Project Two - Lake Mempremagog

Category

Significant resources and efforts have been dedicated to the reduction of nutrient loading to Lake Memphremagog and the prevention of harmful algal blooms (HABs); however, ecological conditions have not improved. As a consequence, the public has high expectations that existing and planned efforts will improve water quality. Lake Memphremagog, shared between Vermont and Quebec, flows northwards into the Magog River and eventually the Saint-François River. Geographically contiguous with the Lake Champlain watershed, the two watersheds are in the same region and they share many of the same natural attributes and anthropogenic stressors; consequently recommendations from this work plan and those from a separate work plan for the Lake Champlain watershed may be applicable to both systems.

Strategy

The strategy for the Lake Memphremagog sub-watershed is to synthesize what is known about nutrient loading issues and HABs in the system and, through a sub-basin-wide binational science workshop, revisit and strengthen current collaborative efforts between federal agencies as well as in Quebec and Vermont. This workshop will be held in coordination with a key regional organization (i.e., the Quebec-Vermont Steering Committee instated for the management of Lake Memphremagog and its watershed). The International Joint Commission (IJC) will then develop a report with recommendations to improve binational collaboration (e.g., integrated watershed resource management approaches) and enhance communications regarding the reduction of nutrients into Lake Memphremagog. Public consultations on the draft IJC report will be held during the second year.

Public engagement could include maintaining an informative and up-to-date IJC website and an active profile on social media, developing pamphlets and brochures, and producing news releases and newsletters. All communications products and reports will be available in English and in French. Because of the rural nature of the Lake Memphremagog region, local newspapers will also be used. To facilitate meaningful engagement with people and stakeholders in the basin on both sides of the border, the IJC will work with basin organisations (e.g., Quebec-Vermont Steering Committee, Memphremagog Conservation Inc., and Memphremagog Watershed Association) to hold targeted meetings.

Work Plan

To deliver on the request of governments regarding Lake Memphremagog, three major components are planned:

  1. Networking with key agencies, review of the state of the basin, review of research and monitoring information, as well as domestic and binational management efforts
     
  2. Review of findings, gap analysis, and preliminary recommendations, and
     
  3. Finalization of report and recommendations by the IJC.

Component 1: Networking with key agencies, review of the state of the basin, review of research and monitoring information, as well as domestic and binational management efforts

  • Linkages will be established with key organizations in the basin, such as watershed associations, and review past activities, such as the 2003 agreement between Vermont and Quebec that established the Quebec-Vermont Steering Committee for the Management of Lake Memphremagog and its Watershed, and the recent U.S. EPA Phosphorus Total Maximum Daily Load.
     
  • Through a literature review and discussions with experts familiar with the system scientific information and data will be assembled, and programs and policies will be reviewed regarding nutrient loading and HABs.
  1. Timeline: ~6 months
  2. Deliverable: Summary report on information and data, and management efforts
  • The IJC will coordinate with the Quebec-Vermont Steering Committee for the Management of Lake Memphremagog and its Watershed to organize a binational science workshop with invited experts to answer critical questions, such as: 1) Does the summary report capture what is known about the system? If not, what is missing and what is needed? 2) How effective have management efforts been to date and what can be done to accelerate implementation of beneficial management practices (BMPs)? 3) What should be the next steps towards the reduction of nutrient loading into Lake Memphremagog?
     
  • From the workshop, preliminary recommendations will be developed.

    1. Timeline: ~9 months
    2. Deliverable: Workshop report

Component 2: Review of findings, gap analysis and preliminary recommendations

  • After the workshop, the summary report will be posted for public comment for a minimum of 30 days.
     
  • The IJC will prepare a report that incorporates public input, and will conduct an independent review.
  1. Timeline: January 2020

Component 3: Finalization of report and recommendations by the IJC

  • The IJC will finalize its key findings and recommendations that will be transferred to governments.
  1. Timeline: Submission of final report with recommendations to the governments by April 2020

Timeline

October 2017 Receipt of request from governments
February 2018 Completion of work plan
October 2018

Completion of interim report to governments

September 2019 Lake Memphremagog Science Workshop
April 2020

Submission of final report with recommendations to governments