LCBP Casin' the Basin E-News



June 2011 | Issue #15

In This Issue

Record Lake Levels Bring Sediment

LCBP Participates in TMDL Revision

Summer Intern

Farmers Recognized for Water Quality Work

Lake George Asian Clam Targeted

War of 1812 Interpretive Trail

Workshops Build Awareness


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Heavy rains and snowmelt brought Lake Champlain water levels to record highs this spring. The lake stage shattered the previous record of 102.1 feet above sea level on its way to a high of 103.27 feet in Burlington--more than three feet above flood stage--on May 6. In immediate human terms, the flooding of homes, seasonal camps, and waterfront businesses was devastating and caused major distress in shorefront communities. While there will be time in the future for a careful assessment of the flooding damage along the many tributaries and on the Lake itself, it is clear that the impact on water quality also will be very significant. The resulting sediment load to the Lake is probably unprecedented.

Winooski Sediment Plume

A sediment plume enters Lake Champlain from the Winooski River near Burlington and Colchester, Vermont. 


Photographs taken by LCBP Program Manager Bill Howland document how record flooding and strong winds resulted in suspended sediment plumes that are indicative of the nutrient load simultaneously delivered into the Lake. The flood waters delivered nutrients to the Lake both in dissolved form and attached to the surfaces of soil particles. The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation estimated that the Winooski River discharged 33 metric tons of phosphorus on April 27. This is nearly double the combined annual phosphorus discharged from all wastewater treatment plants in the Basin in Vermont in 2010 (18 metric tons).


River discharge of sediments from upstream in the Lake's watersheds was enormous, but a key part of the problem was that the zone of wave action on the Lake itself was much higher than at any time in more than a century, and powerful erosion processes were working on shoreline sediments that have, in the past, been protected by their elevation.



On January 24, 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) withdrew its approval of the Vermont portion of the Lake Champlain Phosphorus Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), which had been in effect since it was approved by the EPA in 2002.The EPA disapproved the TMDL based on two primary areas of concern: the TMDL did not provide sufficient assurance that phosphorus reductions from polluted runoff will be achieved, and it did not provide an adequate margin of safety to account for uncertainty in the analysis (particularly for four segments of the lake: Missisquoi Bay, St. Albans Bay, Northeast Arm, and South Lake).


Pursuant to Section 303 of the Clean Water Act, upon disapproval of a TMDL, EPA must establish a new TMDL as determined to be necessary to implement applicable water quality standards. The EPA New England office initiated this revision in February 2011 and is working closely with representatives from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, LCBP, and other partners.The EPA, with the involvement of VT ANR, has convened several subsequent meetings with technical experts from around the region to review the modeling approach used in the 2002 TMDL and to seek input on new approaches that should be considered for the revised TMDL. EPA has contracted with TetraTech to complete the lake modeling component of the TMDL revision, and has established a schedule for overall TMDL completion by the end of 2012.


LCBP staff have been participating in this revision process since the initial disapproval. We are committed to supporting the EPA, VT ANR, and other partners wherever necessary, to facilitate the development of a revised TMDL. LCBP also expects to assist EPA and VT ANR with outreach to stakeholders during the TMDL development process.


Full details of the EPA disapproval decision and TMDL revision process can be found here:





Emily Bird joined the LCBP as summer intern in May.

Emily Bird joined the Lake Champlain Basin Program's community as our summer intern in May. Emily will share outreach responsibilities for student and adult watershed programs, and serve as summer staff, greeting visitors at the Lake Champlain Basin Program Resource Room in ECHO at the Leahy Center in Burlington, Vermont. She also will assist with technical projects in the Grand Isle office. Emily is a senior at the University of Vermont completing a B.S. in Environmental Studies with a minor in Community and International Development. Past experience includes a corporate sustainability internship with Sappi Fine Paper, followed by a marine conservation internship with Blue Ocean Society. Recent experience includes a position as the UVM Eco-Reps Campus Coordinator along with a water quality internship with New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) in Lowell, MA. Welcome Emily!





With the announcement of the 2010 Farm Awards recipients in February, LCBP continued its recognition of farmers who are working to protect rivers and streams. In November 2010 LCBP staff and members of the award committee visited several farms in New York, Vermont, and Quebec that are implementing best management practices in an effort to reduce their impact on water quality in the Basin. LCBP recognizes annually one farm in each jurisdiction for their leadership in environmental stewardship.


Wood Family

Three generations of land stewards receive LCBP's Farm Award for Vermont at Woodnotch Farms.

Stewardship of the land has been in the family for three generations at Woodnotch Farms, and with a fourth generation begun recently, is likely to continue. With their four sons, Loren and Gail Wood keep 250 Holsteins on their Shoreham, Vermont, farm. The family has conserved 1,220 acres of the farm and has worked with conservation partners to exclude their heifers from Jones Brook. One-tenth of their farm is in riparian buffer, with more than 36,000 trees planted in the last few years. Other recent improvements include a silage leachate treatment system and a piping system for transferring manure through stream crossings on Route 22A.


