Blames bubblers for dog’s drowning

To the Editor:

My daughter lost her dog the other day after finding him dead in the open water at a neighbor’s dock because of their bubbler system, and had to tell my grandson that Finnegan is dead.

After contacting the APA & DEC, I find that no agency has jurisdiction regarding this. New York State has regulations on everything we do, yet there are no guidelines regulating personal ice eaters/bubbler systems on our lakes?

Bubblers for residential docks are opening up spaces up to 200 feet out into the lake and 200 to 300 feet along the shore. An area this large is not needed to “protect” a dock or boathouse.

I live in a boathouse, have never run a bubbler in 40+ years and there is minimal wear and tear on my foundation.

There are regulations regarding stairways, beaches and rock walls along a shoreline; on how far out we can put our docks, moorings and swim rafts; but a property owner can open up a swath of water the size of a football field?

How many deer carcasses have we found, or other wildlife have drowned in these death traps that no one ever sees?

Does 12 months of sunlight entering our lake through these slaughter holes have an effect on the growth of the invasive aquatics taking over our lake?

Is it going to take the death of a child, a snowmobiler or cross country skier to enact some “rules” regarding this?

Is a homeowner liable for these open waters?

Instead of paying hundreds of dollars for these machines and the electricity it takes to run them, pay a local to take your dock in and out each year, especially if you only have one or two aluminum docks at your personal residence.


At the very least, be conscious of the size of open water you are creating, consider the possible consequences of these death traps and imagine what dying under the ice in the frigid waters of an Adirondack lake must be like.

I will be writing to my NYS representatives to request some sort of legislation to monitor and regulate both bubblers and ice eaters on public waterways.

There is strength in numbers so the more letters, phone calls, e-mails, etc. they receive, the more they will pay attention to our requests. A list of our representatives can be found at warrencountyny.gov/gov/representatives.

I’ll be sending a petition to local elected officials. The link to sign the petition is actionnetwork.org/petitions/regulations-for-winter-ice-eaters-bubblers-on-our-waterways.

Some guidelines for people to follow now. They should be aware that they may be liable if death or injury occur because of the open water they have created in front of their residence:

  • Place and angle your devices with care to keep the impacted area as localized as possible;
  • Talk to your neighbors to avoid doubling up in an area. It is possible that one bubbler will do the trick.
  • Equip your system with a thermostat or timer control. Running 24/7 creates oversized openings.
  • Place clear signs near the bubbling area, visible from all directions noting “Danger Open Water.”
  • Run an amber light to mark the hazard at night and during storms. Do not use a red light, as this can be mistaken for the brake lights of a snowmobile and draw people towards the risk, rather than turn them away.
  • Monitor your property. If you cannot be present, have someone check regularly to ensure the system is operating, the affected area is appropriate in size, and that the warning lights and markers remain in place.
  • Where possible, a knowledgeable and experienced contractor should be used to configure the system.

— Cindy Mead, Brant Lake

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