Over 50-Year Legacy of Lake Protection

Imagine ocean going vessels plying Lake Champlain, a nuclear power plant on the Charlotte shore, artificially manipulated lake levels, a huge holding tank for PCBs in Cumberland Bay . . .

The scene depicted above may seem far-fetched — but could have become reality for Lake Champlain —  had it not been for advocacy by the Lake Champlain Committee and its members in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, and now 10s.   

For over 50 years, the Lake Champlain Committee (LCC) has been a thoughtful, reasoned, vocal advocate for this beautiful lake. LCC was formed by New York and Vermont citizens in 1963 to prevent the lake from becoming a commercial seaway for ocean-going vessels. From that victory we went on to advocate against a nuclear power plant being built on the Charlotte, Vermont shore. LCC championed the phosphate detergent ban which reduced nutrient loading from sewage treatment plants by more than 50%, launched the longest-running citizen monitoring program in the country, and helped craft the clean up plan for the PCBs contaminating Cumberland Bay. Boat holding tank laws, water quality standards for phosphorus, and an international water quality agreement all came about because of the Lake Champlain Committee’s vigilance and advocacy. 

The Lake Champlain Committee is the only non-profit citizens’ group dedicated solely to protecting Lake Champlain’s environmental integrity and recreational resources. For over five decades, LCC has worked for drinkable water, swimmable beaches, edible fish and appropriate public access to the lake through advocacy, education and collaborative action. As the lake’s leading advocate for protection and restoration we have a legacy of action and a solid track record of achievements.

Since its founding in 1963, the Lake Champlain Committee has:

2012 More than tripled the number of blue-green algae monitoring locations around the lake to provide critical information about water conditions to citizens and environmental and public health agencies.

2011 Initiated an invasive species control project to find and eradicate new populations of aggressive invasive plants.

2010  helped secure passage of New York legislation to ban phosphates from household automatic dishwasher detergents and restrict the sale and use of phosphorus fertilizer on lawns

2008   published “Lake Champlain: A Natural History” to increase understanding of the lake and foster stewardship

2007   orchestrated a bi-state “Don’t P on Your Lawn” campaign with New York and Vermont partners to educate citizens on reducing nutrient loading from their property

2007   secured passage of Vermont legislation to ban phosphates from household automatic dishwasher detergents by 2010

2006   undertaken watershed assessments to help restore impaired streams that flow into Lake Champlain

2005   conducted a stormwater survey to gauge citizen understanding of water quality issues and develop outreach and educational programs

2004   promoted a lake protection pledge campaign to foster citizen involvement in lake clean up and restoration (www.LakeChamplainPledge.org)

2003   initiated a blue green algae citizen monitoring project for lakeshore areas with the University of Vermont School of Natural Resources that continues today

2002   issued a Lake Health Report Card to call attention to the “state of the lake” and trigger clean up actions by policy leaders

2001   developed a water protection toolkit to assist citizen groups and communities in dealing with local water quality problems

2001   launched a monthly natural history column Lake Look for local and regional newspapers to aid citizen understanding of water quality issues, the column currently runs in 28 local and regional publications

2000   established an international task force to accelerate lake-wide nutrient reductions and develop an implementation and funding strategy

1999   stenciled over 1,000 stormdrains with a message, "Don't Dump, Drains to Lake” to reduce illegal dumping into Lake Champlain tributaries

1998   advanced the adopted clean-up strategy for the PCB-contaminated toxic waste site in Cumberland Bay and the Barge Canal Superfund Site        

1997   successfully advocated for the burial of the power lines to open up a panoramic scenic vista along the Milton - South Hero causeway

1996   established the Lake Champlain Paddlers' Trail to provide a recreational corridor for human-powered craft

1995   removed over 60 tons of trash and 100 tons of recyclable materials from urban streams as part of our Clean Streets – Clean Streams program

1993   drafted the citizen involvement process for the Burlington Barge Canal Superfund Site, which the EPA has used as a national model for toxic waste site clean-up

1993   co-authored numeric water quality goals adopted by New York, Vermont, and Quebec in an International Agreement to guide nutrient reduction

1991   gained passage of legislation to fund the upgrade of lake sewage treatment plants and reduce nutrient loading to waterways

1990   helped secure $15 million in federal funds to support lake study and clean-up efforts

1988   brought the governors of NY and VT and the premier of Quebec together to sign an agreement to cooperate in reducing lake pollution

1982   initiated the nation’s first citizens’ acid rain monitoring program

1981   prevented lake levels from being manipulated through damming

1979   established a lakewide citizen monitoring program (currently the longest running one in the country)

1978   led the successful effort to ban use of phosphate in laundry detergents which resulted in the most significant reduction in nutrient loading to the lake

1976   secured passage of boat holding tank laws to prevent dumping of raw sewage

1968   stopped construction of a nuclear power plant on the Charlotte shore

1963   prevented Lake Champlain from being used as an international commercial seaway for supertankers