Hello LSC fans.
We'd like to take a moment to outline the work the Lake St. Catherine Association (LSCA) will be undertaking over the next three years as we continue our efforts to preserve, protect, and maintain our beautiful lake.
2022 will be a big year for Lake St. Catherine as HUGE water quality investments are made, future funding is planned for, and LSC's watershed is studied as never before.
Lake Watershed Action Plan
This past May, the Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) awarded the LSCA, in partnership with the Poultney Mettowee Natural Resources Conservation District
(PMNRCD), a 3-year grant to develop a Lake Watershed Action Plan (LWAP) for Lake St. Catherine.
The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) describes a Lake Watershed Action Plan as:
A Lake and Watershed Action Plan (LWAP) is designed to identify and communicate the problems and fixes within a lake watershed to best protect water quality, wildlife habitat, and the lake’s ecosystem health. These plans answer the questions 'what issues threaten the health of our lake the most?' and 'what can we do about them?'
The $38,224 awarded by the grant will allow the LSCA to hire and partner with lake experts to perform various in-lake and watershed based measurements, testing, and studies to identify current or potential future issues and design a comprehensive, long-term plan to address them.
Our Project Team will include a panel of water and lake experts, including: Poultney Mettowee Natural Resources Conservation District (PMNRCD), Fitzgerald Environmental Associates, Castleton University, and a limnologist.
This exhaustive study will assess areas around Lake St. Catherine including its: shorelines, roadways, tributaries, forests, wetlands, and in-lake.
The findings from the creation of the Lake Watershed Action Plan will guide our long term efforts to increase water quality in the lake, and will position Lake St. Catherine to secure future grants and Clean Water Funding to implement projects to benefit the lake.
Current & Future Water Quality Testing
Previous to beginning work on the LWAP, the LSCA and our partners have been involved in water testing in LSC for many years.
Lay Monitoring: For almost 40 years, the LSCA has been collecting data on LSC as part of the Vermont DEC's Lay Monitoring Program. Each week, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the LSCA collects a water sample from the Big Lake and Little Lake to be tested for phosphorus (nutrient) concentration, and chlorophyll-a (algae and cyanobacteria) concentration. A Secchi depth (water clarity) measurement is also taken.
LaRosa Partnership Program: The LaRosa Partnership Program helps watershed organizations and monitoring groups across Vermont implement new and/or ongoing monitoring projects for surface waters in need of water quality assessment by helping to alleviate the financial burden of laboratory analysis costs. In early December, in support of the upcoming LWAP, seven sites in the LSC watershed were nominated to participate in this program. The PMNRCD will be monitoring these sites which are in tributaries that flow into LSC. They will be working with Castleton University to analyze the data.
Next Generation Lake Assessment: The Next Generation Lake Assessment, a Vermont DEC program, is a comprehensive, quantitative survey of a lake's condition which began in 2010. A suite of physical, chemical and biological parameters are sampled at three areas: the deep open water ‘index site’, ten randomly distributed shoreland and littoral habitat sites, and the inlets and outlet. LSC was added to the 2023 list of lakes to be assessed.
Here are the parameters assessed as part of this program:
But that's not all. The Project Team has also discussed increasing testing by adding areas, increasing the frequency, and adding more parameters like chloride, dissolved oxygen, sediment testing, and exploring phosphorus budgets.
You can read more about the Lake St. Catherine Watershed Action Plan here on our LWAP page.
As a result of all these activities, the lake, and Lake St. Catherine watershed, will be studied at a level it never has before.
Lake St. Catherine Stormwater Master Plan
In 2018 and 2019, extensive field work by the PMNRCD and Fitzgerald Environmental Associates took place in the LSC watershed. The goal was to identify sources of increased stormwater runoff and associated sediments and nutrients flowing into the lake. Phosphorus reducing projects are of particular importance given the water quality concerns within the watershed. The work involved identifying sources of stormwater, prioritizing sources based on various environmental, economic, and social criteria, and designing projects to mitigate those sources. This resulted in the creation of the Lake St. Catherine Stormwater Master Plan (SWMP).
50 potential sites were identified, and as of today, 4 projects have been implemented, and 2 others have been designed and are awaiting installation. Projects have recently been completed on North Street, Ferncliff Road, the boat launch in Wells, and at the Wells Lakeside Park. That leaves 44 others that need to be evaluated, designed, and implemented.
This winter, in partnership with the Poultney Mettowee Natural Resource Conservation District (PMNRCD), the LSCA applied with the Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) for a "Clean Water and Healthy Ecosystems Projects Planning Grant" to fund the planning, prioritization, outreach, design, and budgeting of projects identified in the Lake St. Catherine Stormwater Master Plan (SWMP).
