Lake Champlain

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In addition to making milk, Vermont’s dairy cows create a lot of manure. And what to do with that waste can sometimes be a challenge.

Kathleen Masterson / VPR File

At a Vermont Fish and Wildlife sampling station in South Hero, a tiny brook is alive with splashing dorsal fins. It's full of landlocked Atlantic salmon from Lake Champlain fighting their way upstream to spawn. This year, the fish are arriving in record numbers.      

Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Cleaning up Vermont’s polluted waterways is going to be an expensive undertaking, and earlier this year, lawmakers approved a new tax to begin paying for it. But the revenue plan isn’t generating as much money as officials had anticipated.

Lawmakers and administration officials heralded the Clean Water Fund as an important first step in generating the financial capacity needed to fund pollution-reduction efforts.

jtyler / iStock.com

With the passing of Vermont’s Clean Water Act last year, the state has made a serious commitment to tackle the pollution problems plaguing Lake Champlain.

But less well known are recent major updates to the pollution data that’s the guiding force dictating just how much runoff the state needs to cut back.    

The U.S. Department of Energy gave a boost to a proposed power transmission line under Lake Champlain this week, issuing an environmental study that suggests the department plans to give federal approval to the project.

A month ago Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s schooner Lois McClure left her home port on a mission of self-preservation. 

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Members of a Burlington homeowners association will soon be able to enjoy the association’s private beach without fear that they’re swimming in a neighbor’s excrement.

A private contractor is fixing an improper pipe connection in Burlington Wednesday that caused a home’s sewage to flow untreated into Lake Champlain for as many as 15 years. City officials discovered Sept. 2 that the home's wastewater, which is supposed to be connected to sewer pipes that lead to a treatment plant, was instead flowing to a stormwater pipe that flows directly into Lake Champlain.

Courtesy of Community Sailing Center

Sailing is often an expensive sport, and that means it’s not always accessible to everyone who might be interested. But the Community Sailing Center on Lake Champlain in Burlington is working hard to give all kids the opportunity to get out on the water. 

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

Vermont lawmakers met with local and state officials Tuesday to try to figure out how to slow the flow of raw sewage into the state’s rivers and lakes.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

A Burlington home connected to the wrong city pipe has been fueling a public health hazard on a private beach in the city’s New North End all month, and officials don’t know when the problem started.

Burlington Public Works Director Chapin Spencer says that a wastewater line coming from a home in the New North End was connected to the city’s stormwater pipe instead of a sewer main.

In that area of town, Spencer said, the underground pipe networks for stormwater and wastewater are separate, “so the stormwater pipe goes to Lake Champlain.”

In response to requests from the public, the Environmental Protection Agency has extended the deadline for public comments on its new pollution reduction targets for Lake Champlain.

In an announcement Wednesday, the agency said that “[i]n response to requests for additional time, EPA is extending the comment period for 30 additional days, until October 15, 2015.”

The agency released the plan August 14, initially opening a 30-day comment period.

Charlotte Albright / VPR File

The state Agency of Agriculture is moving to require more stringent controls to cut pollution from farms in the Missisquoi Basin of Lake Champlain.

The shallow bay in the northwest part of the lake is often choked with algae blooms in the summer. Those blooms are fueled in part by phosphorus run-off from farms.

Alford et al. / Lake Scientist

While much discussion of water pollution in Vermont focuses on excessive nutrients, there’s another problem pollutant in our waters. 

Tiny bits of plastic – coming from everyday sources such as degraded plastic bags and flecks of fleece jackets – are seeping into Lake Champlain. Often smaller than the period at the end of this sentence, the plastics may seem inconsequential, but scientists say they carry chemicals, are being eaten by fish and moving up the food chain.    

Kathleen Masterson / VPR

One of the challenges to stemming the flow of pollution into Lake Champlain is that so much of runoff comes from disparate sources across the vast watershed. And one source of water pollution is hidden-in-plain-sight: roads.

Sometimes Vermont's sewage plants dump sewage into rivers and lakes. And they're allowed to. What's up with that?

Vermont Department of Health

The hot and humid dog days of summer are usually perfect swimming weather — but that’s not true in St. Albans Bay.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR File

In a packed ballroom in South Burlington's DoubleTree Hotel, a well-known scientist studying Lake Champlain stood up and told state officials that some of the targets they've set to reduce pollution into the lake simply cannot be reached.

Toby Talbot / AP

Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Vermont state government released new targets for reducing pollution in Lake Champlain and a detailed plan for how the state would reach those targets. But the plan is already attracting some criticism.

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 state of Vermont and the EPA are collaborating on a 20-year plan to reduce the phosphorus running into Lake Champlain by more thirty percent. That includes federal lake pollution targets and the state's plan for how to get to those goals.

We're looking at the new targets, the plan to hit them, and whether it will all be enough to keep the lake clean for coming generations.

Jon Gilbert Fox / Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center

The blue-green algae blooms invading Lake Champlain this summer can cause nasty stomach problems and skin irritation — and even liver damage in people who accidentally swallow the water. But researchers say there might be longer-term health consequences for people who come into contact with the blooms. 

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