Blog

Update On Long Term Funding For Clean Water Projects

The following is a summary on funding of clean water projects in Vermont compiled by Lake St. Catherine Trustee Martha Pofit. Martha is also on the Board Of Directors of the Federation of Vermont Lakes and Ponds (FOVLAP), focusing on legislative issues.

Background: Federal EPA Requirements

Vermont is required to fund $2.3 billion over the next 20 years to comply with federal pollution reduction orders for Lake Champlain, Lake Memphremagog and other water bodies in the state. Since the 2015 passage of Act 64, Vermont’s Clean Water Act, the state has used short-term sources — such as appropriations from the capital bill — for the majority of its share of the funding. Going forward, Vermont is obligated to identify a stable, long-term clean water funding source.

Governor’s Budget Plan for Long Term Funding

In his budget address, Governor Scott laid out a proposal to use a portion of the estate tax for clean water funding, (while also reducing the number of individuals who would be subject to paying the estate tax). His plan also included using some general fund money generated from the property transfer tax, and other sources. Next year, as an example, the budget calls for a total of $48 million for clean water efforts, including management of the state’s 7,000 miles of dirt roads and on-farm water quality projects. That total includes more than $19 million in federal funds.

Preliminary Legislative Reaction

Legislative leaders have expressed concern about diverting revenue from the general fund and creating a funding gap for other state priorities, as well as the volatility/variability of the estate tax. As an alternative, the Vermont Senate Natural Resources Committee was expected to consider a clean water funding bill that would contain a combination of a per parcel fee and an impervious surface fee.

Advocates Weigh In

The Vermont Water Caucus, (including the Vermont Natural Resources Council, Vermont Conservation Voters, Audubon Vermont, Vermont Chapter of the Sierra Club, Lake Champlain Committee, The Nature Conservancy in Vermont, Connecticut River Conservancy, Watersheds United Vermont, and Conservation Law Foundation.) developed a series of principles to apply to any long-term funding sources.

  • Funding sources must be stable and sufficient to meet Vermont’s needs.
  • Funding sources must be stable, predictable and reliable from year to year, to support ongoing, consistent clean water protection and restoration efforts.
  • Funding must be flexible in terms of its use, to meet the full and evolving scope of clean water needs across the state.
  • Funding must restore our degraded waters and also protect our river and lakes from future degradation.
  • Funding sources must minimize negative economic impacts on lower-income Vermonters, who already bear a disproportionate burden of the consequences of contaminated water.

Federal EPA’s Reaction to the Governors Funding Plan

The federal Environmental Protection Agency gave its preliminary approval February 11 to the plan from the Scott administration to fund clean water projects with existing revenues and create regional districts to implement projects, calling it a “sensible framework” that meets the state’s obligations to provide a long-term source for clean water funding.

Specific Legislative Proposals

Senate bill 96

Senator Bray, D-Addison, introduced S. 96 on February 12.

This bill proposes to establish a Clean Water Board for the receipt and dissemination of Clean Water Funds, sets priorities and eligible entities to receive funds and establishes a Clean Water Assessment on all parcels in the State. Monies collected under the Clean Water Assessment would be deposited in the Clean Water Fund to fund water quality improvement projects in the State. The amount of the Clean Water Assessment shall be approximately $40.00 per parcel, collected by July 1, 2021.

Reported favorably with recommendation of amendment by Senator Bray for the Committee on Natural Resources and Energy on March 2 for the Senate Calendar of March 12.

House bill 171

Rep. Till, D-Jericho, introduced H. 171 that would raise the Clean Water funds through a combination of taxes and fees on parking lots, asphalt sales, hotel rooms, and milk handlers.

Specifically, this bill proposes to establish an impervious surface fee on all parcels in the State. The bill would repeal the sunset of the Clean Water Surcharge on the Property Transfer Tax. The bill also would establish a Water Quality Occupancy Surcharge on the rent of each occupancy in the State. The bill would impose on milk handlers a fee per pound of fluid milk purchased from a milk producer for the purpose of bottling, manufacturing, processing, distribution, or sale of dairy products in the State. The bill would require a manufacturer of asphalt to pay an assessment per ton of asphalt sold in the State each year. The revenue from the impervious surface fee, the Water Quality Occupancy Surcharge, and the asphalt assessment would be deposited in the Clean Water Fund. The revenue from the milk handling fee would be deposited in the General Fund.

