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Know a K through 12 student, teacher or homeschooler in the Lake Champlain Basin? In honor of World Water Day, LCC and Champlain Basin Education Initiative (CBEI) partners are hosting our annual cool contest to celebrate water. It’s a great way for educators to integrate art and science with their students.

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If your faucet drips or your toilet runs it can waste over 10,000 gallons a year ― the amount of water in a typical backyard swimming pool. More than one trillion gallons of water are lost annually in the U.S. due to easy-to-fix household leaks.

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The freeze over of Lake Champlain is a celebrated event. Due to warming winter temperatures, the lake does not ice over as often as it did 20 years ago, making this phenomenon special. Though the lake froze over last year (closure date of March 8), as well as in 2014 and 2015, chances are Lake Champlain will not freeze over in 2020.

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The plastic bag ban in New York State begins Sunday, March 1, 2020! Whether floating on a local waterway or stuck in a tree, plastic bags are a too common sight and blight on the landscape and in the water. Do your part to reduce plastic pollution and bring your own bag from the start.

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The Lake Champlain Committee (LCC) is no stranger to defending Vermont’s clean water laws. In December 2019, LCC was part of a coalition of environmental organizations that issued a press release on the unlawful emergency exemptions for farm manure spreading that result in pollution discharges into nearby waters.

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Photosynthetic bacteria, gelatin, and concrete are the building blocks of a new type of material: living concrete! Researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder, funded by the Department of Defense, formed the new substance. Minerals in the concrete are deposited by cyanobacteria; in contrast to the typical greenhouse gas-emitting process required in the production of regular concrete, cyanobacteria absorb carbon dioxide through the photosynthetic process.

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As the seas rise higher, low lying islands and coastal areas are continually threatened by floods. Batasan, an island in the Philippines, is no exception. In 2013, a major earthquake (7.2 magnitude) hit the island, causing it to collapse downward.

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The Vermont Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA - H.688) will be on the House floor tomorrow, February 20 for a crucial vote. The bill sets binding targets and holds the state accountable to develop and implement a plan to meet Vermont’s commitment to the Paris Climate Accord by 2025 and achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

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Recognizing that climate change poses an existential threat to Lake Champlain water quality, LCC was among 30 diverse organizations to present a policy plan of action to Vermont leaders in January. Since 2006, the state has had statutory goals to cut carbon pollution but we are very far from meeting them. Vermont is falling behind its Northeast neighbors in making pollution reductions, in part because the state lacks requirements to do so.

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Earlier this month Jared Carpenter, LCC’s Water Protection Advocate, joined with colleagues from the Vermont Conservation Voters, Vermont Natural Resource Council and other organizations to present the 2020 Environmental Common Agenda. The Common Agenda represents priorities of environmental groups across Vermont who are working to engage policy makers and citizens on important issues that affect water, air, land, wildlife, communities and health.

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A grant from outdoor gear co-op REI will enable LCC to purchase signage for Lake Champlain Paddlers’ Trail sites, update website content, and produce informational materials about the Trail. The funds will also cover a touring kayak and related gear for LCC field programs. “This REI grant will help us publicize the Trail, re-sign locations and upgrade our equipment,” notes LCC Executive Director Lori Fisher. “We’re grateful for the support to advance our stewardship.” REI will also be partnering with LCC on April Stools’ Day and aquatic invasive species assessments.

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Every space gets dirty. Whether at home, at work, or somewhere in between, most of us use  cleaning products on a regular basis to tidy up. While commercial products may get things squeaky clean, they can also do more harm than good. Many contain ingredients that can be acutely toxic; carcinogenic or mutagenic; irritating to skin, eyes or lungs; non-biodegradable; poisonous to aquatic organisms; or water and air polluting. Some common components of store bought cleaners to watch out for include ammonium, formaldehyde, glycol ethers, sodium borate, sodium laureth sulfates along with artificial colors, dyes and fragrances.

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A coalition of Environmental organizations—the Lake Champlain Committee (LCC), Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC), and Vermont Audubon—issued a water quality-related press release on December 13, 2019.

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Protecting wetlands is a longstanding priority for the Lake Champlain Committee (LCC). The areas of interface between shoreland and water are a vital part of Lake Champlain’s ecosystem. Thank you for using your voice to protect Vermont’s wetlands now and into the future by contacting our legislators! We need a modern goal of a net gain in acres of wetlands through protection and restoration.

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Wastewater treatment and septic systems are designed to handle the four Ps—pee, poop, puke, and (toilet) paper—and nothing else. Flushing other paper products, plastics, disposable diapers, pharmaceuticals, dryer lint, condoms, tampons or applicators, or flotsam and jetsam is a big no-no. Wipes clog pipes, even if they are marketed as “flushable".

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Fatbergs have become commonplace in city sewer systems around the world. They are an accumulation of fat, oil, and grease congealed around common household solid waste items like “flushable” wipes, paper towels, and tampons. The removal of fatbergs places a financial burden on cities.

