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EPA sets Lake Champlain pollution reduction goal for Vermont, which has plan to meet them

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BURLINGTON, Vermont — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set a new pollution reduction goal for the Vermont side of Lake Champlain Friday and state officials said they are already working on long-term plans to meet those goals by keeping pollutants from reaching the rivers and streams that feed the lake.

EPA scientists have been working for some time with their state counterparts on the best way to reduce phosphorous pollution in the lake that has been increasing despite decades of efforts and tens of millions of dollars spent on plans to clean up Lake Champlain.

State and federal officials announced the goal and the state's plan to meet that goal Friday at Burlington's North Beach, a beach that has in the past been closed because of unsafe water conditions created by phosphorous pollution.

The 33.8 percent phosphorous reduction plan is over the 20-year life of the plan, although there will be several milestones along the way, including after two-and-a-half and five years. The reduction plan is different for the 12 waterways that feed the lake on the Vermont side.

To implement the plan, state and federal officials are promising millions of dollars to help farms, municipalities and others reduce the amount of phosphorous pollution that reaches the state's rivers and streams.

"It is going to change life on the ground," Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said at the Burlington event. "The good news is this is a true partnership where we have committed to raising the resources, to not only do the education, but help farmers, help municipalities make the investments that they need to make to get this right."

The announcement of the plan opens a 30-day public comment period on the EPA plan.

PHOTO: People enjoy a day along the shore of Lake Champlain at North Beach Friday Aug. 14, 2015, in Burlington, Vt. On Friday the Environmental Protection Agency issued a new goal of reducing by 33.8 percent the amount of phosphorous pollution that flows into the lake from Vermont. State officials announced the goal Friday in Burlington, and said they have a plan in place to meet those goals. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring)
People enjoy a day along the shore of Lake Champlain at North Beach Friday Aug. 14, 2015, in Burlington, Vt. On Friday the Environmental Protection Agency issued a new goal of reducing by 33.8 percent the amount of phosphorous pollution that flows into the lake from Vermont. State officials announced the goal Friday in Burlington, and said they have a plan in place to meet those goals. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring)

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PHOTO: People enjoy a day along the shore of Lake Champlain at North Beach Friday, Aug. 14, 2015, in Burlington, Vt. On Friday the Environmental Protection Agency issued a new goal of reducing by 33.8 percent the amount of phosphorous pollution that flows into the lake from Vermont. State officials announced the goal Friday in Burlington, and said they have a plan in place to meet those goals. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring)
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