Water Quality & Public Notices

Water Quality & Public Notices

During the summer months, our beaches are monitored daily and all our public swimming areas on Lake Champlain are tested twice a week for quality and safety.

Our summer season runs from about Memorial Day through Labor Day. In the off season, our beaches are monitored on an as-needed basis.

Notices and closures will be posted on the website here and on the home page.
You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook for immediate alerts and/or closures.

Summer 2017 Water Quality

10/5 Cyanobacteria bloom has been spotted at the Coast Guard boat launch and at the small beach area near the the Boathouse.

9/28 All Beaches are clear of cyanobacteria blooms and have been reopened.

This week’s unseasonably warm weather brought out blooms of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) in many places in Vermont, including Lake Champlain and Lake Carmi.  Our Waterfront staff worked with the VT Dept of Environmental Conservation, the Lake Champlain Committee (LCC), Department of Health, and Lake Champlain Basin Program to monitor and test the public beaches in Burlington which resulted in the closure of several locations.

These science-based organizations have provided us with the knowledge and training to better monitor the beaches, test the water for toxins and help to support beach closure notifications. It’s because of their guidance that we can better communicate the hazards of cyanobacteria. While the blooms themselves might not be a hazard, the toxins they release can have serious health risks to children, pets and susceptible adults. SO at the first sight of even low-level blooms, we close beaches to swimming. We know that cyanobacteria blooms appear suddenly, it can take time for them to produce toxins, and it can take time for those toxins to dissipate.  Therefore it is highly recommended that everyone avoid contact with cyanobacteria. As noted in Basin Program press release yesterday;

“Beachgoers should heed warning notices when a public beach or other area in the lake is closed. Do not enter the water until the beach area is reopened. Even if a beach is not posted as closed, use common sense – when the water appears green or bluish-green or has surface scum, avoid contact with the water, and keep pets and children away from the water’s edge for 24 hours after a bloom dies back.”

Read the full press release here

This week several locations tested positive for toxic microcystin, including North Beach, Oakledge Cove and the Coast Guard Boat Launch. They were well below the recreation guidance levels of  6 ug/L microcystin, but we were glad that we closed the beaches to swimming.

Location Sample Date Microcystin ug/L
St. Albans Bay Park 9/26/2017 <0.16
Lake Carmi – North Beach 9/26/2017 4.4
Lake Carmi – State Park 9/26/2017 0.53
Charlotte Town Beach 9/25/2017 4.25
Button Bay Boat Launch 9/25/2017 2.15
North Beach, Burlington 9/26/2017 0.82
Oakledge Cove, Burlington 9/26/2017 <0.16
Coast Guard Boat Launch, Burlington 9/26/2017 0.16


We encourage all beach-goers to educate themselves about the risks and health issues of swimming in fresh water. Here’s even more information



9/27 Beach Report

Open beaches: Leddy, Oakledge Blanchard, Oakledge Cove & Barge Canal Beach

Closed beaches: North Beach & Texaco Beach

Boat launches and Perkins Pier areas still have  cyanobacteria blooms.


9/26 Evening update

Our staff took one last look at the beaches and reports back that:

  • Oakledge Blanchard is still clear and open
  • Leddy is now OPEN! The water has been clear all day
  • Barge Canal Beach open and crystal clear
  • The Dog Park Steps are clear
  • Oakledge Cove remains closed
  • Perkins Pier is shows blooms now, as well as the boat launch there in a class 2 bloom
  • The Coast Guard Ramp still has a visible bloom
  • Texaco Beach remains closed
  • North Beach is also closed with patchy blooms along the beach


9/26 Beaches will remain closed for swimming. We have been advised by the DEC and LCC that this unseasonably warm weather will likely produce cyanobacteria blooms today. Most beaches still show signs of them from yesterday. Boat launches also may have harmful blooms near them too. For your health and safety, please don’t swim (or let dogs swim) in closed sections. Remember that we only monitor the public beaches, so other swimming areas along the the lake might have blooms, but will not get posted as such. Use common sense, and when in doubt… stay out. Read more  about the cyanobacteria from the experts at VTDEC.


9/25  Several beaches have been closed throughout the day due to blue-green algae (cyanobacteria). There are BEACH CLOSED (NO SWIMMING) signs posted at North Beach, Texaco, Leddy and Oakledge Cove. Blanchard Beach is the only one that looks fine and remains open to swim at this time.


8/3: Following the sewer force main break, E-coli water tests of Blanchard Beach have come back showing very good water conditions. Both test locations returned with only 1 MPN/100mls, which has been the normal low this season.

From DPW webpage:

Informational release: Sewage from Sewer Force Main Break on Flynn Avenue Contained On-Site (8/2/2017)

A sewer force main on Flynn Ave that broke late on August 1 has been repaired. Sewage from the break was contained on-site.  Information regarding the incident is being posted downstream at Blanchard Beach (Oakledge) however, there is no evidence of release to downstream surface waters.  City staff are continuing to monitor the site.  Please see the full informational release for more details and a map of the area.

This graph below tracks water quality tests and will be updated this summer as results come in.

More details about the testing and closure procedures are described below.


Learn more about water quality of Lake Champlain

Burlington Parks, Recreation and Waterfront samples all managed swimming areas at our parks when they are open for the season. We take samples at several locations twice a week, on Monday & Thursday. Samples are sent to certified labs and results come back in 24 hours, on Tuesday & Friday. Tests are done for e-coli which is an “indicator” bacteria. It is called an indicator because while it likely does not cause sickness itself, its presence could reflect the possible presence of other sickness causing organisms. Results are a calculated count , or “most probable number” of e-coli bacteria per 100 milliliter sample. If a sample at a beach area is higher than the EPA standard of 235 e-coli per 100 milliliter sample, that area will be closed to swimming, but can remain open to other activities.  Affected sites then are tested daily and reopen to swimming once results return to acceptable levels.

Here you can find the raw data and results of these tests.

For more info about healthy recreational water go to: http://healthvermont.gov/enviro/water/recwater.aspx

Other safety concerns include blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) which occurs naturally in lakes. However, under the right conditions they form large accumulations – referred to as blooms – which can release toxins, making the water unsafe for swimming. Lake Champlain Committee (LCC) has developed an award-winning program to provide critical data on where and when blooms are happening. The organization works with citizens, businesses, farmers, communities, and governments to protect and restore lake health. LCC focuses on three strategic areas: clean water, a healthy lake and access to the lake. They also help monitor pollution, invasive species, bacteria, toxics, global warming and water conservation. Learn more on their website:  http://www.lakechamplaincommittee.org

Click here to check current blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) tracker

Learn how to spot blue-green algae in this video:

You can also learn more about the health of Lake Champlain through The Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) which works in partnership with government agencies from New York, Vermont, and Québec, private organizations, local communities, and individuals to coordinate and fund efforts that benefit the Lake Champlain Basin’s water quality, fisheries, wetlands, wildlife, recreation, and cultural resources. Learn more at www.lcbp.org.

Read the Lake Champlain Basin Program’s 2015 State of the Lake report. The report informs the public and resource managers about Lake Champlain’s condition, including trends in key indicators of water quality and ecosystem health.

Request a copy by contacting lcbp@lcbp.org, or head over to the online version at http://sol.lcbp.org.