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For Release: Wednesday, February 15, 2023

DEC Releases Draft Lake Champlain Watershed Implementation Plan

March 17 Deadline for Public Comments on Plan to Reduce Phosphorus and Improve Water Quality

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced the release of the draft Watershed Implementation Plan that creates a detailed path forward to reduce phosphorus that impairs Lake Champlain and contributes to harmful algal blooms (HABs). The draft Lake Champlain Watershed Implementation Plan draws from collected data, modeling, and analysis, identifies potential projects that will significantly reduce the amount of phosphorus entering the lake to improve water quality, and complements the existing Lake Champlain Phosphorus Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) 'pollution budget' that established limits from all contributing sources to attain applicable water quality standards.

"The Lake Champlain watershed is a vital environmental resource that supports drinking water, critical fish and wildlife habitat, and opportunities for recreation," DEC Commissioner Seggos said. "The science-based plan released today will guide the wise investment of state and federal funds, and is another critical step to improving the health of these waters and ensuring they are protected for future generations."

The 2002 Lake Champlain Phosphorus Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) (PDF) (leaves DEC website), divides the lake into 13 segments with corresponding contributing sub-watersheds for management purposes. Each segment was assigned a target in-lake concentration level for phosphorus. Some of the segments currently meet water quality goals set by the 2002 TMDL. Other segments continue to exceed phosphorus targets and lead to conditions associated with excessive phosphorus pollution, including HABs, low water clarity, and excessive macrophyte growth.

Highlights of the draft plan:

  • Analysis of ambient water quality trends in the major tributaries to Lake Champlain;
  • Comparison of in-lake water quality data to TMDL criteria;
  • Updated land cover analysis;
  • Description of funding programs available to support implementation; and
  • List of potential implementation projects by sector.

Dr. Eric Howe, Director of the Patrick Leahy Lake Champlain Basin Program which coordinates management efforts for the Lake Champlain watershed, said, "Lake Champlain continues to experience challenges in meeting the goals of the Clean Water Act intended to provide a safe source of drinking water, healthy fish to eat, and safe places to swim and recreate. This plan will help to direct millions of State and federal dollars toward priority projects in the New York portion of the Lake Champlain basin."

New York has invested $82 million in State grants and $70 million in low-interest loans to support nearly 300 water quality improvement projects for Lake Champlain. The Watershed Implementation Plan will build upon this progress and guide the management actions of DEC and its partners to achieve the largest phosphorus pollution reductions, at the locations where it is most needed, and with the lowest overall cost. The plan will also help complement other measures underway, including the HABs Action Plan for Lake Champlain (PDF).

The draft Watershed Implementation Plan is available on DEC's website. Public comments will be accepted until March 17, 2023, and can be submitted by email to

For more information on the TMDL, visit DEC's Clean Water Plan website.

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