David Smail, Vice President
Great Sacandaga Lake Association
Sampling and Analysis performed by
Capital Region Environmental Laboratory
137 Columbia Turnpike
Rensselaer, NY 12144
Lead Technical Director Environmental Laboratory
Field Technician collecting samples
Great Sacandaga Lake Coliform Monitoring Program
The Great Sacandaga Lake Coliform Monitoring Program (GSLCMP) for 2022 was designed to quantify the bacterial water quality at selected locations in the Great Sacandaga Lake and in selected streams that feed the lake.
The coliform sampling of the Great Sacandaga Lake was started in 1991 and has been performed every summer for the past 31 years except for the year 2020 due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Public bathing beaches, recreational areas and feeder streams were the primary focus. Sixteen shoreline locations were sampled in July. Additional samples were taken in August. The results of this year’s sampling has shown that the Great Sacandaga Lake water is within allowable standards for recreational contact.
Two primary measurements were made at each sampling location: Fecal Coliform (FC) and E. coli (E.coli) Bacteria. These bacteria serve as indicators of the presence of animal or human waste. It should be noted that prior to 2019, the GSLCMP used different primary measurements: Total Coliform (TC) and Fecal Coliform (FC) Bacteria. Total coliforms include bacteria that are found in the soil, in water that has been influenced by surface water, and human or animal waste. Fecal coliforms are the group of total coliforms that are present specifically in the gut and feces of warmblooded animals. E. coli is a rod-shaped bacterium that is commonly found in the lower intestine of warm-blooded animals. In recent years, scientist believe that the use of FC and E. coli test provide a better indication of possible contamination than was obtained by using TC and FC analysis.
The presence of elevated levels of these bacteria, serve as indicators that potentially disease-causing protozoa, bacteria or other microorganisms may be present in the water.
SUGGESTIONS FOR INTERPERTATION OF COLIFORM DATA
New York State Department of Health has determined the maximum allowable bacterial levels for contact recreation (swimming, wading, etc.). When samples on beaches are exceed allowable levels the New York State Health Department is notified. The Department of Health is empowered to close the location to bathing until the problem or problems are corrected.
Interpretation of data to determine contamination sources (human or other warm-blooded animals) require more than just the current bacterial levels. Knowledge of history of the site, weather, geology of the area, drainage patterns, and some information on human activities in the area is also Total coliforms Fecal coliforms E. coli 3 useful. We have sample results from 51 locations that were taken over the past 30 years to help in the interpretation. The locations of the sampling change from year to year. Prior years when the feeder streams were tested, the sample locations were taken under the first bridge upstream from the lake. This location provided easy access to the sampling point; however, because these locations could be several hundred yards up stream of the confluence, some sources of contamination may have been missed. This year the selected streams were sampled at the confluence of the stream and the Great Sacandaga Lake.
Due to the high turnover rate for the Great Sacandaga Lake the water has seen relatively low contamination levels over the past 30 years.
The samples of the Day Beach Association Beach on July 7, 2022, were above allowable Coliform Bacteria Standards in water used for contact recreation and the Town Supervisor and the Day Beach Association were notified. The beach was resampled on July 8 th. The Fecal Coliform and E. coli samples were 2.0 and 1.0 per 100 ml respectively. On July 7th there were many bass feeding on a school of minnows. The stirring up of the water may have contributed to the high concentrations of coliform. The Day Beach Association beach was resampled on August 22nd and both Fecal Coliform and E. coli were <1 per 100 ml.