Lake Champlain a "must miss"???

Sitting somewhere far from Lake Champlain, travel writer Peter Greenberg saw some news reports about water quality problems in sections of Lake Champlain and opted to write off the entire lake. He declared Lake Champlain one of the “must miss” places of the world, suggesting that travelers venturing here “bring a haz-mat suit along”. It was as if he read just the police blotters from New York City, and deemed the entire Big Apple unworthy of a tourist visit. Greenberg’s slight against Lake Champlain calls into question the thoroughness and usefulness of his travel reviews. Isolated sections of the lake do indeed have significant water quality problems at some times, but the vast majority of the lake offers clean clear water that most of the world would envy.

Nonetheless, Greenberg’s review does remind those of us working for a clean lake of the importance of protecting our waters and addressing areas where there are problems to ensure a healthy, vibrant economy.  This is the time when we should be stepping up conservation efforts to safeguard the environmental assets that are the underpinnings of our economy. Instead of considering “permit reform” and dramatic cutbacks to state environmental programs such as the Governor has proposed in Vermont, we must:

  • Establish a program of incentives and disincentives to keep phosphorus loading from sewage treatment plants low.
  • Implement Nutrient Management Plans for farms.
  • Increase on-site inspections and enforcement of water quality laws.
  • Maintain the state water quality lab to help monitor the health of our waterways.
  • Direct some of the “stimulus” funding to upgrading and improving wastewater treatment and drinking water plant infrastructure.
  • Invest in land conservation programs that will benefit water quality.