Water Quality

STAFF:  EMILY DAVIS

Water quality is an important part of our regional planning work, since it is affected by and influences 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 WRC’s water quality planning efforts fall under the supervision and management of the Natural Resources Committee.


Basin 11 Water Quality Project Prioritization

The State of Vermont has delineated its water bodies into fifteen major drainage basin planning units, or “Basins.” Each Basin has its own tactical plan, and is updated every five years with the input of its corresponding regional planning commissions. The listed projects in each of these Basin Plans are designed to be compatible with the standards requirements established by VT’s Clean Water Act (Act 64).

The West, William, Saxtons and Connecticut River watersheds, or “Basin 11”, which drains 644 square miles of the Windham Region. Recently, the WRC’s Natural Resources committee along with Basin 11’s Watershed Coordinator Marie Caduto prioritized the water quality actions itemized in Basin 11’s 2015 Tactical Basin Plan.

To begin the prioritization process, the committee first identified overarching water quality goals for the Basin that also complemented the water quality policies of the towns and Windham Region. Those goals are:

  1. Work geographically from headwaters to mouth to focus on connectivity and target habitat fragmentation.
  2. Improve water quality while also targeting habitat improvement and flood resiliency.
  3. Re-classification of streams, thereby protecting high-standard water bodies.
  4. Control invasive species, thereby addressing sedimentation and fluvial erosion.
  5. Control nutrient contamination from agricultural sources.
  6. Establish riparian buffers.
  7. Focus on main river corridors.

Moving forward, the WRC, Natural Resources committee, and Marie Caduto will work towards funding the implementation actions that directly address these water quality goals. Funding sources will largely come from 2017’s VT Ecosystem Restoration Program. 


The Vermont Clean Water Initiative

Deerifield River, SomersetDuring the spring of 2015, the Vermont legislature passed the Vermont Clean Water Act (Act 64). Taking an “all in” approach, the Vermont Clean Water Act creates new standards and requirements that will reduce polluted runoff, nutrient loading, and sedimentation from developed lands including highways and roads and other impervious surfaces, farms, and certain wastewater and drinking water facilities. The Act will support using “natural infrastructure” – river corridors, floodplains, wetlands and forests– to reduce stormwater pollution and erosion and build resilience. Please visit the links and resources below to learn about the Vermont Clean Water Act and what it means for towns, farmers, and water quality.

In support of our towns and a clean water future for Vermont, the WRC has been working with State agencies to provide towns and Vermonters with education and outreach, technical assistance, planning and financial support. A new Clean Water Fund will build on existing programs to assist communities and partners in targeting and implementing priority projects. We look forward to working with you to achieve clean water in Vermont! We invite you to explore these resources:

Water Quality and the Clean Water Act: An Introduction

  • Trout and a Clean Water Future for Vermont Public Forum, filmed by Brattleboro Community Television, January 11, 2016:  Video

This Public Forum provides an introduction on the importance of clean water for aquatic organisms and what the new Vermont Clean Water Act will mean for Vermont's waterways, towns, and farmers.

  • Stream Habitat and Aquatic Populations, Power Point Presentation by Rich Kirn, fisheries program manager, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department:  PDF

This PowerPoint Presentation was given at the January 11 Public Forum noted above.

  • Stream and River Habitat and Infrastructure Resilience: Two Sides of the Same Coin, PowerPoint Presentation by Chris Campany, executive director, Windham Regional Commission:  PDF

This PowerPoint Presentation was given at the January 11 Public Forum noted above.

Resources for Municipalities

  • Municipal Roads General Permit Factsheet: PDF
  • Water Quality Grant Opportunities:  PDF

  • Flood Ready Website:  Link

  • DEC’s Municipal Roads General Permit, Power Point presentation by Jim Ryan, environmental analyst, Vermont Department of Conservation:  PDF

This PowerPoint Presentation was given at the January 11 Public Forum noted above.

  • Vermont’s Clean Water and Municipal Transportation Public Meeting, filmed by Brattleboro Community Television, January 11, 2016:  Video

WRC hosted two Public Outreach meetings on January 11 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

  • Required Agricultural Practices factsheet:  PDF

  • Draft Required Agricultural Practice Rules, PowerPoint Presentation by Ryan Patch, senior agriculture development coordinator, Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets:  PDF 

This PowerPoint Presentation was given at the January 11 Public Forum noted above.

For more information about this water quality initiative and the Vermont Clean Water Act, please contact Kim Smith: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (802) 257-4547 ext. 108.

 

Last Updated on 16 December 2016
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