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  1. 1. LAKE CHAMPLAIN PHOSPHORUS CONTAMINATION: Environmental, Economic, and Social Equity Issues
  2. 2. Clean water is valued for many reasons. We depend on lakes and streams for drinking water and recreation. Wildlife depends on habitats created by healthy streams, wetlands and lakes. Water quality has declined in some parts of Lake Champlain, due to excess entry of phosphorus into the lake. Our company Being Green Pays have three priorities for saving the quality of Lake Champlain: Protect and restore ecological and cultural resources of the Basin while maintaining a vital economy for the region
  3. 3. Historical Importance of Lake Champlain Lake Champlain is the 6th largest body of water in the United States It is home to the oldest known fossil reef in the world. (450- 480 million years old) It is the birthplace of the American Navy, and but for the stalling effects of the American fleet lead by Benedict Arnold in the fall of 1776, the American Revolution probably would have been lost.
  4. 4. Geographical Facts of Lake Champlain It is 120 miles long and 12 miles wide at its widest point. It has over 70 islands and 600 miles of shoreline. Its deepest point is 400 ft. The average depth is 64 ft. It is bounded on the west by the Adirondack Mountains of New York, and on the east by the Green Mountains of Vermont. It flows north from Whitehall, New York to the Saint Lawrence River in Quebec.
  5. 5. Animals who call Lake Champlain Home 81 species of fish, 318 species of birds, 56 species of mammals, plus 21 species of amphibians and 20 species of reptiles also rely on Lake Champlain for their drinking water. The lake is a major breeding area and a stopping point for spring and fall birds migrating along the Atlantic flyway. 16 species of birds found in the Champlain Basin are listed as endangered species.
  6. 6. Economic Geography The lake caters to various outdoor recreational activities, including kayaking, hiking, and cross country skiing. On a typical summer day in 1992, there were 7500 motor boats, 3000 sailboats, 15 commercial vessels, and countless swimmers, wind surfers, kayakers, canoers and scuba divers on or in the lake. 10 years later that number has increased significantly.
  7. 7. Importance of Lake Champlain to people living around the lake More than 188,000 people rely on Lake Champlain for their drinking water.
  8. 8. Why are we worried about Lake Champlain's Future? Excessive levels of phosphorus have lead to negative environmental factors such as increased algae growth, loss of aquatic species living in the lake, and water treatment problems, all major threats to humans and the environment
  9. 9. Blue Algae
  10. 10. Priorities for saving the quality of Lake Champlain Protect and restore ecological and cultural resources of the Basin while maintaining a vital economy for the region
  11. 11. What is Phosphorus? Phosphorus is the chemical element that has the symbol P. A multivalent nonmetal of the nitrogen group, phosphorus is commonly found in inorganic phosphate rocks. Due to its high reactivity, phosphorus is never found as a free element in nature on Earth. It is an essential element for all living cells.
  12. 12. Why is too much phosphorus bad? Too much phosphorus in streams, rivers, and lakes can lead to accelerated plant growth, algae blooms, low dissolved oxygen, and the death of certain fish and other aquatic animals. Because phosphorus is a nutrient, algae thrive on it. Algae can spread across the water surface in large quantaties which prevents sunlight from reaching the underlying plants. As a consequence, plants die and decompose. Micro-organisms that feed on dying plants also thrive and consume too much of the oxygen in the water body, leaving fish and other aquatic life to die.
  13. 13. Where does excess phosphorus come from? Land run off: Rain and melting snow carry large amounts of fertilizing chemicals (primarily phosphorus and nitrogen) off the land into the water from: livestock manure; dog and cat droppings; rich topsoil from exposed gardens and farm fields; construction site run-off; eroding stream banks trampled by livestock; street run-off, including air pollution fallout, lawn fertilizers, and home car-washing.
  14. 14. What is the Phosphorus Cycle? The global circulation of phosphorus from the environment to living organisms and back to the environment.
  15. 15. The Phosphorus Cycle
  16. 16. How does this pertain to the conditions of Lake Champlain? Phosphorus is a limiting nutrient to plants and algae in certain aquatic ecosystems. The increasing phosphorus concentrations in surface waters from land run-off raises the growth of phosphate- dependent organisms, such as algae and duckweed. These organisms use great amounts of oxygen and prevent sunlight from entering the water. This makes the water fairly unliveable for other organisms. This phenonmenon is known as eutrophication .
  17. 17. Lake Champlain is divided into several distinct lake segments. Each segment has a different level of phosphorus, which determines that segment's trophic level. Trophic Level: Each level in a food chain. The trophic status of a lake segment is a measure of how much plant growth is supported by phosphorus in the water.
  18. 18. Eutrophic areas have excessive levels of phosphorus and are highly impacted, whereas mesotrophic and oligotrophic areas have moderate and low levels of phosphorus and associated impacts. Lake Champlain's segments range from the oligotrophic Mallett's Bay to the highly eutrophic South Lake.
