THE ENVIRONMENT – THE HEALTH OF THE LAKE
Deepening the GSL brings immediate environmental improvements because it continuously improves the water holding capacity of the lake [at approximately 10-12 billion gallons of increased water capacity each year and 200 billion gallons over the life of a 20 foot deepening operation.] This extra water impoundment will be a priceless commodity in the future, but no attempt has been made to quantify it as an asset. Certainly, a deeper GSL will have profound effects on the well-being of its fish and other fauna.
Deepening the Great Sacandaga Lake is the solution to the lake being essentially sterile. Currently, fish stocking efforts are needed due to the GSL's annual water withdrawal and replenishment cycles — 6 months of the year in water and 6 months dry, barren or frozen. How can aquatic fauna live in dry or frozen soils such as this? They can’t. Click here to see how dry and barren the Great Sacandaga Lake is in winter.
Quite simply, the GSL is better with more (cooler) water. Improve the lake's shoreline and access to it. Enhance navigational safety. Create recreational possibilities. End boating and docking difficulties. Enjoy clean and cool water in the Great Sacandaga Lake, with less pollution. Build a real fishery and improve the lakeside community. The economic and environmental benefits of deepening are all improved with more water.
Because sandharvesting operations clean and separate sediments into classifiable products, many of the municipally owned sand and gravel operations around New York state could be eliminated and nothing about the sandharvesting or beneficiating the minerals will harm the environment, period.
The Industrial activities involved in sand harvesting the GSL involves three major categories of equipment:
The Diesel Scenario
Historically all of this equipment would run on diesel fuel. Rough estimates are that collectively these machines would total in excess of 50,000 Horsepower (HP) and consume 2,000 gallons of fuel each hour of operations. (50,040 HP @ 25 HP/Gal/Hr = 2001.6 Gal/Hr).
If the GSL were deepened by 20 feet, this would total more than 360 million gallons of diesel fuel (2000 Gal x 180,000 Hr = 360 M g) over a 20-year period.
The Electric Scenario
Fortunately, many of these operations today can be run by electricity.
Even considering that transportation needs will require diesel engine trucks, the reduction in total gallons (and therefore emissions) would be dramatic (20,000 HP @ 25 HP/Gal/Hr = 800 Gal/Hr). 800 Gal/Hr x 180,000 Hr = 144 million gallons over 20 years.
For transport, the latest technologies including electric, bio-diesel and hybrid vehicles and others will be used in the deepening project.
After removing the heavy minerals of economic importance, the remaining 90% (6.4 x 108 m3) of the sand overburden known as tailings, has to be managed. Distribution and utilization of tailings includes a variety of options such as island rebuilding and shoreline reconfiguration, dewatering for landform creation, off-site separation of the economically important light minerals, classification of aggregates into concrete grade, highway crushed gravels or masonry sands, utilization as riprap, etc.
Quality of Life During the Deepening Project
Assuming year round operations, some inconveniences can be ameliorated during the recreational off-season, but it is our opinion that no resident or visitor will encounter much difference to their normal lake experience.
Access inconveniences will only involve less than 2 sq. miles each year. So, for example, if the first year of operation is near Fishouse, no one in Benedict, Broadalbin, Mayfield or Northville will be aware of any differences in their day-to-day activities. Operations will not void beachfront activities even where they are being conducted, but they will be visible.
Visibility will depend on where operations are being conducted for the year in question (2 sq. miles). The main body of the lake is approximately 4 miles wide by 9 miles long, so residents in Mayfield would not see operations at Cranberry Creek. If operations were in North Broadalbin, residents in Fayville would not see them. Even if operations were right in front of your residence, you would simply see large stationary floating paddleboats or hotels. Click here to see a similar concealment of building construction in New York City.
Temporary power lines will be visible but only across a single vantage point, out to the center of the lake. These will be removed or installed under water when the project is completed. No new turbidity (clouding of water) should go beyond the boundaries of the local sandharvesting operations, because silt curtains will be installed around the operations.
All sandharvesting and washplant operations are run with electric motors and one must be closer than 100 feet from the machines to hear the work being conducted. All the pumping and movement of sedimentary slurries are self contained and in closed systems. Separation and dewatering facilities would occur at a fixed location near the center of the main lake body.
Even with earth moving heavy equipment and trucks which operate at approximately 80-95 decibels, sound will dissipate by 12 decibels every 50-60 feet, so no residents will hear them.
For a real world example, click here to see (and hear) a similar operation in Florida.