About the Lake Champlain Watershed

Lake Champlain Basin

The Lake Champlain watershed or basin encompasses eight thousand square miles of mountains, forests, farmlands and communities which all drain into Lake Champlain. The lake is 120 miles long, 400 feet deep and 12 miles across at its widest point. Outside of the Great Lakes, Lake Champlain is one of the largest freshwater bodies in the United States and is a highly valued international resource.

The Lake Champlain basin is located on the land which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange among Indigenous peoples for thousands of years and is home of the Mohawk and Western Abenaki People. Multiple Indigenous groups—including the Abenaki, Mohawk, and Mohican people—have stewarded these lands and waters. Lake Champlain Sea Grant acknowledges that we need to respect and steward the lands within our use.

Currently, the Vermont and New York portions of the Lake Champlain basin are home to nearly 500,000 people, with another 100,000 people in the Canadian portions of the watershed. At least 45% of the population relies on Lake Champlain for drinking water (Lake Champlain Basin Program 2018). Lake Champlain’s shoreline is 587 miles long. The lake is centered within a watershed that is 19 times larger than the lake itself, and thus the impacts of land use management on water quality are high. The 19:1 land-to-lake ratio in the Lake Champlain basin is 9 times larger than the average ratio of the Great Lakes.

Many people who live in the Lake Champlain basin are dependent on the lake for jobs, recreation, and quality of life. People from around the world visit the lake and basin to enjoy its cultural and military history, abundant biological resources, and opportunities for recreation.

View a map of the Lake Champlain watershed and its tributaries provided by the Lake Champlain Basin Program.

Learn more about Indigenous stewardship in the Lake Champlain watershed from the video Nebi: Abenaki Ways of Knowing Water and about Indigenous lands from the Native Lands map, created by Native Land Digital, a Canadian not-for-profit organization.

Lake Champlain Sea Grant's Role in the Basin

Lake Champlain Sea Grant (LCSG) supports and offers education, outreach, and applied research activities to enhance the sustainable use, restoration, and development of the Lake Champlain ecosystem. Since its inception, LCSG has focused on maintaining and improving the economic and environmental vitality of the Lake Champlain basin by building stronger partnerships with communities, businesses, and schools. LCSG activities inform and educate the watershed’s inhabitants and visitors about actions needed to protect the quality of Lake Champlain waters, the basin’s coastal region, and other natural and cultural resources. LCSG offers research-based education and outreach programs for sustainable business development, which generates income and support for important resource protection goals.