FRANKLIN — A crowd of locals surrounded state officials, including Gov. Phil Scott, just off the shore of the Lake Carmi State Park Thursday to celebrate the installation of the lake’s new aeration system.

After remarks from state officials and Pete Benevento, the president of the Lake Carmi Camper’s Association, the throng crossed the lawn to turn on the park’s own generator.

John Tucci, who heads EverBlue Lake Solutions, the company that installed the technology, joked, “Now I just got to hope it starts up.”

“Let’s hope there isn’t an explosion in the background,” Scott said, in jest.

There wasn’t. Scott and Julie Moore, who heads the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, left the system’s activation to Benevento and Perry Thomas.

Thomas ran the Vermont Dept. of Environmental Conservation’s lakes program. She was a fixture at official meetings concerning Lake Carmi for years, and Thursday was her last day before she and her husband moved out of state.

Thomas and Benevento turned on the system, which hummed to life amid applause.

Benevento thanked Thomas for her diligent attention to the lake, but also thanked her, with emphasis, for her patience. At least one particularly contentious Carmi meeting, in October 2017, put Thomas in tears.

But she was all smiles Thursday, as was Benevento, who recited the LCCA slogan.

“Our motto is ‘One happy lake,’” he said, “and truly, today, we are one lake full of happy campers.”

Benevento praised Scott, whom he said “raised the bar” in responding to public concern, and the Town of Franklin Selectboard.

“I don’t think, when we embarked on this project, they realized they’d be the proud of owners of two generators, two manifolds, eighty ceramic aerators and forty miles of diffusion line,” Benevento said, to laughs.

He concluded by saying he looked forward to swimming in the lake on the day the aeration system is turned off.

Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore. (TOM BENTON, Messenger Staff)

The purpose of the aeration system is not to fix Lake Carmi’s pollution, but to mitigate the symptoms of that pollution, particularly the blue-green algae that coats the surface in the late summer. 

EverBlue is contracted to manage and maintain the Carmi system for the next two years. Moore said she looked forward to coming back after two years of improved summer lake conditions.

Tucci said the governmental response that precipitated EverBlue’s hiring seems impossible back in Michigan, where the company is based. He praised state officials for responding to Carmi concerns with action rather than words.

“Good government works,” Tucci said. “And this project would be nowhere without the DEC.”

Tucci said the project came together two weeks after state officials completed the permitting process, and that EverBlue’s employees completed the two week installation of the project by working from dusk ‘til dawn. 

The system is designed to mix the water column in a way that concentrates as much oxygen as possible in the hypolimnion, the lake’s lower layer. More oxygen means less phosphorous, a core nutrient for blue-green algae.

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