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Grass is the largest irrigated crop in the United States. It covers city parks, suburban lawns, and wide-open rural fields. Unfortunately, grass can be a major source of fertilizer runoff. While the best way to slow rainwater down and allow pollutants to settle out is to plant native grasses, shrubs, and trees instead of the traditional lawn, there are still things you can do to make your lawn green, healthy, and watershed friendly. 

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Soil isn’t just the dirt we might think of when we wash our hands or take our shoes off at the door. Healthy soil is alive – it’s full of layered root systems, microbial communities, organic matter, worms, bugs, and fungi. It’s an entire ecosystem that powers all life above it. It can sequester carbon, hold water, and support healthy plant life  – all of which are vital to turning the tide on climate change. And, most importantly for Lake Champlain’s water quality, soil with just a 1% increase in organic matter in the top six inches can hold over 20,000 gallons of water per acre. 

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One of the best-understood facets of climate change is that global temperatures are rising overall. Since the turn of the 20th century we know that average temperatures have gradually risen every decade, and they will continue to rise more rapidly throughout the 21st century. Due to warming winter temperatures, Lake Champlain does not ice over as often as it did even 20 years ago. The freezeover that happened this month is now a rare and celebrated event.  Read...

If your faucet drips or your toilet runs it can waste over 10,000 gallons a year -- the amount of water in a typical backyard swimming pool. More than one trillion gallons of water are lost annually in the U.S. due to easy-to-fix household leaks. Read...

Teachers at J.J. Flynn Elementary School in Burlington, VT got creative in their World Water Day class project by partnering with Generator Makerspace, a non-profit in Burlington that bridges the intersection of art, science, and technology. With the technical support of Generator Makerspace, students learned to transform their drawings into laser-cut wood mosaics backed by colorful rice paper. 

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Plastics are everywhere. The stuff has made modern life possible, but more than 40% of plastics are designed for single use. Plastics are showing up in our waterways at an alarming rate, flushed down sinks and toilets in scrubbing agents, wet wipes and sanitary products; spun off as microfibers from clothes in the wash; and carried into waterways by wind and rain.

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In its 2019 report card, the Vermont section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave the state’s infrastructure a “C” – the same grade it earned in the last report card five years ago. The report was broken down into several areas of infrastructure, with stormwater and wastewater infrastructure both receiving a D+, the lowest grades of the report. Civil engineers identified that the state is facing over a billion dollars in investment gaps over the next 20 years for stormwater alone. 

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The Great Lakes are one of the world’s largest fresh water sources, covering over 750 miles across eight states. However, a recent investigation by Great Lakes Today and American Public Media reveals that the cost of water has doubled, and even tripled, in cities surrounding the lakes. According to this investigation, there have been hundreds of thousands of water shutoffs to homes and businesses since 2010. On top of having to pay the full water bill to restore service, there are often extra fees for shutting it off and turning it back on. For the average individual, losing water service can be the beginning of a downward spiral. 

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The growing water crisis in America has forced hundreds of thousands to endure weeks, and even months, without water. This crisis is especially dire where you would least expect it – in the Great Lakes region, the most abundant source of fresh water in the country. With the federal government cutting water infrastructure funding, cities have turned to raising water bills to cover the costs of aging infrastructure. These rising costs hit poor families the hardest, with disproportionately high concentrations of water shut-offs in poorer areas, and majority black and Latino neighborhoods, in every city. 

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According to a report released by the Rhodium Group, a private climate-research firm, carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. increased by roughly 3.4% in 2018 – this after three years of decline. The report points to a particularly cold winter and economic growth as the main contributors. While this appears to pit climate change reductions against economic growth, it’s entirely possible to lower emissions while improving the economy. Climate change is a leading contributor to many expensive environmental issues, including increased cyanobacteria blooms, stormwater runoff, and other water quality concerns. 

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In his January 24, 2019 Budget Address, Vermont Governor Phil Scott proposed using a portion of the Estate Tax to fund water projects. We applaud the Governor’s commitment to long-term clean water funding, but we are concerned with the proposal he advanced because the tax is variable and moves around existing funds in the state budget. For several years LCC has been working as a member of the Vermont Water Caucus to advance state environmental policy.  Read...

After winter storm Harper dumped over two feet of snow in parts of the Lake Champlain watershed, followed by more precipitation in the form of freezing rain, the roads were slick from both snow and ice. The few cars braving the weather might find themselves outnumbered by plows, earthmovers, and dump trucks. While the sudden appearance of plows and clear roads after a storm may seem like magic, the snow removal process takes careful planning. Even before the Lake Champlain basin’s heavy snow comes down, or freezing rain coats the roads, municipalities are already swinging into action. 

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Salt is the ubiquitous solution to icy roads and sidewalks, but it isn’t the only way you can keep from slipping during the winter. Excessive use of salt damages plants’ ability to absorb nutrients, and can affect aquatic life if it’s washed into a water body. 

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Join LCC, ECHO, and other members of the Clean Water Policy Network on Monday (1/28/19) morning for a discussion of clean water issues and upcoming legislation. The January forum in Montpelier provides participants with a preview of issues, legislation, and regulatory initiatives in the coming session. 

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