Residents plan to sue over Seymour Lake water quality - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Residents plan to sue over Seymour Lake water quality

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MORGAN, Vt. - A lake association is ready to sue the state for not doing enough to protect its body of water.

Timothy Buzzell grew up on property near Lake Seymour and the river that flows out of it, but he's worried too much water may be killing the lake and draining property values.

definitely have a problem here and it needs to be addressed," said Buzzell.

Buzzell is a retired civil engineer and serves on the Seymour Lake Association Board.

He and his fellow members say they are planning on suing the state of Vermont for its management of the water level.

They concede it's not the sole factor in water-quality degradation but say they feel six years of negotiations have stagnated.

Spokespeople for the association have not decided exactly when they will file issues like which court to file in and whether to seek damages are still undecided.

But the general contention is that the water is allowed to raise too high leading to erosion and a spike in the concentration of phosphorous.

"Every time we have proposed a solution we have received a different reason why it cannot be implemented and quite frankly each of these reasons that we have been given are couched in bureaucracy and politics," said Buzzell.

One such proposal is opening a relief-gate in the fall months to make more room for spring runoff.

Crews initially constructed the dam in 1921 to create a regulated flow for downriver power generators still in operation.

A 1952 Vermont Supreme court case upheld a minimum and maximum level for Seymour Lake to allow for seasonal swells and dips.

But Buzzell says he can't remember a time the water fell below the minimum and every spring, he says it rises well above the high-water mark.

Lake Association members began measuring levels by hand last week to check against state data. Buzzell says last week's high-water mark peaked at a level associated with an once-in-a-lifetime storm.

"We exceeded that five days ago and we sure weren't experiencing a 100-year flood," said Buzzell.

Top officials for the Agency of Natural Resources and the Department of Environmental Conservation say they won't comment on possible litigation.

Speaking generally, the Environmental Conservation commissioner said setting water levels must strike a delicate balance between issues like power generation, flood control, irrigation, habitat and downstream impacts.
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