Tuesday, July 28, 2015

State of Lake Champlain Report Released

Fig8_BeachClosure_largeThe Lake Champlain Basin Program’s 2015 State of the Lake and Ecosystem Indicators Report has been released.

The report, produced about every three years, is published to inform the public and resource managers about Lake Champlain’s condition and seeks to provide a better understanding of threats to its health and opportunities to meet the challenges the lake faces.

“We rely on the best scientific data available to determine the conditions of Lake Champlain water quality and habitat health,” LCBP Director Bill Howland said in a statement announcing the report. “In 2015, we share both good and not so good news, depending on which issue and which lake segment is being discussed. Certainly the Lake is still not meeting phosphorus concentrations targets, but some of the tributary rivers seem to be improving – and that is a very positive sign.”

Findings of the report include:

  • Lake Champlain’s in-lake phosphorus concentrations are still too high, although phosphorus trends are improving in some tributaries such as the Missisquoi River and Otter Creek in Vermont and Little Ausable and Mettawee rivers in New York.
  • Public beaches along Lake Champlain were closed on more than 30 occasions between 2012 and 2014 as a result of elevated coliform bacteria levels and more than 25 times as a result of harmful algae blooms.
  • Since 1964, the average August water surface temperature has changed as follows: the Main Lake (+3.8o F), Missisquoi Bay (+3.9o F), St. Albans Bay (+5.2o F), Shelburne Bay (+6.8o F),and the South Lake (+5.9o F).
  • Sea lamprey wounding on lake trout and Atlantic salmon have dropped to the lowest rates since monitoring began in 1985.
  • Scientists have documented some recent changes in the biological communities of the Lake’s food web, such as declines in zooplankton populations. These can cause a ripple effect all the way up to the top predators. Data show that native rainbow smelt numbers have declined while alewives have become more abundant.
  • As of 2014, Lake Champlain is home to 50 known non-native and invasive species.
  • Round goby, hydrilla, and quagga mussels are aquatic invasive species on the doorsteps to Lake Champlain.
  • In the southern portion of Lake Champlain, water chestnut populations have been reduced to their southernmost point since 1999, south of Dresden Narrows.
  • From data collected by LCBP’s boat launch stewards during summer 2014, a top 10 list of waterbodies visited most recently prior to launching in Lake Champlain include: NY (Hudson River, Saratoga Lake, Mohawk River, Oneida Lake and Lake George); CT (Candlewood Lake); NH (Lake Winnipesaukee); MA (Quabbin Reservoir); NJ (Lake Hopatcong); and the Connecticut River.

The 2015 State of the Lake and Ecosystem Indicators report is available on-line here.


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