DEC Approves New Plan to Protect and Restore Tributaries to Northern Lake Champlain
Essex Junction, Vt. - The Department of Environmental Conservation approved a new plan to improve water quality in Lake Champlain. The Northern Lake Champlain Direct Drainages Tactical Basin Plan Plan compiles over two years of work focused on the health of the basin and development of targeted actions to remediate and protect surface waters.
High levels of sediment and pollutants, invasive aquatic species and potentially toxic algal blooms threaten many lakes, rivers, and streams in the Lake Champlain Basin. The new tactical basin plan, one of many water quality improvement plans throughout the state, addresses the smaller watersheds that drain directly to the northern half of Lake Champlain, but excludes the larger northern watersheds such as the Missisquoi, Lamoille, and Winooski Rivers.
Charlie Baker, Executive Director of the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, said, “The Agency of Natural Resources has been steadily improving the tactical basin plan process so that it uses the best available data and local knowledge to develop a good set of priority actions. The CCRPC looks forward to working with ANR and our municipalities in implementing these high priority actions to help clean the water going into Lake Champlain.”
The plan prioritizes protection of river corridors that increase flood resilience, promotes improvements of lakeshore and wetland habitat along Lake Champlain and Lake Iroquois, and supports both short- and long-term monitoring programs, including those in Allen Brook and Malletts Creek. Additionally, the plan promotes agricultural Best Management Practices in areas that contribute significant phosphorus to local waterbodies and addresses E. coli contamination in surface waters including inner Malletts Bay and the small drainages of the LaPlatte River, Englesby Ravine and Potash Brook.
ANR Secretary Markowitz said, “This plan focused both on improvement of water quality and the health of the aquatic habitat that is vital to our fisheries. We could not have completed this work alone. This plan reflects the recommendations of local watershed groups, residents, a variety of stakeholders, the Agency of Natural Resources and natural resource professionals from other State and federal agencies.”
The draft plan was released for public comment on June 15, 2015. The public comment period ended on July 24, 2015 and included three public meetings held in Swanton on June 29, Essex Junction on July 2 and Shelburne on July 8, 2015. Comments have been addressed in a summary presented in an appendix of the final plan, now available online at http://www.watershedmanagement.vt.gov/ or by contacting Karen Bates at (802) 879-2339 or karen.bates@Vermont.gov.