In case you haven’t already heard, VT has received increased funding from the USDA for water quality efforts and the State is also increasing their efforts.
Angela – VT Watershed Management Division
ST. ALBANS – Gov. Shumlin, Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross and Natural Resources Secretary Deb Markowitz today announced a new push to combat the sources of water pollution contributing to acute blue-green algae blooms occurring in a number of areas in northwest Vermont, including Lake Carmi, the Missisquoi Bay and the St. Albans Bay.
The announcement comes as U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited Vermont to announce $45 million in federal funds for a five-year initiative to improve soil and water quality in the Lake Champlain Basin in Vermont. This is approximately twice the amount of money previously available to Vermont for these efforts from USDA, A significant increase in federal resources to help the state clean the lake.
“Water quality problems in Lake Champlain and other waterways, symbolized now by the startling algae blooms we’re seeing up north, are decades in the making, and won’t be solved quickly,” Gov. Shumlin said. “But my Administration and the USDA are committed to both the short- and long-term efforts needed to safeguard our lakes and rivers for generations.”
In addition to the Vilsack announcement, the state Agencies of Agriculture, Food and Markets and Natural Resources will immediately focus staff and resources on Lake Champlain in Franklin County and the Lake Carmi watershed. The collaboration of the two agencies in this region reflects the recent high profile blooms that have increased community awareness, and are driven by many non-point pollution sources including significant contribution from agricultural lands in the area.
Staff from both agencies will increase inspections, monitoring, compliance and enforcement of farm and other sources of lake pollution when and where appropriate. This effort is intended to prevent further pollution that could exacerbate or prolong the existing blooms and to support the growing community awareness of the problem in Northwestern Vermont and across the state. A larger goal is to use this effort to determine how it might be replicated where successful.
This focus will target potential sources of phosphorus including, but not limited to, stormwater runoff from farms, roads and developed areas, waste water treatment plants and failed septic systems, consistent with the Lake Champlain water quality restoration plan submitted by Gov. Shumlin to EPA in May.
Both agencies have been doing this work for years across the state. This creation and use of targeted teams represents a new and concentrated temporary deployment of resources to focus on one region that is experiencing an alarming algae growth to bolster public awareness with on the ground action.
“This is an important moment in the history of the state’s effort to address water pollution, a moment to let people know we hear their concerns, to increase awareness, to help address immediate needs, and to better understand the longer term water pollution control needs of this region, the Lake Champlain watershed, and the state,” said Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross.
“We are pleased to be continuing our collaboration with the Agency of Agriculture to bring an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to addressing the immediate water quality challenges facing Franklin County,” said ANR Secretary Deb Markowitz. “By strategically deploying the resources of our agencies, we will jumpstart our efforts to meet the federal requirements for a cleaner Lake Champlain.”