Major Water Quality Grant Awarded for Caspian Lake

by Abraham Ames

NEWPORT – The Lake Champlain Basin Program awarded the Orleans County Natural Resource Conservation District (OCNRCD) a $48,668 grant contract to conduct a Lake and Watershed Action Plan (LWAP) for Caspian Lake. 

While the lake is still exceptionally clean, based on 30 years of lay water quality monitoring data collected by the Greensboro Association, the lake is experiencing a significant increase in both spring and summer total phosphorus concentrations. This documented trend is cause for concern. According to a 2018 study of Vermont Lakes done by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation Scientist Kellie Merrell and others, Vermont’s cleanest and clearest lakes, on average, have nearly doubled in spring total phosphorus since the 1980s.

OCNRCD is working in close partnership with the Stewards of the Greensboro Watersheds, local town officials, and FluidState Consulting LLC to develop and then implement an action plan to address this trend. 

Caspian Lake’s drainage basin is 4,510 acres, the average depth of the lake is 57 feet, and the lake covers 789 acres. This Caspian watershed plan will provide a digital library of available water quality data and analysis, identifying and prioritizing pollution sources, priority areas, and potential restoration projects, doing shoreland, stream, and road assessments, design projects to improve Caspian’s water quality and offer overall strategies which will reduce sediment and nutrient loading to Caspian Lake, and restore and support aquatic habitat functions.

There are three desired outcomes for this project. First, to engage the Caspian community who will have a clear list of achievable projects and strategies that, when implemented, will contribute to reducing phosphorus runoff to Caspian Lake. Second, another round of lakeshore restoration projects implemented through the VTDEC Lake Wise program to inspire other lakeshore owners to participate in the Lake Wise program. Finally, as a result of both the lake watershed action planning process and the continuation of the Lake Wise program, the Greensboro community will have a greater awareness of actions they can take to protect the lake. Jed Feffer, an active member of the Stewards of the Greensboro Watersheds, said “We are happy to being working with the OCNRCD on this important planning project and we are committed to supporting our community as we endeavor to maintain a healthy lake.”

Orleans Conservation District and the Greensboro Stewards will host a public meeting in the spring of 2023 to present the analyzed data and final plan to the community, to inform and equip locals to continue this important work. An ESRI Storymap will be made available to report on completed projects and provide maps detailing resource concerns and collected data- all to make local lake goers more familiar with the challenges facing Caspian Lake. For more information contact  Abraham.ames@vt.nacdnet.net.

[Abraham Ames is a conservation specialist at Orleans County Natural Resource Conservation District.]