Water Quality

Gov. Phil Scott has suggested capturing and selling phosphorus before it gets to the state's waterways and lakes.
VPR File

Phosphorus runoff from farms and other sources is a nuisance for Vermont’s lakes. Phosphorus loading can lead to toxic algae blooms that threaten the health of our waterways. This is a well-known problem for Lake Champlain, but now Vermont’s second-largest body of water, Lake Memphremagog, is in the spotlight for a new plan developed to correct its water pollution issues.

The health department will test drinking water in 16 schools for lead, and the results could lead to a statewide testing program.

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

The head of the Senate Natural Resources committee, Addison Sen. Christopher Bray, is backing a plan to boost funding for water quality projects throughout the state.

Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Two years ago, then Gov. Peter Shumlin signed Vermont's most comprehensive clean water law. Now, many of the and a lot of the regulations included in that law are coming into play.

UVM researchers will be studying the impacts of blue-green algae blooms on St. Albans Bay and the reactions in the community.
Sally McCay / UVM

Researchers at the University of Vermont have received a $598,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to study the effects of cyanobacteria, otherwise known as blue-green algae. It will also take into account the human reaction to those blooms.

A giant, miles-long tunnel is about to be drilled hundreds of feet beneath Connecticut’s capital. This subterranean project will take years, cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and the hope is, result in cleaner water for the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound.

Melody Bodette / VPR

Work has been completed on one of the projects state officials hope will improve water quality in Lake Carmi, which has been plagued by blue-green algae, a bacteria that can release toxins.

New Jersey last week set its safe drinking water standard for the chemical PFOA at 14 parts per trillion, which is lower than Vermont's standard.

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.

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

A government official’s decision to bring armed law-enforcement officers to maintain order at a public meeting on water quality has raised questions about the use of force.

The Vermont Clean Water Act will hold more than 1,000 properties across the state to stricter stormwater standards, but environmental advocates say the Scott administration is trying to undermine some key provisions.
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.

A Norwich home on Turnpike Road is inaccessible by road after its bridge and culvert were destroyed.
Rebecca Sananes / VPR

Even before Tropical Storm Harvey and Hurricane Irma hit, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was in trouble — to the tune of $25 billion. And the program is set to expire at the end of the month if Congress doesn't act.

The Vermont Air National Guard announced it has discovered PFCs in a private water well near its airport base.
Jtasphoto / iStock

The Vermont Air National Guard announced it has discovered elevated levels of Perfluorinated Compounds, also known as PFCs, in a private drinking water well near the guard base at Burlington International Airport, in South Burlington.

The state has asked the Bennington Superior Court to approve the agreement that it reached with Saint-Gobain over water that's contaminated with the industrial chemical PFOA.

Beachgoers enjoy a summer day at Lake Willoughby's clothing-optional Southwest Cove. Many regulars here feel changes proposed by the state could spoil this secluded getaway.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation has some changes planned for the trails and beaches at the south end of Lake Willoughby. But not everyone believes those changes will be improvements.

Clean water advocates paddled the North Branch River in Montpelier Thursday morning to urge lawmakers and Gov. Phil Scott to pump more money into pollution-reduction initiatives.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Clean water advocates took to the North Branch River in downtown Montpelier Thursday to push for long-term funding for pollution-reduction measures.

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.

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