Civil engineer appointed to oversee Lake Champlain cleanup

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(Host) The Douglas Administration has named a civil engineer to oversee the cleanup of Lake Champlain.

The appointment comes as the state faces a legislative mandate to audit the lake’s Clean and Clear program.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) Julie Moore is the lake’s new clean-up czar.

She’s been with the Agency of Natural Resources for three years and now works in the regulatory management division.

Moore will direct a task force that will focus on the northern lake, where the shallow bays can get choked with algae in the summer. The algae is fed by phosphorus, a widespread nutrient that runs off from farm fields, suburban lawns and city streets.

Moore says the first task is to pinpoint precisely where the phosphorus comes from.

(Moore) “At this point I think the source analysis has really been at a fairly broad category level, looking at ag versus developed land versus forested land. And I think we need to move to sub-categories or even eventually to individual sources in trying to figure out where the phosphorus is coming from. And based on that analysis, the monitoring work that will be needed to show where the phosphorus is coming from and then look to the types of measures that will be needed.”

(Dillon) Moore takes over the Lake Champlain Clean and Clear program as the administration faces increased pressure from the legislature to show the program’s effectiveness.

Lawmakers passed and Governor Jim Douglas just signed a bill that calls for an audit of the $50 million dollar Clean and Clear program. The law also says the state should re-open and strengthen its phosphorus clean up plan in 2008.

Chris Kilian is the Vermont director of the Conservation law Foundation, which lobbied strongly for the bill. He says he welcomes Moore’s appointment to head the Clean and Clear program – as long as it leads to concrete action that reduces pollution.

(Kilian) “If this is just another figurehead, another study, another way to reorganize the deck chairs then I don’t really see us making progress. So what we’ll be looking for are things like strong, additional reductions in phosphorus from waste water treatment plants, significant, measurable reductions in cow manure that’s being dumped in our waterways.”

(Dillon) Natural Resources Secretary George Crombie says the Clean and Clear task force will come up with specific steps to cut phosphorus in the northern lake.

(Crombie) “I think there’s been a lot of work done. I think we need a real focus in this section of the lake and we need a team that’s really zeroing in on this area.”

(Dillon) Crombie says the Clean and Clear task force will also work with the Agriculture Agency and the University of Vermont to address the phosphorus issues.

For VPR News, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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