MONTPELIER, Vt. — Vermont officials are being asked to get serious and specific about cleaning up Lake Champlain as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced deadlines Wednesday for the state to send finalized policy plans for reducing non-wastewater runoff into the lake.

Storm water runoff containing phosphorous and other pollutants is causing excessive plant and algae growth in some areas of the lake, turning the water murky shades of green, brown, or blue. Officials and advocates say the pollution hurts tourism and recreation businesses dependent on clean water, depresses property values and increases drinking water and wastewater treatment costs.

“That body of water is a different body of water today than what it was when I was a young lad fishing on its shores and catching frogs along its banks,” Vermont Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross said at the hearing this week.

The EPA requires a 36 percent reduction in total maximum daily load, or TMDL. TMDL is a calculation of the maximum amount of pollutant that a body of water can receive and still meet water quality standards. For Lake Champlain, this means cutting down on non-wastewater runoff full of sediment and other materials.

Vermont will be “leading the pack” with the state’s proposed goals, but specifics from the state by the end of March and a commitment letter from Gov. Peter Shumlin by the end of April will be required to move forward, according to the EPA’s Stephen Perkins. If the deadlines are met, the EPA says it will have a finalized limit on runoff by the end of the summer.

In a statement, Shumlin said he will send a letter of commitment to the EPA, as required.

“My administration is committed to helping clean Lake Champlain and all state waters because they are critical to our quality of life and environment,” Shumlin said. “Lake Champlain is also vital to Vermont’s economy, and a clean lake means more jobs.”

Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, David Mears, outlined proposed plans during the hearing at the statehouse. The plan includes enhancing water quality rules for agriculture, requiring additional storm water treatment for developed areas and improving rules for managing rivers and floodplains.

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