Clean Water
Matters!

The diverse ecosystems, working
landscapes, and vibrant communities
that inspire and sustain us depend on
clean water. Learn about pollution
reduction strategies.

Healthy Habitats
Connect Us All

Lakeshores, stream banks, and wetlands are critical to clean
water and biodiversity. Learn about efforts to improve
habitat connectivity in the Basin ecosystem.

We Care for
What We Know

Recreation fosters stewardship of the Basin’s rich
natural and cultural heritage by connecting people
to the landscape while supporting local economies.
Learn about ways to explore the Basin.

Informed Citizens
Make Wiser Choices

Citizens who have an understanding and
appreciation of water resources make informed
choices about actions that might contribute to
pollution. Learn about education programs.

    About Us

    GLOSSARY

    Algae: small aquatic plants that occur as single cells, colonies or strands. Algae use carbon dioxide and nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus to make their own food through photosynthesis. Algae form the base of the aquatic food chain.

    Algae bloom or algal bloom: a situation often caused by excess nutrients whereby algae grow and reproduce rapidly, often forming dense mats on the surface of the water. Algae blooms can cause unpleasant conditions for swimmers or boaters.

    Aquatic: growing in, living in, or dependent upon water.

    Basin: the surrounding land that drains into a water body. For Lake Champlain, the land that drains through the many rivers and their tributaries into the Lake itself.

    Best management practice (BMP): a practice or activity that reduces the amount of pollution entering a body of water.

    Biodiversity: the variety of plants and animals, their genetic variability, and their interrelationships and ecological processes, and the communities and landscapes in which they exist.

    Biological indicator (bioindicators): biological characteristic at the cellular, organism, population, or community level that is representative of a given habitat or its ecological condition .

    Biota: the animal or plant life of a region.

    Blue-green algae/cyanobacteria: known as the most primitive group of algae. Some blue-green algae produce natural toxins.

    Buffer (zone or strip): protective land border that reduces runoff and nonpoint source pollution loading to critical habitats or water bodies; area created or sustained to lessen the negative effects of land development on animals and plants and their habitats.

    Community: in the context of ecology, a group of interacting plants and animals inhabiting a given area.

    Concentration: the amount of a material dissolved in a solution.

    Contaminant: a substance that is not naturally present in the environment or is present in amounts that can adversely affect the environment.

    Contamination: in water resources, the impairment of water quality by waste to a degree that creates a hazard to public health or living resources through poisoning or the spread of disease. Air and soil can also be contaminated in a similar way.

    Corridor: in the context of wildlife, a strip of habitat that joins two larger blocks of habitat that permits movement of wildlife during dispersal or migration, e.g., a wooded area along a river.

    Cost-effective: in environmental policy-making, the least cost means of achieving a pre-determined environmental objective. Costs include long-term, short-term, direct and indirect costs to producers, society and the environment.

    Cost-share: a method for sharing installation costs for conservation practices, including BMPs, between a governmental body (federal, state, local) and a farmer or landowner/land user.

    Criteria: a standard, rule or test by which something can be judged; a measure of value.

    Critical habitat: any area which has unique or fragile natural, historical, geological, archeological or wildlife value; areas which are essential to the conservation of an officially-listed endangered or threatened species and which may require special management considerations or protection are also considered critical habitats.

    Cultural heritage: historical and archeological past reflected in existing culture.

    Cultural heritage resources: the physical record and memory of the past.

    Database: a collection of data arranged for ease and speed of retrieval.

    Dioxin: any of a family of compounds known chemically as dibenzo-p-dioxins. Dioxins are sometimes generated by industrial processes, and can contaminate water and soil. Tests on laboratory animals indicate that it is one of the most toxic man-made chemicals known.

    Drainage basin: land area from which water flows into a river or lake, either from streams, groundwater, or surface runoff (see Basin or Watershed).

