Two years ago this week Vermont was pummeled by Tropical Storm Irene. Some parts of the state are still recovering, but what about Lake Champlain?
Thousands of gallons of water and sediment were swept into Lake Champlain as a result of flooding from Tropical Storm Irene. Many wondered what the long term impact would be on the lake -- including the Lake Champlain Committee, a bi-state citizens' organization dedicated to protecting the health of the lake and accessibility to its waters.
"The long term impact on the lake hasn't really been noticeable. We certainly had the short term influx of a lot of nutrients, the year after we had some serious algae blooms which may have been related to the flooding from Irene this year we saw a fairly good year in terms of algae blooms so far we have had one bloom in St Albans Bay but other than that it has been fairly minor," said the committee's Mike Winslow.
Winslow says tests will continue for years. The committee will continue to study the effects of sediment on the lake from Irene but they say the real damage was done to rivers and streams and not by the storm. "Irene was sort of nature's way of trying to reset the rivers and reclaim some of the flood plains," Winslow said. "We did not want that to happen. We have our communities there, we built up in the flood plains, so there was an attempt to bring the rivers back to a straightened condition."
And it's that straightened condition that led to a lot of excess pollutant loading into the lake over time -- and in the future. The Lake Champlain Committee plans to continue its work monitoring pollutants and phosphorus and will work with other agencies to reduce the amounts that end up in Lake Champlain.