On February 27, Committee on Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife be relieved of the bill, moved to Committee on Ways and Means.

House bill 507

Rep. Dolan, D-Waitsfield, introduced a bill to fund Clean Water Projects through collection of a tax on bottled water at 10 cents per bottle and sugary drinks at 15 cents per bottle. The legislation would also levy a 6 percent tax on barbering or cosmetology services and a .05 percent increase in the income tax. 

Specifically, this bill proposes to raise revenue for water quality projects and programs. The bill would establish a 10-cent per bottle tax on bottled water sold in the State. The bill would establish a 15-cent per bottle tax on each bottle of sugar-sweetened beverage sold in the State. The bill would establish a sales tax of six percent on the value of barbering or cosmetology services. The bill would also raise individual income rates by .05 percent. Revenue raised under the bill would be deposited in the Clean Water Fund for the purposes of that Fund, except that 67 percent of the revenue raised from the excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages would be deposited in the State Health Care Resources Fund for use according to the purposes of the Fund.

On February 28, referred to Committee on Ways and Means.

Federal Funding Announced by Sen. Leahy on Feb 22

More than $20 million in federal funding was appropriated to Lake Champlain in fiscal year 2019- the highest level of annual federal funding to assist clean up efforts. Sen. Patrick Leahy announced the funding at Burlington’s ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, which he helped secure in his role as vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The figure has more than doubled since 2017.

The specific funding lines are $11 million for the EPA Lake Champlain Program, $7.25 million for the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, $1 million for the Lake Champlain Sea Grant, $500,000 for the U.S. FWS Sea Lamprey Control and $1 million for the International Joint Commission Flood Study.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee moves S. 96 to the Senate Floor

On March 1, Senate Natural Resources reported a favorable recommendation to place S.96 on the Senate Calendar for March 12. S.96 would mandate every landowner pay a clean water tax, or “assessment,” of approximately $40 and establish regional planning commissions.

Read More

Listing Of Certified Natural Shoreline Erosion Control Professionals

Back in October, we let you know about a certification program being offered by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.

From the DEC's Natural Shoreland Erosion Control Certification website:

"This Certification Course covers shoreland Best Management Practices, including techniques for erosion control, stormwater management, bioengineering and wildlife habitat protection. Lakeshore owners often rely on professional contractors, landscapers, engineers or other site workers to advice and help them manage their property. The NSECC course teaches contractors both the science for using BMPs and the science of how they work to protect the lake while remaining attractive and appealing to homeowners. All workers certified through this six hour training course will be listed on the Agency of Natural Resources web site and the list will be shared with lakeshore property owners. Those certified through this course will also be given preference for grants and contracts awarded through the new Vermont Clean Water Initiative, and are eligible for professional development credits, including four non-soil credits for Licensed Designers."

The certification courses have taken place, and we'd like to share the listing of professionals now certified:

Professionals Certified in Natural Shoreland Erosion Control Practices PDF

It is extremely important to protect our lake shoreline to prevent stormwater runoff which can... "contain nitrogen and phosphorus pollutants from fertilizers, pet and yard waste. Because stormwater flows over hard surfaces directly into a water body or storm drain, there is no opportunity for soil and plants to filter out pollutants." - US EPA. Keeping these pollutants out of the lake will help with water quality and will help to minimize a nutrient supply for weeds.

If you are planning a project near the lake shore, please consult with one of these certified contractors. 

Read More

Natural Shoreline Erosion Control Certification

Calling all Landscapers, Contractors, and Site Workers that work on Lake St. Catherine... We'd like to let you know about a certification program being offered by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.

From the DEC's Natural Shoreland Erosion Control Certification website:

"This Certification Course covers shoreland Best Management Practices, including techniques for erosion control, stormwater management, bioengineering and wildlife habitat protection. Lakeshore owners often rely on professional contractors, landscapers, engineers or other site workers to advice and help them manage their property. The NSECC course teaches contractors both the science for using BMPs and the science of how they work to protect the lake while remaining attractive and appealing to homeowners. All workers certified through this six hour training course will be listed on the Agency of Natural Resources web site and the list will be shared with lakeshore property owners. Those certified through this course will also be given preference for grants and contracts awarded through the new Vermont Clean Water Initiative, and are eligible for professional development credits, including four non-soil credits for Licensed Designers."

