Work Funded By Leahy Will Zero In On The Most Serious Sources Of Phosphorus Runoff In The Missisquoi Bay Watershed

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy Saturday announced the go-ahead for a technical survey that will identify the most serious sources of phosphorus runoff into the border-spanning Missisquoi Bay watershed, to boost efforts to reduce phosphorus pollution in Lake Champlain and the Bay.

Leahy aide Bob Paquin announced the news on Leahy’s behalf at the 7th annual International Northern Lake Champlain Coalition public meeting here.  Leahy secured funding for the survey, which is being launched by the International Joint Commission (IJC) – the official bilateral organization that monitors trans-boundary environmental agreements between the United States and Canada.  The two nations now have formally agreed to proceed with the survey, which will be conducted in conjunction with the Lake Champlain Basin Program.  Leahy, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on State Department and Foreign Operations, secured $800,000 for the IJC survey, and an earlier Leahy IJC appropriation of $300,000 has been directed to developing nutrient management plans on small farms in the watershed.

To accomplish the analysis, the Basin Program will organize a management workshop that will develop the definition and identification of phosphorus source areas.  The work will include acquiring high-resolution, geographically referenced digital elevation data to analyze topographic features in areas of concentrated runoff, as well as large-scale digital aerial photography.  Several new tributary water quality monitoring stations will also be established to conduct thorough soil, water and geographic analysis.

“This survey will speed the process of finding solutions to Lake Champlain’s phosphorus problem,” said Leahy.  “It will help us zero in on the best answers, so they can become our highest priorities.  The IJC and the Lake Champlain Basin program will work together to help target the federal cleanup funds that I have worked to secure from several federal agencies.  This work will also help target the state’s efforts on Lake Champlain.”

Leahy has secured nearly $100 million to help clean up Lake Champlain.  This year alone he obtained $2 million for the Basin Program, $2.4 million for the Army Corps of Engineers Lake Champlain cleanup program, $700,000 for lamprey control, $500,000 for U.S. Geological Survey monitoring water quality, $400,000 for Army Corps of Engineers effort to control aquatic nuisances, and more than $1 million for specific research and demonstration projects.  Leahy, the most senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, also led in strengthening support for Lake Champlain cleanup efforts in the newly enacted 2008 Farm Bill, which increases Vermont’s annual share of USDA conservation funding from $12 million to $15 million, and which will bring additional Environmental Quality Incentives Program funds to Vermont for the state’s farmers to use in water quality improvement projects.

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