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. According to the Lake Champlain Basin Program, one acre of developed land typically sends three times as much phosphorus to the lake as one acre of agricultural land.
FWR pursues a number of different approaches to reducing the problems caused by both the quantity and quality of stormwater runoff.
You can do a lot on your property as well! Check out our Landowner Resources page.
Road Erosion Assessments
Vermont has about 8000 miles of dirt road. They are often located on steep grades in narrow valleys in close proximity to waterways. While these dirt roads are scenic and contribute to the quality of life we appreciate about Vermont, they also contribute tons of sediment and other pollutants to our streams and lakes each year. The Friends have worked with the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission and town staff to identify and prioritize dirt road runoff issues. Below are links to the reports. These are large reports and will load slowly.
Report for North and Kingsbury Branches (Calais, East Montpelier, Middlesex, Woodbury and Worcester)
Report for the Headwaters (Cabot, Marshfield and Plainfield)
Many Vermonters live on private road or have long driveways to maintain. Find out what you can do to reduce the impact of your road or driveway. These practices will often also save you money on maintenance!
Stormwater Outfall Monitoring
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. The Friends has a very active program of working with towns to detect and correct problems.