FRANKLIN — Emily Boedecker, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)’s commissioner, promised residents at the Lake Carmi TMDL Implementation Team meeting Thursday night the most physically apparent step the State has yet taken to clean up the lake: the purchase and installation of a pilot aeration system for one of Carmi’s most polluted portions within the next year.
Boedecker specifically promised the allotment of $50,000 to design the pilot aeration system during Fiscal Year 2018, with another $200,000 to purchase and install the system.
“I am making the commitment that we will have that in the next fiscal year,” Boedecker said, stressing that Governor Phil Scott had authorized her to make such a commitment.
She also said that state officials have not yet determined the best organization to take the lead on Carmi’s aeration project, contrary to a report last week that the Franklin Watershed Committee, a part-time director and a small group of volunteers, would be tasked with securing funding for the project.
Boedecker repeatedly emphasized that the installation of an aeration system is not the final solution for the lake, just a “Band-Aid,” as she put it, while state scientists continue to study longer-term solutions to clean up Carmi.
“This isn’t a silver bullet,” she said, “but it is some temporary relief.”
Perry Thomas, of the DEC, explained that the aeration system would cover about one-quarter of the lake, probably concentrated off the Dewing shore. She said the equipment’s life expectancy is 15-20 years.
Aeration systems create an oxygenated column above sediment, Thomas explained, trapping phosphorous in the sediment.
Emily Porter-Goff, the Franklin Watershed Committee’s new director and a trained limnologist — basically, lake scientist — said aeration systems “seemed to be working quite well” in a lake region of Ontario in which she worked.
Pick up a copy of Friday’s St. Albans Messenger to read more about the Lake Carmi TMDL Implementation meeting, including comments from local residents.