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.
You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook for immediate alerts and/or closures.

 


Summer 2018 Water Quality

 

7/19 Tests confirm E. coli levels are remaining low

7/13 Tests remain within the usual low results

All beaches are open for swimming this morning. The NOTICE signs have been removed after the required 48 hour posting.

7/12 Test Samples Return Normal

Sample results came back this morning and bacteria levels are all well below EPA limits. Due to state requirements, we will keep caution signs at Blanchard Beach, Blodgett Access Area, Perkins Pier and the Coast Guard boat launch until early tomorrow morning. However, the results are normal and all city beaches remain open.

7/11/18 NOTICE

Shortly before midnight on July 10 Burlington’s Main Wastewater Treatment Plant experienced a failure of the computerized control system for our wet weather (combined sewer) disinfection pumps leading to the release of approximately 3 million gallons of treated, non-disinfected wet weather discharge. This discharge was mixed with fully treated and fully disinfected discharge from the remainder of the plant. This mixing and the outfall location (½ mile into the Lake passing through a diffuser, releasing discharges in a dispersed manner) will likely limit any increased bacteria loads in the water.

We have posted caution signs at beaches within one mile of our Plant’s outfall location, which includes Blanchard Beach, Blodgett Access Area, the Coast Guard Boat Launch and Perkins Pier. We will be sampling throughout the day, and will have results available early tomorrow. Based on prior similar events, we do not have reason to believe bacteria levels will rise to or above EPA limits at the beaches, however, caution is warranted before recreating in these waters.

We will be following up with sample results tomorrow.

7/12 Post Discharge tests show E. coli levels below EPA Approved Levels

E. Coli levels spiked following the initial discharge of treated wastewater.  However, tests conducted later in the day on July 11th show the flow is dissipating and does not pose a health risk to the public.  All beaches will remain open.

7/9 E. Coli remains near zero

7/5 E. Coli levels near zero for all beaches, Enjoy the Water

7/2 Results continue to show low and declining E. coli levels

6/29 All tests show continued decline in E. coli

6/26 All tests look good

6/22 Blanchard Beach Reopens

We have continued to monitor E. Coli levels following the closure of Blanchard Beach caused by the discharge of partially treated water, and we are happy to announce Blanchard Beach is reopened today.  We have noticed an increase in bacteria around the cove, however the levels have stayed well below EPA limits.

 

6/20 Blanchard beach and Blodgett swimming area are CLOSED

Details and updates are posted on DPW website.

 

PUBLIC WORKS’ STATEMENT ON JUNE 20 BEACH CLOSURES

 

On Monday June 18, the Pine Street Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) point discharged approximately 145,000 gallons – comprised mostly (>90%) of stormwater and a limited amount of wastewater – into the Pine St Barge Canal. The discharge occurred as a result of an incredibly high volume and intense rain event. The City of Burlington follows Act 86 – a state law requiring specific reporting of discharge events. For CSO discharges, we report to the Department of Environmental Conservation’s public access online ‘Notice of Untreated or Unpermitted Discharges’ page. While no sampling or additional reporting is legally required, due to the magnitude of the storm event, the increased recreational use of lakeshore in proximity to the Pine St Barge Canal and our unwavering commitment to transparency and public health, we opted to take samples at the nearest beach and outfall location.

Bacteria sample results (taken Tuesday June 19 and returned today) at Blodgett Beach and the Outfall Channel at Blanchard Beach exceed EPA limits and therefore we have closed Blodgett Beach and Blanchard Beach (which was not sampled, but will be closed due to proximity of the outfall) to public access until bacteria levels are back within EPA limits. While a potential contributing factor, more sampling and analysis will be necessary to determine how much the CSO contributed to these high bacteria levels. In the interest of public health, we advise you not to recreate or fish in the water at these beaches until further notice.

Moving forward, we will be conducting enhanced sampling to further understand the impacts of this and future discharges from the Pine Street CSO. Additional details will be available shortly regarding the history of Burlington’s progress with reducing CSO discharge events.

6/15 Water Safety Notice

Water tests have shown no danger of e coli infection.  All public beaches are reporting levels far below EPA limits.

6/13 Update:

Water samples taken yesterday show ecoli levels well below EPA limits, with most beaches reporting levels at or near 0.

6/6 Blanchard Beach Update from DPW:

Beach samples, taken daily since the partially disinfected discharge of June 2, have all returned bacteria levels well below US EPA limits, though they have been slightly elevated from normal. The most recent results, taken yesterday and returned this morning, are back to bacteria levels we normally see at beaches – near 0.

Our Main Wastewater Plant’s biological treatment system is continuing to recover and has been operating within permitted allowances since Monday afternoon. Due to state protocol and out of an abundance of caution, we will re-open the beaches at approximately 5pm today – 48 hours after the end of our last partially disinfected discharge on June 4th.

Our plant operators have continued working around the clock to return the Plant to health and protect Lake Champlain. Thank you for your continued patience.

6/3 Water Safety Notice

Due to the release of 700,000 gallons of partially disinfected wet weather/wastewater from Burlington’s Main Wastewater Treatment Plant, the following beaches and public access areas within 1 mile of the outfall (which is ½ mile offshore) have been posted with a notification: Blanchard Beach, Perkins Pier, Coast Guard Boat Launch, beach off of bike path between Pine Barge Canal bridge and Blodgett property.

DPW has prepared a more detailed informational release: http://bit.ly/2xDAXNv

5/30 Blanchard Beach is reopened

Water tests from the swimming area have come back showing no dangers from e-coli. However please continue to avoid the outfall channel itself, because further upstream contamination levels are still higher than the EPA standard of 235 col/100 mL (current readings show 341 col/100 mL.)  Signs will posted in that area. Results from all other beach locations are good and beaches are open.
All locations are well below EPA standard

 

 

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.