Clean Water

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

    GOAL: Water in the Lake Champlain Basin’s lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams will sustain diverse ecosystems, support vibrant communities and working landscapes, and provide safe recreation opportunities.

    Lake Champlain waters will be clean enough for people to swim, boat, fish and drink, and will support a healthy ecosystem. Clean water is critical for the diverse habitats, working landscapes, and vibrant communities that sustain us. Pollution from human activities across the watershed impairs the water quality of the lake, reduces recreational access, and decreases economic opportunities. Lake Champlain is among the 25% of lakes in the United States that are impaired by excess nutrients (USEPA 2011), and among the 40% of lakes with health advisories for fish consumption due to elevated mercury concentrations (USEPA 2011).


    Sound science is fundamental for action to achieve clean water in the Lake Champlain Basin. Our understanding of lake conditions relies on ongoing monitoring and targeted research. Data from monitoring networks like the Lake Champlain Long-Term Monitoring Program are critical for identifying areas in need of pollution interventions and making management decisions to allocate limited resources. New technologies and innovative research will be increasingly necessary to address threats to clean water.

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    While nutrients are essential for any ecosystem, excessive levels of nutrients can severely impair water quality. Excessive nutrient loading from human activities along tributaries and the lakeshore. Loading of some nutrients (e.g. nitrogen) from the atmosphere also is a concern. Outcomes for the Clean Water section of OFA will reflect phosphorus loading reductions identified in the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and associated implementation plans for Vermont and New York, and reduction plans identified for the Québec portion of the Missisquoi Bay watershed.

    The Lake Champlain Steering Committee has established a series of outcomes to be achieved by the end of this five-year management plan for priority watersheds. These outcomes reflect anticipated reductions in loading of phosphorus to the lake, based on protection, restoration, and management actions in the watershed that will have been implemented by federal, provincial, and local management agencies and organizations collectively working with the Lake Champlain Basin Program.

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    Contaminants that originate from human activities and products, including toxic substances, pharmaceutical products, pathogens, road salt, and microplastics, pose distinct and complex threats to the waterways of the Basin. Their sources, environmental fate, and effect on biota and human health often are poorly understood. The variety and environmental persistence of these substances necessitate continued monitoring and scientific investigation to prioritize management actions.

    The Lake Champlain Steering Committee has identified a suite of priorities to reach the goal of clean water in Lake Champlain. LCBP will serve a role to meet each of these priorities:

    • State, Federal, and Provincial agencies have established goals to reduce total phosphorus loading from tributaries draining into Missisquoi Bay, St. Albans Bay, and the South Lake.
      The LCBP will assist partners in achieving load reduction goals for these lake segments by maintaining the monitoring network. The data collected will help to document these improvements and to address task areas targeted at reducing nutrient loads, which are identified in this Plan as high priorities for LCBP support between 2017-2022.
    • Reduce and strive to eliminate beach closings associated with harmful algal blooms (HABs) and elevated bacteria counts.
      The LCBP will continue to support interventions that reduce pollutant loads contributing to HABs and bacteria counts exceeding federal, state, and provincial thresholds, through the support of implementation projects. The areas of Plattsburgh, NY and St. Albans Bay, VT will be considered a high priority.
    • Reduce the portion of Lake Champlain experiencing harmful algal bloom conditions at High Alert.
      The LCBP will continue to support interventions that reduce pollutant loads contributing to HABs, and continuing to monitor and track the extent of HABs and their alert level.
    • Identify the level of toxic contaminants (e.g. mercury, PCBs, dioxins, furans, and organic contaminants) in sport fish tissue.
      The LCBP will continue to support of regular assessments for mercury and PCBs in Lake Champlain sportfish, and will support development of new assessments of additional contaminants of concern in Lake Champlain sportfish to inform development of fish consumption advisories, where appropriate.

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    Objective I.A. Improve scientific knowledge and understanding of water
    quality conditions and trends in Lake Champlain and the effectiveness of management approaches

    Broaden support of innovative research to explore new solutions for pollution prevention and reduction by ensuring continued access to accurate information.

    NOTE: Task areas identified with ** denote task areas that should be targeted with LCBP funds. Other task areas may be more appropriate for other watershed management agencies or partners to support.

