Using Legal Tools to Protect Lakes and Rivers from Climate Impacts
Lake Champlain has a pollution problem. The lake—situated between the Green Mountains of Vermont and the Adirondack Mountains of New York—suffers from problematic blue-green algae blooms (also known as “pond scum”). When environmental conditions are just right— warm, slow-moving water enriched with nutrients like phosphorous or nitrogen—blue-green algae can grow fast, creating scum layers or floating mats. These blooms, in addition to being unsightly, are dangerous to human, fish, and wildlife health. In Lake Champlain, the primary culprit causing these massive blooms is excess phosphorous. This climate adaptation story provides a brief overview of the legal tools used to protect Lake Champlain from climate impacts.