In early January, we were informed that we had earned part of a $100k grant being administered by the PMNRCD. $50,000 of this grant will be used directly for Lake St. Catherine to design Stormwater Master Plan Projects on LSC.
The goal of our approved grant in 2022 is to develop 10-12 projects identified in the Lake St Catherine Stormwater Master Plan to be ready for implementation during the first round of Clean Water Service Provider formula grant funds in 2023 and thereafter. Our Project Team, consisting of the LSCA, PMNRCD, local partners, and the selected consultant, will identify a list of high and medium priority projects and develop 30% conceptual designs for those that rank within the top 10-12. Included with the conceptual designs will be detailed budget estimates, anticipated permitting needs, and preliminary landowner agreements or letters of interest.
You can read more about the SWMP, and view an interactive map with the identified sites by visiting our Stormwater Master Plan page.
In late January, we were informed by the Lake Champlain Basin Program that we had earned a grant in the amount of $24,970 for the 2022 Lake St. Catherine Lake Wise Program.
This year's project is entitled: “Creating a Critical Mass of Lake Stewards on Lake St. Catherine”, and will be implemented in partnership with the LSCA, the Poultney Mettowee Natural Resource Conservation District and new partner Castleton University.
Lake Wise is a program developed by Vermont’s Lakes and Ponds Program to recognize outstanding efforts by homeowners who live along a lakeshore to protect the water quality and habitat along the shoreline and within the near-shore area of the lake. Four categories are assessed: The driveway and parking area, the structure (which includes roof, drainage, and septic), the recreation area (the lawn/footprint of non-natural, high-use yard areas), and the shoreline buffer area.
The goal of the Lake Wise program, from the Lake Wise website:
"The goal of Lake Wise is to establish a new normal, a new culture of lakeshore landscaping that is proven to help protect the lake. A property that earns the Lake Wise Award will represent a 'model' shoreland property. The Lake Wise Award certifies a property is well managed, using shoreland Best Management Practices, and is maintained to care for the lake."
Stormwater has a widespread environmental impact which makes it a growing concern in Vermont. In a statewide effort, towns and local organizations are working to implement large scale projects to help clean stormwater before it enters water bodies. Work is being done from the headwaters all the way down to the stream outlets. Excess nutrients in the water contribute to problems which affect both human and wildlife health including; lower oxygen levels in the water, toxic algae blooms, and excessive plant growth.
Shoreline property owners have the access and the ability to control what is happening directly at the water's edge.
While small-scale improvements on individual properties may not seem like they have much impact, collectively the implementation of many small projects will have a positive benefit on the water quality in the lake and the surrounding watershed.
Actions now will promote a healthy lake environment that will continue to support swimming, fishing, boating, and wildlife viewing in the future.
This is such an important program for long term health of Lake St. Catherine, and we can all pitch in to make a difference.
If you are a LSC property owner who would like to be part of this program, please contact us at email@example.com so we can add you to our 2022 list. We’ll then contact you in the spring to set up an appointment.
Just these projects alone total over $113,000 in water quality investments for Lake St. Catherine for 2022. These investments will lead to water quality improvements for LSC, and future funding for projects identified during the creation of the LWAP.
We'll also administer our recurring yearly projects & initiatives, including: our boat launch monitoring Greeter Program, teaching two free boating license classes, placement and maintenance of the buoys and markers around the lake (Lake Safety), our Milfoil Control Program, organization of volunteer opportunities around the lake like Green Up Vermont Day and Milfoil Cleanup Community Day, the annual LSCA Boat Parade, and Dockside Chats with LSCA Trustees.
Education & Outreach
Finally, we’d like to highlight one additional fun project for 2022, which is a great partnership with our local community. Gina from the Wells Village Library reached out to the LSCA and LSCCF to discuss organizing a 'Libraries Love Lakes' event for Lake St. Catherine. Libraries Love Lakes is an outreach project which pairs public libraries with lake scientists to provide collaborative programming emphasizing the importance of lakes in our everyday lives.
Gina provided a detailed outline of her ideas for the event, and using this outline, we submitted a comprehensive proposal for a grant with the Lake Champlain Basin Program, which we are happy to report, has just been awarded.
Pending planning and approvals, preliminary ideas include the event taking place in July at the Wells Lakeside Park. This family-friendly event will include fun activities, presentations, and boat tours related to all aspects of the lake. The grant also includes additional funding for continuing lake-related learning at the Wells Village Library. Gina has identified a wide variety of books to launch this new section of the library. We’ll announce details of this inaugural Libraries Love Lakes event when they are finalized.
2022 Is Going To Be A Big Year For Lake St. Catherine
We hope you find our efforts for the benefit of Lake St. Catherine worthy, and we hope to earn your support this year!
Please join us.
Click here to renew or become a member of the LSCA.