Governor Phil Scott & Agency of Natural Resources Unveil New Aeration System to Improve Water Quality and Curb Cyanobacteria Blooms in Lake Carmi
Franklin, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott today gathered with state officials, community groups and legislators at Lake Carmi State Park to celebrate the installation of a new aeration system to help reduce cyanobacteria blooms in the lake.
“Lake Carmi is one of Vermont’s premier lakes, drawing recreationists and campers to its 1,400 acres for decades,” said Governor Scott. “This new aeration system will help us achieve our restoration goals so that anglers, swimmers, campers and community members can continue to enjoy this lake for years to come.”
The system will prevent phosphorus from being released from lake sediment. Diffusers arrayed across the lake’s deep areas release fine bubbles that efficiently mix the water column. By circulating water from the depths to the surface, the system oxygenates the water and prevents typical summer conditions that allow the release of phosphorus from the sediments. Lowering phosphorus levels in the lake will reduce blue-green algae (also called cyanobacteria) by reducing its main food source and preventing cyanobacteria blooms which can produce toxins that are harmful to people and pets.
In the 1980s, Lake Carmi began experiencing harmful cyanobacteria blooms, becoming intense and persistent in 2017 due to excess phosphorus released in lake sediments, storm runoff and unusual fall weather. After the summer of 2017, the Town of Franklin united with state officials, farmers, the University of Vermont (UVM) and Lake Carmi campers to explore solutions to reduce phosphorus levels and stop further phosphorus from flowing into the lake.
In 2018, the Town of Franklin and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) called for bids to install an in-lake aeration system to treat phosphorus in lake sediment. EverBlue Lake Solutions of Michigan was selected, and the system was installed on June 23, 2019. It will immediately increase oxygen levels in the deeper waters of the lake, preventing chemical changes in the sediment that would release phosphorus back into the water, reducing food for cyanobacteria and resulting in fewer blooms.
“The aeration system is part of a broader effort to restore the lake by tackling the nutrients flowing into the lake from farmland, roads, and septic systems,” said Mark Mitchell, an environmental scientist with DEC.
Going forward, a community-led team will continue to identify ways to reduce phosphorus flowing into the lake, including:
- UVM Extension will explore ways to reduce phosphorus pollution from farms.
- DEC will monitor dissolved oxygen, temperature and phosphorus levels and work with EverBlue to fine tune the aeration system. DEC will also assess the long-term effects of aeration on the lake ecosystem.
- Lake Carmi State Park will expand lake-friendly practices, including recent tree plantings along Marsh Brook and renovation of the Wastewater Treatment Facility.
- Local volunteers, the Lake Champlain Committee, the Department of Health and DEC will monitor cyanobacteria throughout the summer.
- UVM scientists will monitor water quality changes with a series of buoys in the lake.
The following partners have played a part in restoring Lake Carmi:
- The Franklin Watershed Committee
- The Farmers Watershed Alliance
- Friends of Northern Lake Champlain
- The Lake Carmi Campers Association
- The Northwest Regional Planning Commission
- The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets
- The Town of Franklin
- The Vermont Toxics Action Center
- EverBlue Lake Solutions
- University of Vermont Extension
- The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation
For more information, visit Restoring Lake Carmi.