State seeks feedback, ideas to clean up waterways

MONTPELIER — Whether it’s a favorite swimming hole, an iconic stream running through town, or a fishing spot along the shores of Lake Champlain, every Vermonter has a connection to the state’s many lakes, ponds, wetlands and streams. Each resident can also play a meaningful role cleaning up Vermont’s polluted waterways.
The Department of Environmental Conservation, or DEC, invites residents with connections to Vermont’s waterways to attend public meetings to weigh in on water quality improvement projects and hear updates on the overall restoration plans. One of those meetings will be in Orwell this Wednesday.
Between Nov. 28 and 30, DEC is hosting four public meetings to provide updates and gather feedback on two clean water implementation plans. The South Lake Champlain Tactical Basin Plan (TBP) and the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Phase II Draft Plan outline a series of action steps to improve state waterways. These plans also provide information about how landowners, organizations and communities can access clean water funding and technical assistance.
The goal of the South Lake Champlain Tactical Basin Plan is protect, maintain, restore and enhance surface waters through the implementation of high priority actions. The Tactical Basin Plan provides an overall assessment of the health of the South Lake Champlain Basin, which covers approximately 500 square miles through 24 towns from Rupert to Charlotte — including the Addison County towns of Orwell, Shoreham, Bridport, Addison, Panton and Ferrisburgh. The Tactical Basin Plan also defines ongoing and future strategies to address high priority stressors like channel erosion, invasive species and excess nutrients. This assessment helps inform project design and implementation. The plan also sets priorities for meeting targets for phosphorus loading from the South Lake and all the waters in its drainage basin.
“The South Lake Champlain Tactical Basin Plan is an important tool for protecting our valuable water resources,” says Kevin Behm, Addison County Regional Planning Commission assistant director. “Implementation of the projects identified in the plan will ensure the reduction of phosphorus in Lake Champlain is achieved in a timely manner under the Lake Champlain TMDL and the Vermont Water Quality Standards.”
The main aim of the North Lake Champaign TMDL Phase II plan is to establish targets for phosphorus loading from the Northern Lake Champlain Direct Drainages. This plan helps ensure the overall phosphorus budget established in the Lake Champlain TMDL is met. The Phase II plan identifies potential target areas for implementation of sector-based strategies. At the upcoming public meetings, DEC staff and partners will share important updates about phosphorus-load modeling and projected phosphorus reductions across sub-watersheds and sectors.
These plans are the result of collaboration with local, state, federal and non-profit partners. This week’s public meetings will bring these and other key watershed partners together with members of the public to discuss clean water implementation plans. Meetings will take place in the evening at the following locations:
South Lake Champlain Tactical Basin Plan Draft Public Meetings
•  Poultney — Nov. 28, 4-6 p.m., Southern Vermont Office of TNC, The Bentley House, 348 Bentley Ave.
•  Orwell — Nov. 29, 7-9 p.m., Orwell Free Library, 473 Main St.
North Lake Champlain TMDL Phase II Draft Plan Update Public Meetings
•  St. Albans City — Nov. 28, 5-6:30 p.m., Northwestern Medical Center, Conference Room No. 2, 133 Fairfield St.
•  Essex Junction — Nov. 30, 5-6:30 p.m., Fish and Wildlife building in the Act 250 conference room, ANR Essex Junction Regional Office, 111 West St.

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