Word Of Life “Sewer Incident”: What Really Happened?

Did sewer leak from the Word of Life sewer treatment plant in the southern part of Schroon Lake or was it algae?

The issue has been a hot topic since news broke last month in the Adirondack Journal  and The PostStar when John Wolfe, a Chester code enforcement officer told the papers he saw feces floating in the lake near the treatment plant in June.

“I picked it up and smelled it — it was definitely human feces,” Wolfe told the Adirondack Journal.

No so fast, said the WOL and government officials. They say what was out there was floating mats of algae and emphatically denied the sewer from the treament plant was found in the lake.

“DEC has inspected the Word of Life facility and found it to be in substantial compliance with its wastewater permit,” DEC spokeswoman Lori Severino said in an August 17th  email to the Journal.

The issue got more heat this week when Wolfe wrote an op-ed piece in the North Country Gazette, standing by his original report of the incident and alleging what he said was a cover-up.

So what really was out there in the water that June day? We turned to the East Shore Schroon Lake Association (ESSLA) for comment and spoke with President Bill McGhie.

“I was out on the lake the week after (the incident) with the Water Specialist from Warren County Soil and Conservation Department,” McGhie told Schroon Laker today.

“He bought up an algae bloom from the bottom of the lake and it looked like feces and it did smell like feces.

“I can’t say for sure that’s what (the Chester inspector) found.”

McGhie said a week before the incident divers harvesting milfoil on behalf of ESSLA -- in the area near the treatment plant -- may have disturbed the algae.

So why do we have algae blooms on our lake?

“It was a bad year for algae. Hurricane Irene dumped a lot of nutrient filled water into the lake last year. Combined with a low water level and higher temperatures, that promotes the growth of algae blooms”

Have you seen algae in our lake? Tell us in comments.