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 all eventually feed into the Connecticut River which runs along the eastern border of the region. Planning for the region’s watersheds requires an understanding of how the rivers are 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 Chris Yurek.
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 Road General Permit (MRGP). 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 Basin 10 Tactical 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/
The Mill Brook Watershed Resiliency Project, encompassing the entire Mill Brook Watershed (which is contained within the towns of Windsor, West Windsor, and Reading), capitalized on the recent completion of the Phase II Stream Geomorphic Assessment (SGA). The Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission (SWCRPC) and the Ottauquechee Natural Resources Conservation District (ONRCD) led the project.
The Project Team consisted of SWCRPC, ONRCD, the American Precision Museum (APM), Windsor, West Windsor, Reading, and the VT DEC Watershed Coordinator and River Management Engineer. The team utilized the Phase II SGA report and its recommendations to improve 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. Concurrent with these activities, ONRCD held public education sessions with their stream table. The goal of the public educational sessions were to educate people about river dynamics, dynamic equilibrium conditions, and methods to achieve it.
In July of 2016, the APM hosted 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 quality monitoring and stream bank (riparian) plantings. Finally, the Project Team implemented a number of the projects identified during the prioritization process identified above, including dam removals and buffer plantings.
- Basin 11 Tactical Basin Plan. Prepared by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources in December 2015. Covers the land area where water feeds into the West, Williams and Saxtons Rivers. The Plan provides 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 in 2011 by SWCRPC. This plan 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 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 by Fitzgerald Environmental Associates.
- Mill Brook Phase II Stream Geomorphic Assessment. 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 2015 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 Chris Yurek.
- 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. For more information, click here.
For more information, visit our flood resilience webpage.
- 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.
For more information, please contact Chris Yurek.
For more information, please contact Chris Yurek.
For more information, please contact Cindy Ingersoll.