FRANKLIN — A “TMDL Team Meeting Tonight” sign on the local billboard probably doesn’t suggest an explosive hour-and-a-half. But that’s exactly what Thursday evening’s meeting was, when residents and advocacy groups besieged Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (AAFM) Secretary Anson Tebbetts with questions, pleas and insults about local farming and water quality.

More than 30 people sat in the FELCO Room at the Franklin Homestead for what was, initially, a by-the-book, civil meeting. Tebbetts said he was there to listen to local concerns about water quality. He said the biggest issue in cleaning up the local waterways is that “we can’t make progress fast enough. That’s the biggest frustration, maybe for people around the lake and, I think, for our farmers as well.”

When asked when the agency expects Lake Carmi to meet its TMDL goals — the Total Maximum Daily Load of phosphorous that can safely enter the lake — Tebbetts said, “I don’t think I’m smart enough to tell you when the TMDL will be where it should be at.”

“The damage is so bad, not in our lifetime,” one audience member piped up.

For more on the Lake Carmi meeting and the Friends of Northern Lake Champlain’s summer farm meeting, pick up a copy of the weekend Messenger or subscribe to our digital edition.