Local News

September 10, 2013

Water level affects lamprey treatment

PLATTSBURGH — Officials have postponed this year’s opening lamprey-treatment session by two weeks due to low water in Putnam Creek in Crown Point.

However, treatment scheduled for Sept. 18 on the Saranac River is expected to begin without delay.

The Putnam Creek operation was originally slated for today but has been moved to Sept. 24.

“The water level is way too low for treatment at this time,” said Bradley Young of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which conducts lamprey treatment of rivers, streams and deltas in the Lake Champlain basin each year.

“We’re hoping the water flow will come up by some means before that date.”


Significant rainfall before the rescheduled treatment date would be ideal for officials, but Young noted that streams often rise later in September when surrounding trees stop removing water from the soil as they prepare for their winter dormancy.

“It’s a phenomenon we see every September,” he said of the forests’ ability to affect stream flows.

Officials are not as concerned about the low water levels in the Saranac River, he added. As a much larger river, the Saranac will disperse lampricide chemicals more readily during treatment. 

Since Putnam Creek is very small, officials are fearful of a slow dispersal during treatment.


Working with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, Young’s agency treats the lake’s tributaries to reduce the number of lamprey larvae living in sediment along the river bottom.

Concentrations of lampricide are chosen and monitored to ensure effective elimination of the larvae while protecting non-target species living in the treated areas.

When larvae transform into adult lampreys, they enter the open lake and feed off the bodily fluids of such species as lake trout and Atlantic salmon.

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