Lake Champlain

Deicing winter roads by applying salt is poisoning Vermont's ecosystems, and experts say it’s over-salting by private contractors in parking lots and other urban areas that are increasingly the source of the salt.
Modfos / iStock

Salt used for deicing and winter road management is poisoning Vermont's ecosystems, but it isn't coming from where you'd think. Parking lots and congested urban areas are increasingly the source of the salt, winter managers say. Drivers expecting visibly salted roads, and a lack of standards for private companies offering salting services, has many calling for tough standards to stop the problem cold.

Blue-green algae blooms, like this one photographed in the summer of 2014 in Lake Champlain, have many in the state concerned. A new draft plan proposes funding sources for water cleanup efforts.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR FILE

Lake Champlain and Lake Carmi saw numerous outbreaks of blue-green algae blooms this summer, which seems to have rallied support for clean water efforts in the state. But the age-old question of how to fund those efforts persists.

Conservation Law Foundation Senior Attorney Chris Kilian, seen here observing a cyanobacteria bloom on St. Albans Bay in 2014, says state officials are allowing sewage plants to send more phosphorus into Lake Champlain instead of less.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR File

The Conservation Law Foundation has appealed four of the first sewage treatment plant permits that Vermont state officials have approved since the new Lake Champlain cleanup plan went into effect last year.

The Scott administration wants to reallocation existing revenues to pay for clean water initiatives, but lawmakers are worried the plan could shortchange other state programs.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR/File

Vermont’s secretary of natural resources is out with a new plan to fund costly water quality improvements, but legislators have some concerns about where she wants the money to come from.

Sen. Christopher Bray is backing a per parcel fee on all property in Vermont to help fund water quality projects
courtesy / the Vermont Department of Health

Last week cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae, showed up in blooms that closed beaches on Lake Champlain and Lake Carmi, disappointing swimmers looking for relief from the late September swelter. But more than an inconvenience, it also posed health concerns for people and pets who might come into contact with the bacteria.

What is Vermont doing to prevent these blooms from happening? We asked Julie Moore, Vermont's Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources.

Young lake trout weren't surviving their first winter in Lake Champlain for decades, but in recent years scientists have noticed a change: baby trout are now surviving in the lake.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR file

For over a century, lake trout offspring were not surviving through their first winter in Lake Champlain — so the state of Vermont has been stocking the lake with yearling trout for the past 45 years. But over the last three years, there's been a seemingly positive and significant change in the survival of the lake's young trout.

Farms in two of four "priority" watersheds have exceeded targets for water pollution reductions, but officials say there's still pressure to improve on those reductions for the health of Lake Champlain.
ands456 / iStock

Officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture say farmers in Vermont are making better-than-expected progress in reducing the amount of phosphorus flowing into two of four “priority” parts of Lake Champlain.

Rutland is one of more than a dozen Vermont municipalities with a combined sewer system. When the city's water treatment system is overloaded, untreated sewage and runoff flows out of this pipe into a local creek.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR File

Since the beginning of August, hundreds of thousands of gallons of untreated sewage and stormwater have flowed into Lake Champlain and creeks that flow into it, according to public reports.

State officials hope that Clean Water Week, which starts on Aug. 21, will celebrate Vermont waterways and the efforts underway to clean them up.
Ric Cengeri / VPR/file

The health of Lake Champlain and all the waterways in Vermont is a year-round concern. Gov. Phil Scott and other state officials want to drive that point home by officially kicking off Vermont Clean Water Week.

As top environmental officials from Quebec and New York looked on, Gov. Phil Scott signed a letter committing to reduce pollution in Lake Champlain as part of an inter-state and international effort.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Officials from Vermont, New York, Quebec and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency all committed to combine their efforts to reduce pollution in Lake Champlain on Monday in the first updated pollution management plan since 2010.

The Scott administration wants to reallocation existing revenues to pay for clean water initiatives, but lawmakers are worried the plan could shortchange other state programs.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR/File

A gunship that sank during battle more than two centuries ago might finally be resurfaced from the depths of Lake Champlain and put on display.

The Scott administration wants to reallocation existing revenues to pay for clean water initiatives, but lawmakers are worried the plan could shortchange other state programs.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR/File

A former regulator at the Environmental Protection Agency says budget cuts proposed by President Donald Trump would have a “devastating” impact on efforts to reduce the flow of pollution into Lake Champlain and other Vermont water bodies.

Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

As lawmakers look to defer again a politically difficult decision on how to pay for a $1 billion clean water initiative, advocates are ramping up pressure to adopt a financing plan before the 2017 legislative session adjourns.

Kathleen Masterson / VPR

Sen. Patrick Leahy denounced the president's budget priorities, which would cut funding to environment and health research programs in order to increase defense spending. Leahy says budget cuts at the Environmental Protection Agency would have a direct impact in Vermont.

Young lake trout weren't surviving their first winter in Lake Champlain for decades, but in recent years scientists have noticed a change: baby trout are now surviving in the lake.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR file

A key legislative committee is recommending $31 million in new taxes and fees annually to clean up Lake Champlain and other Vermont water bodies, prompting a swift rebuke from a Republican governor who says the “baffling” proposal will hurt businesses and “make Vermont less affordable.”

Angela Evancie / VPR file

A plan to fund water-quality improvements by assessing a per-parcel fee on all property owners in Vermont is already drawing opposition in Montpelier.

Photo courtesy Lake Champlain Basin Program

One-point-three billion dollars. That's the total amount the state thinks it needs to clean up Lake Champlain and other waterways over the next 20 years.  So where does the money come from? The Treasurer's Office has just released a report that maps out how to raise most of that funding.

The Scott administration wants to reallocation existing revenues to pay for clean water initiatives, but lawmakers are worried the plan could shortchange other state programs.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR/File

If lawmakers go along with the recommendations outlined in a long-awaited report released late Sunday night, then property owners across Vermont will pick up much of the tab for a water-quality improvement initiative expected to cost almost $1 billion over the next 20 years.

Vermont Fish & Wildlife

Lake sturgeon look like the fish you don't want to meet in a dark alley. They are big, old, and mean looking.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR File

The incoming leader of Vermont's environmental agency says there is one factor that has made water quality issues more complicated over the years: climate change.

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