Progress

What does the new Vermont Clean Water Act mean for Vermont’s Lakes?

If you are a member of an inland lake association or lake watershed association, you may wonder whether any lakes other than Champlain will be affected by the new Vermont Clean Water Act (Act 64). Since much media coverage focuses on the Lake Champlain TMDL Implementation Plan, it’s not surprising that other lake communities are asking the question, “What about us?” Certainly, Champlain’s issues were a major driver of the legislative work that led to passage of Act 64; however, the new law does not just benefit Champlain. It’s about clean water for the entire State of Vermont.

Many of the Act’s provisions are as relevant to Vermont’s inland lakes as they are to Lake Champlain. The forthcoming rules that require management of sediment and nutrient pollution from roads, developed land, agriculture, stream channels, and forestry activities will have important positive benefits for all lake watersheds. In addition, the Clean Water Initiative Program (formerly known as the Ecosystem Restoration Program) will direct funding to the highest priority projects as determined using monitoring and assessment data, such as documented pollution sources within lake watersheds.

The main vehicle for directing action to improve the State’s water quality is the Tactical Basin Planning process. Lakes & Ponds Program staff members are currently assessing statewide data, including contributions from citizen scientists, to inform Tactical Basin Plans across Vermont. For readers unfamiliar with Tactical Basin Planning, information is available on the VT-DEC Watershed Management Division’s website at http://www.watershedmanagement.vt.gov/planning.htm. If you have suggestions for improvements in the way lake issues are represented in your basin’s plan, contact your local basin planner or send input to Perry Thomas, Lakes & Ponds Program Manager (perry.thomas@vermont.gov).

Vermont is divided into 15 basins for the Tactical Basin Planning process.

Vermont is divided into 15 basins for the Tactical Basin Planning process.