Opportunities for Action: An Evolving Plan for the Future of the Lake Champlain Basin

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Quick Facts About the Basin


Lake Length: 120 miles (193 kilometers). Lake Champlain flows from Whitehall, New York north almost across the U.S./Canadian border to its outlet at the Richelieu River in Quebec. From there, the water joins the St. Lawrence River, which eventually drains into the Atlantic Ocean at the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Greatest Width: 12 miles (19 km).

Greatest Lake Depth: 400 ft. (122 meters). The waters of Lake Champlain reach their greatest depth in the area between Charlotte, Vermont and Essex, New York. 

Average Lake Depth: 64 ft. (19.5 meters).

Average Annual Water Level: 95.5 ft. Normal annual variation between high and low average water levels is about six feet (2 meters) in Lake Champlain, but since the early 1870s when daily records began, the maximum range between the high and low average water levels was measured at 9.4 feet (3 meters).

Average High Water Temperature: 72° F

Average Low Water Temperature: 34° F

Record High Water Level: 103.57 ft. recorded in 2011 near Whitehall, NY (Burlington, VT recorded 103.27 ft. in the same year).

Record Low Water Level: 92.4 ft. recorded in 1908.

Lake Area: 435 sq. miles (1127 sq. kilometers) of surface water.

Average Volume of Water: 6.8 trillion gallons (25.8 cubic kilometers).

Water Retention Time: Varies by Lake segment. It is longest in the Main Lake, about three years and shortest in the South Lake -- less than two months.

Amount of Shoreline: 587 miles (945 kilometers) of shoreline.

Number of Beaches: There are about 54 public or commercial beaches and 10 private beaches on the Lake's shores.

Lake Segments: The Lake is divided into five distinct areas, each with different physical and chemical characteristics and water quality. These lake segments include: the South Lake, the Main Lake (or Broad Lake), Malletts Bay, the Inland Sea (or Northeast Arm), and Missisquoi Bay.

Lake Stratification: Lake Champlain stratifies in the spring and summer. The warmer, less dense, upper layer (epilimnion) of the Lake typically extends down about 33 feet (10 meters) in the Main Lake during the summer. Below this layer, there is a sharp transition in temperature called the "metalimnion" or "thermocline," to the much colder waters below, called the "hypolimnion".

Number of Islands in Lake: 70+ islands.

Area of the Basin: 8,234 sq. miles (21,326 sq. kms). Ninety percent of the water that enters Lake Champlain flows through the Lake's drainage basin before it reaches the Lake.

Land Distribution: 56% of the Basin is in Vermont, 37% is in New York, and 7% is in the Province of Quebec.

Area of Wetlands in the Basin: More than 300,000 acres.

Average Annual Precipitation: More than 50 in. (127 cm) in the mountains and 30 in. (76 centimeters) near the Lake or in valleys.

Growing Season: 150 days near the Lake and 105 days in higher terrain.

Average Annual Air Temperature: 40-45° F (4.4-7.2° Celsius).

Population of Basin: 571,000 (541,000 in the US according to the 2000 Census Data, and 30,000 in Quebec). About 68% live in Vermont, 27% in New York, and 5% in Quebec. Density is about 61 people per sq. mi.

Drinking Water Use: Approximately 200,000 people or about 35% of the Basin population, depend on Lake Champlain for drinking water. Approximately 4,149 draw water directly from Lake Champlain for individual use. There are 99 public water systems drawing water from Lake Champlain.

Tourism Expenditures: About 3.8 billion in 1998-99.


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Lake Champlain Basin Atlas





Site Last Updated: March 18, 2015

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Lake Champlain Basin Program - 54 West Shore Road - Grand Isle, VT 05458
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