Frequently Asked Questions


Q: Is it safe to swim in our rivers and streams? 

A: Rain and snowmelt events create high waters and increase pollutants / pathogens in our rivers. We recommend waiting 48 hours to swim after any signifiant rain event (0.3 inches per hour or more). The more rain, the more caution should be used. This is true for even the most prisitne locations. See these VT State recourse on "Assessing Water Quality" and "Healthy Recreational Waters"


Q: How often and where is water quality monitered?

A: We partner with the La Rosa program and volunteers across five towns to collect water quality samples biweekly May-August. The data is compiled at the end of the season and is professionally quality controled. This data is available here.


Q:What do you moniter for?

A: Under the guidance of the States La Rosa program we moniter for Total Phosphorus, Total Nitrogen, and Dissolved Chloride. These parameters indicate the presence of pollutants from a range of potential sources. See La Rosa Q&A.


Q: What is E.Coli and why do you not test for it?

A: E. Coli is a common bacteria that lives in all warm-blooded animals. Some strains are harmless while others can cause illness. E.Coli is also used as an indicater of other illness-causing pathogens associated with raw sewage. We do not moniter E.Coli as in most cases it can easily be avoided by not swimming after signifcant rain events:

High rainfall = E.Coli levels likely dangerous. No rainfall = E.Coli levels likely safe. 


Q: How can people get involved in protecting our rivers and streams?

A: We have a variety of opputunities to volunter: planting trees, collecting water samples, helping organize and run events, and cleaning up trash. Sign up for our e-news and follow us on instagram, to stay informed of these opputunities, and to learn about other ways you can contribute. Additionally, if you are a landowner you can contacts for a FREE Storm Smart or Stream Wise assesment. We can also offer assistance with restoration projects including tree plantings


Q: Where are watercraft put-ins?

A: There are many access points along the Winooski and its tributaries. See our Paddling Map pdf for all put ins and descriptions of paddling sections. We also have waterproof copies for sale available in our store. Want to imporve river access? You can volunteer to be Public Access Steward.


Q: How are you reducing phosphorus? 

A: Phosphorus is often associated with runoff from farms into waterways. Although this is a source, much of the phosphorus in the state is already tied up in soil from our historic agricultural land use. This is known as "legacy phosphorus". We address this source of phosphorus by the removal and prevention of sediments from entering our waterways. We achieve this when we: remove sediment empounded behind dams during their removal, through the stabilization of river banks with trees, by allowing flood waters to access their flood plain and deposit sediment in them, and by slowing and filtering storm water before it enters rivers. Conservation Districts tend to work more directly with farms on nutrient managment and runoff prevention.


Q: How are we helping aquaitic organisms?

A: Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department says "Fish grow on trees"


Q: How are we working to prevent flooding?



Q: Are dams damaging rivers?