Restore and Protect Lake Memphremagog’s Water Quality
This petition had 3,923 supporters
Restoring Lake Memphremagog’s water quality will :
- Ensure a healthy environment for people and wildlife
- Enhance recreational activities
- Safeguard property values
- Promote tourism
- Benefit the local economy
In 2018, the Vermont Legislature passed into law the “Lake in Crisis” statute. Vermont Statute for Lake in Crisis
The "Lake in Crisis" designation will:
- Create a "Lake in Crisis Response Plan”, which will support and speed up existing efforts to address challenges that threaten " public health or risk of damage to the environment"
- Increase eligibility for funding to address those challenges
- Improve conditions for fishing, swimming, boating, and other recreational activities
- Limit phosphorous / nutrient runoff to prevent blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms
- Control invasive species such as Eurasian mil-foil and Starry Stonewort
Why Designate Lake Memphremagog a "Lake in Crisis"?
- The State of Vermont “LAKE SCORE CARD (VT DEC Watershed Scorecard) cites Lake Memphremagog status as “Impaired" and "Highly Disturbed". In 2017, the Basin 17 Tactical Basin Plan (Lake Memphremagog's Tactical Basin Plan) was implemented to address areas of concern. Pollution, global warming and climate change are making the job of restoring our lake much more challenging. Now we must update the current plan to do more than was originally targeted for our watershed. It is critical to keep the lake a safe habitat as well as a safe source of drinking water for Vermonters and 175,000 of our neighbors in Quebec.
- There are serious health concerns related to cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) outbreaks in Lake Memphremagog in recent years. VT Digger Report on Cyanobacteria in VT The Memphremagog Basin 17 Tactical Basin Plan details the State's plan to reduce phosphorus intake by 29%. The farming sector has made significant strides in reducing phosphorus. The rest of us need to do our part to reduce nutrient load and speed up progress of this twenty-year plan.
- Aquatic invasive and nuisance species: We also need to reduce and prevent “the environmental and socioeconomic impacts” of these destructive invaders. Eurasian milfoil and Starry Stonewort are well-established, in Lake Memphremagog. Many other species also pose a threat to the ecosystem, to the recreational use of the lake, and to the local economy. Vermont Dept of Environment Conservation Report on Invasive Species
Since the Basin 17 plan was drafted, new concerns have emerged:
- Malignant tumors found on Brown Bullhead fish are an indicator of environmental contamination. The USGS/ Vermont Fish and Wildlife study, published in 2019, revealed malignant melanoma lesions in a shockingly high percentage, 25-40%, of the adult Brown Bullhead fish sampled from 2014 to 2017 in South Bay and Hospital Cove. No known cause has been identified. Further study is required. The following USGS report explains the problem. USGS Report
- Disposal of toxic leachate from the Coventry landfill- over 36 million gallons between 2010 and 2019 (Leachate Disposal in Newport ) - into the Newport Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF), presents a clear and present danger to the water quality of our lake. Leachate contains dangerous “forever” PFAS chemicals as well as many other harmful chemicals, which are not removed by the WWTF process but enter the lake in the WWTF effluent. In October 2019, the PFAS content in WWTF effluent was more than three times the Vermont drinking water standard for PFAS. “Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances at Wastewater Treatment Facilities and Landfill Leachate”, Weston and Sampson, 30 January, 2020,
“High readings for PFAS found in Montpelier and Newport wastewater plants”, Gribkoff, Elizabeth, VT Digger , 2 May 2020
In November of 2019, a moratorium was imposed on disposing of toxic leachate into the Newport WWTF, but that ban expires in 2024. This moratorium should be made permanent to protect the lake and the humans and wildlife that drink from and depend on it for survival. Health effects include: cancers of testicles and kidneys; reproductive and developmental concerns; impaired immune function; high cholesterol; obesity; hormone disruption, among others. Concerns exist about possible infiltration of pollution from the Coventry landfill, located adjacent to wetlands, the Black River and the South Bay.
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