Lake Champlain

A view of Lake Champlain with mountains in background

Vermonters love Lake Champlain.  We depend on the lake for fishing, swimming, boating, and other recreational pursuits.  It provides drinking water. Summer tourism and property values are tied to its health and beauty. The lake attracts businesses with a workforce that appreciates the lake’s natural beauty and Vermont’s working landscape.

The challenge is that too much pollution - runoff from rainwater or snowmelt that drains off of parking lots, roads and streets, logging roads, farm fields and croplands, and lawns is reaching Lake Champlain from the streams and rivers draining into it.  Phosphorus is one of the nutrient pollutants found in runoff and arguably the greatest threat to clean water in Lake Champlain. Too much phosphorus pollution stimulates excessive growth of algae. It can turn Lake Champlain water green, and even can be toxic to pets and people.

In June 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released new phosphorus pollution limits for Lake Champlain by establishing TMDLs (Total Maximum Daily Load) for twelve Vermont segments of Lake Champlain.

Lake Champlain TMDLs 

The Phosphorus TMDLs for Vermont Segments of Lake Champlain (Lake Champlain TMDLs) identifies phosphorus pollution reductions required for Lake Champlain to meet State of Vermont water quality standards.

Phosphorus TMDLs for Vermont Segments of Lake Champlain (June 2016)

Phase 2 Implementation and Beyond

Phase 2 Implementation Plans

The Lake Champlain cleanup is a decades-long endeavor. The State of Vermont is breaking down this long-term and regional effort into more manageable five-year planning increments at the local river-basin scale through its “Tactical Basin Planning” process. Tactical Basin Plans serve as phase 2 (and beyond) Lake Champlain TMDL implementation plans and target priority actions necessary to meet phosphorus reduction goals.

State of Vermont Tactical Basin Plans

Phase 2 Accountability and Report Cards

EPA will assess Vermont’s progress implementing the Lake Champlain TMDLs half-way through and at the close of each five-year planning cycle and issue interim and final report cards to ensure accountability. To support EPA's review, the Vermont Clean Water Initiative Annual Performance Report was expanded in scope in State Fiscal Year 2019 to serve as the Lake Champlain TMDLs progress report. EPA uses the Performance Report to issue report cards on progress implementing the Lake Champlain TMDL, targeting its review of the Tactical Basin Planning watersheds due for interim and final report cards, per the schedule defined in Lake Champlain TMDLs accountability framework (see schedule at right). EPA report cards on phase 2 (and beyond) implementation of the Lake Champlain TMDLs, available to date, are as follows.

Lake Champlain TMDL Implementation Interim Report Card for the Lamoille and Missisquoi Tactical Basin Plans (April 2020)

The State of Vermont and EPA agreed to this Lake Champlain TMDL progress report and report card framework in the following letter exchange.

EPA Response to VT DEC Lake Champlain TMDL Reporting (April 2019)
VT DEC Letter to EPA on Lake Champlain TMDL Reporting (April 2019) 

Phase 1 Implementation

Final Phase 1 Implementation Plan

The Lake Champlain TMDLs Phase 1 Implementation Plan identifies programmatic actions and policy commitments to provide reasonable assurances the Lake Champlain TMDLs will be achieved. 

Final Lake Champlain TMDLs Phase 1 Implementation Plan
Final Phase 1 Implementation Plan Appendices
Response to Public Comments Report
Phase 1 Implementation Plan August 2016 public informational meeting presentation and supporting materials

Phase 1 Accountability and Report Cards

The State of Vermont reports progress to EPA on the Lake Champlain TMDLs Phase 1 Implementation Plan. EPA issues report cards on Phase 1 implementation.

EPA Approval of Long Term Clean Water Funding Plan (July 2019)
EPA Response to Lake Champlain Long Term Clean Water Funding Plan (February 2019)
Lake Champlain TMDLs Accountability Framework Report Card from EPA (April 2018)
2018 Vermont Lake Champlain Phosphorus TMDLs Accountability Framework Report (March 2018)
Lake Champlain TMDLs Accountability Framework Interim Report Card from EPA (February 2017)

Spending Plan Capacity Report (December 2016)


Additional Resources

Lake Champlain TMDL Implementation Grants
Timeline of Statutory and Phase 1 Implementation Plan Deliverables
Lake Champlain Restoration Plan timeline
Lake Champlain TMDL Implementation and Wastewater Treatment Plants - Frequently Asked Questions
Lake Champlain TMDL Factsheet for Municipalities 
Memorandum Of Understanding on Environmental Cooperation on the Management of Lake Champlain
EPA TMDL Presentation at August 2015 Public Meetings 
EPA TMDL Presentation at November 2014 Public Meetings 

August 2015 Draft Proposal

DRAFT EPA Lake Champlain Phosphorus TMDL Vermont Phase 1 Plan
DRAFT EPA Lake Champlain Phosphorus TMDL Vermont Phase 1 Appendices
View Submitted Comments on Vermont Lake Champlain Phosphorus TMDL Phase 1 Implementation Plan
Governor's Commitment Letter to EPA
Phase 1 - Lake Champlain TMDL Implementation Plan 
EPA Response Letter 
DRAFT EPA Lake Champlain Phosphorus TMDL Vermont Phase 1 Plan

November 2013 Draft Proposal

Draft State of Vermont Proposal for a Clean Lake Champlain
EPA Final Signed Letter to Vermont DEC on the Draft State of Vermont Proposal for a Clean Lake Champlain
EPA Supplemental Letter to Vermont DEC and Vermont AAFM 
View submitted comments on the Draft Proposal
Final Summary of Public Comments - Draft Champlain TMDL
 "Where Does the Phosphorus Come From?"

2002 Lake Champlain TMDL

Progress in Establishing and Implementing the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Plan for Lake Champlain
2010 Revised Implementation Plan Lake Champlain Phosphorus TMDL