The Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) recently launched a website dedicated to simplifying the lake’s phosphorus reduction plan. The site — Clean Water Commitment — takes a unique approach to educating the public on how they can be of assistance.
“We wanted the website to be fun and light in order to engage people who might not otherwise be interested,” said Ryan Mitchell, a NEIWPCC information officer and the communications and publications coordinator at the LCBP.
To create a playful tone, the website uses a series of animations and short videos to answer frequently asked questions about the phosphorus reduction strategy. The menu bar is structured around these core questions so visitors can quickly navigate to the information they are looking for.
The process of developing the website began several years ago with a grant that funded the production of 11 videos and three animations exploring various strategies for phosphorus reduction. The Clean Water Commitment website now serves as the dedicated host for this material.
“The goal of the website is to take complex goals and turn them into bite-sized pieces of information,” said Mitchell. “This makes them more accessible to the public.”
One of the complicated topics the website covers is Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs. This is a plan that limits the amount of a pollutant that can be in a water body and identifies specific strategies for reducing it: essentially, a “diet plan” for Lake Champlain. The state of Vermont, with the assistance of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), created a TMDL for the lake in 2016.
In the case of Lake Champlain, phosphorus is the pollutant of primary concern. Excess phosphorus can result in cyanobacteria and algae blooms, causing beach closures and potential human health impacts.
While Clean Water Commitment dives into the issues of phosphorus pollution, it also offers solutions for those looking to help protect the lake. Several of these strategies are ways to help soil absorb and filter water naturally, rather than letting it run into a storm drain. Another suggestion advises individuals not to “P” on their lawn by avoiding phosphorus-rich fertilizers that can run off into the lake.
Although the website is currently focused on Vermont’s efforts to reduce phosphorus in Lake Champlain, future updates plan to incorporate New York residents as well.