    Easement: an agreement by which a landowner gives up or sells one of the rights on his/her property. For example, a landowner may donate a right of way across his/her property to allow community members to access to the Lake.

    Ecosystem: a group of plants and animals occurring together, and the physical environment with which they interact.

    Ecosystem approach: a way of looking at socio-economic and environmental information based on the boundaries of ecosystems such as the Lake Champlain Basin, rather than based on town, city, county or other political boundaries.

    Ecosystem-based approach: a management approach to making decisions based on the characteristics of the ecosystem in which a person or thing belongs. This concept takes into consideration interactions between the plants, animals and physical characteristics of the environment when making decisions about land use or living resource issues.

    Endangered species: a species in immediate danger of becoming extinct.

    Erosion: the loosening and subsequent transport of soil away from its native site, or the wearing away of the land surface by running water, wind, ice or gravity. Erosion often results from wind or the removal of vegetation.

    Eutrophic: from Greek for “well-nourished,” it describes a lake with low water clarity and excessive plant growth due to high concentrations of nutrients.

    Eutrophication: the slow, natural process of aging of a lake, estuary, or bay. Dissolved nutrients enter the water body, often leading to excess plant growth and decreased water quality. As the plants die, they are decomposed by microorganisms which use up dissolved oxygen vital to other aquatic species such as fish. Over very long periods of time, the decaying plant matter builds up and causes the lake to fill in to form a bog or marsh. Human-caused eutrophication can speed up this natural process.

    Failing or faulty septic system: a septic system that releases untreated or inadequately treated wastewater to surface or groundwater by surfacing and overland flow of effluent or by subsurface percolation.

    Fishery: the act, process, occupation or season for taking fish.
    Fish passageway: a structure that is built, installed, or established to help fish bypass impediments in a waterway.

    Food web: the pattern of food consumption in a natural ecosystem. A food web is composed of many interconnecting food chains.

    Geographic Information Systems (GIS): a computer system that is used to compile, store, analyze and display geographic and associated data tables. This system can be used to produce maps which overlay information layers of locations of various environmental and physical features.

    Guidelines: standards or principles by which to make a judgment or determine a policy or course of action.

    Habitat: the place where a particular type of plant or animal lives. An organism’s habitat must provide all of the basic requirements for life and should be free of harmful contaminants.

    Habitat degradation: reduction of the quality of the environment in which an organism or biological population usually lives or grows.

    Habitat restoration: the artificial manipulation of a habitat to restore it to its former condition.

    Harmful algal bloom (HAB): Algal bloom that may create conditions that are harmful to human health or the ecosystem by production of natural toxins or other means.

    Hazardous waste: any solid, liquid or gaseous substance that is a by-product of society and classified under state or federal law as potentially harmful to human health or the environment. Hazardous wastes are subject to special handling, shipping, storage and disposal requirements and possess at least one of the following four characteristics: ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity or toxicity.

    Health risks: anything which may reduce human health. These may be ranked according to high, moderate and low risk.

    Integrity: in the context of ecology, a structurally sound and fully functional ecosystem is one that is said to have “ecological integrity.” Such an ecosystem is self-maintaining and resilient when disturbed.
    Invertebrate: small organisms like worms and clams that do not have a backbone.

    Load (also loading): the amount of a material entering a system from all sources over a given time interval.

    Local watershed: in this Plan, any watershed within a sub-basin of Lake Champlain.

    Manage: to control the movement or behavior of; to manipulate.

    Management (natural resources management): to make a conscious, deliberate decision on a course of action to conserve, protect, restore, enhance, or control natural resources, or to take no action.

    Mesotrophic: a moderately nutrient-enriched lake, between oligotrophic and eutrophic.

    Mitigation: actions taken to compensate for the negative effects of a particular project. Wetland mitigation usually takes the form of restoration or enhancement of a previously damaged wetland or creation of a new wetland.

    Non-native species: a species not present in the Lake Champlain basin before European settlement.

