APA says it’s not ignoring stormwater

RAY BROOK – State Adirondack Park Agency officials say they do review a project’s potential impacts on stormwater, even if the term isn’t in the APA Act.

Speaking at the agency’s monthly meeting last week, APA Executive Director Terry Martino responded to comments made by several speakers at a Sept. 26 conference hosted by the Adirondack Explorer news magazine.

A panel discussion on water quality at the conference included a presentation by Peter Bauer of Protect the Adirondacks who identified stormwater as the biggest threat to the Park’s lakes, ponds, rivers and streams. Bauer said the APA is weak when it comes to stormwater management, noting that the word stormwater isn’t found in the APA Act. He also said the agency doesn’t require applicants to provide a stormwater management plan, “so it doesn’t deal with the biggest long-term issue we have for the water quality of the Adirondacks, which is stormwater management, and this is a tragedy.”

Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky also spoke during the conference. He said the APA largely relies on state Department of Environmental Conservation regulations when it comes to stormwater management, but DEC only provides permits for developments over one acre, “so you can see a lot of development falls under the radar screen.”

Addressing APA commissioners last week, Martino said that even though the word stormwater is not in the APA Act, the document does address water quality.

“The 37 development considerations we must consider do include existing drainage and runoff patterns, erosion and slippage,” she said.

More than a decade ago, Martino said the APA formally changed its application process to require information about stormwater management plans, a change she said coincided with new DEC stormwater regulations.

“In every project in which the agency has been involved, the agency staff do their own analysis in terms of stormwater review,” Martino said, “and certainly there’s the application of DEC’s standards if the project site is greater than one acre. We’re doing that to achieve efficiency and consistency with the department. If the project site is less than one acre, we still evaluate the project in relation to the development considerations that include erosion and runoff.”

APA Chairwoman Lani Ulrich said she was frustrated by “the public dialogue happening over the absence of one word, yet there are 20 synonyms for the same (word) within our materials and our rules and regs and our guidelines.

“When we are stumbling in progress of dialogue and what’s best for this place over one term, it’s a great frustration to moving forward,” she said.

Although the term stormwater isn’t in the APA Act, Commissioner Dan Wilt, who also attended the conference, noted that stormwater drainage is mentioned several times in the APA’s regulations.

Overall, Ulrich said it was “a very good conference.” Both she and Martino said they look forward to a series of ideas and recommendations the conference’s organizers are planning to present.

Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or knight@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.