Water is an essential part of our lives. Poor water quality can negatively affect drinking water, household use, irrigation, recreation, fishing, commerce, and our environment. Our waterways can be degraded by non-point source pollution, shoreline development, sedimentation, failing septic systems, poor agricultural and silvicultural practices, fuel spills, and invasive species. Nearly all of these problems can be avoided by proper planning and basic prevention measures.
The region is covered by a network of rivers and streams running between hills and mountains, including the Black River, Williams River and the Mill Brook. The rivers and streams are all eventually feed into the Connecticut River which runs along the eastern edge of the region. Planning for the region’s watersheds requires understanding how the river is moving and changing over time. In 2011 several watersheds were impacted by the flash flooding that followed Tropical Storm Irene’s extreme rainfall – particularly the Black River, Williams River and Mill Brook.
SWCRPC works with town, state and federal governments, and other regional organizations to provide planning assistance, technical support, and additional resources on a variety of water resource planning initiatives, including but not limited to the following:
For more information, contact Cindy Ingersoll.
The SWCRPC will work with municipal staff and boards to provide information about the requirements for municipalities triggered by the VCWA and also work with them on options such as stronger municipal protections against flood hazards and river corridor erosion, stormwater master planning, and other town plan or zoning changes to improve water quality. SWCRPC staff will update fluvial erosion hazard/river corridor maps for the towns and assist them with compiling existing information to use in developing implementation plans under the municipal roads stormwater general permit. As part of DEC’s Tactical Basin Planning program, the SWCRPC will work closely with DEC staff to facilitate municipal participation in the development of the update to the Black River Basin Plan.
The following fact sheets help illustrate the requirements of the VCWA:
- Clean Water Report of 1/15/2017
- What does the Clean Water Initiative mean?
- Timeline of Deliverables for the Dept of Environmental Conservation
- Clean Water Act and Municipal Transportation Fact Sheets, Rules and Timelines
- Water Quality Grants
- Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs), Rules and Timelines
- Ditches Factsheet – Surface Water Drainage Ditches can be very effective in removing sediment and excess nutrients before entering waterways, if they are maintained once properly installed.
The Agency of Natural Resources is sponsoring a “Brown Bag Lunch Series” in person or online. Please see our calendar for upcoming lectures and click here for more information.
In November 2015, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources released a new website that focuses on the new Clean Water Initiative called “Clean Water Vermont”. It reflects an exciting and growing collaboration among municipalities, state agencies, local and regional partners, farmers, businesses and the public to take action that will safeguard the public’s access to clean and safe water throughout the state. The website includes information about Act 64 and its implementation, the “Lake Champlain Plan” and more – http://cleanwater.vermont.gov/
Regional resources and events
- 2/24/2016 – Recording of presentations on the Clean Water Act and how it will affect Agriculture, Roads and Basin Planning
- 8/15/2016 – Water Quality Technical Bulletin
- 9/13/2016 – Roads and Clean Water Act Technical Bulletin
- Monthly Brown Bag webinars from ANR – Please see our calendar for upcoming lectures and click here for more information.
The Mill Brook Watershed Resiliency Project, encompassing the entire Mill Brook Watershed (which is contained within the towns of Windsor, West Windsor, and Reading), will capitalize on the recent completion of a Phase II Stream Geomorphic Assessment to complete flood resiliency planning and implementation. The Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission (SWCRPC) and the Ottauquechee Natural Resources Conservation District (ONRCD) will lead the project.
The Project Team consists of SWCRPC, ONRCD, the American Precision Museum (APM), Windsor, West Windsor, Reading, and the VT DEC Watershed Coordinator and River Management Engineer. The team plans to utilize the Phase II SGA report and its recommendations to further flood resiliency in the Mill Brook watershed through increasing access to the river corridor and floodplain areas, improving bank stability, and conducting extensive public education about flood resiliency. The Project Team will start by meeting and prioritizing recommended projects from the Phase II SGA report. The list of projects will then be further prioritized through several public meetings designed to engage residents of the three towns and gather their knowledgeable input. Concurrent with these activities, ONRCD will start holding public education sessions with their stream table. The goal of the public educational sessions is to educate people about river dynamics, equilibrium, and methods to achieve it.
In July of 2016, the APM will host a teacher training institute allowing teachers to model a watershed, develop what if scenarios for community presentations, and learn how to engage students in ongoing watershed activities such as water monitoring and stream bank plantings. Finally, the Project Team will implement a number of the projects identified during the prioritization process identified above. Potential projects include corridor easement scoping, bank stabilization projects, and buffer plantings.
How can you participate?
