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Lake Profile


General Information

Description The Lake Champlain basin extends from the peaks of the Adirondack Mountains in New York west towards the Green Mountains in Vermont and north into Quebec, Canada. From north to south, the lake spans 193 km, yet it is surprisingly narrow--only 19 km at its widest point. Its long length and narrow width in addition to many bays and over 70 islands contributes to the lake being divided into 13 hydrologically distinct segments.

More than 600,000 people live in the Lake Champlain basin and millions visit each year to enjoy its waters and other natural and historic features. Not only recognized as the sixth largest freshwater lake in the United States, Lake Champlainís watershed has been designated by the United Nations as an International Biosphere Reserve.

Country Canada
United States of America
Latitude 44° 30' 0" (44.5000)
Longitude -73° 15' 0" (-73.2500)
State New York
River Basin Saint Lawrence


 Champlain global index map (LakeNet Explorer)
 Champlain locator map
 Champlain bathymetry map (Lake Champlain Basin Atlas)
 Lakes of Vermont (LakeNet Explorer 2004)
 Champlain shoreline map
 Lake Basin Management Initiative (LakeNet Explorer)
 Champlain phosporous levels assessment 1996-2000 (Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation)
 Champlain watershed map (1) (Lake Champlain Basin Program)
 Champlain Basin sites of concern (Lake Champlain Basin Program)

Physical Characteristics

Description The lake drains a watershed encompassing 21 326 km2, 56% of which is in Vermont, 37% in New York, and 7% in Quebec. Nearly half of the state of Vermont lies within the basin compared to less than 10% of either New York or Quebec (Lake Champlain Basin Program 1996). The lakeís drainage area to surface area ratio is remarkably high, 19:1. Land cover in the watershed is generally dominated by forested land (62%), agricultural land (28%), urban land (3%), and water (7%) (Budd and Meals 1994), although recent data shows that urban land has expanded to 5% (Hegman et al. 1999).
Volume 25.80 km3
Surface Area 1,127.00 km2
Depth Mean depth: 19.5 m
Maximum depth: 122.0 m
Residence Time 3.3 years
Age 0 - 10,000 years before present
Origin Glacial
Trophic State Mesotrophic
Type Fresh
Catchment Catchment size: 21,326.00 km2
Catchment/surface area ratio: 19:1


Economic Value The lakeís healthy natural resources sustain a thriving economy. Agricultural goods produced in the basin generate roughly $415 million each year. People fishing in Lake Champlain spend about $32 million in the basin per year. Bird and other wildlife viewing contribute $50 million per year. Tourism overall brings in more than $2.2 billion annually (Lake Champlain Management Conference 1996). Cultural heritage resources also factor heavily in the strong economy. Heritage tourism, which joins natural and cultural resources through bicycle loops or kayak paddling trails, has made the basin a world-class bicycle and kayak touring destination (LCBP 1999).
Major Cities Burlington, VT; Plattsburgh, NY
Population 600,000 (1995)

Watershed Management

Description Opportunities for Action, a comprehensive plan for the watershed, was renewed in 2003, after its first adoption in 1996. The comprehensive watershed plan deals with water quality, fish and wildlife resources, recreation management and cultural heritage protection.
Watershed Action Plan Yes
Sub-basin Action Plan Developed
Issues Although Lake Champlain remains a vital and attractive lake with many assets, there are several serious environmental problems that demand action. These include: high phosphorus concentrations, toxic substances, invasive species, water quality degradation, and habitat degradation.
Other Issues Health Advisories - Fish
Invasive Species
Nutrient pollution
Polluted runoff
Sediment contamination
Watershed habitat alteration
Specific Contaminants Mercury
POPs/PCPs/Endocrine Disrupters
Monitoring Lake-wide monitoring program is in place as well as a long-term citizen monitoring program.
Monitoring Programs In-Lake
Water Quality
Biological Resources and Habitats
Lake Use

Water Quality
Biological Resources and Habitats
Land Use

Biodiversity Conservation

Description Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains form a biosphere reserve (designated in 1989). In 1990, the federal Lake Champlain Special Designation Act was signed into law. 20,000 to 40,000 migratory birds use the Lake Champlain Valley during spring and fall migrations. The lake is home to more than 90 species of fish.
Designations Biosphere Reserve
National Designation
Species of Concern


Lake Champlain Land Trust
Lake Champlain Basin Program
ECHO at the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain
Missisqoui River Basin Association
Boquet River Association
Vermont Agency of Natural Resources
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 1, New England
Lake Champlain Committee
Saint Michael's College of Vermont
University of Vermont, Rubenstein Ecosystem Lab
Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce
Lake Champlain Maritime Museum
America's Historic Lakes - The Lake Champlain and Lake George Historic Sites
Stone Environmental Inc.

