Public gets its say on Lake Champlain cleanup plan

Louis Porter

Starting tomorrow, those concerned about Lake Champlain and interested in helping outline how to deal with nutrient pollution threatening its future will have a chance to make their opinions heard.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, with the help of Vermont’s Department of Environmental Conservation, is in the process of re-writing the Lake Champlain Phosphorous Total Maximum Daily Load. This effort must be successful if we are to reduce phosphorous pollution to our great lake and keep one of Vermont’s most important resources swimmable, fishable and drinkable.

As you may know, the TMDL is an important technical document which acts as a phosphorous pollution budget so Vermonters can plan for reducing how much phosphorous we ask Lake Champlain to handle. We currently add much more phosphorous – well over twice as much in some years – than is safe for the lake ecosystem. The result, excess weed growth, potentially toxic blue-green algae blooms and low dissolved oxygen, makes the lake less usable. And those problems are likely to become more widespread, particularly with two floods of historic proportion this year.

Thanks to the work of Conservation Law Foundation, the EPA ruled earlier this year that the TMDL approved in 2002 was not adequate to truly protect and restore Lake Champlain. Now federal and state authorities have organized a set of public meetings to help in reworking the TMDL which will take place over the next week and will be focused on the northern portion of the Lake Champlain basin. A second set of meetings focused on the southern portion of the lake is scheduled for November 14th through November 18thand I will send you more details when they are finalized.

As you can see from the schedule below, the first set of meetings are roughly organized by sector of interest. Given that a draft of the new TMDL is still in the works, I expect the topics covered during these conversations will be quite broad and include questions of funding, how to structure the TMDL and possible barriers to implementing it. I encourage you to attend one of them if you are at all interested in learning more, and especially if you have concerns or thoughts about the way this issue has been addressed and how it will be addressed in the future.

I plan on going to most of these meetings and will be taking notes, so if you are interested in the subject but cannot attend one of the meetings I am happy to provide you with my unofficial minutes of those I have attended (lporter@clf.org).

You can file written comments if you are unable to attend and the state has asked that, if possible, you let them know if you are planning on going to one of the meetings so they can make sure the rooms are large enough. Both can be sent to Michaela Stickney, VTDEC Lake Champlain Basin Coordinator, michaela.stickney@state.vt.us.

The EPA’s disapproval decision finding that the 2002 TMDL is inadequate can be found here:

http://www.epa.gov/region1/eco/tmdl/pdfs/vt/LakeChamplainTMDLDisapprovalDecision.pdf

Vermont’s revised implementation plan for the TMDL can be found here:

http://www.anr.state.vt.us/cleanandclear/news/TMDL%20impl%20plan%20final%20-%20011510.pdf

The Lake Champlain Basin Program’s State of the Lake Report, which includes information on Phosphorous loads, can be found here:

http://www.lcbp.org/lcstate.htm

 

1.       Tuesday October 4, 10am – 12pm
Agricultural Sector
Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District (NRCD)

617 Comstock Rd, Suite 1
Berlin, VT

Phone: (802) 828-4493 Ext. 113
► (meet in the UVM Extension conference room in the complex)

 2.       Tuesday October 4, 3-5pm
Northern Municipality Sector
Northwest Regional Planning Commission (NRPC)

155 Lake Street
St. Albans, VT

(802) 524-5958
► (meet at NRPC offices)

3.       Wednesday October 5, 11:30am-1:30pm 
Business Sector
Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce & Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation

60 Main Street, #100
Burlington, VT
(802) 863-3489

► (meet at LCRCOC offices)
4.       Wednesday October 5, 5:30-7:30pm
Nonprofit/Mid-lake Watershed Group Sector
ECHO/Leahy Center

1 College St.
Burlington, VT

(802) 864-1848
► (meet in Alcove upstairs)

5.       Thursday October 6, 10am-12pm
Northern Lake Committee Sector
Lake Champlain Basin Program
54 West Shore Rd.

Grand Isle, VT

(802) 372-3213
► (meet at LCBP offices)

6.       Thursday October 6, 2-4pm
Stormwater/Urban Sector
Shelburne Town Offices

5420 Shelburne Road

Shelburne, VT

(802) 985-5110
► (meet at Shelburne Town Offices)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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