the beach area and the sand under water to both release remaining contamination and meet bottom slope requirements of the Department of Health. Village lifeguard are also repositioning buoys and float lines to designate deep water areas, diving areas to accommodate changes in slope. After the spill, the village removed and replaced about 300 tons of sand in the beach area.

Blais said he also expected the state to require the village to install float systems in pump station's sewage pits that can detect a spillage of sewage effluent. This system would back up existing alarms and provide more timely warning, in the future, of a sewer system breach. The village board approved this upgrade Monday, as they endorsed other actions taken these past two weeks on an emergency basis.

Blais said that recent inspection of the village's insurance policy covering infrastructure revealed that a portion of the $100,000 in costs associated with the sewer break might be recoverable.

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