By Sarah Olsen, VTDigger.org
The EPA released new pollution limits for Lake Champlain on Friday, Aug. 14. Gov. Peter Shumlin and federal officials announced Friday the new phosphorus limits at a press conference on North Beach in Burlington. Vermont is in the process of implementing new water quality legislation, which Shumlin signed into law on June 16.
Despite efforts to reduce levels of phosphorus, the primary contaminant, concentrations continue to increase. Polluted runoff from parking lots, farm fields, dirt roads and lawns is affecting the water quality of Lake Champlain and has contributed to an increase in toxic algae blooms that have led to the closure of beaches and swimming areas. The new law requires farmers to limit manure runoff and gives the Agency of Agriculture funding to enforce new rules.
Stephen Perkins, a project manager at the EPA’s Boston office, said it could take 10 to 15 years for the new standards to impact the overall water quality of the lake.
The EPA is asking the public to help determine phosphorus load limits for 12 sections of the lake. On Thursday, Aug. 27, a public meeting will be held at the Rutland Free Library, from 2 to 4 p.m. The public comment period ends Sept. 15.