    Strategy Task Area Anticipated Output Outcome
    Fund and Interpret Management-oriented Research
    ** I.A.1.a: Increase accessibility of data on Lake Champlain.
    Connect the research community with datasets or data managers in the basin to inform new research projects and foster new opportunities for collaboration within the basin and beyond.
    At least one new funded research project that uses an existing Lake Champlain dataset. Support a Lake Champlain Research Conference to promote collaboration and data sharing opportunities. Maximize use of data to address watershed issues through research. Long-term monitoring data for Lake Champlain will form the basis for new research in the watershed to guide policy decisions.
    I.A.1.b: Support innovative management approaches likely to achieve results.
    Solicit new management-oriented research projects that address clean water priorities, including nutrient issues, toxic substance issues, and monitoring programs that will directly inform management or policy decisions. LCBP may initiate a subcommittee in the form of an “Innovation Hub” to facilitate generation and evaluation of innovative ideas.
    One new funded research project that directly informs management or policy decisions related to toxic substances, nutrient loading and cycling, or monitoring programs. Identify new management approaches that are effective at reducing nutrients and toxic substances.
    **I.A.1.c: Increase understanding of factors affecting BMP performance and efficiency.
    Support programs that explore emerging approaches to reduce nutrient, sediment, or toxin loading to the Lake through the use of new, innovative tools or by improving efficacy of existing tools, and by incorporating potential effects of climate change into these approaches.
    One new research program, leveraging funds from other programs where possible, that examines new tools or techniques to reduce pollutant loads to Lake Champlain. New or improved intervention options for installation in the watershed to reduce pollutant loads.
    Fund and Interpret Monitoring Programs
    ** I.A.2.a:
    Maintain the Lake Champlain Long-Term Monitoring program.
    Support of monitoring of certain chemical, physical, and biological parameters to detect changes in the Lake Champlain ecosystem.
    Intact period of record and regular interpretation of Lake Champlain long-term monitoring data. Enhanced environmental knowledge will be achieved as long-term monitoring data will continue to be available through 2022 via web access.
    **I.A.2.b: Expand Sub-Watershed Monitoring to inform targeted watershed objectives.
    Focus subwatershed monitoring on 3-5 year rotations in collaboration with State and Provincial agencies to identify problem areas and document improvements from interventions at the sub-watershed level.
    Develop intensive short-term period of record for selected subwatersheds, targeted installation of BMPs. One subwatershed (HUC Level 12) will have a short-term monitoring study completed, with targeted sites for BMP interventions.
    **I.A.2.c: Assess progress of existing water quality management programs.
    Support a review of the effects of recent management decisions to inform new decisions, priorities, and management trajectories.
    New management priorities informed by outcome of previous projects (decision feedback loop). Management plan progress analysis, with recommendations for course-corrections where applicable.

    Partner watershed management plans related to this strategy:

    Objective I.B. Reduce Contaminants of Concern and Pathogens

    Improve our understanding of which contaminants are of greatest concern in Lake Champlain, where they come from, and how to reduce their impacts on the water quality of Lake Champlain.

    NOTE: Task areas identified with ** denote task areas that should be targeted with LCBP funds. Other task areas may be more appropriate for other watershed management agencies or partners to support.

