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?

    Lake Champlain flows north to the St. Lawrence River, but during the Ice Age the Lake flowed south, emptying into the Hudson River.
    Find out more

    Testing and Beach Closures

    Water Testing

    In the summer months, water at many public beaches is tested for fecal coliform and/or E. coli. (Fecal coliform and E. coli are two different measures of the presence of bacteria from fecal sources. Fecal coliform is the name for the large group of bacteria from fecal sources whereas E. coli is an indicator whose presence is strongly correlated with the presence of pathogens.) Public beaches are typically closed when sampling shows high coliform levels. Swimmers at private beaches and other popular swimming areas that are not tested should use caution after heavy rainfalls.

    In New York and Vermont, the health protective level of E. coli bacteria in recreational water is 235 colony-forming units (organisms, or CFUs) per 100 milliliters of swimming water for a single sample. For Québec, this limit is 200 CFUs per 100 ml. The New York Department of Health also as regulations for fecal coliform at bathing beaches. The fecal coliform density from a series of five or more samples in any 30-day period shall not exceed a logarithmic mean of 200 CFUs per 100 ml. When any sample exceeds 1,000 colonies per 100 ml, consideration will be given to closing the beach. The presence of any fecal coliform in drinking water is cause for concern and requires immediate action.

    Water quality at many beaches and swimming areas around Lake Champlain is tested regularly during the summer months.

    Beach Closures


    The majority of beach closures on Lake Champlain are the result of high coliform bacteria. Cyanobacteria blooms caused extended beach closures on Missisquoi Bay in Québec between 2008 and 2011. It can take up to two days for sample analyses to be completed, so the worst of conditions often pass before results are available. Swimmers should avoid areas where streams enter the Lake for 24 hours after intense rainstorms. If the water looks or smells suspicious, it is best to stay out.

    Beach closure contact information:

    The Field Guide to Aquatic Phenomena by the Maine DEP and the University of Maine is a public-friendly guide to understanding what causes different things we see on lakes, such as foam, algae and water quality changes.

    More about beach closures

    For more about the “State” of public bathing beaches in Lake Champlain, please visit the “Drinkable, Fishable and Swimmable” page of our State of the Lake report.

    Learn more about the “Response” of LCBP and partners to reduce beach closures and reduce pathogens in Lake Champlain, please visit the “Clean Water Goal” section of the Lake Champlain management plan Opportunities for Action.

    For additional maps and information, please visit the Lake Champlain Basin Atlas.


    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