Vermont, Quebec Renew Commitment To Clean Lake Champlain

Mar 23, 2015

Officials from Vermont and Quebec signed a new agreement Monday that outlines how the two governments will continue to reduce pollution in Lake Champlain.

With Quebec Premier Phillipe Couillard standing next to him, Gov. Peter Shumlin spoke of the deep connection between the neighboring regions.

"Many of our residents are French-Canadians," he said. "That's where their families are. The border separates us by country, but not by family."

Another thing that doesn't heed borders is Lake Champlain - and the pollution that's caused major blooms of toxic blue-green algae in the lake in recent years.

"Many of our residents are French-Canadians. That's where their families are. The border separates us by country, but not by family." - Gov. Peter Shumlin

The new agreement is designed to maintain a framework for how Vermont, Quebec and New York will address pollution in Lake Champlain.

Similar agreements have been in place since the late 1980s, and all three jurisdictions on the lake have committed to reducing their contribution of polluting phosphorus.

The new agreement also calls on governments to include measures to mitigate the effects of climate change on the Lake Champlain basin.

"The new text of the agreement will enable us to not only continue our progress in the area, but also to pursue our collaborative effort to prevent, predict and mitigate the effects of flooding in the Richelieu River and Lake Champlain basin as we all remember 2011," Couillard said.

While the agreement is largely symbolic, it comes as Vermont House lawmakers have approved new funding sources for lake clean up.

While the agreement is largely symbolic, it comes as Vermont House lawmakers have approved new funding sources for lake clean up.

Vermont's share of pollution into Lake Champlain is more than Quebec and New York combined, but Quebec's small share flows into Missisquoi Bay, which is one of the hardest-hit areas of the lake.

Based on 10-year averages provided by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, Vermont contributes 631 metric tons of phosphorus per year, while New York contributes 214 and Quebec 78.

Shumlin said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to sign the agreement soon.