Water Quality

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

Pat Caverzasi has had a home on St. Albans Bay for 40 years, and she says the water on the front edge of her property has never been green before.

This year, it is. St. Albans Bay has been green for weeks, covered by one of the biggest blue-green algae blooms there in years.

“Even though they’ve seen blue-green algae and they’ve located a little bit down there,” she said, gesturing to the north end of the bay, “now it’s spread incredibly – it looks like a carpet – it’s really bad.”

State officials lifted a boil water notice in the town of Fair Haven Wednesday, a day after it was declared.

Water samples tested positive for fecal coliform (E. coli) on Monday, causing officials to issue the notice Tuesday.

A positive E. coli test indicates "that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes," according to a release.

Updated August 20 at 4:23 p.m. to reflect that the notice was lifted.

Toby Talbot / AP

The Memphremagog Watershed Association is hosting a panel discussion Tuesday night about what it calls a "tar sands threat to Lake Memphremagog." The discussion has been organized jointly by the Memphremagog Watershed Association and National Wildlife Federation.

"Community members are invited to attend a discussion about an emerging threat to rivers, lakes, and streams in the Northeast Kingdom, including Lake Memphremagog," an event announcement states.

Toby Talbot / AP

When you wash the dishes or flush the toilet, you probably don’t think too much about where that water goes next. Wastewater treatment plants are a critical piece of infrastructure that we usually don’t notice, unless something goes wrong.

Wednesday on Vermont Edition, we look at water treatment plants, and their role in clean water and public health. Our guests are Ernie Kelley with the Wastewater Management Division of the Department of Environmental Conservation, and Ned Beecher with the New England Biosolids and Residuals Association.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

As the state prepares to set a new course for Lake Champlain cleanup, wastewater treatment plants across Vermont continue to dump millions of gallons of polluted water into Lake Champlain and other waterways.

Most of the plant operators responsible for the unauthorized releases aren’t penalized in any way.

“There’s no question that all of the sewage treatment plants in Vermont, at least in the Lake Champlain basin, are going to have to do more to reduce phosphorus levels,” said David Mears, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.

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.

AP Photo/Toby Talbot

The outdoor swimming season may be winding down, but volunteers with the nonprofit organization White River Partnership still have a couple of more weeks before wrapping up a 13th season of water quality testing at popular swimming holes. Volunteers have been testing water quality at swimming holes and the mouths of major tributaries around the White River Watershed every other Wednesday since May 29. Their last day of 2013 testing will be September 18.