We are a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization working to improve water quality in Lake Carmi and other bodies of water in the Franklin Watershed.
Our main goal is to reduce the amount of nutrients and sediment that make it into Lake Carmi through runoff, as these substances contain phosphorus, which is responsible for the algae and cyanobacteria blooms that decrease water quality in Lake Carmi each summer. Lake Carmi is the only lake in Vermont besides Lake Champlain that has had a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) analysis for phosphorus carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. The fact that reducing phosphorus levels in Lake Carmi and its tributaries is seen as a priority by these agencies underscores the severity of nutrient pollution in Lake Carmi and its tributaries.
How do we go about reducing Lake Carmi's phosphorus load? We work with farmers, campers, and other watershed land owners to carry out projects which improve the land's natural ability to utilize phosphorus and reduce the effect of erosion on land in the watershed. These projects range from efforts to improve septic systems on lakeshore properties, to cover crop incentive programs, to culvert and ditch repair projects. If your property is within the town of Franklin, or the Franklin Watershed, you may qualify for technical support to correct any erosion or runoff pollution issues, depending upon the nature of your problem. We may be able to connect you with one of many grant or loan programs available from state and federal agencies for conservation projects. The best way to find out if you qualify is to contact us, and we'll help you with the application process and determine which funding source is most appropriate for your situation.
These efforts are all in vain if we do not have the support of the landowners in the watershed, and the community at large. We need your support and input if our projects are to be successful. The best way to learn more about what we do is to become a member of the Franklin Watershed Committee. Membership is open to any and all people who are in support of improving water quality in Lake Carmi.
The Franklin Watershed Committee (FWC) was founded with the purpose of restoring water quality in Lake Carmi by identifying and reducing inputs of phosphorus from the land in the Lake Carmi Watershed. Lake Carmi has had a history of algae blooms in summer, due to high levels of phosphorus in the water. Although Lake Carmi’s water naturally has a phosphorus concentration that is higher than normal, there is substantial evidence that human activity has dramatically increased the phosphorus concentration in the lake, causing an increase in the appearance of the algae blooms which use phosphorus as a nutrient. Lake Carmi is located in the town of Franklin, in northwestern Vermont. It has a maximum depth of 33 ft and a total surface area 1,402 acres. The watershed surrounding the lake has an area of 7,710 acres, and is comprised mostly of low hills, with a difference in elevation of 485 between the lake level and the highest point in the watershed. 44% of the land in the watershed is tilled or untilled agricultural land, and 45% is woodlands or wetlands. There are approximately 300 camps on the shoreline, and low-density development spread throughout the rest of the watershed. The activities taking place on lands in the watershed have an impact on water quality in Lake Carmi, and it is the owners or occupants of these lands who are the primary focus of the FWC’s efforts to educate the general public on steps they can take to reduce the amount of phosphorus their activities emit into the lake. Since its founding in 1994, the FWC has taken many steps toward restoring Lake Carmi’s water quality. Originally formed as the Carmi Watershed Committee, the FWC has since expanded its mandate to encompass Lake Carmi, its tributaries, and other bodies of water affected by activity within the Town of Franklin. Some of the FWC’s achievements since its founding:
• 1998 - Worked with and provided funding to several farmers within the watershed to develop nutrient/crop management plans on their farm • Increased the practice of winter cover cropping on cropland in the watershed through an incentive program • 2004 - Surveyed lakeshore properties to determine the extent of shoreline erosion and the location and state of septic systems around the lake • 2005 to Present - Stabilized and repairing several ditches, culverts, streams, and stretches of shoreline that were eroding and contributing to the lake’s sediment load • 2007 to 2008 - Collaborated with the VT ANR to develop a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) analysis for phosphorus in Lake Carmi. Lake Carmi is the only lake in VT with a TMDL for phosphorus besides Lake Champlain. This TMDL paved the way for the FWC to be eligible for the 319 grant funds. • 2008 – Hired Heidi Britch-Valenta part-time as a coordinator for the FWC’s activities • 2008 - Received grant funding under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act for the first time • 2009 - Became an incorporated not-for-profit organization with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from the IRS • 2010 – Applied for and received a position for an AmeriCorps member to work for the committee as a Watershed Technician from March to August 2010. Sam deWahl was selected to fill this position.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of the FWC’s achievements, just a sample to give an idea of the types of projects the FWC typically pursues in its efforts to reduce Lake Carmi’s phosphorus load.