During the summer months, our public swimming areas on Lake Champlain are monitored daily and tested twice a week for e-coli to ensure 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. Any necessary notifications are posted on this page throughout the season. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook for immediate alerts and/or closures.
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8/9: all beaches are open
8/8: Only Blanchard Beach (Oakledge) is open today.
The Cove at Oakledge, North Beach, Texaco Beach & Leddy Beach are closed due to cyanobacteria blooms.
8/7: Water Quality Update: Beaches are now OPEN, with the exception of Blanchard/Oakledge beach which remains closed due to cyanobacteria.
8/6: Several Beaches Now closed
By end of day today we have spotted cyanobacteria blooms at North Beach, Texaco, Leddy and Oakledge Cove.
Blanchard Beach at Oakledge is the only one open at this time.
8/2: all beaches are open
8/1: Beach closures
North Beach, Texaco, and Oakledge Cove are closed due to Cyanobacteria. Blanchard Beach in Oakledge Park and Leddy Beach are open.
7/31: Oakledge Cove remains closed, and now Blanchard Beach shows signs of cyanobacteria and will be closed.
We’ve spotted a bloom between North Beach and Texaco as well. We’ll watch it to see if it get near the swimming areas.
7/30: Cyanobacteria spotted at the Cove at Oakledge
7/28: All beaches are open again, and the bi-weekly e-coli testing is good.
7/27: Cyanobacteria Closing Blanchard Beach
Blanchard Beach in Oakledge park is closed to swimming. We have a Cyanobacteria bloom forming in several locations along the beach. All the other beaches are okay and open.
7/22: Beaches are open
There are cyanobacteria blooms in the stagnant pools at Blanchard beach. We’re posting around the pools but the beach will remain open.
the stagnant pools at Leddy Beach show signs of cyanobacteria. Signs have been posted at that area. All swimming areas are OPEN.
7/11: Beaches are open again!
7/10: Cyanobacteria Closing Beaches
We have blooms at North Beach & Texaco Beach this morning, and we spotted cyanobacteria in a stagnant pool at Leddy. Signs have been posted closing these swimming areas.
Oakledge and its beaches are clear and open.
7/9: Cyanobacteria spotted
We’ve spotted some small cyanobacteria blooms popping up today. The larger one is near the Fishing Pier. The smaller second bloom is at the Boardwalk scenic viewing section. We will continue to monitor these locations and the beaches.
6/26: Cyanobacteria sighting
At roughly 5pm, we spotted our first bloom of the year. The bloom started around the Sailing Center area and went down to the new marina & Coast Guard ramp then along the boardwalk. The Community Boathouse marina seems to be unaffected. Blooms were also spotted at Perkins Pier around the ramp and in the dock area. Health dept signs were posted at the Coast Guard ramp and Perkins Pier. This bloom was gone the following day.
Summer E-coli Tests
The bi-weekly e-coli tests have come back looking good.
Water Quality Notice for 5.29.2020
Last night, there was a treated, but not fully disinfected discharge from Burlington’s Main Wastewater Treatment Facility. This may lead to higher bacteria levels in nearby water. Due to proximity, we advise against swimming at Oakledge Cove, Blanchard Beach, Blodgett Access (closed for Path construction) and Perkins Pier for 48 hours. Signs will be posted at those locations. A longer update will be posted to burlingtonvt.gov/dpw/press-releases. This will include further details on the major storm event and information on the upgrade work planned at our treatment facilities.
Below are the test results for our bi-weekly e-coli tests.
Click each to enlarge.
Summer 2019 Water Quality Summary
2018 water quality. Click to enlarge.
Learn more about water quality of Lake Champlain
Bi-weekly Water Tests for e-Coli
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.
For more info about healthy recreational water go to: http://healthvermont.gov/enviro/water/recwater.aspx
Daily Visual Checks for Cyanobacteria
Other safety concerns include cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) 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. These blooms can be particularly harmful to pets, children and those with compromised immunity. 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.
Our staff has been fully trained to monitor for cyanobacteria in our swimming areas.
City beach staff are trained annually by the Lake Champlain Committee to be able to monitor the water on a daily basis for signs of any blooms forming. If a potential bloom is sited, the beach staff will notify the Beach Manager. The Beach Manager or one of the Assistant Manager’s will verify that it is Cyanobacteria by performing a visual inspection as well as acquiring a sample of the water into a clear container to perform a water column test. If the water in the clear vessel appears to have algae remaining only on the surface, cyanobacteria are assumed to be present. If cyanobacteria are verified by the two visual tests, beach staff will immediately start to clear the water at the affected beach and post the “Closed Due to Cyanobacteria” signs, as well as cyanobacteria information signs. The Beach Manager will notify predetermined City and State Health Department staff of the bloom and subsequent closure immediately via email. Once a bloom is detected, staff will keep monitoring the progression or regression of the bloom throughout the day.
If the bloom dissipates within the same day, the State of Vermont requires that the City wait until the next morning after 10:30am to test and confirm that the water is clear. The test for opening the beach is first a visual test; can the slime or scum like substance be seen on the water surface? If not, we utilize the Abraxis Microcystins test strips and test the water. The test will take approximately 40 minutes. Test results at 5 ppb or lower allow for the beach to be reopened.
Causes and solutions
- Blooms are the result of long-term, wide scale nutrient inputs from all land use sectors in the Lake Champlain basin. Wastewater sources account for approximately 3% of this load.
- Warm lake temperatures and still water can be primary triggers for cyanobacteria blooms
- The science is clear that CSOs do not significantly increase the nutrient load that can lead to Cyanobacteria blooms.
- Recent historical data shows that Burlington may see blooms begin as early as early July.
- The City’s ongoing Integrated Planning efforts include several strategies to reduce nutrient inputs to Lake Champlain from urban stormwater runoff. Some of these strategies are already under implementation, including the construction of retrofit projects to treat stormwater from City roads before it reaches the lake, and the enforcement of stormwater management requirements under the City’s Chapter 26 Ordinance for anyone looking to expand impermeable surfaces in Burlington.
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
CyanoTracker site for Lake Champlain and Vermont inland lakes – http://www.healthvermont.gov/tracking/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 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.