    Nonpoint source pollution: nutrients or toxic substances that enter water from dispersed and uncontrolled sites, rather than through pipes. Sources of nonpoint source pollution include runoff from agricultural lands, urban and forest land, and on-site sewage disposal.

    Nuisance species: species having adverse ecological or economic impacts, or impede the use of Lake Champlain. May include native and non-native species.

    Nutrient: a substance like phosphorus or nitrogen which nourish life. These are essential chemicals needed by plants or animals for growth. If other physical and chemical conditions are appropriate, excessive amounts of nutrients can lead to degradation of water quality by promoting excessive growth, accumulation and subsequent decay of plants, especially algae. Some nutrients can be toxic to plants and animals at high concentrations.

    Nutrient management: an integrated approach designed to maximize the efficient use of nutrients, particularly phosphorus which is found in animal manure and fertilizer.

    Oligotrophic: from the Greek for “poorly nourished”; describes a lake, with low plant growth and high clarity. Oligotrophic lakes contain little organic matter and have a high dissolved oxygen level.

    Pathogens: organisms, usually viruses, bacteria or fungi, capable of causing disease.

    PCBs: polychlorinated biphenyls. A group of manufactured chemicals, including about seventy different but closely related compounds made up of carbon, hydrogen and chlorine, used in transformers and capacitors for insulating purposes. If released to the environment, PCBs do not break down for long periods and can biomagnify in food chains. PCBs are suspected of causing cancer in humans and other animals. PCBs are an example of an organic toxic chemical.

    Perennial crop: An agricultural commodity that is produced from the same root structure for two or more years.

    Phytoplankton: very small, free-floating plants found in water bodies.
    Point source pollution: nutrients or toxic substances that enter a water body from a specific entry point, such as a pipe. For example, the discharge from a sewage treatment plant is point source pollution.

    Pollutant: a substance that causes pollution.

    Pollution: impairment of land, air or water quality caused by agricultural, domestic or industrial waste that negatively impacts beneficial uses of the land, air or water, or the facilities that serve such beneficial uses.

    Pollution prevention: any action such as the efficient use of raw materials, energy, and water that reduces or eliminates the creation of pollutants. In the Pollution Prevention Act, pollution prevention is defined as source reduction (see Source reduction).

    Population: the number of inhabitants in a country or region; in ecology, a population is a group of organisms of the same species living in a specified area and interbreeding.

    Protection: Preservation of a parcel of land to reduce impacts of development or other human-based land uses or to prevent the degradation of water quality, a species, or habitat.

    Rare species: a species not presently in danger, but of concern because of low numbers.

    Restoration: any action taken to repair, maintain, protect, and enhance the ecological integrity of the Basin.

    Riparian (habitat or zone): habitat occurring along rivers, streams and creeks that provides for a high density, diversity and productivity of plant and animal species.

    Runoff: water from rain, melted snow, or agricultural or landscape irrigation that flows over the land surface into a water body.

    Salmonid: a member of the family Salmonidae, which includes salmon, trout and whitefishes.

    Sedimentation: the deposition or accumulation of sediment, such as sand, silt or clay.

    Source reduction: any practice which reduces the amount of any hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant entering wastewater.
    Source reduction decreases the hazards to public health and the environment associated with the release of such substances, pollutants or contaminants. Technology modifications, process or procedure modifications, reformulation or redesign of products, substitution of raw materials, and improvements in housekeeping, maintenance, training or inventory control are all examples of source reduction.

    Stewardship: the concepts of responsible caretaking; based on the premise that we do not own resources, but are managers of resources and are responsible to future generations for their condition.

    Stormwater runoff: precipitation running off of saturated or frozen soils and impervious surfaces such as paved parking lots, streets or roofs.
    Sub-basin: a smaller drainage area within a large drainage basin, such as the Saranac River sub-basin of the Lake Champlain Basin. In this Plan, “sub-basin” refers to one of the 34 drainage areas (larger than 26 km2) to Lake Champlain.