2018 Training Locations and Dates:

Monday, November 5 - Castleton University
Wednesday, November 7 - Lake Champlain Sea Grant and UVM Extension
Friday, November 9 - Associated General Contractors of Vermont

To register and for general questions, please contact David Addeo at david.addeo@vermont.gov.

For questions about curriculum please contact Amy Picotte at amy.picotte@vermont.gov.

The course costs $20 to attend.

If you complete the certification - or if you have already, please let us know! We'll list your Natural Shoreland Erosion Control certified business on our website.

To read more about this important program, please read the "Vermont Natural Shoreland Erosion Control Certification Program - 2018 Legislative Report".

It is extremely important to protect our lake shoreline to prevent stormwater runoff which can... "contain nitrogen and phosphorus pollutants from fertilizers, pet and yard waste. Because stormwater flows over hard surfaces directly into a water body or storm drain, there is no opportunity for soil and plants to filter out pollutants." - US EPA. Keeping these pollutants out of the lake will help with water quality and will help to minimize a nutrient supply for weeds.

Please spread the word. Thank you!

Flyer for the upcoming dates:

Read More

A LSC Blast From The Past

Hello LSC,

We'd like to share this blast from the past with you - an article about Lake St. Catherine from the 1997 Summer edition of Vermont Life magazine entitled "A Family Kind Of Place - Lake St. Catherine's Appeal Spans The Generations" by Nancy Boardman, photographed by Jerry LeBlond.

We've scanned it and created a PDF for you to be able to read it and view the photographs.

Take a look!

[ click the link above or the cover image below to view the PDF article ]

Read More

Invasive Species Recently Found In VT Lakes

Hello LSC,

We'd like to let you know that invasive species have been recently discovered in two nearby Vermont lakes - zebra mussels in Lake Memphremagog and spiny water flea in Lake Champlain.

On zebra mussels: Zebra mussels are an invasive species; they are a small freshwater mollusk that attaches to firm surfaces and can clog pipes and other underwater infrastructure. They are also filter-feeders, consuming microscopic aquatic life that is the base of the food web for our lakes. Their feeding habits can impact the native species that also consume those food sources.

On the spiny water flea: Dr. Tim Mihuc, Director of the Lake Champlain Research Institute, states, “This is truly a sad day for Lake Champlain. The spiny water flea has potential to severely impact the planktonic food web and will be a huge nuisance to anglers. Unfortunately, now Lake Champlain has joined Sacandaga Lake and Lake George as a major hub for future invasions into the Adirondacks and Vermont waters.”

You can read more about these unfortunate discoveries in these press releases:

Zebra Mussels Identified in Magog Bay, Lake Memphremagog

Spiny Water Flea Confirmed in Lake Champlain

It is illegal in the state of Vermont to transport aquatic invasive species. Act 67, which came into effect in 2017, states that if a certified attendant at a watercraft decontamination station identifies a vessel or trailer as requiring decontamination, boaters are obligated to comply. Failure to do so can result in fines and the involvement of law enforcement.

Each season, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the LSCA works with the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation to staff the LSC boat launch with well-trained inspectors called Greeters. They are paid personnel of the LSCA. These Greeters inspect incoming and outgoing watercraft looking for invasive species of plant and animal life. Through their efforts, we can closely monitor and prevent other invasive species like Asian Clams, Spiny Water Fleas, Water Chestnuts and Zebra Mussels carried on visiting boats, from invading Lake St. Catherine.

We want to make sure these invasive species do nto make it into Lake St. Catherine. It is so important to inspect your boat and trailer for invasive species before launching your boat into the lake.

You can learn more about aquatic invasive species on the Vermont DEC website's Aquatic Invasive Species page.

Read More

Volunteers Needed - Vermont Statewide Loon Count, July 21st

Hello LSC.

We've been informed by Eric Hanson of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies that the Vermont Loon Conservation Project is looking for volunteers to perform a count of loons on Lake St. Catherine.

This project, as part of a statewide count, will take place on the morning of July 21st, 2018 on Lake St. Catherine.

If you'd like to be a part of this project and volunteer the morning of July 21st on LSC, please call or email Mary Jo Teetor, 802-287-5836 / ferncliff@comcast.net.

