So far this summer, we’ve seen an unusually high number of beach closures in Vermont. Our waters are plagued with toxic blue-green algae blooms that can cause skin irritation, liver damage, and perhaps even neurological disease. Beyond health concerns, parents report kids and pets are on the brink of mutiny from being denied access to Lake Champlain on these hot July days.
Blue-green algae blooms have forced the closures of three of the most popular beaches in Burlington – North, Blanchard and Texaco – this month. This is particularly unsettling with the thousands of kids on summer vacation looking for a place to cool off. North Beach is a popular recreation spot and is the only public beach with lifeguards – not that lifeguards can do anything about this kind of danger.
While not all algae blooms are toxic it’s impossible to tell which pose a danger just by looking at them. The Vermont Health Department maintains a blue-green algae tracker website showing where the blooms are present – but not everyone thinks to check online before going to the lake for the day.
Blue-green algae are always around but they only cause blooms under the right conditions. One necessary ingredient is an abundance of phosphorus pollution. Excess phosphorus runs into the lake from farms, parking lots, lawns, and wastewater treatment plants. CLF is working with the State of Vermont to crack down on these sources of pollution.
CLF advocates strict standards for how we treat our sewage, how we farm our land, and how we develop our cities. Follow the Lake Champlain Lakekeeper to keep up to date on CLF’s activities around Lake Champlain!