There are several ways to participate. You can attend one of ONRCD’s stream table demonstrations, attend a teacher training institute, or attend a project team meeting. The next scheduled ONRCD demonstrations will be at Old Home Day in Reading on July 3rd and the West Windsor 4th of July parade. For more information, contact Dan Potter at (802)-674-9201.
- Basin 11 Management Plan. Prepared by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources in 2008. Covers the land area where water feeds into the West, Williams and Saxtons Rivers. The Plan gives information about the river watersheds, outlines the issues facing them and gives recommendations on how to move forward.
- Basin 10 Planning. Information about basin planning for land areas drained by the Black and Ottauquechee Rivers from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources
- Black River Corridor Plan. Compiled 2011 by SWCRPC. This plan is to brings together technical data on the condition of the Black River and its tributaries with local land use planning and regulations, focusing primarily on hazard mitigation and improving local water quality.
- Black River Phase 1 and 2 Stream Geomorphic Assessments. Prepared for SWCRPC between 2007 and 2010. In 2007, a Phase 1 Stream Geomorphic Assessment (“SGA”) was carried out accordance with Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources protocols. The report divided the Black River and its tributaries into numbered reaches (sections of river). The Phase 1 report prioritized stream sections to be evaluated in the Phase 2 SGA which was completed in 2009. An addendum was added in 2010 for the Patch and Buffalo Brooks which feed into the Ludlow Lakes.
- Hubbard Brook Phase 1 Stream Geomorphic Assessment. Prepared for SWCRPC in 2008.
- Mill Brook – 6/9/2015 Update. The Phase II Stream Geomorphic Assessment Report of the Mill Brook Watershed is now finished! The Mill Brook runs from its headwaters in Reading through West Windsor and Windsor to the Connecticut River. The Corridor Plan is the result of Phase I and Phase II Stream Geomorphic Assessments conducted during 2013 and 2014 which examined individual reaches of the Mill Brook for flood vulnerabilities and physical and biological conditions. The report contains detailed information on the health of the Mill Brook and opportunities to promote flood resiliency within the watershed. For more information, please contact Dan Potter.
- Municipal Guide to Fluvial Erosion Hazard Mitigation. Prepared by Vermont Agency of Natural Resources
- Flood Hazard Management Resources. Prepared by Vermont Agency of Natural Resources
River Corridor, Floodplain & Shoreland Protection Programs, Biennial Report, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, Watershed Management Division, January 2017
The Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund (ERAF) Rule created financial incentives to adopt river corridor and floodplain protection bylaws. The Figure below identifies communities that have adopted river corridor protection bylaws or have undertaken updates to their municipal plans and/or zoning to prohibit new encroachment in river corridors and floodplains. These communities have adopted standards that far exceed NFIP minimum standards. (River Corridor, Floodplain & Shoreland Protection Programs, Biennial Report to the General Assembly Pursuant to Act 110, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, Watershed Management Division, January 2017)
- Japanese Knotweed Brochure. Created 2008 by BRAT and SWCRPC. Information about the invasive species known as Japanese Knotweed which is commonly found along our waterways.
- LID brochure. Created 2008 by Addison County Regional Planning Commission and SWCRPC.
- Managing stormwater and improving local water quality in Springfield . Booklet for local residents. Created 2010 by SWCRPC. Compilation of affordable and achievable strategies for managing stormwater around the home in a rural and small town environment. Also contains advice on how efforts around the home and in the yard can improve local water quality
- LID Town Resource Pack . Created 2010 by SWCRPC. The pack is an introduction to LID for towns and provides resources for application of LID in the region:
- LID Tools for Vermont Towns . Created 2007 by SWCRPC and Addison County Regional Planning Commission. Information on how to incorporate LID into Town Plans and local regulations.
- Local LID examples and Further Resources. Created 2010 by SWCRPC as part of the LID Town Resource Pack. Examples of Vermont and New Hampshire LID projects which could be relevant for the region and links to further LID resources.
Development in areas that provide ecosystem services can often result in a diminished capacity to provide those services. Development in floodplains reduces their capacity to mitigate flooding, development in wetlands reduces their capacity to filter water, and the addition of impervious surfaces and the development of steep slopes increases the amount of stormwater runoff resulting in higher peak flows and flooding levels and increased erosion. These services are extremely important and need to be preserved. Additionally, Green Infrastructure can provide many benefits aside from those commonly identified as ecosystem services, including increased property values, enhanced recreational opportunities, and the creation of jobs.
For more information, visit the Department of Environmental Conservation website.
A green infrastructure toolkit has been created to assist Vermont municipalities. Click here for more information.