Vermont, New York, Quebec announce lake protection plan

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(Host) Officials from Vermont, New York and Quebec have agreed on a new long term plan to protect the environmental health of Lake Champlain. The proposal is designed to significantly reduce levels of phosphorus and other pollutants in the Lake in the next five years.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Governor Howard Dean on Friday gave his approval to the first major revision of a bi-state and international management plan to protect the waters of Lake Champlain. The original agreement was developed by Vermont, New York State and Quebec in 1996 and it called for significant reviews every five years to upgrade efforts to reduce pollution in the lake.

Bill Howland, who is manager of the Lake Champlain Basin Program, says efforts to clean up the lake over the last five years have been successful. But Howland says there’s still a lot of work to be done:

(Howland) “We have identified the continuing priorities of reducing phosphorus that has to be done to clean the lake up and reduce the algae blooms that bother everybody, and many other problems associated with too much phosphorus and other nutrients that have to be reduced as well. We also have to get a grip and continue to hold tight on that grip to control aquatic nuisance species, water chestnuts and other species that invade the area and don’t really belong here and cause mayhem. And we also are trying to limit the toxic chemicals that go into the lake and prevent pollution, because it is so difficult to clean up afterwards.”

(Kinzel) Plattsburgh Mayor Dan Stewart and Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle praised the agreement. Clavelle says the two cities have a strong interest in protecting the future of the lake:

(Clavelle) “And this plan is really important to us – this lake, the reason for our existence, both of our communities for many years. We’ve turned our back on this lake and at one time was a connector, became a barrier. And what this plan is about is removing those barriers, cleaning up this lake and utilizing this lake for all the potential that it has as a natural resource, as a recreational resource.”

(Kinzel) The long-term management plan will be funded, in part, with a $55 million federal appropriation that was authorized by Congress last month.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Burlington.

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