Managing Stormwater on Your Property

Stormwater is rain or snow melt that does not soak into the ground. In a natural environment with trees, shrubs and tall grasses, water does soak in and is used by vegetation or slowly enters streams as groundwater. This natural process also filters the water. In our built environment with impervious surfaces such as parking lots, roads, roof tops and even lawns, water is collected rapidly by our stormwater systems and conveyed quickly to streams. Dirt and gravel roads are also a major sources of sediment and other pollutants in rural areas. Stormwater is a problem for two reasons. One is volume—rapid runoff causes localized flooding and erodes and destabilizes stream channels. The other is that is carries pollutants to the streams such as phosphorus (the major contributor to algae blooms in Lake Champlain), bacteria, hydrocarbons and more.
To learn more about what you can do, visit our Stormwater page.

Waterbury Dam Relicensing

Green Mountain Power (GMP) has applied to renew its license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to generate power at the Waterbury Dam. Under the federal Clean Water Act, the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) must certify that the operation of the dam will meet state water quality standards. The current operation does not meet those standards for either the Reservoir itself or the Little River below the dam. 

The problem for both bodies of water is the significant fluctuation of water levels. Under the current method of power generation, river levels vary widely and rapidly, negatively impacting habitat for fish and other wildlife and degrading water quality. Within the Reservoir, the water level drawn down from about 40 feet during the winter. This annual draw down prevents the establishment of healthy littoral or shoreline vegetation and habitat.

ANR's proposed solution is two-fold.

  • First, the method of power generation must be changed so it allows for a more natural flow in the Little River. In order for these flows to become a reality, GMP must make turbine upgrades.
  • Second, the Reservoir will be maintained at the summer level year round. This however cannot happen until the dam's aging flood gates are replaced.

The Friends support the state's proposed solution provided a strict timeline is established for GMP to make the necessary turbine upgrades and the State proceeds with allocating funds to replace the flood gates.

We encourage you to learn more about the state's proposed solution by visiting this web page and/or viewing this presentation. You can voice your comments until October 21at via email to or letter to Jeff Crocker, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, 1 National Life Drive, Main 2, Montpelier, VT 05620-3522.


Summer Projects

The Friends are busy with our summer projects.   Email or call 882-8276 if interested in learning more about any of these projects.  

Habitat Improvement: Human impacts along rivers through agriculture, commercial and industrial facilities, residential development and transportation infrastructure have destroyed or degraded habitat for both aquatic and terrestrial species. In Vermont, river valleys have been the focus of development and agriculture. This has lead to the loss of riparian buffers has negatively impacted many animals. Learn more here.

Water quality monitoring: The Friends are working with volunteers in three areas of the watershed: the Headwaters (Plainfield, Marshfield and Cabot); the Four Rivers Partnership (North & Stevens Branches; and Dog and Winooski Rivers) and in the Chittenden County Stream Team area (Lower Winooski).

We are also undertaking a study of stormwater systems in the towns in the Steven Branch. The stormwater drainage systems are designed to collect and convey only precipitation and snow melt. However, for various reasons, other water sources and associated contaminants may enter the system.

Learn more about both efforts on our water quality monitoring page. 

Rain garden maintenance: We have three rain gardens (in Essex, Montpelier and Plainfield) that are in need of annual TLC. This will involve weeding, mulching and supplemental planting.

Living in Harmony with Streams: A Citizen's Handbook to How Streams Work

The Friends are extremely excited about our most recent publication: Living in Harmony with Streams: A Citizen's Handbook to How Streams Work.  In the wake of Tropical Storm Irene, there were lots of questions about how to manage our streams.  Should we dredge?  Should we armor the banks?  How do dredging and armoring banks impact the aquatic life?  How do they impact downstream communities? This handbook describes the natural processes of streams and how human development and actions impact those processes.  It also describes the Vermont Rivers Program, stream geomorphic assessment and corridor planning.  After you have read through the handbook,  visit the Vermont River Management pageto find many more resources including a list of completed corridor plans.  

You can also view a short presentation on the guide here. This presentation was created from the guide with funding from the Lake Champlain Basin Program.