LakeNet Programs

World Lake Basin Management Initiative
Environmental Exchanges Among Managers of Nine Lakes in Russia, Hungary and the U.S.
Exchanges Among Environmental Specialists on 20 Lakes in the Former Soviet Union and in Eastern & Central Europe
Lake Toba-Lake Champlain Sister Lakes Technical Exchange
Lake99 Workshop: Managing the Great Lakes of the World, Implementing the Watershed Approach
LakeNet 2000: A Dialogue on Participatory Watershed Management
LBMI Regional Experience Sharing and Review Workshop for Europe, Central Asia & the Americas
Wide World of Lakes Exhibit and Programs at ECHO


Champlain   (PDF) Experience Brief. Final. 2/27/2006.
ECHO'S NEWTon Takes a Spin: Lake Champlain to the World's Lakes!  Online Resource. LCBP, LakeNet and ECHO. English. 3/1/2006.
Lake Champlain Basin Program: Working together today for tomorrow  Case Study. Final. Lakes and Reservoirs- Research and Management. 9/1/2004.
Lakes & Reservoirs: Research and Management, Special Issue edited by LakeNet, Volume 6:3  (PDF) Announcement. Blackwell Science-Asia. 7/31/2001.
Managing Lake Basins for Sustainable Use - Lake Basin Management Initiative Final Report (PDF)  Project Report. Final. English. 2/27/2006.
News Release - LakeNet Teams with Lake Champlain Partners on New Exhibit at ECHO  News Release. Final. 10/18/2004.


ILEC Database
Lake Champlain Basin Case Study
Lake Champlain Basin Program: Working together for today and tomorrow
Lake Champlain Phosphorus Pollution Reduction Strategy (US & Canada)
Lake Toba-Lake Champlain Sister Lakes Partnership
Long-Term Water Quality and Biological Monitoring Project for Lake Champlain
Opportunities for Action
The Lake Champlain Basin Atlas
Transboundary Collaboration in Ecosystem Management: Integrating Lessons from Experience
USEPA Fish Consumption Advisory


8/7/2012 - Invasive spiny water flea reaches Lake Champlain basin
8/6/2006 - Survey: Lampreys take toll on fish in Lake Champlain
4/27/2006 - ON THE COVER: A big fish story
6/24/2005 - State responds to algae-bloom concerns (Lake Champlain, VT)
5/11/2005 - Five-Year Study Funded by Green Mountain Power Concludes Stormwater is Top Burlington Bay Issue (Champlain, VT, USA)
11/9/2004 - IJC releases International Missisquoi Bay Task Force Report
10/10/2004 - Lake Champlain Loses Allure As Poisonous Algae Surface
9/20/2004 - Wildlife biologists continue efforts to control cormorants on Lake Champlain
6/15/2004 - Governor announces program to combat Lamprey in Lake Champlain
4/23/2004 - Towards a Lake Basin Management Initiative
12/23/2003 - Reciprocal Fishing Goes Into Effect on Lake Champlain
11/6/2003 - Power company awards ECHO at the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain
10/22/2003 - Environmental groups ask Vermont government to stop planned New York tire burn
4/22/2003 - New York and Vermont Governors sign plan and Lake Champlain MOU
10/5/2002 - Line drawn in water against a predatory fish
7/15/2002 - Boaters encouraged to buy low polluting outboards
7/12/2002 - Lake Champlain anglers collect tagged sea lamprey
9/7/2001 - Sea lamprey control recommended for Lake Champlain

Additional Data Sources

Birkett, C., and I. Mason. 1995. A new global lakes database for remote sensing programme studying climatically sensitive large lakes. Journal of Great Lakes Research, 21 (3) 307-318.
International Lake Environment Committee, the United Nations Environment Program and Environment Agency, Government of Japan. 1997. World Lakes Database.
US EPA (2004) National Listing of Fish Advisories Database

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