As the state prepares to set a new course for Lake Champlain cleanup, wastewater treatment plants across Vermont continue to dump millions of gallons of polluted water into Lake Champlain and other waterways.
Most of the plant operators responsible for the unauthorized releases aren’t penalized in any way.
“There’s no question that all of the sewage treatment plants in Vermont, at least in the Lake Champlain basin, are going to have to do more to reduce phosphorus levels,” said David Mears, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.
Mel Hawley has worked for the city of Vergennes for the majority of his adult life, and he says he’s seen city maps from as early as 1910 that show underground sewer pipes. The city’s first wastewater plant was built in the early 1960s. Before that, he says, those sewer lines simply emptied into Otter Creek.