Lake Champlain Pollution; Recent Discoveries and Ideas

Leaving the retreat a week ago, I had a clear idea of the problem we had and how my team I would approach it. We were going to reach out to a local audience of farmers, politicians and generally anyone who interacts with Lake Champlain. We were going to teach our audience about how Lake Champlain, and really any local lake, becomes polluted through dairy farm activity and phosphorus/nitrogen run offs. We were going to explore ways to fix the problem. However, over the last few days we’ve discovered something that will affect the direction of our work going forward. Bryce introduced our group to a documentary called “What’s Your Watermark?”, which talks about water pollution and the health of Lake Champlain. The documentary, published in March of 2015, focuses on a proposed bill called H.35. H.35 (also know as Act 64) wants farmers to take an initiative to prevent manure from their farms from being dispensed into our rivers and bodies of water. This would cut back on the pollution in Lake Champlain, and it would begin to clear up other issues like the rapid invasion of the Eurasian Watermilfoil and the growth of the toxic Blue-Green Algae, both of which thrive in the polluted water. H.35 was approved last year, soon after the documentary was finished! This is fantastic news to hear, for me, because it means that all dairy farmers in the state of Vermont will be legally required to do their part in helping to prevent further pollution of Lake Champlain! The message we’d intended to send has already been sent and received! Major changes are going to be made this summer, all farmers will be required to follow “required agricultural practices”, which are designed to cut down on the pollution. If you’re interested in reading more about the changes that will occur in the future, here is the link to H.35; http://legislature.vermont.gov/assets/Documents/2016/Docs/ACTS/ACT064/ACT064%20Act%20Summary.pdf.

So now that our issue is already being dealt with in a major way, we need to figure out what we’re going to do next. I think that there’s still much work to be done with Lake Champlain. Even though preventing further pollution will go a long way in making Lake Champlain healthy again, the water is already very polluted and there’s already an abundance of Blue-Green Algae. We need to look into ways of restoring the waters health and getting rid of the algae. Also, Lake Champlain is shared by New York, and they may not have as many dairy farms as Vermont, but they’re still polluting in other ways. I think a good goal for me within this next week is to look into how New York is handling the pollution of Lake Champlain. I’ll use websites and sources online, and hopefully find people on who are informed and involved in the issue to have a conversation with them about how their state is doing their part in helping deal with the pollution of Lake Champlain. Maybe this could give us an idea on where we can take our project from here. We need to find a new angle, because it sounds like those who are in charge are pretty well informed, and the problem is already being dealt with, but there is still more to be done here.

Brynna Kearns

One Response to “Lake Champlain Pollution; Recent Discoveries and Ideas

  • Brynna,

    I think your exploration to the other side of Lake Champlain will provide greater understanding VT’s efforts. What VT’s neighbors are doing will certainly have an impact on the VT side. So, how do you think you might go about exploring?

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