Lake Memphremagog is a large, beautiful lake shared by Vermont and Quebec. The lake and its watershed see significant summer and winter recreational use in both Vermont and Quebec, support a diversity of fish and wildlife species and habitats, and are critical elements in the economies of northeastern Vermont and the Eastern Townships of Quebec. A cooperative effort between Vermont and Quebec seeks to address lake and watershed management issues with the goal of improving and protecting this spectacular natural resource.
Lake Memphremagog is 25 miles long with 73 percent of the lake's surface area in Quebec. Three-quarters of its watershed, however, is in Vermont. The watershed in Vermont is largely agricultural and forest land, with residential development increasing in recent years in both Vermont and Quebec. Like many other lakes, Memphremagog is faced with accumulating phosphorus, sediments, and other pollutants from a variety of sources. In addition, exotic species infestations are a concern, with an existing Eurasian watermilfoil population and the potential for a zebra mussel infestation.
Since the 1970s, significant efforts have been made to reduce the polluting effects of direct discharges into the lake and its tributaries, and lake quality has improved. Now, more attention needs to be focused on addressing nonpoint sources of pollution.
In 1989, the Quebec/Vermont Working Group on Managing Lake Memphremagog and its Environment was formed to study the principal problems related to the management of the lake's water quality. The Working Group issued its final report in 1993, and an international committee, the Quebec/ Vermont Steering Committee, has pursued implementation of the report's recommendations.
To help prevent the introduction of zebra mussels, eight boat washing stations have been installed around the lake. A water quality monitoring effort has been initiated to record long-term conditions in the lake and to guide future discussions about compatible water quality standards. Increased funding has enabled farmers to install best management practices on their farms. The EPA and U.S. Department of Agriculture have authorized $260,000 to supplement existing cost-share programs. And, in 1994, the Lake Memphremagog Watershed Association was formed to bring together citizens interested in lake and river issues in the basin.