    Strategy Task Area Anticipated Output Outcome
    Control Sources of Contaminants Work with management partners to identify sources of pathogens and toxic substances and work to identify mechanisms or interventions to mitigate these sources.
    ** I.B.1.a: Understand Emerging Contaminants and Points of Control. Historical toxicology studies in the Champlain basin have focused on mercury, PCBs, and other similar pollutants. Comprehensive review of emerging contaminants of concern, including potential sources and effects, and mitigation options. Pollution source mitigation plans for high priority contaminants, including targeting of funding sources to execute the mitigation plans. Summary of toxicological concerns for “new-age” or emerging contaminants in the Champlain basin.
    I.B.1.b: Support screening for raw lake water periodically for toxic substances, including herbicides, pesticides and personal care products.. Monitor for and assess new pollutants for which the impacts on ecosystems are unknown, especially at raw water intakes for drinking water treatment facilities. Database of monitoring information for suite of personal care products developed and populated. Toxin management policy informed by new data generated to document pollutants measured in the lake, particularly at raw-water intakes.
    I.B.1.c: Fund projects to reduce public beach closures.
    . Support new research or implementation projects that help reduce beach closures resulting from Harmful Algal Blooms or high bacteria levels. Target interventions for specific beaches around the Lake, factoring in potential effects of increased rainfall intensities, as predicted by recent climate change modeling.
    New BMPs or infrastructure upgrades that can be installed to reduce beach closures or increasing stormwater retention capacity to reduce runoff during storm events. Reduction in frequency of beach closures.
    ** I.B.1.d: Fund monitoring programs to inform consumption advisories for Lake Champlain fishes.. Support regular assessments of toxins in sportfish to provide data to keep consumption advisories current, and support assessments of new contaminants to inform advisories. Updated data for mercury concentrations in fish tissue by 2022. Support development of cyanotoxin in sportfish dataset. New data will be required to update fish consumption advisories for mercury concentrations in sportfish (current data will have been collected in 2016). New consumption advisories for fish collected near a harmful algal bloom, if applicable, will be in place by 2022.

    Partner watershed management plans related to this strategy:

    • The Lake Champlain Toxic Substance Management Strategy is a plan to reduce toxic contamination in Lake Champlain to promote a healthy ecosystem and protect public health as outlined in Lake Champlain’s management plan Opportunities for Action ( The Toxic Substance Management Strategy delineates strategies for monitoring and reducing several classes of toxic substances found within the Lake Champlain watershed. LCBP Toxic Substance Management Strategy

    Objective I.C. Reduce Nutrient Loading

    Reduce nutrient loading from all land use sectors, including agricultural lands, developed lands, forested lands, and streambanks.

    NOTE: Task areas identified with ** denote task areas that should be targeted with LCBP funds. Other task areas may be more appropriate for other watershed management agencies or partners to support.

    Strategy Task Area Anticipated Output Outcome
    Fund Research and Watershed Interventions to Reduce Streambank Nutrient Inputs
    I.C.1.a: Fund projects to improve bank stability in critical areas of the watershed. Improve the understanding of streambank vulnerability and quality of riparian corridors and connect rivers to their floodplains in critical watersheds. Identify and rank vulnerable stream banks in critical watersheds for restoration and implement BMPs on five critical areas. Prioritized list of streambanks for targeting resources for interventions.
    ** I.C.1.b: Fund programs to protect or enhance river corridors for nutrient reduction and flood resilience..
    Support programs to improve quality of riparian corridors and connect rivers to their floodplains in critical watersheds, factoring in data from TMDLs and the predicted effects of climate change on timing, frequency, and intensity of precipitation events.
    Manage an additional 100 acres for riparian habitat quality; restore 3,000 linear feet of riparian corridor habitat, conduct outreach to at least 100 landowners for conservation of riparian habitat. Increased areas of high-priority riparian areas conserved.
    Fund Programs to Reduce Nutrient Inputs from Agriculture
    Refine mechanisms to reduce pollutant loads from agricultural sources.
    ** I.C.2.a: Provide Technical Assistance for Land Treatment Plans (LTPs) and Nutrient Management Plans (NMPs). Provide support for farmers to develop and maintain LTPs and NMPs (and equivalent plans in Quebec) that meet the appropriate standards for other funding opportunities. 90% of farms interested in USDA programs have LTPs and NMPs complete at time of application. Increased number of farms participating in USDA program funding and Provincial program.
    ** I.C.2.b: Research and Promote Programs to Optimize Fertilizer Applications to Reduce Nutrient Load..
    Support development of programs to work with farms to calibrate fertilizer applications.
    In the US; 90% of large and medium farms and 25% of small farms in critical watersheds receive fertilizer calibration training; 25% participation of all farms in non-critical watersheds. Reduction in fertilizer applied by large and medium farms within critical watersheds through increased accuracy of application.
    I.C.2.c: Reduce acreage of flood-prone land areas in agriculture..
    Work with partner agencies and NGOs to identify farm fields in flood-prone areas and move them out of production or into perennial crops for soil retention and to increase resilience to climate change-related factors.
    30% reduction of annual crops in flood-prone areas in critical watersheds Reduction in soil and crop loss on agricultural fields due to flooding
    I.C.2.d: Help farmers meet Clean Water regulations with targeted cost-share support for small farms..
    Provide cost-share support to farmers for BMP projects in critical sub-watersheds.
    100% cost share support for BMP applications addressing Critical Source Areas on farms in priority subwatersheds. Also provide cost-share support where possible in remaining watersheds. Continued participation in BMP programs.
    I.C.2.e: Research and Support Phosphorus Removal Opportunities from Tile Drains and Agricultural Ditches. . Work with federal, state and provincial partners to support new innovative research programs to identify technologies and practices to improve phosphorus removal. Fund one new research program to explore phosphorus removal systems in tile drains and ditches. Informed policy on tile drainage systems to reduce impacts of tile drainage on nutrient loading to the Lake or tributary network.
    I.C.2.f: Research and support sustainable agricultural practices that address water quality concerns and also are economically sustainable.
    Explore water quality systems that address agricultural practices from pollution abatement and farm viability perspectives.
    Support a research program to explore pollution interventions on farms that address water quality concerns and improve farm economic viability. Examples of nutrient reduction BMPs with economic benefits to farmers identified.
    Fund Programs to Reduce Nutrient Inputs from Developed Lands

