About Us

Recognizing the need for more water quality improvement initiatives on the New York side of Lake Champlain, the five New York counties within the basin formed the Champlain Watershed Improvement Coalition of New York, Inc. (CWICNY). With representatives from the five county Soil and Water Conservation Districts, the five county Water Quality Coordinating Committees, and the Lake Champlain/Lake George Regional Planning Board, CWICNY goes beyond political boundaries and incorporates public sector/private citizen partnerships to complete projects good for the watershed as a whole.
Because of its importance to Vermont and New York, as well as the entire nation, the Lake Champlain Special Designation Act was passed by congress in 1990 to label Lake Champlain as a “Resource of National Significance.” As a result of this designation, a comprehensive watershed plan was developed and published in 1996. This plan, Opportunities for Action, was updated in 2003 and serves as the basis for this EPA Targeted Watershed Program. The number one objective for action in Opportunities, is to reduce phosphorus inputs into Lake Champlain. As the limiting nutrient in the lake, too much phosphorus causes excessive amounts of plant and algal growth. Ultimately, excess phosphorus alters fish and wildlife habitat, impairs scenic views, reduces recreational appeal, impairs drinking water supplies, and lowers property values near the Lake. Sources of phosphorus loading to Lake Champlain vary throughout the basin depending on how land is being used in a particular sub-watershed. Agricultural land covers 15% of the Basin area, and contributes 55% of the non-point source phosphorus loading through sources such as barnyard runoff, nutrient mismanagement, lack of livestock exclusion from streams, and eroding streambanks with inadequate riparian buffers. Forested land covers 75% of the Basin area, but contributes only 8% of the nonpoint phosphorus load. Developed land covers only 6% of the Basin area, but contributes 37% of the average nonpoint source phosphorus load to Lake Champlain. Runoff from impervious surfaces such as streets, parking lots, and driveways often run directly into Lake Champlain and/or its tributaries with no vegetative buffering or infiltration filtering. These nonpoint sources contribute about 80% of the total phosphorus load to Lake Champlain; the additional 20% comes from point sources such as industry and municipal wastewater treatment (source: LCBP Opportunities for Action).
The objective of CWICNY, its member organizations, and its cooperating partners is to reduce phosphorus loading to Lake Champlain through the implementation of numerous projects and practices throughout the New York side of the Lake Champlain watershed. These reductions will have a long-term positive impact upon the water quality and ecology of the lake and its many tributaries.
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