    Threatened species: a species with high possibility of becoming endangered in the near future (see Endangered species).

    Total Maximum Daily Load: a TMDL is the maximum amount (load) of a single pollutant from all contributing point and nonpoint sources that a water body can receive and still meet water quality standards, and an allocation of that amount of the pollutant’s sources.

    Toxic substance: any substance which upon exposure, ingestion, inhalation or assimilation into any organism, causes death, disease, genetic mutations, physiological malfunctions or physical deformation. Examples of toxic substances are cyanides, phenols, pesticides and heavy metals.

    Toxic: poisonous, carcinogenic, or otherwise directly harmful to life.

    Tributary: a stream or river that flows into a larger stream or river or lake.

    Urban runoff: storm water from city streets and adjacent domestic or commercial properties that may carry pollutants of various kinds into the sewer systems and/or receiving waters.

    Watershed: the geographic reach within which water drains into a particular river, stream or body of water. A watershed includes both the land and the body of water into which the land drains.

    Watershed group: a citizen based group interested in protecting a nearby waterway and its surrounding drainage area.

    Watershed planning: cooperative local and regional land use planning that recognizes watershed boundaries rather than political boundaries and considers water resources management is the central planning objective.

    Wetland restoration: any action that aids in preserving, repairing, maintaining or enhancing wetlands (see Wetlands).

    Wetlands: lands that are transitional between land and water where the water table is usually at or near the surface of the land. Wetlands are characterized by unique hydric soils and contain plant and animal communities adapted to aquatic or intermittently wet conditions. Swamps, bogs, wet meadows and marshes are examples of wetlands. The boundary of Lake Champlain wetlands has been defined at 105 feet (31.1 meters) above mean sea level.

    Wildlife: for the purposes of this Plan, the term “wildlife” includes any non-domesticated mammal, fish, bird, amphibian, reptile, mollusk, crustacean, arthropod and other invertebrate or plant.

    Zooplankton: very small, free-floating animals found in water bodies.

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    Abbreviations

    AIS Aquatic Invasive Species
    ANS Aquatic Nuisance Species
    BGA Blue-Green Algae
    BMP Best Management Practice
    CAC Citizens Advisory Committee
    CBEI Champlain Basin Education Initiative
    CVNHP Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership
    DPW Department of Public Works
    E&O Education and Outreach
    EPF Environmental Protection Fund
    EPSCoR Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research
    GLFC Great Lakes Fishery Commission
    GSI Green Stormwater Infrastructure
    HAB Harmful Algal Bloom
    HAPAC Heritage Area Partnership Advisory Committee
    IJC International Joint Commission
    LiDAR Light Detection and Ranging
    LCBP Lake Champlain Basin Program
    LID Low Impact Development
    LTP Land Treatment Plan
    MRC Regional Municipalities/Municipalité Régionale de Comté
    NEANS Northeast Aquatic Nuisance Species
    NEIWPCC New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission
    NMP Nutrient Management Plan
    NPS National Park Service
    NRCS Natural Resources Conservation Service
    NYS New York State
    NYSDEC New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
    OFA Opportunities for Action
    PCBs Polychlorinated Biphenyls
    PSA Public Service Announcement
    QC Québec
    QC MDDELCC Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques du Québec/Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight against climate change of Québec
    RAP Required Agricultural Practices
    RFP Request for Proposals
    SUNY State University of New York
    TAC Technical Advisory Committee
    TMDL Total Maximum Daily Load
    USACE United States Army Corps of Engineers
    USDA-NRCS United States Department of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service
    USEPA United States Environmental Protection Agency
    USFWS United States Fish and Wildlife Service
    UVM University of Vermont
    VT Vermont
    VTANR Vermont Agency of Natural Resources
    VTDEC Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation
    WEC Watershed for Every Classroom

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