TOBY TALBOT / AP FILE PHOTO
The state of Vermont is hoping to improve water quality in Lake Champlain’s Missisquoi Bay basin by reducing bacteria that flows into the bay.
MONTPELIER — The state announced a plan Friday to improve water quality and fish habitat in Lake Champlain’s Missisquoi Bay basin by reducing bacteria and wastewater and improving stormwater mapping.
The five-year plan from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources gives an overview of the health of the basin, which stretches from streams near the Green Mountains to the Missisquoi River along the Canadian border, and identifies problems and its solutions.
Among the priorities, it calls for investigating the feasibility of removing the Swanton dam to improve fish habitat; reducing bacteria in the Berry, Godin and Samsonville brooks; improving stormwater system mapping and supporting stormwater reduction in Swanton, Highgate, Enosburg Village, Enosburg Falls and Richford.
The plan reflects the recommendations of local watershed groups, residents, other stakeholders and government agencies, said Karen Bates, the agency’s basin planner.
“We focused on both improvement of water quality and also the health of the aquatic habitat that is vital to our fisheries,” she said.
It’s the first of three plans the agency will issue this spring as it moves toward a new tactical basin planning process, official said.
In the coming weeks, the state will release drafts for public comment on the South Lake Champlain and White River watersheds in Vermont, said Neil Kamman, a program manager for the Department of Environmental Conservation.
The Conservation Law Foundation gives the Missiquoi Bay Basin Plan high marks for its comprehensive identification of the problems, such as pollution from farming, runoff from development and pollution related to wastewater or septic or sewage treatment and stream instability, said the foundation’s Anthony Iarrapino.
But he said the plan uses an education approach and suggests supporting efforts and educating people to do the right thing, which he said is already happening.
“At a certain point, the Agency of Natural Resources has to step up and embrace an approach that is also about regulating and enforcing the law,” he said.
The group backs the removal of the Swanton dam to help the endangered lake sturgeon and walleye in Lake Champlain, he said.MORE IN Vermont News
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