Colodny to head lake fundraising campaign

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(Host) Governor Jim Douglas hopes to tap a number of public and private funding sources to help pay for the clean-up of Lake Champlain. The governor announced that Ed Colodny, a former airline executive and hospital president, will lead the private fundraising efforts.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) The price-tag for cleaning up parts of Lake Champlain is high. A plan to reduce phosphorus pollution will cost $139 million. The state wants to spend $103 million in the first six years of the clean up program.

Governor Douglas convened a conference of potential funders this week. He says he’s hopeful the money can be raised.

(Douglas) “It’s going to take a partnership of the federal government, state government and local government to make it work. But I’m optimistic because representatives of our congressional delegation are attending the summit. I’m making a commitment to have some resources in the state budget beginning next year and I’m pleased to announce that Ed Colodny has agreed to provide leadership for the private fundraising phase of important effort.”

(Dillon) Colodny is a Burlington native and former chief executive of USAir. He also served as interim president of the University of Vermont and Fletcher Allen Health Care. Douglas says Colodny helped the governor of Maryland several years ago raise money for the cleanup of Chesapeake Bay.

Douglas also wants the federal government to help with pollution control efforts on farms. He says the U.S. Department of Agriculture has matching funds available for manure management.

(Douglas) “I want to supplement the match with state dollars because asking farmers to bear this burden at a time when it’s been difficult for them to make a living because of the low price of milk is a particularly heavy burden to bear.”

(Dillon) The main problem in northern Lake Champlain is too much phosphorus, a pollutant found in farm waste and stormwater runoff. Phosphorus acts as fertilizer that feeds the toxic algae blooms that hit the lake last summer.

A plan drafted several years ago calls for the systematic reduction of phosphorus from many non-point sources, such as farm fields and city streets. Canute Dalmasse, deputy natural resources secretary, says the nature of the pollution requires an innovative approach.

(Dalmasse) “This non-point source pollution is so different from the pollution control efforts of the 70s and 80s when we were dealing with sewage treatment plants and raw discharges. So getting lots of people engaged in this effort is a really important component of the whole strategy.”

(Dillon) Governor Douglas governor says the state will sell environmental bonds to pay for part of the cleanup, and that he’ll recommend more money for the Agency of Natural Resources.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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