Thank you!

About the Vermont Loon Conservation Project from their website:

"From a mere seven pairs three decades ago, Common Loons now number more than 90 breeding pairs in the state. This conservation triumph came only with a collaboration among people and organizations across Vermont. Our chief partner in loon recovery and conservation is the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. Together, and with help from a corps of dedicated volunteers, we're securing a future for Common Loons in the state. Our strategy features: Monitoring, Management and Public Outreach."

Photo credit: Karen Velsor‎, originally posted in Lake St. Catherine - Vermont Facebook group.

 

Read More

Sharing The Edge: A Guide For Lakeshore Property Owners In Vermont

Hello LSC.

Today, we are sharing a new guide for lakeshore property owners, published by the Vermont Department Of Environmental Conservation, Watershed Management Division, Lakes and Ponds Program.

About the guide, from the Vermont DEC:

"Are you considering lakefront property in Vermont?  Maybe you live out of state and are drawn to Vermont’s clear waters and the poignant call of loons from across a pond.  Or perhaps you’re a lifelong Vermonter who is just now contemplating a quiet retreat on the lake.  The newly released Sharing the Edge: A Guide to Lakeshore Property Owners in Vermont offers guidance on everything from permitting to how to volunteer with the DEC Lakes and Ponds Program.

This property owner’s guide introduces a new or potential landowner to what a healthy lakeshore looks like and describes how Vermont manages its public waters as a natural resource.  Sharing the Edge provides a brief overview of development regulations, including the Shoreland Protection Act and Lake Encroachment.  Readers will learn where to locate the Inland Lakes Score Card, which opens to provide easy-to-read water quality data on Google Earth.  Sharing the Edge introduces the Lake Wise program, which supports and awards properties that embody lake-friendly development.  The guide also answers several frequently asked questions including “Can I have a dock?” and “How long does it take to get a permit?”."

It looks to be a great resource for lakeshore property owners. Take a look!

You can download a copy by clicking here: Sharing the Edge: A Guide to Lakeshore Property Owners in Vermont, or by clicking on the image below.

Read More

Cyanobacteria Cleared In Halls Bay Channel

We have been given the all-clear to remove the Cyanobacteria warning signs along the channel of Hall Bay - and normal use of the channel may resume.

You can read more about this issue in our original post: "Cyanobacteria Found In Halls Bay Channel"

The bloom has dissipated, and you may now enter the channel.

This is what the Cyanobacteria looked like:

It looks like light blue paint on top of the water.

Vermont DEC advised us that this was an unusual event for LSC, and they had no previous records of a Cyano bloom on the lake. They attributed it to a perfect storm of conditions that day in the Halls Bay channel, citing lack of rain, temperature, water depth and lack of water movement.

If you see a bloom like this anywhere on the lake inthe future, please let us know at info@lakestcatherine.org.

Read More

2018 LSC Independence Day Celebration Activities

Happy Friday to you all in the LSC community. We'd like to share some upcoming Independence Day activities that will be taking place around the lake during the next week.

...and here we go:

The 6th Annual LSCA Boat Parade!

It is this Sunday, July 1st - starting off in Forest House Bay and making it's way around the lake.

We all know how much fun it is to watch the parade - but it's even more fun to be in it! There is still time to get your freinds and family together to come up with an idea and register your boat for the parade. 

Prizes are awarded for:

• Most original
• Most patriotic
• Funniest
• Best overall

Just look at all these great prizes up for grabs! 

The LSCA would like to thank these generous sponsors for providing prizes for the Boat Parade:

• Perry's Main Street Eatery
Priscilla's Sweet Shoppe
• LSCC Fairways Restaurant & Tavern
• Wells Country Store
• Otto's Cones Point General Store
• Full Belly Deli
• The Original Vermont Store
William's True Value Hardware Store
• Stewart's Shops

Plus, all kids that participate get a free ice cream coupon from Stewart's Shops!

To join in on the parade, please contact Lila Burgner at BurgnerL@msn.com to register your boat today!

Lake St. Catherine State Park Activities

On Saturday, June 30th:

• 8-9am: Bird Walk With Sue Wetmore. Thrushes and veerios are some of the possibilities!
• 10-12pm: Let's go fishing!
• 2-3pm: Invasive Plant Species walk
• 3-4pm: Reptiles & amphibians- focus on snakes!

