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.

    Water & Environment

    Did You Know?

    During the heyday of the Champlain Canal, between 1823 and the early twentieth century, thousands of canal boats passed between Lake Champlain and the Hudson River, transporting raw materials and finished products.
    Find out more

    Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae)

    What are cyanobacteria (blue-green algae)?

    cyanobacteria bloom

    A cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) bloom on the Burlington, VT, waterfront. Photo: Mary Watzin

    Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, are a type of bacteria found in most water bodies around the world. They play an important role in aquatic ecosystems, occasionally outcompeting other algae by using available nutrients more efficiently. Most cyanobacteria are microscopic and go unnoticed. Under certain conditions however, they can grow prolifically, forming unsightly and potentially toxic ‘blooms’.

    Cyanobacteria blooms may appear like thick pea soup, green paint, or grass clippings on the water. Although most of the cyanobacteria blooms that occur on the Lake are harmless, cyanobacteria can sometimes produce toxins that can be dangerous if ingested in large enough quantities. In 1999 and 2000, two dogs died after ingesting toxic cyanobacteria from Lake Champlain.

    Fig3_Cyanobacteria alert_SM

    Cyanobacteria blooms can form when warm surface water temperatures and calm winds limit mixing of the lake water. Together with abundant phosphorus, which encourages excessive growth of cyanobacteria, these conditions can contribute to cyanobacteria growth patterns that produce toxins and prompt local human health concerns. State and provincial health departments closely monitor lake conditions for cyanobacteria blooms, and maintain criteria for specific conditions that trigger health advisory alerts and beach closures.

    Monitoring for Cyanobacteria

    For more than ten years, the LCBP funded cyanobacteria monitoring and research efforts by the University of Vermont, the VT Department of Health, VT Department of Environmental Conservation, the Lake Champlain Committee, and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in conjunction with the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Scientists monitored Lake Champlain for cyanobacteria blooms and measured the environmental conditions that promote cyanobacteria blooms and development of their toxins in Lake Champlain. The results of this work is available in technical reports published by the LCBP.

    The Lake Champlain Cyanobacteria Monitoring Program is now coordinated by the VT DEC, working closely with the Lake Champlain Committee and the VT Department of Health to collect and analyze samples when bloom conditions merit laboratory analysis for toxins. The Quebec Ministry of the Environment also monitors for cyanobacteria on Missisquoi Bay, continuing a project begun in 1999. Several Québec beaches on Missisquoi Bay have been closed because of blue-green algae blooms over the past summers. In 2002, Vermont and Québec signed the Missisquoi Bay Phosphorus Reduction Agreement in an effort to reduce cyanobacteria blooms, which are linked to excess phosphorus in Missisquoi Bay.

    More about cyanobacteria

    Guidance for Vermont Communities from the Vermont Department of Health.

    The Québec 2014 Blue Green Algae Management Plan (PDF, QC MDDELCC – French only). More info

    For information about health advisories and reporting blooms, please visit the cyanobacteria advisories page.

    Portail santé mieux-être

    Ministère du Développment durable, Environnement et Lutte contre les changements climatiques: Les cyanobactéries à la baie Missisquoi de 2000 à 2008. Cyanobacteria in Missisquoi Bay from 2000 to 2008: Executive Summary.
    An Analysis of cyanobacterial bloom occurrence in Missisquoi Bay (Québec, Canada) between 2000 and 2008, and possible environmental factors underlying them

    Santé et Services sociaux

    For the current “state” of cyanobacteria blooms in Lake Champlain, please visit the “Pathogens and Cyanobacteria” page of our State of the Lake website.

    To learn about actions taken to address cyanobacteria blooms, please visit the “Clean Water Goal” section of the Lake Champlain management plan Opportunities for Action.

    US EPA cyanobacteria information

    What is the State of the Lake?

    What is the
    State of the Lake?

    Learn about the health of Lake Champlain in the 2018 State of the Lake report. Read about trends in key indicators of water quality and ecosystem health. Read the State of the Lake report


    Make Some Waves

    From using lake-friendly cleaning products to volunteering with a local watershed group, you can help restore and protect the Lake Champlain Basin. Find out how you can get involved

    Track Our Progress

    Track Our Progress

    Explore the goals and actions of our partners and track our progress online with the Opportunities for Action website. View Opportunities for Action

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    LCBP is a program partner of
    Lake Champlain Basin Program

    Lake Champlain Basin Program
    54 West Shore Road
    Grand Isle, VT 05458
    800-468-5227 (NY & VT)
    or 802-372-3213