Cleaning Up Lake Champlain

Vermont’s most iconic lake is under threat. Unchecked pollution is damaging its health and its habitats and causing toxic algae blooms that harm people and wildlife.

CLF in Action

As advocate, convener, and watchdog, the Lake Champlain Lakekeeper plays a unique role in the protection and restoration of Lake Champlain. Our Lakekeeper is on the ground in communities across the state:

  • Building a local presence for Lake Champlain.
  • Working with other members of the world-wide Waterkeepers Alliance, who fight for clean water, champion tighter protections, and raise water awareness.
  • Advocating for policies and solutions to pollution and other threats.
  • Ensuring that the lake and its surrounding natural spaces are fully protected under the Clean Water Act and other laws.

CLF’s years of work to restore Lake Champlain to health are now paying off. Last year, Vermont’s governor signed landmark legislation aimed at cleaning up the ailing lake, and this year, the Secretary of Agriculture approved a much-needed plan negotiated by CLF to curb polluted runoff from agricultural operations.

What’s at Stake

The sixth largest body of fresh water in the United States, Lake Champlain is one of New England’s treasures. Many rivers and streams in Vermont, New York, and Québec drain into the lake, which boasts a rich diversity of wildlife and provides drinking water to nearly a quarter million people.

Lake Champlain contains 587 miles of shoreline, more than 70 islands, and 6.8 trillion gallons of water. The lake spans 120 miles from its southern point in New York up to the outlet in Québec, extends 12 miles across, and reaches a maximum depth of 400 feet.

The Lake Champlain watershed encompasses 8,234 square miles, over half of which is in Vermont. It is unique in the sheer size of its watershed compared to the size of the lake itself with a ratio of 18:1. The watershed includes a large percentage of the Green Mountains in Vermont, parts of the Adirondack Mountains in New York, and the Pike River floodplain in Québec. More than 60 percent of its land area is forested, 16 percent is agricultural, 10 percent is open waters, 6 percent is developed, and 4 percent is wetlands.

Click here to visit the University of Vermont’s interactive map of the Lake Champlain watershed.