Vt., Quebec partner up to cleanup Lake Champlain - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt., Quebec partner up to cleanup Lake Champlain

Quebec City, Quebec - March 15, 2010

From the economy, to the environment, to power, Vermont and the state's largest trading partner Quebec are teaming up to make some big changes, including cleaning up Lake Champlain.

It was a rare sight, the Vermont state flag flying over Quebec's Parliament building last week, a symbol outside of the partnership between the two regions that was continued inside, with the signing of an agreement to clean up Lake Champlain.

Reporter Kristin Carlson: "Where do you think Vermont and the quality of Lake Champlain would be if there wasn't this agreement?"

"I don't think we'd have anywhere near the level of activity we have now," said Vermont Natural Resources Secretary Jonathan Wood.

He says the cooperation has led to research and it sets a tone, that all sides want to reduce phosphorus pollution, coming from developments and farms, creating algae blooms.

"This is a long term process, and without this agreement of understanding and without all of our work together we're not going to get there," said Wood.

But Lake Champlain is not getting cleaner, despite $100 million being spent in the past six years.

"The time for feel good agreements have passed and really what we need are actions," said Anthony Iarrapino with the Conservation Law Foundation.

Iarrapino says the state needs to step up enforcement on sewage treatment plants, farms, and developments. The Environmental Protection Agency is now reviewing pollution goals for the Lake, after CLF won a lawsuit, seeking tougher standards.

"So it's an across the board focus on all the pollution sources and moving away from the more education outreach voluntary and more toward the idea that the polluter pays," said Iarrapino.

When asked if the Douglas Administration plans to change its approach with the Lake, or stay the course, Secretary Wood responded, "I think the course we've been on is the right course."

The Lake Champlain agreement also includes New York. Governor Paterson could not be in Quebec City for the official signing, but it's been sent to his office for him to sign. The three regions have been renewing the Lake agreement for over two decades.

Kristin Carlson - WCAX-TV

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