Lake George seeks moratorium, federal aid in aftermath of sewage spill

LAKE GEORGE - In the wake of repeated tests that show bacterial contamination of lakewater near the Shepard Park Beach, the Village government has launched an investigation into the problem, and is eyeing a moratorium blocking more hookups to the sewer system.

The Shepard Park Beach, popular with tourists and residents, is now closed indefinitely while several area agencies examine what may be causing the continued contamination of lakewater near the beach, Village Mayor Robert Blais said Monday.

He also said the village is now seeking federal help in upgrading the village sewer transmission system and pumping station. A pipe in the pumping station at Shepard Park burst July 5 and flooded the beach and lake with 8,000 to 10,000 gallons of raw sewage, prompting the village to close the beach, fix the breach and replace 300 tons of contaminated sand.

But as the beach was scheduled to be reopened this past week, tests of the lakewater showed unexpected spikes in contamination levels that are baffling public works and health officials.

At a special meeting late Wednesday, the board voted to hire the engineering firm C.T. Male at a cost of $8,000 to examine the sewer mains and pumping station apparatus to make recommendations for upgrades. The firm is expected to prepare a report prioritizing recommended improvements as part of an effort to secure federal aid. C.T. Male representatives were on site this past week for an initial inspection of the system.

The report will be submitted to U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand who has pledged to seek federal funds for modernizing the aging sewer system, Blais said. Gillibrand aide David Johnson was in the village Thursday talking about potential federal funds of upgrades.

One proposal for the sewer mains near the lake is to install "slip lines," which are either impermeable new pipe linings or encasements surrounding the pipe. Such slip lines could cost about $100 per foot, Village Public Works Superintendent David Harrington estimated Monday.

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