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Local officials hail $473,040 in water quality grants

Another grant award of $186,850 was granted to fund a project to curb stormwater runoff flowing down English Brook into Lake George and reduce sedimentation. Sediment flowing in this stormwater during recent years has been deposited in a massive delta - measuring about 70,000 cubic yards - that now extends far into the lake and degrades recreation, navigation and the fishery, officials say.

The project includes work to build sediment retention devices to prevent more sand and other solids from running from Hubbell Reservoir down English Brook. The money also is to fund research to identify prime areas to remove unwanted sediment, Wick said, noting hundreds of tons of sand and pollutants are now running down the waterway into the lake.

The third award of $149,200 is to replace aging stream culverts in the Lake George watershed, to allow fish to regain their native pathways to spawning grounds which have in recent decades been blocked by the culverts' configuration.

The culverts, due to be replaced anyway due to their condition, have waterfalls at their outlets that brook trout can't traverse.

Most of this grant underwrites cooperative work with local town highway departments to replace existing, failing stream culverts with larger ones embedded into the waterways, allowing fish to easily pass through to upstream spawning grounds, Wick said.

The towns will get these new culverts at no charge - infrastructure they'd otherwise have to pay for, Wick said.

"We'll now be able to upgrade these culverts with new ones at no charge to the towns, while restoring fish habitat existing many years ago," he said.

A fourth grant of $78,000 is to curb stormwater runoff in Glens Falls, and the fifth is for $4,500 to fund educational outreach programs to boost public awareness for water quality issues.

Wick credited Bill Lupo of the state Department of Environmental Conservation for advocating for the grants, noting Lupo has "a strong commitment to protecting water quality." He added the projects would likely be underway in 2012.

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