CLF Challenges Permits that Increase Pollution into Lake Champlain

Permits for Wastewater Treatment Facilities Violate Clean Water Act

Algae blooms phosphorus pollution

A toxic algae outbreak in Lake Champain. Photo: ©smspsy via Shutterstock

July 30, 2018 (MONTPELIER, VT)– Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) presented oral arguments in Vermont Superior Court today, challenging permits issued by Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources that allow towns to increase phosphorus pollution into Lake Champlain. Last October, CLF filed its lawsuit claiming that nine permits for wastewater treatment facilities are in violation of the Clean Water Act because they authorize dramatic increases in phosphorus pollution when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calls for a decrease in pollution. CLF is challenging the permits that were issued in Alburgh, Montpelier, South Burlington, St. Albans, Williamstown, Hinesburg, and Shelburne.

“Vermont cannot be a champion of conservation when state authorities are giving towns the green light to dump more toxic pollution into Lake Champlain,” said Elena Mihaly, Staff Attorney, Conservation Law Foundation. “Lake Champlain is a natural treasure and economic driver for Vermont and it is the agency’s obligation to protect our waters. Granting permits that will increase pollution flowing into this iconic lake is irresponsible, reckless, and unlawful.”

Lake Champlain is already overloaded with phosphorus, which causes toxic algae that have led to increases in beach closures. The State of Vermont developed a plan to reduce phosphorus pollution as the health of the lake began to deteriorate. CLF challenged these permits because they put the Lake at further risk, and they are inconsistent with the State’s clean-up plan and federal law. For more details read CLF’s blog, CLF Sues Vermont Agency for Letting Towns Dump More Pollution into Lake Champlain. Since this blog was published, CLF challenged five additional permits.

Copy of CLF’s statement of questions is available here.

CLF experts are available for further comment.