    Target inputs from stormwater runoff and wastewater treatment facilities.
    I.C.3.a: Support training programs to WWTFs for Asset Management. Support asset management training to provide operational, maintenance, and financial guidance to municipalities and wastewater treatment governing boards and plant operators in the management of public infrastructure investments, in order to reduce nutrient loads and contain costs. Asset management plans in place for all high-risk WWTFs, with funding options identified. Management plans in place to facilitate management, reduce phosphorus loading and human/mechanical errors, and funding streams to support necessary upgrades on schedule.
    I.C.3.b: Fund Research and Implementation Programs to Reduce Effective Impervious Surface Area. Address nutrient runoff from impervious surface areas in critical watersheds, incorporating predicted effects of climate change on precipitation events. Green stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) projects implemented Improved understanding of efficacy of interventions that reduce stormflows and associated nutrient loading from urban areas and increase resiliency to flood damage.
    I.C.3.c: Fund design and implementation of GSI/LID projects in critical areas. Support a grant program targeting design and installation of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) projects in critical watersheds. Twenty new GSI projects installed or designed (shovel-ready) in critical watersheds and twenty new projects in remaining watersheds in the Basin. Reduced stormflows from urban areas in critical watersheds.
    Fund Programs to Reduce Nutrient Inputs from Forested Lands

    Reduce pollution loads by conserving critical riparian corridors, researching and supporting BMPs in the forestry sector, and providing outreach programming. Regulations on Forested Lands.
    I.C.4.a: Fund programs to Promote Forestry Practices with Water Quality Benefits. Support innovative and tested forestry BMPs to reduce nutrient runoff, while also protecting sensitive habitat, reducing species impacts, and improving climate change resilience. Five new innovative and tested forestry BMPs to reduce nutrient runoff, and protect sensitive habitat and species impacts. Enhanced suite of forestry BMPs with known pollutant reduction efficiencies and benefits to riparian habitat and associated species.
    I.C.4.b: Support Projects to Restore and Protect Riparian Forests & Corridors. Support forestry projects that reduce nutrient loading and increase stream bank stability along riparian corridors, with priority to projects that also can manage riparian invasive species spread or protect wildlife habitat. Five conservation easements or BMPs on riparian forest corridors that reduce nutrient loading to waterways. Improved riparian corridor stability.

    Partner watershed management plans related to this strategy:

    • 2016 Vermont Lake Champlain TMDL
    • 2002 New York Lake Champlain TMDL
    • 2016 VT Required Agricultural Practices
    • 2016 Vermont Lake Champlain Phosphorus TMDL Phase I Implementation Plan
    • Vermont Tactical Basin Plans

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    Lake Champlain Basin Program
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    Grand Isle, VT 05458
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