University of Vermont

Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR)

Lake Champlain Documentary Draws on Experts from Vermont EPSCoR

UVM Faculty, Students, Staff Featured in Vermont PBS Series

Lake Champlain sunset
Saving Our Waters creates a comprehensive look at the Lake Champlain watershed, which covers approximately 40 percent of Vermont. (Photo: Sally McCay)

Saving Our Waters, a three-part documentary on the health and resiliency of the Lake Champlain basin featuring interviews with many Vermont EPSCoR experts, including faculty, graduate students, post-doctoral associates and technicians from UVM, premiered online and on Vermont PBS Thursday, October 19 at 8 p.m.

View the first episode of Saving Our Waters now. Two more episodes will air October 26 and November 2.

The series, which also includes interviews with other scientists, community members, policy makers, farmers, business owners and stakeholders, creates a comprehensive look at the Lake Champlain watershed, which covers approximately 40% of Vermont. The results are three thought-provoking short documentaries designed to help tell the interesting story of how we have tried to keep our waterways clean; the impacts of human activity on the waterways especially relative to phosphorus and other contaminants; and efforts underway towards a more resilient future using a coupled human and natural systems approach.

Saving Our Waters aims to examine the state of the Lake Champlain Basin today in an age of extreme weather events and the importance of resiliency and what that means to community members and decision makers.

“Let’s solve blue green algae! Public media has a vital role to play in helping our community recover the rich natural resource, economic vitality and recreational lifestyle that is tied to the quality of Vermont water, especially in Lake Champlain,” said Holly Groschner, President and CEO of Vermont PBS. “Saving Our Waters brings Vermonters the science behind our water pollution issues and supports conversation around ways we can all help achieve cleaner waterways.”

“We in Vermont EPSCoR are focused on understanding the basin's watershed and what makes some parts rebound from extreme events while others do not. This resiliency is critical to foster throughout the basin in order to safeguard the Lake. We are delighted to partner with Vermont PBS in this effort to highlight the Lake and watershed, and our goal is to engage citizens and other stakeholders in helping us to model and predict the effects on the lake of extreme events into the distant future,” said Judith Van Houten, Ph.D., Vermont State EPSCoR director and University of Vermont distinguished professor of biology.

With these goals in mind, the series is complemented by multiple town hall meetings in some of the communities most affected by watershed issues. Vermont PBS will also air a panel discussion on the Lake Champlain basin that was pre-recorded in Montreal, one of many sources of water flowing into Lake Champlain and the pollutants associated with it.

In addition, anyone who wishes to add their voice to the conversation may do so by visiting Resilient Waters, a website specifically designed by social science researchers Asim Zia, Ph.D. and Christopher Koliba, Ph.D., professors in the Community Development & Applied Economics Department of UVM, and science leaders for VT EPSCoR, for this important topic.

Koliba explained that, “As the series will underscore, we all have a shared stake in ensuring that our lakes and streams are resilient to the changes we can expect from changing weather patterns and land uses. To this end, we have designed a website for the public to participate in the ‘crowd sourcing’ of solutions to the challenges we face in the coming years and decades. The site also has links to the papers, videos and talks VT EPSCoR researchers are making as the research progresses.”

Episodes and broadcast time are:

  • Where Do We Stand? – aired October 19
  • Lake Champlain: A Jewel in Trouble – Thursday, October 26, 8 p.m.
  • Our Actions Matter – Thursday, November 2, 8 p.m.

All three episodes will be available online concurrent with their air dates. 

Vermont PBS will also convene town hall style conversations around Saving Our Waters. The public is welcome to register to attend these free events. 

Vermont EPSCoR, the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) for its $20M Research Infrastructure Improvement Award (RII) Track-1 Award, Lake Champlain Basin Resilience to Extreme Events.