Water Quality & PFOA

A sign saying the beach is closed due to blue green algae.
Elodie Reed / VPR

Temperatures boiled above 90 degrees Fahrenheit Friday afternoon, so sisters Margaret and Rosemary Mannix fancied a swim.

The pair — visiting their mother from Alaska and Oregon, respectively — took a drive over to Oakledge Park's Cove Beach in Burlington. That's where they saw the red signs staked into the ground: "Beach Closed Due To Blue Green Algae."

Blue-green algae blooms in the summer of 2014 in Lake Champlain.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR FILE

A recently released state auditor's report says the majority of money spent to reduce phosphorus pollution in Lake Champlain goes to the least cost-effective solutions. 

A boat floats on a lake.
Elodie Reed / VPR

Now that elected officials have finally come up with most of the money needed to address water quality issues in Vermont, the state faces another clean-water conundrum: how to spend it.

A child drinks from a water fountain.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

The Vermont Department of Health is asking schools to prepare for statewide water testing that is expected to take place in September.

An aerial view of Lake Champlain
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR file

After considering a variety of new taxes to fund water quality efforts in Vermont, lawmakers now say they can clean up the state’s waterways without raising a dime.

An aerial shot of the House floor on the opening day of the Vermont Legislature in 2019.
Oliver Parini / For VPR

House lawmakers have finally landed on a proposal to fund water quality efforts in Vermont, but leaders in the state's technology industry say the plan could put a damper on a growing sector of the Vermont economy.

People sit around the table during a Vermont House Appropriations Committee discussion.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Lawmakers were hoping to begin testing the water at Vermont schools and daycare centers for lead this academic year. But as lawmakers are having a tough time deciding what level of lead triggers remediation and how much state money to put toward the work, it looks unlikely testing can start before school lets out in June.

Scientists are ramping up research on the possible health effects of a large group of common but little-understood chemicals used in water-resistant clothing, stain-resistant furniture, nonstick cookware and many other consumer products.

Blue-green algae blooms in the summer of 2014 in Lake Champlain.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR FILE

Vermont lawmakers agree the state needs millions of dollars' worth of clean water projects. But there's less agreement on where Vermont will get the roughly $60 million it needs to fund them. We're talking about clean water plans advancing in Montpelier and what the options are to pay for them.

Gov. Phil Scott, at the podium, joined elected officials from Bennington Wednesday to announce a financial settlement with the company linked to PFOA contamination in the Bennington area.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

The state has reached a settlement with the owners of a manufacturing facility that may be linked to the contamination of hundreds of private drinking wells in the Bennington area.

Joe Gay - an engineer with Casella Waste Systems - stands before the Coventry landfill.
Jane Lindholm / VPR File

Among the many items on Town Meeting Day ballots this year, at least one will be watched closely on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border. Residents of Derby will vote on a nonbinding referendum on whether to officially oppose an expansion of Vermont's only operating landfill.

New England activists and lawmakers say the Environmental Protection Agency's new plan to manage harmful PFAS chemicals isn't aggressive enough.

The EPA says this plan is a broad roadmap of goals for protecting people from exposure to the huge class of likely toxic PFAS chemicals.

These industrial chemicals were used for decades to make non-stick, waterproof and stain-resistant coatings, as well as firefighting foams and other industrial products.

A view from a boat on Lake Champlain, looking at a piece of tree-covered land jutting out.
Meg Malone / VPR File

Gov. Phil Scott’s long-term plan for clean water funding may have gotten a chilly reception in Montpelier, but the administration’s proposal has received a tentative stamp of approval from the federal agency overseeing Vermont’s pollution-reduction efforts.

Glasses of water on a windowsill.
Jtasphoto / iStock

The Agency of Natural Resources wants to test all of Vermont’s drinking water for five per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and the agency said it will begin a rulemaking process to add the five chemicals to the list of contaminants that all public drinking water suppliers must monitor on a regular basis.

Vermont Health Commissioner Mark Levine speaks to Senate Education Committee while seated at a table and others gathered around.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

After saying it could take three years to test the drinking water at every school in Vermont for lead, the Department of Health now says it will finish testing by the end of the year.

The state is close to reaching an agreement with the company linked to widespread water contamination around Bennington.

Evan Chamberlin, 9, drinks from a water fountain at Union Elementary School in Montpelier.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Some lawmakers and environmental activists say a state plan that gives schools up to three-and-a-half-years to test their water for lead will put children at risk.

The stones under this Route 15 bridge in Wolcott can be hard for people to navigate, let alone animals with hooves. From left, Vermont Fish and Wildlife's Jens Hilke and The Nature Conservancy's Paul Marangelo and Eve Frankel are working on that problem.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

Students of Vermont’s natural history know the state was largely clear-cut 100 years ago, and forests have been slowly regrowing ever since. But conservationists say the pendulum has begun to swing back the other way and that's changing how animals navigate the state.

Joe Gay - an engineer with Casella Waste Systems - stands before the Coventry landfill.
Jane Lindholm / VPR File

The Coventry landfill in northern Vermont now has permission to expand by 51 acres. The state issued a permit to the landfill's owners Friday after an extended public comment period.

Blue-green algae blooms in the summer of 2014 in Lake Champlain.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR FILE

Both of Vermont's major party gubernatorial candidates say they support a long-term plan to clean up Lake Champlain and other waterways in Vermont, but neither candidate is offering a plan to pay for it.