  19. 19. Other Undesirable Effects of Phosphates · Increased algae growth · Reduced water clarity · Water treatment problems o Odor and bad taste o Increased filtration costs o Disinfectant byproducts with potential human health effects · Reduced oxygen in the water · Altered fisheries · Fish kills · Toxins from cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) affecting human and animal health
  20. 20. Dangers of excess phosphates in humans: We know now that too much phosphate in the water can cause blue-green algae blooms, so how does this affect our own health. Exposure to blue-green algae can cause rashes, skin and eye irritation, allergic reactions, gastrointestinal upset, and other effects such as liver toxicity and neurotoxicity. At high levels, exposure can result in serious illness or death.
  21. 21. The basics of what we know about excess phosphates: Water treatment problems Reduced water clarity, undesirable for recreational activities Kills Fish Toxins from cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) affects human and animal health
  22. 22. What can we do to reduce the input of excess phosphates in Lake Champlain? There are several potentially successful approaches
  23. 23. Some possible solutions that have been discussed in recent years: an ecosystem approach that stresses management decisions which recognize the inter-relationships among the physical, biological and chemical components of the Lake Champlain Basin; a watershed approach that recognizes that Lake Champlain is affected by activities throughout its Basin. Water quality protection and ecosystem restoration efforts should be focused along watershed boundaries; integration of environmental and economic goals in the decision-making process and in selecting the most cost-effective actions to protect and enhance the resources of the Basin;
  24. 24. pollution prevention as a cost-effective means to protect the environment by eliminating pollution before it is generated; a consensus-based, collaborative approach that strengthens the outcomes of decisions by facilitating a dialogue among multiple interested parties; flexibility built into programs and organizations so that they can adapt according to emerging issues, resources and technology education of citizens of the underlying problems associated with excess phosphorus use and ways to reduce overuse, waste, and pollution of phosphate use
  25. 25. Where is the majority of the excess input of phosphorus flowing into Lake Champlain coming from? Runoff from roads and developed areas, and from lawns, farmlands, and other rural areas (called nonpoint sources) contribute more than 90% of the phosphorus. A 2007 report for the Lake Champlain Basin Program, estimated that 46% of the nonpoint source phosphorus load is from urban land uses and about 38% is from agricultural land
  26. 26. Knowing this, where do we start to eliminate excess phosphorus? The facts state that the 90% of non- point phosphorus runoff into Lake Champlain is equally divided between urban land uses and agricultural land uses
  27. 27. Local ways to curb urban runoff of phosphorus: In the farming/argricultural community: Reduce the use of phosphates in cattle feed by using alternative feed methods such as soybean meal. *Cattle feed contains a large amount of phosphorus, the excess amount not needed by the cattle is excreted through their feces and causes the most concern with respect to environmental pollution from animal manure. Better manure management, ie; composting
  28. 28. Local ways to curb urban runoff of phosphorus: As a community or citizen: Switch to phosphorus free automatic dishwashing detergent Wash your car on your lawn so that excess water and detergents can soak into the grass Use phosphorus-free fertilizers Do not rake your yard waste into nearby streams, lakes, or stormwater gutters Properly maintain your septic system especially by pumping every few year Become an active member of a local watershed group
  29. 29. Local ways to curb urban runoff of phosphorus: As a city or town: Prohibit the use of fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides on town parks and athletic fields. Preserve natural vegetation buffers along river and stream banks to help filter stormwater runoff. Infiltrate stormwater runoff into the groundwater wherever possible and appropriate, since phosphorus is highly absorbable by soils. Adopt a stormwater or low impact development (LID) bylaw that promotes the use of LIDstormwater best management practices.
  30. 30. Are these local approaches to curbing urban runoff of phosphorus enough to solve the current conditions of Lake Champlain? NO
  31. 31. These approaches will greatly impact the reduction of phosporus in local water systems, but will not put a dent in solving the problem of the overabundance of phosphorus already polluting Lake Champlain. More goverment funding needs to be allocated to the area as well as environmental awareness
  32. 32. Proposed Actions to Reduce Phosphorus in Lake Champlain: Fund Non-point Control Programs: Sources for funding non-point control programs: EPA administers section 319 of the Clean Water Act, also known as the Nonpoint Source Management Program. Under section 319, states, territories, and tribes apply for and receive grants from EPA to implement NPS pollution controls. As of 1995, EPA had awarded more than $370 million under section 319 to address NPS pollution problems. The USDA administers incentive-based conservation programs through the Consolidated Farm Services Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the U.S. Forest Service to help control NPS pollution from agriculture, forestry, and urban sources.
  33. 33. Due to budget cuts funding from theses agencies is not enough. Additional funding needs to be subsidized through the following ways: State soil and water conservation agencies Grants from local governments, state agencies, and conservation non-profits Lobbying from local politicians concerned about the water quality of Lake Champlain
  34. 34. Raising Public Awareness In an effort to garner public support for future efforts the Plattsburgh, NY and Burlinton, VT municipalities will need to raise public awareness Raising public awareness will be a unified effort lead by municipalities, state and federal government agencies to initiate educational awareness groups for local citizens Additional groups similar to project WET in Vermont, which teaches students K-12th grade about various environmental factors such as climate and water conservation and the impacts their actions have upon them
  35. 35. It is environmentally imperative that we improve the overall health of Lake Champlain Research has shown the wide-range of harmful impacts of excessive phosphorus input into Lake Champlain. Steps taken to improve the quality of the lake will have a positive impact on various factors such as better water quality, increased tourism, healthier living conditions for both humans and animals that live in or around the lake.