A clogged bay

Maquam shore resident Al Norman said it's hard to be outside sometimes because the smell of the decaying plants is so bad. (Al Norman)

SWANTON — The Town of Swanton voted to apply for a competitive grant for a yearlong study aimed at figuring out why Maquam Shore is full of muck.

A month after deciding to take action on complaints from neighbors about the unpleasant smell they say is preventing recreational use of the lake, the selectboard followed up Tuesday with an application for a $13,004 grant. It would fund the Maquam Bay Ecosystem Aquatic/Littoral Species Control/Management Plan and enlist the help of state and local authorities to assess and plan for the future of the shoreline, Maquam Shore resident Al Norman told the Messenger.

“It’s a potential start of something significant,” Norman said. “We worked as quickly as we could to tap the wisdom of some state officials.”

If the grant is awarded, it would be used to identify and study the species of flora and fauna in the Maquam Shore section of Lake Champlain as well as the weather and environmental conditions contributing to the muck buildup on the shore.

Swanton will find out if it was selected for the grant award in December, and the results of the study would be published in 2022, Norman said.

“This is not a large area, but it's an important area,” Norman said. “It's part of the Missisquoi basin, and we think it's worth federal dollars.”

The proposal asks for $10,452 in federal money, with a $2,552 match amount.

Norman and other waterfront property owners on Maquam Shore as well as the town of Swanton are partnering with Huntington-based Arrowwood Environmental LLC, a consulting firm serving New England and parts of New York.

The project would include a year of study of seasonal changes around the lakefront and subsequent plans for the remediation of the muck on and around the shoreline, Norman said.

“This will help Swanton be more proactive in addressing these issues,” he said. “I was pleased that the select board was positive in agreeing to this and that it was a positive way to begin.”

Norman said the results of the study might lead to weed harvesting and other methods to prevent muck build up.

“We’re hoping to gather some of the data to begin to come up with a management plan,” Norman said. “A lot of this is about educating people on what is good for the lake.”

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