On Sunday, July 1st:

• 7-8am: Early bird paddle, sign up at nature center. meet by consession stand.
• 10-11:30pm: Making dream catchers
• 2-3pm: Reptiles & amphibians

On Monday, July 2nd:

• 8-9pm: Morning paddle. Meet at concession stand. Sign-up at nature center.
• 10-11pm: Draw & ID trees at nature center

*programs usually meet by day use beach*

You can find more info about these events on the Vermont State Parks' Lake St. Catherine Page.

The Town Of Wells

Wells Village Library Book & Bake Sale - July 6 & 7 from 9AM - 4PM:

Join the Wells Village Library on July 6th and 7th for our annual book and bake sale! The event will be held at the MWA Annex Building located on VT Route 30 in Wells, VT. Hours are Friday, July 6th, 9:00am – 4:00pm and Saturday, July 7th, 9:00am – 3:00pm. Donations of books, dvds, games, puzzles or baked goods would be much appreciated.

The library also will be selling special raffle tickets for a local bookstore gift certificate. Tickets for this are on sale during both days of the book sale. Tickets are $2 each or 3 tickets for $5. The drawing will be held at the end of the book sale and the winner does not need to be present to win. All proceeds from this event will benefit library programs and collection development.

Book or game donations can be dropped off at the library during normal business hours (Wed 10am-3pm, Th 2-5pm, Fri 3-5pm, Sat 9am-1pm) any time before the book sale or by appointment. Baked goods can be dropped off at the MWA on July 6th and 7th. We are also seeking volunteers to help with set up the week before and on the two days of the event. Please contact the library at 802.645.0611 or by email at jcb@behaviorservices.com if you can help or for more information.

Wells Fire Department Pancake Breakfast - July 1st from 7AM

The Town Of Poultney

Poultney has a big day planned for July 4th: Food, magic, a parade, music, a dance party - and Elvis! 

They will then have fireworks at dusk.

Additional information about all the festivities can be found on the Poultney Recreation website.

Otto's Cones Point General Store - Music @ The Moose

Otto's will be featuring live bands and solo musicians on their front porch throughout the summer. They will have 5 musical acts appearing next week, starting on Saturday, June 30th with the Wolf Holler Band from 5PM - 9PM. You can check out their full schedule by clicking here.

Fireworks - Saturday, July 7th at dusk

Lake resident Rick Roberts has informed the LSCA that his fireworks display will occur on Saturday, July 7th. This year, the fireworks will launch from the east side of the lake, near the mouth of Hall's Bay.

Well, that should be enough to keep you busy this week, right? :)

Be safe, have fun, and always be a good steward of the lake.

Enjoy your time at the lake this week!

Read More

Cyanobacteria Found In Halls Bay Channel

On Sunday, June 17th, Cyanobacteria was found in the channel leading from Halls Bay.

The Vermont DEC was consulted and a crew was dispatched to contain the bloom with containment booms.

The Vermont Department of Health has posted signs to make property owners in that channel aware:

Until we are given the all-clear, please keep pets and children out of the water in the channel.

We have been told that it is naturally occurring - and that conditions were perfect for it to bloom there: lack of rain, temperature, water depth and lack of water movement.

We will keep you informed with any updates.

Additional information from the Vermont Department Of Health on Cyanobacteria can be read here: "CYANOBACTERIA (BLUE-GREEN ALGAE)". Please let us know immediately if you spot some.

From Vermont DEC Environmental Scientist, Angela Shambaugh:

"So long as there is visible cyanobacteria in the water, both in the inlet stream and anywhere along the lake shore where it empties into St. Catherine proper, everyone should be avoiding contact with them. Pets are also vulnerable, so owners should be keeping their pets out as well.

It is difficult to predict how long the bloom might persist in the stream. Lake surface blooms typically dissipate when wind and waves thoroughly stir the water. They can last for a matter of hours or for several days or weeks, depending on the conditions. Blooms in streams typically are moved out by increased flow. It doesn’t sound like you received much rain as a result of the storms earlier this week, so this bloom may persist until there is more water movement.

...I have no records of blooms on St. Catherine, so this may be an unusual event as a result of the dry and then hot weather we’ve experienced for the last few weeks."

Read More