The Deeper Dig: Can technology save Lake Carmi?

The Deeper Dig: Can technology save Lake Carmi?

The 80-point aeration system launched on Lake Carmi last week is the culmination of a year of planning — and decades of frustration.

Residents and campers around Vermont’s fourth-largest lake have faced toxic cyanobacteria blooms in late summer for as long as many can recall. Caused by phosphorus runoff from nearby farms, roads and septic systems, along with the buildup of “legacy phosphorus” on the lake’s floor, the blooms turn the water green and shut down aquatic activities.

A wave of blooms in 2017 were among the worst that locals had seen. “It was unbelievable,” said Peter Benevento, the president of the Lake Carmi Campers Association. “I had never seen it like that before.”

The campers made their case to the state the following spring, and a “crisis plan” for Lake Carmi — including an aeration system aimed at curbing the effects of the legacy phosphorous — was released in July 2018.

State officials are touting the new system as a success story of collaboration between the state, residents and farmers around the lake. But it’s only one part of a larger effort to limit runoff in the Lake Carmi watershed, and to fight pollution in other bodies of water around the state.

On this week’s podcast, VTDigger’s Elizabeth Gribkoff checks out the aeration system with John Tucci of EverBlue Lake Solutions, the state contractor behind the project. Plus, Peter Benevento and Larry Myott of the Lake Carmi Campers Association talk about why they fought for a solution — and what they hope to see in Lake Carmi’s future.

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