SAAWA Annual Meeting 2018
Thank you so much for attending the 2018 SAAWA Annual Meeting on Thursday, August, 29th at the St. Albans Town Bay Park. We had a very rigorous agenda where we covered a lot of useful information regarding our progress, our goals, and updates from our guest speakers who spoke about the comprehensive research project in the St. Albans Bay, storm water project opportunities, the St. Albans Wastewater project, and a progress report from the Department of Environmental Conservation. Special thanks to Andrew Schroth, Amanda Holland, Chip Dillon, and Neil Kamman for providing us with their updates.
We realize that the meeting was a bit lengthy, especially considering the weather, and we will be sure to shorten things up a bit for next year, where we will provide a specific theme, continue to recognize local farms who are invested in water quality, and present our first ever SAAWA Citizen of the Year Award. Please forward to us your nominations who you believe has demonstrated extraordinary initiative to help clean and preserve our St. Albans area watershed across social, economic, and/or political disciplines. Nominations open on September 1, 2018 and close on August 1st, 2019.
Thanks again. We hope to see you at our board meetings and we hope to see you at our Annual Meeting next year!
Take a Stake in the Lake!
Thanks to everyone who came out for the 5K and all of the Take a Stake in the Lake events. We are grateful for all those supporting clean water in St. Albans Bay. It was a wonderful day, with amazing weather and lots of volunteers! We hope you will join us next year to make it even better!
Congratulations to Riley Maher (top finisher, men) and Chandra Walsh (top finisher, women) Here are the final times and results.
2018 Weed Harvesting Season Now Underway
We encourage shoreline property owners to inform Steve Cushing, weed harvesting coordinator, of problem areas you experience around the Bay. We would be very happy to work with individuals to clean the shoreline of accumulated weeds. Steve can be reached at 782-5675.
Glyphosate: Increasing phosphorus runoff and toxic too?
SAAWA has been looking at work done on the effects of the broad-spectrum herbicide glyphosate and the damage its increasing use may have created in our watershed. Sold under the name Roundup, but also used in other herbicide formulations, farmers and property owners use glyphosate for weed control. Concerns are being raised not only regarding the toxic potential of this substance, but also regarding the effect that surfactants in the glyphosate solutions have on speeding delivery of phosphorus and other nutrients into the lake. Studies are being done around Lake Erie which seem to connect the use of glyphosate to a dramatic increase in nutrient runoff. In our area, densely planted with corn, this is a great concern. We believe this is a subject that has been largely ignored, despite widespread use in our watershed, and the Board is working to bring attention to what is potentially a huge problem in our area.
Food for thought... "Sweatshop Dairy?"
From an article in Vermont Digger by Michael Colby and Will Allen: SAAWA has been raising this issue for some time now. We are not anti-farm, and there are many farmers out there trying to do the right thing, but the rise of big farming in our area has certainly not been compatible with clean water. We see it daily. Not only that, it does not seem profitable for the farmers. This is a discussion that needs to be had.
Vermont agriculture exists in what seems to be two parallel universes, one in our minds and the other in reality. When people are asked to think about or imagine Vermont farming, they’ll inevitably mention grass and pastures and grazing cows, all with a perfect blue sky and just the right puffy clouds. It’s a well-marketed image, and comes attached to flavors like Cherry Garcia and slogans like “farmer owned.”
But the reality is much different. Because a vast majority of Vermont’s agriculture – more than 70 percent — is all about commodity-driven, nonorganic dairy production, where GMO crops dominate, cows are on concrete, gorged and fully dosed with an array of pharmaceuticals, fields are bathed in toxic pesticides, and our waterways are declared impaired as a result of the nitrogen and phosphorus-rich farm runoff.
Green Mountain Power Manure Digester Update:
Manure Digester Update, August 2017
Please see longer article in our current newsletter.
It appears the Dunsmore Road Digester project has been revived by a Massachusetts company according to a recent Messenger article. Once again, plans call for bringing food and other organic waste down to the banks of Jewett Brook, an already impaired tributary to St. Albans Bay, to be mixed with manure and farm waste for processing. We want reassurance about the safety of the proposed facility and its concrete benefit to the lake. In addition, risks of spills or malfunctions which could be devastating to the lake, must be eliminated. In the past, projects such as this serve mainly to increase the impact of industrial farming in this watershed, encouraging a more cows, more corn, more debt model which isn't working. This project generates many serious questions which we will be raising at the state level.
Update Dec 2016
We believe the GMP digester project may be on hold. We have requested an update from GMP.
SAAWA met with representatives from Green Mountain Power in June to express our concerns regarding the proposed manure digester on Dunsmore Road. At that time, GMP was not able to fully answer our concerns regarding whether the digester will contribute to cleaner water in the Bay or simply create a situation enabling more cows and corn field runoff.
We remain concerned about spills at this sensitive location (a compromised waterway, Jewett Brook, feeding directly into the Bay ) and feel trucking in additional organic matter (food waste from other sources in Franklin County) does not seem like a good idea. At this time, GMP has no specific plans for removal of processed phosphorus from the watershed. They agreed to provide us with more information about safety precautions and process but we have not received it yet. It is our understanding that the project has been suspended pending further engineering review.
We were able to express our concerns to GMP that this is a large investment in big farming, which has great potential to adversely impact the Bay.
SAAWA has concerns about the multi-million GMP digester project proposed for Dunsmore Road. Our main concern is that clean water benefits for St. Albans Bay are unclear. Potential for spills is
worrisome and the location is problematic.
Jewett Brook, which is directly adjacent to the proposed site, is already an impaired waterway which shows the negative effects (choking weeds, blue green algae blooms, dirty water) from nearby area runoff. It is not clear that this project will improve the water quality in any way and, in fact, has the potential to make it much worse by bringing in additional manure and food waste from a 50 mile radius. We are seeking more information on this issue and have submitted our concerns to the PSB. Read more on this topic here.
SAAWA is focused on real, in-lake cleanup measures, as well as pressing for better land-use practices in the watershed. We are currently exploring the addition of a shoreline conveyor to make weed harvesting more efficient, methods of transporting weeds farther from the watershed, and better ways to combat blue-green algae which recent studies increasingly show may be a serious health hazard.
Weed harvesting improves water quality and clarity by removing
excess weeds, increasing water circulation, and reducing conditions
that contribute to algae blooms. In addition, it is the only activity
currently occurring which reduces phosphorus already in the