Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hurricane Irene keeps Collins Lake Beach Closed

The Village of Scotia officially announced the beach at Collins Lake will be closed for the season.  Chemicals treatments have failed so far to clear up this popular regional swimming hole. 

The official statement from the Village says:
”The beach at Collins Park will be closed for this swimming season. The Department of Health requires four feet of visibility in the water in order to allow public swimming. The flooding caused by hurricane Irene has left a significant amount of suspended clay in the lake, reducing visibility. The Village treated the lake with alum this spring to clear the water, but any wind, wave, or swimming action stirs up the clay from the bottom to reduce visibility to unacceptable levels. The answer seems to be to let the lake naturally recharge through the springs that feed it and wash the sediment out through the outlet. It is unclear how long this process will take, but until we can meet DOH standards, there will be no public swimming in Collins Lake.”

Luckily, the clay silt is not a contamination so boating is still welcome and no restrictions have been announced to fishing which is a year round activity. It’s simply a visibility issue which impacts the safety of young swimmers.  In fact, the Scotia branch of Schenectady County Library has fishing poles & tackle equipment kids can sign out just like they would a book!

As you can see from the photo below flooding due to Hurricane Irene caused the nearby Mohawk River to overflow into Collins Lake. The springs which are very active on the north side of the lake held the Mohawk off briefly but eventually the entire lake and Collins Park become part of the river.

Flooding in progress in Collins Lake as seen from Pytlovany Point

Collins Park in August 2011 after Hurricane Irene flooding

In addition to the river particles settling in  the lake bed, damage was done to the two pumps used by the lake aeration system. The lake bubbler system, installed in 2006, has been instrumental in keeping the water healthy for swimmers and especially for the fish.