10 Things You Can Do to Protect Our Precious Lake Champlain (and Other Waterways)

It’s been a tough summer for Lake Champlain so far this year. Its annual crop of toxic blue-green algae bloomed almost a month early and popular beaches have been forced to close several times to protect people and pets from this health threat. But we don’t have to put up with dirty water. While much is happening at the state and federal levels to clean up our ailing lake, there’s plenty that you and I can do to help curb the phosphorus pollution that causes these toxic algae outbreaks.

(And, these aren’t just good practices for helping to protect Lake Champlain. No matter where you live, you can take at least 9 of these easy actions for clean water.)


Share your most beloved photos and memories of time spent on the Lake Champlain Watershed with the hashtag #ShareChamplain. You could win a $50 gift card to Zero Gravity Craft Brewery in Burlington for your photo!

Chat with a Friend

Talk with your friends, neighbors, and colleagues about Lake Champlain. Our lake is in trouble, and people need to know about it. Too much pollution is entering our lake, causing toxic blue-green algae blooms each summer. Our lake may look beautiful, but that doesn’t mean it’s clean and healthy. It’s important to get the word out that Lake Champlain needs our help.

Plant a Rain Garden

Rain picks up all sorts of pollutants as it flows across your rooftop and driveway. You can help protect our rivers and streams by planting wildflowers and native vegetation around your home. These gardens soak up rainwater so pollutants are filtered through plants and soil rather than flowing directly into nearby waterways.

Speak Out on Facebook and Twitter

The State of Vermont is drafting policies to protect our water. Tell your representatives that you want strong standards that hold farmers, developers, and cities accountable.

Use a Rain Barrel

Rain barrels are above-ground containers that hold rainwater. They collect the first flush of water during a storm, which is helpful because this first rainfall carries the most pollution. This water can then be released slowly into your garden, which filters the pollutants before they enter our rivers and lakes. (Rain barrels are a great way to conserve water, too.)

Pick Up After Your Pet

Pet waste is a common pollutant that is often carried by rainwater into nearby rivers and streams. Not only does pet waste transmit bacteria and parasites, it is also chalk full of phosphorus, the major culprit in causing toxic blue-green algae blooms.

Build a Buffer

If you live along a lake or river, build a buffer between your house and the water. A buffer is an area of separation between human activities and waterways where native vegetation is allowed to grow. This physical space protects waterways by filtering pollutants and preventing erosion.

Fertilize Properly

Phosphorus-laden fertilizers are one of the largest contributors to toxic blue-green algae blooms. Rainwater can easily wash away fertilizers that have been applied to lawns and gardens and on farms. Consider using organic fertilizers, which typically have lower concentrations of nutrients that are released into the environment more slowly.

Maintain Your Septic System

If you have a septic system, proper maintenance is a must. Failed or broken septic systems can be costly, both to you as a homeowner, and in the threat they pose to human health and the environment by releasing harmful microbes and chemicals.

Join Conservation Law Foundation

Every day we’re fighting to protect our precious water resources. Whether in the courtroom, at the statehouse, or in the classroom, CLF advocates are creating a legacy of strong environmental standards throughout New England. You can help: Join Conservation Law Foundation today.

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About the CLF Blog

The views and opinions expressed on this blog do not necessarily represent the opinions or positions of Conservation Law Foundation, our boards, or our supporters.