August 1, 2017

Property Owner Information For Shoreline Lake Protection

Living or owning a camp on the shoreline of a lake or pond is a dream of many who live in or visit the Adirondacks and the Northeast.  There are a few practices that can be implemented by property owners to protect their investment, enhance their recreation and protect and restore the water quality of our water resources.

If the shoreline is eroding, Lake shoreline stabilization bioengineering practices that incorporate softscaping and natural material to stabilize banks and reduce stormwater from entering our water resources can be implemented.   This can include encapsulated lifts, coir logs, live stake plantings, and use of trees and natural material.  As some practices need to be anchored below the waterline a permit may be required.   

To enhance and further protect the shoreline from erosion, a shoreline buffer can be planted that incorporates native perennials, shrubs and trees.  These provide additional filtration of nutrients and provide shade for fish species and to help reduce nearshore algal growth. 

To further protect your shoreline, consider a property-wide approach for stormwater control.  The idea is to slow the flow and allow the water to enter the ground as close to where it falls.  Common practices include: rain gardens using native perennials plants, grassy swales, rain gutters, and pervious pavers.  For a detailed raingarden manual please visit:  To learn more about how to manage your lawn to protect water quality visit:

The Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District, which I am the District Manager of, is pleased to announce the initiation of the Lake Iroquois Shoreland restoration project, funded in part through a Vermont Clean Water Initiative Ecosystem Restoration Program grant. The project consists of designing bioengineering practices along six adjacent properties on Lake Iroquois, Hinesburg VT to reduce sediment and phosphorus loading.   

Lake Iroquois a 243 acre eutrophic lake located within Chittenden County Vermont is surrounded by mostly seasonal homes and camps that are progressively changing to year round homes.  The major water quality concern is the excessive phosphorus enrichment. This has caused historic toxic algal blooms and excessive nearshore algal growth.  To learn more about algae visit:  Studies have shown that the majority of phosphorus entering Lake Iroquois is from shoreland erosion and stormwater runoff.  The current lake scorecard rates the lake as in Fair Condition.

During Phase 1 of the project, each site will undergo the VTDEC WSMD Lakewise assessment in conjunction with a thorough site inventory and analysis to identify and assess sources of sediment and phosphorous runoff into the lake. Following the site inventory and analysis phase, the Landscape designer; Dr. Annie White, owner and Principal of NECTAR Landscape Design Studio will develop two design concepts for each of the six properties. The designs will aim to treat stormwater runoff in upland landscape areas, repair eroded shorelines using bioengineering techniques, and restore natural buffers along the shoreline. The landowners will then review the design concepts and landscape visualization sketches and select the concept (or combination of concepts) that best fits their vision and usage of their property. The designer will then complete the final design plans for each of the six properties.

By protecting the shoreline, the property owners and partners are protecting water quality and
property values. 

Projects like this can be accomplished through partnerships with your local Soil and Water Conservation District (if in NY) or your local Natural Resources Conservation District (if in VT) or your local watershed group. 

Corrina Parnapy
Vermont Shoreline Erosion Control Certified
District Manager, Winooski NRCD

Principal Phycologist, Avacal Biological 

July 11, 2017

Algal Monitoring for Organic Pollution

I have had the honor of continuing my work on algal monitoring within the Adirondacks of NY,primarily on Lake George. My focus has been on the collection, identification, enumeration and application of targeted metrics to forms of algae found within the littoral zone to determine if organic pollution is present. In lay terms: using algae to help identify if a septic system is failing or under functioning.   

Fortunately I have been working with an organization that will always be near and dear to my heart, an organization that is innovative, collaborative, and understands that success is achieved through sound science and project implementation. The FUND for Lake George. I have worked along side the Lake George Waterkeeper for nearly a decade and am pleased with the projects underway. My heart and passion will always be in Lake George. The Lake, the area, the people will always be part of me. I am excited about the new Septic Initiative using algal biomonitoring to determine organic pollution.

In March of 2017, I presented at the FUND for Lake George's Septic Summit on utilizing algae in biomonitoring efforts. The video and slides are below.  The work done on Lake George can be easily translated and replicated on other bodies of water around the Northeast.

Download slides here

For a little more information on algae in the nearshore areas, please read below.  Algae is impacted and connected to so many things within the aquatic ecosystem.

Algae, the base of the aquatic food web is important to our aquatic ecosystems. They provide food for
many organisms and create oxygen and shelter. Algae remove nutrients directly from the water column. If excessive nutrients enter our waterways, the nearshore algae will respond by blooming. The more nutrients that enter, the more algal growth there will be. Generally 1 pound of phosphorus will grow 500 pounds of wet algae. Phosphorus is not the only nutrient needed, nitrogen and carbon are needed to cause a bloom.

When excessive amounts of algae cause negative impacts to other organisms, water quality, recreation or the economy, they are deemed a Harmful Algal Bloom. If a toxic condition is formed it is then classified as a Toxic Harmful Algal Bloom. Not all toxic conditions are formed by cyanobacteria; other forms of algae produce toxins too. Some forms of algae will produce toxins in response to excessive nitrogen.
An algal bloom is not only caused from the addition of excessive nutrients, but are spurred on from climate change, acid rain, removal of riparian and shoreline cover, and the addition of sodium chloride to our water ways. Anything that happens within the watershed can impact the water quality of our bodies of water and potentially feed algal growth.

The nearshore algal growth that covers rocks, docks, and available substrate, cause taste and odor issues, and clog intake pipes, while unsightly and a nuisance, does service a purpose. Without the littoral algal growth taking up the excessive nutrients, there would be a readily available food source for the phytoplankton and cyanobacteria to cause lake-wide blooms, possible toxic algal blooms can cause a greater impact on overall water quality.

The nearshore algae removes the excessive nutrients, before it can impact the lake as a whole. A tipping point can be reached, when there are more nutrients available than what the littoral algae can feed on. This is when the lake clarity starts to decrease and deep water algal blooms form. When deep water algal blooms die off, they sink to the bottom of the lake and are fed on by bacteria. During this process the bacteria use up the oxygen, creating “dead zones” where aquatic organisms can’t survive.

The nearshore algal growth has another important quality; it can be utilized as a bioindicator. Forms of algae present within a given area can indicate heavy metal concentrations, impacts from sodium chloride, nutrients, and organic pollution. Periphyton (benthic algae), monitoring of the littoral zone of lakes is a useful tool for determining anthropogenic disturbances and changes in water quality, before they can be detected in offshore monitoring efforts.

While Lake George is showing signs of being resilient and clean, the nearshore areas are experiencing excessive algal growth. It is only a matter of time before the tipping point is reached and what we do on land impacts the lake as a whole. That is why I partner with the FUND for Lake George. By understanding the science, and making changes now, we can protect our lake.

For more information on algae monitoring, please visit: Avacal Biological

Corrina Parnapy is the lead Phycologist/ Aquatic Biologist for Avacal Biological, a freelance environmental writer with articles in the Adirondack Almanack, Adirondack Outdoors Magazine, her own blog Sense and Wonder and has had articles featured within numerous print papers in Vermont in addition to being the District Manager for the Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District. 

Corrina's passion is water quality protection through understanding the science, and identifying solutions to project implementation.