Water Quality & PFOA

A woman snorkles.
Elodie Reed / VPR

According to local lore, ocean researcher and SCUBA inventor Jacques Cousteau got his start diving in the Northeast Kingdom town of Barnet in 1920. And now, researchers are exploring that same lake bottom to learn more about the role aquatic plants play in lake health.

A man stands above some infrastructure.
John Dillon / VPR

Environmentalists opposed to the expansion of a Northeast Kingdom landfill say Vermont is being inconsistent in how it regulates the landfill’s wastewater.

David Deen stands in his yard
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

David Deen spent the better part of three decades helping to pass laws that protect Vermont's land and water, and now the former state representative is being recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency for that work. Deen will receive an Environmental Merit Lifetime Award from the federal agency's regional office.

A water fountain mounted on a wall.
gerenme / iStock

The Scott administration has created a website to monitor the testing of lead levels in schools and child care centers. To date, five schools and 300 child care centers have been tested — and roughly 10% of the tested child care centers had at least one water source that exceeded legal limits, while every tested school had at least one water source above what's permitted.

A woman stands in a lake with a boat.
John Dillon / VPR

Vermont’s cleanest lakes are showing alarming signs of increasing phosphorus pollution — the nutrient that feeds algae blooms — according to a research study published by state scientists.

A man stands above a landfill pit.
Jane Lindholm / VPR File

Last week, a proposal to expand Vermont’s only landfill moved a step forward: A state environmental board approved an Act 250 permit for the controversial project.

A bloom of cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae, inundates the shore of Lake Champlain in this undated photo.
Vermont Department of Health, courtesy

Hot summer weather is bringing Vermont's water quality concerns to a boil, with toxic blue-green algae blooms infecting lakes and rivers and closing beaches in the last week. We're talking about Vermont's water quality issues and the state's efforts to solve its clean water problems.

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.

A man stands above a landfill pit.
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.

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