A public that understands the Basin’s water quality and resource management challenges as well as possible solutions can make informed choices about protection and restoration. Organizations and institutions throughout the Basin are working on many fronts to educate citizens of all ages. Through formal education programs in classrooms and camps and with outreach efforts at public events, partners are equipping citizens to take action and change behavior to improve water quality.
Each year, many people take personal steps to improve water quality in the Basin and become involved in local watershed groups and other organizations.
Citizens have become involved in volunteer efforts ranging from a single day of tree planting to long-term citizen science projects. The Lake Champlain Committee annually trains more than 200 volunteer monitors from New York, Québec, and Vermont to survey the Lake Champlain shoreline for the presence of cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae) blooms and to collect water samples for laboratory analysis when necessary. This program complements the Lake Champlain Long-Term Water Quality Monitoring Program conducted by New York and Vermont with funding provided by the LCBP and the two states.
Many citizens have reduced runoff by incorporating green infrastructure into their property or neighborhood. More than 20 river and watershed associations have hosted workshops to teach residents how to install rain barrels, rain gardens, and pervious driveways. In addition, these groups provide information on simple steps that people can take to maintain private roads, remove invasive species, build healthy soils, and implement lake-friendly landscaping practices. Residents are also taking advantage of pharmaceutical collection and disposal days that help keep medications—and the environmentally dangerous chemicals many contain—from being flushed down the drain and into waterways.
Many citizens have gotten their feet wet and hands dirty in efforts to control aquatic invasive species. Each summer, The Nature Conservancy, Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, Vermont DEC, and New York DEC organize volunteer days to pull water chestnut, frogbit, and other invasive aquatic plants from infested areas of the Lake. The Vermont Invasive Patroller program run by Vermont DEC has trained volunteers to identify and report invasive species in lakes and ponds throughout the state. In New York, citizen scientists are using iMap Invasives, a mobile app for tracking and reporting species.
By training the next generation to make balanced decisions about the Lake’s ecosystem and by providing the public with opportunities to improve water quality, a real difference is being made. In communities throughout the Lake Champlain Basin, water quality and habitat improvement are not only being made a priority, they are the focus of a tremendous amount of activity that is having an important and powerful impact.
Volunteer monitors identify and report cyanobacteria blooms along the Lake Champlain shoreline in the summer. Photo: LCBP.
The LCBP’s Diving In video series highlights the variety of ways that citizens are learning about and helping to improve water quality and habitat in the Lake Champlain Basin.
Watch the videos >>