Lake Champlain

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

State and federal environmental agencies began a series of public meetings this week about a new plan to curb excessive pollution from Vermont into Lake Champlain.

According to estimates by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Vermont needs to cut the amount of phosphorus it allows into Lake Champlain by 36 percent.

The meetings mark the beginning of the final phase of a years-long process to develop a plan to clean up the lake.

The Village of Essex Junction has experienced three large accidential discharges from the municipal water treatment facility in the last three months.

Two of the releases totaled between 500,000 and 1 million gallons, but water quality superintendent Jim Jutras said all of the recent releases have been near the end of the treatment process and were not raw sewage.

The recent problems at the facility all center around the chlorination and dechlorination of wastewater, which must be completed before it is released into the Winooski River.

Toby Talbot / AP

The federal government shutdown has delayed a key project in the state’s continuing effort to clean up Lake Champlain.

Environmental Conservation Commissioner David Mears said the state’s work with a team of EPA scientists and policy experts was put on hold this month because the federal officials were furloughed.

AP/ Toby Talbot

A federal budget squeeze threatens to cut off funding for equipment that researchers use to predict floods and pinpoint the amount of pollution flowing into Lake Champlain.

Ten stream gages in the Champlain watershed are scheduled to be turned off next month unless another funding source is found.

Senator Patrick Leahy is pressing for more research and education regarding the pollution-threatened Lake Champlain.

Leahy was among the dignitaries to speak at the start of a two-day environmental summit entitled "Blue Water in Green Mountains."

The gathering came as the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center turns 10 years old. Leahy said lake-based education and research preceded the building's opening, and must continue.