Water Quality

STAFF:  margo ghia

Water quality projects are an integral part of our regional planning efforts, since they are affected by and influence many other planning programs, and it directly affects our community well-being.

VT’s Department of Environmental Conservation writes, “Vermonters and our visitors love the state’s streams, rivers, lakes, ponds and wetlands – they help define our Green Mountain landscape. We know our quality of life depends upon access to clean and healthy water.” The Windham region is committed to doing its part in helping Vermonters protect and preserve our water resources.

The WRC’s water quality planning efforts fall under the supervision and management of the Natural Resources Committee.

Charge of the Clean Water Advisory Committee (CWAC)

Since the passing of Act 64, Vermont’s Clean Water Act (VCWA), in 2015, the State as a whole has effectively adopted its “all-in” approach to water quality efforts. Directly relevant to regional planning commissions, the VCWA states that, “ANR shall contract with regional planning commissions to produce or assist in producing basin plans.”

While this assistance is mandated with the passing of this legislation, the WRC has independently enjoyed a long-standing working relationship with its respective DEC Basin Planner, Marie Caduto. In partnership with the DEC, the WRC’s Natural Resources Committee has led efforts to assist in drafting the Tactical Basin Plans (or, a large watershed-scale planning document that identifies priority water quality projects in a basin), providing outreach to affected municipalities, and help prioritize projects based in part on local needs and interests. All this work related to Basin Planning, water quality outreach, and project implementation had been done through the existing Clean Water Advisory Committee (CWAC), which is an extension of the Natural Resources Committee.

The WRC has recently formalized this commitment to water quality planning outreach and assistance by voting on the “Charge of the CWAC” during an Executive Board meeting on January 9th, 2018. You can see a full PDF of the CWAC Charge here.

Fundamentally, the CWAC Charge states that the group “shall serve in an advisory capacity to the Commission and its Executive Board, relating to activities and policy development regarding the waters of the Windham Region.” The CWAC will also, “provide local and regional input regarding project priorities and water quality issues important to the Windham Region, and serves in an advisory capacity to the WRC Executive Board and Full Commission.”

The Vermont Clean Water Initiative

Deerifield River, Somerset

In 2015, the Vermont state legislature passed Act 64, or VT’s Clean Water Act (VCWA). The comprehensive statute mandated an “all-in” approach, and creates new standards and requirements that will reduce polluted runoff, nutrient loading, and sedimentation from developed lands (including highways, roads and other impervious surfaces), farms, and certain wastewater and drinking water facilities.

The VCWA also supports the use of “natural infrastructure” – river corridors, floodplains, wetlands and forests– to reduce stormwater pollution and erosion, and build resilience in Vermont’s communities.

To support our communities in creating a clean water future for Vermont, the WRC has been working with State agencies to provide both municipalities and Vermonters with education and outreach, technical assistance, and planning and financial support.

We look forward to working with you to achieve clean water in Vermont! Please visit the links and resources below to learn about the VCWA and what it means for towns, farmers, and ecological health.

The VCWA and Water Quality Information:

  • Vermont DEC Clean Water Initiative, website
  • Act 64 Summary, PDF
  • Flow, the official blog of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation's Watershed Management Division.
  • Stream Habitat and Aquatic Populations, PDF  Power Point Presentation by Rich Kirn, fisheries program manager, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department.  
  • Stream and River Habitat and Infrastructure Resilience: Two Sides of the Same Coin, PDF  PowerPoint Presentation by Chris Campany, executive director, Windham Regional Commission.

Resources for Municipalities

  • Municipal Roads General Permit factsheet (VT DEC), PDF
  • Better Roads Grant brochure (VTrans), PDF
  • Vermont’s Clean Water and Municipal Transportation Public Meeting, Video   WRC hosted two Public Outreach meetings on January 11, 2016 to discuss the VT Department of Environmental Conservation Municipal Roadway Permit implementation timeline that will be required for all municipalities. In this video, Jim Ryan, DEC, presents an overview of the regulatory process.

Resources for Farmers

  • VT’s 2016 Required Agricultural Practice’s (RAPs) Summary Factsheet, PDF
  • Farm Size Rule RAP Factsheet, website
  • Windham Country Natural Resources Conservation District’s (WCNRCD) website. The WRC works closely with the WCNRCD as our regional agricultural partners to help landowners, producers, and communities conserve their land and water resources.

For more information about these water quality initiatives and the Vermont Clean Water Act, please contact Margo Ghia: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (802) 257-4547 ext. 116.

Water Quality Planning and Basin Plans

The WRC supports the VT DEC and this region’s Watershed Coordinator to create Tactical Basin Plans, referring to the 15 major drainage basin planning units in the state. The Windham Region covers two of these basins, Basins 11/13 (West, Williams and Saxtons) and 12/13 (Deerfield).

Below are links to the VT DEC’s website, where more information on the tactical planning process can be found:

  • Basin 11/13 – Basin planning for the West, Williams, and Saxtons Rivers, with the Salmon, Canoe, Sacketts, East Putney, Chase, Fullam, Mill, and Morse Brooks and sections of the Connecticut River.

  • Ball Mountain Brook Corridor Plan, PDF 
  • Rock River Watershed Phase 2 SGA, PDF 
  • Saxtons River Corridor Plan, PDF
  • Wardsboro River Corridor Plan, PDF 
  • Winhall River Corridor Plan, PDF

  • Basin 12/13 – Basin planning for the Deerfield, Green, and North Rivers, with the Fall River, Broad Brook, Crosby, and Whetstone Brooks.

  • Crosby Brook Stream Corridor Restoration Plan, PDF 
  • Whetstone Brook Watershed Corridor Plan, PDF 


Last Updated: 03 January 2020
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