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Vermont feels pressure to clean up Lake Champlain.

Byline: Beth Gagbitelli

MONTPELIER, Vt. -- Vermont officials posted online a hefty plan Tuesday to reduce pollution in Lake Champlain from stormwater runoff, and now await word on whether it goes far enough in addressing federal concerns.

Decades of runoff have contributed to dirtying Vermont's signature lake and causing excessive algae growth. The pollution has turned the water murky, hurt tourism, depressed property values and increased water treatment costs.

Cleaning up the lake has been a longstanding state goal, but lawmakers and officials say the state is under more pressure now to meet federal targets. If the latest plan doesn't measure up, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could impose expensive regulations on sewage plants in the state.

The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation submitted the latest plan of over 200 pages Monday to meet an EPA deadline, and posted it online Tuesday. It could be weeks before the state receives EPA comments on the proposal.

The plan looks at runoff sources, including farms, roads, parking lots, commercial and residential property and forestry. Farms are a major target because agriculture contributes the largest amount of phosphorous to the lake.

The plan calls for increasing farms inspections, especially of small farms, which have been mostly unregulated. It also would require additional stormwater treatment in developed areas; the construction of so-called green infrastructure, such as rain gardens; more stormwater drains along roads; and revised flood plain management rules.

James Ehler of Lake Champlain International, a clean water advocacy group, said the plan does not go far enough and lacks innovative ideas and comprehensive zoning incentives.
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Author:Gagbitelli, Beth
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Geographic Code:1U1VT
Date:Apr 3, 2014
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