Joe and Jana Garrant have been operating Maple Summit Farms near Corbeau Creek, a tributary of the Great Chazy River in New York, since 1987. In 2009, with assistance from the New York State Department of Agriculture, they built a covered manure storage system to manage waste from their 60 dairy cows. In addition to their 280-acre home farm, they rent 45 acres that receives no manure and is managed for upland wildlife. The Garrants have also reduced their solid waste stream by 80% by recycling all agricultural plastic using the Clinton County Soil & Water Conservation District baler.


Gilles and Sylvie Godin have operated their farm in Saint Sabine, Quebec since 1987, and after a three-year transition period during which no mineral fertilizers or pesticides were applied, they have been fully recognized as an organic operation for four years. With nearly five percent of their 205 acres dedicated to buffer strips, they have realized yields of grain corn, soybeans, oats, and wheat that are comparable to nearby conventional farms.


Congratulations to this year's Farm Award recipients and thank you for your efforts to improve water quality in the Lake Champlain Basin!





The August 2010 discovery of Asian clams in Lake George has prompted a rapid response from LCBP and a coalition of partners. On April 25, the Lake George Asian Clam Rapid Response Task Force (LGACRRTF) began efforts to eradicate the bi-valve from a six-acre swath of lake bottom near Lake George Village.


diver collecting samples

Divers installing benthic barrier mats during the Fall 2010 pilot study.

The clams cover sandy bottom areas in dense beds and compete with native organisms for food and habitat. Research conducted in Lake Tahoe suggests the clams are associated with algal blooms and their presence may change the water chemistry, possibly providing a calcium-rich breeding ground for other potential invasive species such as zebra or quagga mussels. Based on the number of clams discovered and their reproduction rates, scientists estimate that the invaders have been in the lake for two or three years, having likely been introduced by an aquarium dump or with dumped bait.

In an effort to suffocate the clams, the team of scientists and divers has installed nearly 800 benthic barrier mats on the lake bottom near the shore, under docks, and along beaches. The Darrin Freshwater Institute (DFWI) tested the mats in a pilot study last fall and found them to be the most effective way to eliminate the invaders. The treatment requires precise timing between ice-out and the time when water temperature rises above 59 degrees (15 degrees C), the point at which the clams become "active" and start one of their reproductive cycles.


Lake George Shorline

The area of the Lake George shorline affected by the Asian Clam infestation. 

The project area is clearly marked with signage on the beach, docks, and in the water. Boaters are asked to operate their watercraft slowly near the matted area with their motors trimmed up so they do not disturb the treatment mats or foul their propellers. Swim­mers are asked to stay out of the matted area during the course of the project. The group plans have all mats out of the lake by mid-July for the peak boating and swimming season.


Visit to track the progress and sign up for automatic updates on the treatment.




Applying Fertilizer

Most lawns in the Northeast (75% in Chittenden County, VT) do not require additional phosphorus. 


LCBP and its Lawn to Lake partners continue efforts to encourage homeowners to switch to phosphorus-free (P-free) lawn fertilizers and to help retailers guide customers towards environmentally sustainable lawn care practices and products. Many Lawn to Lake participants supported the phosphorus fertilizer bill passed recently by the Vermont legislature and signed by Governor Shumlin. The bill, which takes effect January 1, 2012, prohibits the application of fertilizers containing phosphorus except for starter fertilizers used to establish new lawns or if a soil test shows a deficiency of phosphorus in the lawn. The application of phosphorus fertilizers is also prohibited on impervious surfaces, on turf within 25 feet of a water body, and on any turf between October 15 and April 1. Read the full text of the bill  here.





The Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership (CVNHP) is developing an interpretive trail for the bicentennial of the War of 1812. Eleven locations have been selected for phase I of the trail. The CVNHP is providing interpretive, translation, and design assistance along with complete fabricated interpretive signs-an estimated $1500 value-at each of the following sites:

  • Dewey's Tavern
  • Pliny Moore House and Commissary/Encampment/Raid in Champlain
  • Pike's Cantonment and Halsey's Corners in the Town of Plattsburgh
  • Culver Hill, the 1st Bloody Encounter in Beekmantown
  • Kent-Delord House and African-American heritage at the site of the Melancton Smith home in the City of Plattsburgh
  • U.S./Canada Border in Alburgh
  • The USS Saratoga in Schuylerville

To learn more about preparations for the War of 1812 Bicentennial or the interpretive trail, please contact CVNHP Assistant Director Jim Brangan at (802) 372-3123.





LCBP has hosted and funded several workshops in recent months, including: 

  • A free workshop, "Selling Your Products in a Lake Friendly Way," for retailers in the Lake Champlain Basin. 
  • The annual Lake Champlain Watershed Group Meeting, attended by representatives of seventeen watershed groups from around the Basin.
  •  A half-day workshop, co-hosted with the Vermont Boat and Marine Association, focused on marina and recreational boating issues.
  • The  Lake George Waterkeeper and the FUND for Lake George hosted a low impact development seminar in May, funded by an LCBP Education and Outreach grant.




LCBP LogoMain Office in Grand Isle:


54 West Shore Road

Grand Isle, VT 05458

(802) 372-3213 or (800) 468-5227 (toll-free in NY & VT)


LCBP Resource Room: The Resource Room at The Leahy Center for Lake Champlain (top floor of ECHO Lake Aquarium & Science Center) is open to the public seven days/week. Call (802) 864-1848 ext. 109 for more information.