Drought is a prolonged dry period caused by less than normal rainfall or snowfall for an extended period of time. Drought can lead to water shortages, meaning there is less water available for drinking, food production and swimming. It can also lead to other impacts such as poor water quality and more wildfires. Drought can affect our physical and mental health as well as the local economy. Drought conditions sometimes take years to develop and can last as short as one season or as long as many decades.
Vermont's lakes, rivers and swimming holes are an important part of our recreational landscape. Whether boating, swimming or just splashing around, here are tips to safely enjoy water activities.
The Health Department supports several web apps that address important public health issues using GIS technology. Some example use cases are:
The Vermont Department of Health Laboratory works closely with state offices and public water suppliers to monitor Lake Champlain and drinking water supplies for blue green algae toxins.
Cryptosporidiosis is an illness caused by a parasite called Cryptosporidium.
The Cyanobacteria (Blue-Green Algae) Tracker allows the public to check recent cyanobacteria bloom reports at shoreline sites and recreational swimming areas of Lake Champlain and various inland lakes in Vermont.
Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, are common in Lake Champlain and other Vermont waters. Some types of cyanobacteria can release natural toxins or poisons (called cyanotoxins) into the water.
Not all Vermont bays, lakes, and ponds are monitored. Be aware of changing conditions, and keep out of the water if you think cyanobacteria may be present. Check recent reports on lake conditions and season summaries. To find out if a beach or swim area is open, call the beach manager.
The Health Department recommends that people limit eating some fish caught in Vermont waters.
Heavy rains can wash contaminants into drinking, recreational and irrigation waters that can make people sick. Harmful contaminants include human and animal waste, industrial chemicals, oil and other fuels, pesticides and fertilizers. Heavy rains can also result in overflows of combined sewer systems, which are designed to treat both stormwater and wastewater at the same time. During heavy rains, there may not be enough capacity in the system, leading to the discharge of untreated or partially treated wastewater. Flooding can make all of these problems even worse.