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Cleaning up Lake Champlain

06/04/08 12:00PM By Mitch Wertlieb
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AP file photo
Blue-green algae in Lake Champlain
The EPA sent the state a strongly worded letter this spring outlining the ways the state has fallen short in its effort to reduce phosphorous loads in Lake Champlain. The state says its actions have been a model for other states to follow and that the EPA is focused on the wrong priorities for lake cleanup. We discuss the stratgies for the lake's future health. (Listen)

Also, the construction of an aquatic center in Hartford has knitted together several questions about taxe exemptions, development patterns and the future of a border patrol checkpoint in the area. Valley News reporter John Gregg explains how all these pieces fit together. (Listen) 

And, our series of audio postcards from Vermont towns continues with a visit to the Bennington County town of Readsboro. (Listen)  Learn more about this series.

 

Listener comments on this program:

David in Middlebury:

I spend a good deal of time enjoying Kingsland Bay State Park each summer. The water quality in the bay has deteriorated noticeably in the past three years, at a time when the agricultural fields adjacent to the park have received heavy and repeated applications of liquid manure. I can't help
thinking there may be a connection.

 

Rep. David Deen, D-Windham

As a legislator closely associated with the Clean and Clear program, I would like to say that we in the Legislature have been concerned about the effectiveness of the program for several years.

It was the Legislature that required the performance audit. The audit identified many weak areas in the program and to its credit the administration did modify the C & CO program and adopt several of the recommendations. What we will never know is if those changes would have taken place without the audit.

As to the claim that the administration willingly appropriated money to address the backlog of engineering services to leverage $21 million of federal funds to help farmers address non-point pollution, is a wee bit of an over statement on their part. The Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources Committee brought the Ag Agency and DEC to ask forcefully that they fund this program requirement. In the administration's original budget request it was funded only at a 50 percent level. The administration spokespersons said for the first time in that setting that they would somehow find the funds. Now the administration is claiming they intended to do this all along. That is just not true.

EPA's concern about lack of permit background issued when they issue their draft permits is well founded and long standing. And the EPA concern about St. Albans and Middlebury are not vacant concerns. If you have a doubt please contact CLF.

As to the implementation of the TMDL, this year it was necessary for the Legislature to require that the 2001 implementation plan submitted with the TMDL to EPA be updated for the first time since then. We now require an update every three years in order to keep the plan up to date.

Lastly stormwater runoff is not being controlled as the administration claims in their response to EPA. Remember back to the release of the VNRC report this past winter of their review of 29 different construction sites holding construction stormwater permits. Of those reviewed only one was even close to being in compliance with their permit and ANR had not moved to hold those permit holders accountable.

I think the administration and not the professional staff at ANR should be asked to account for these problems.

 

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