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Sylvia Lake Water Quality Reports

Donate to Water Quality In Memory of Dr. Alexander & Dorothy Dodds

Your direct contribution to the Sylvia Lake Association Water Quality Committee will be made in memory of Dr. Alexander & Dorothy Dodds, who were icons of the lake community and committed members of our lake association. Throughout their lives, these wonderful individuals were interested and involved in issues pertaining to the water quality of our lake. 

Adirondack Lake Assessment Project 2006-2012

The Adirondack Lake Assessment Program was a volunteer monitoring program established by the Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks (RCPA) and the Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI). The program was established to help develop a current database of water quality in Adirondack lakes and ponds.

Converse Labs Water Testing

The laboratory's current owners purchased Watertown Dairy Lab in 1981 and operated under that name until 1986, at which time it was incorporated as Converse Laboratories Incorporated (CLI). During the early years, analytical capabilities consisted primarily of dairy testing with FDA and NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets approval.

In 1985, the laboratory's certifications and analytical capabilities expanded into drinking water, wastewater, and environmental analyses attaining approval from NYS Department of Health Environmental Laboratory Approval Program (ELAP). The National Environmental Accreditation Conference (NELAC) has accredited CLI since 1999.

Water Testing Conclusions
  • You should NOT drink Sylvia Lake water without treating it for bacterial control. 

  • Greater populations in bay areas seem to mean a higher coliform and fecal coliform count. These areas must carefully monitor their septic and wastewater. Areas of concern are Wintergreen Bay, Hotel Bay, the Public Beach Area, East Shore, and the West Shore between Robinson’s Point and High Rock.

  • We can safely swim in all areas of our lake.
    To enhance septic and wastewater management, do a self-analysis of your own septic and wastewater system.

    Some questions to ask would be:

    • Do I know where my septic tank or leach field is? Do I know how old it is?

    • Do I have my holding tank pumped? How often?

    • Do I understand how my wastewater and septic system functions? How could I improve the systems?

    • Do I have any strange odors around my home or lakefront?


Let’s keep our beautiful lake clean and healthy for future generations.

Water Level Maintenance

On April 27, 2021, Fish & Game Committee member, Bill Cook, spoke with Frank Benedetto, New York State, Department of Environment Conservation (DEC), (315-836-6470) to inquire about state or federal regulations impacting the control of natural lake levels.  Mr. Benedetto referred me to a colleague in the NYS DEC, Water Resources and Watershed Management Division, Jessica Hart, (315-785-2246) with whom I had a follow-up discussion on April 28.  Based upon my discussion with Ms. Hart, she shared the following information and insights: ​


  1. Water body dams or impoundments of less than six feet in height are not regulated by the State or Federal Government.

  2. ​Any established wetlands are governed by State and Federal regulations.  NYS wetland regulations involve the control and maintenance of water level and flow. The federal government (US Army Corps of Engineers) is concerned with a variety of issues, but more specifically endangered species and development of wetlands and areas within flood plain boundaries.

  3. All established wetlands in New York State are identified, mapped and monitored by NYS DEC. Detailed information on identified wetlands are highlighted and categorized on the NYS Environmental Resource Mapper (accessed via the NYSDEC homepage).

  4. ​Any waterflow control measures (such as a dam, regardless of the size) that directly impact a downstream wetlands must be permitted by the DEC and have an approved Wetland Water Level Management Plan. The DEC has enforcement authority to ensure permit compliance.

​I specifically characterized the Sylvia Lake outlet dam on the property of Empire State Mine, a subsidiary of Titan Mining Corporation, that the Fish and Game Committee has regulated/ managed for years (with the knowledge and blessing of the property owner). I also shared with Ms. Hart the lake level control challenges posed by downstream beaver activities.

Sylvia Lake Dam

Ms. Hart acknowledged that beaver activities are categorized as natural occurrences, of which, the DEC has no direct control measures or associated regulations.

I questioned her regarding the cascading effect that beavers have on upstream and downstream water bodies and land, and specifically whether beaver activity contributes to and/or establishes wetlands that come under the jurisdiction of the DEC. Ms. Hart’s response was a definitive "no." In support of her answer, she stated that beaver activity typically cycles with availability of food sources. Accordingly, land that they flood is typically a temporary condition and not characterized as wetland. Landowners are authorized, with a DEC issued permit, to eradicate beavers to protect their property.


Based upon review of the NYS Environmental Resource Mapper, the lands downstream of the Sylvia Lake outlet dam are not an established wetland. Therefore, there is no NYS or federal regulation that governs the control of flow through the outlet dam. I confirmed this observation and conclusion with Ms. Hart.  ​


Respectfully submitted, Bill Cook, 2021

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