Posted by: Dawn Powell | July 24, 2015

The Lake Peekskill Summit

There was an important district meeting for Lake Peekskill last night at Town Hall.  The Princeton Hydro limnologist, Fred Lubnow, presented his proposals.  Candidates, Sam Oliverio, Jackie Annabi, Cathy Hanson, and Steve MacKay attended.  After talking about the state of the lake, he addressed a question that has been circulating, so to speak, since the report went public – why was he focusing on the beaches, with bubblers and a debris screen, and an algae treatment, when none of that helped the health of the lake.  He said that the beaches are where we would come into contact with the cyano-toxins.  That is not true for many of us, and the question was asked repeatedly.

While there were some at the meeting who just want to do anything he says, it was my impression that this was not a popular concept.

The wet pond, retention pond is the most important filter we have for phosphorus, and I think, everyone left feeling that we need to understand what was done with this during the town’s Northway project, what maintenance is needed, and if there is a way to establish a natural system that requires very little maintenance. A consultation with Bruce Barber, the town’s wetland inspector had been requested prior to this meeting.

Gordon had aerial photographs of Cranberry Pond, which drains into Lake Peekskill and was questioning the water coming from there.  There is no information, and some testing might be in order.

Someone else wondered if Junior Lake has any impact on the Lake Peekskill watershed.

One important piece of information that came out was that we can test for blue-green algae ourselves.  There is a kit that costs $480.  The turnaround for the CSLAP testing that goes to the DEC is about a week, very frustrating when we want to know that the lake is safe.  Mr. Lubnow was going to give that information to Jackie today, and hopefully that will be done as soon as possible.

People were talking about immediate fixes.  The concept of wetland islands, if the internal material is very absorbent, was raised.  The community can construct the small ones within a couple of weeks, and it might give us a little help.

A meeting was requested with the Department of Health, Dr. Beals and Robert Morris.  It was suggested that this be a town wide meeting to discuss possible septic solutions, so that homeowners are not abandoned when seeking help, and are not on their own.

We inquired about the state of the town GIS, and whether there is mapping of all the storm drains.  It does seem that with all the water that flows down the hills, that storm drains and filters are not the only stormwater solutions.  We need to be able to slow down some of that flow.

We can start immediately on the task of creating buffers. Native plantings lakeside will help to filter. We can start inspecting the areas that are mowed, and see if we can replant and stop mowing. We can use permeable surfaces. We can start to decrease the sandy beach areas. One of the town’s lakes has a grassy beach. Maybe we would like one too. There are creative shoreline solutions.

There was some question about aeration. Mr Lubnow says that we do not have significant internal loading. He did not do a muck analysis, but I thought one was done a few years ago.

Mr. Lubnow said that the lake’s watershed was 475 acres, and there are 4 subwatersheds, but was unable to identify either at the meeting.

He used an industry standard of 330 feet of the shoreline for the heaviest phosphorus load, but was unable to relate that to our topography or stormwater He said that pumpouts would preserve the lifespan of septic fields, but will not help to bring back a septic field. I can see that if we all pumped in June, this might be effective, but even then, it would depend on use. He acknowledged that it would take 5 years for this to reduce the phosphorus load from septic by a third. Of some value, but certainly not our best quick fix.



  1. One of the biggest mistakes that was ever made in the history of Lake Peekskill was when the town took away their seasonal water supply. Nothing did more to exacerbate that community’s problems than that single act by the then sitting town board. Having town supplied water for half the year enabled the aquifer and wells to get replenished. People could water their lawns and gardens and not have to worry about their wells going dry. All that changed when those in power at the time decided for one reason or another to take away the water. I honestly believe that the lack of seasonal water has had an impact on the lake as well because its aquifers are not being replenished as they once were.

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