Water Quality

The Friends water quality program includes instream and stormwater outfall monitoring.  

2018 Water Quality Monitoring Volunteer Program

Want to get involved in a great hands-on project this summer? Join our Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring team! Volunteers collect stream samples on a biweekly basis throughout the summer in the Cabot/Marshfield/Plainfield and Barre/Montpelier areas. These samples are then sent to a lab and analyzed to determine E. coli, chloride, alkalinity, phosphorus, nitrogen, and turbidity levels.

Sampling takes about 15 minutes per site, and volunteers can sample from one or more sites. No experience necessary and training is provided. The 2018 sampling dates are June 26, July 10, July 24, Aug 7, Aug 21, and Sept 4. Volunteers can choose to sample on one or all of those dates.

This is important work. Water quality monitoring plays an important role in keeping the public informed about water quality issues and promoting stewardship of our watershed. Furthermore, this valuable data has the power to influence water quality improvements and shape public policy. You can find out more about the program below. Please sign up using the contact form on our website.

Thanks to our 2017 water quality monitoring volunteers!   Emily Ahtunan, Nick, Jay, & Ethan Borlund, Suzanne & Simon Eikenberry, Steve Fiske, Gary Gulka, Kaitlin Hayes, Roger Kokodyniac, Doug LaPointe, David Lowther & Jean, Marisol, & Elli McDowell, Isaac & Jamie Maddox-White, Laura & Mikaela Moore, Lyn and Nancy Munno, Gianna Petito, Julianna Plumber, George Springston, Jen & Indy Roberts, Jeff Schumann, Jason & Miriam Serota-Winston, Jennifer Skinder, Leif Richarson, & Benjamin Richardson-Skinder, Brian Slopey, Jeff Schumann, Janice Walrafen, Bruce Westcott, and Jan Zemba.

Instream Monitoring Overview

Volunteer water quality monitoring plays an important role in educating the public about water quality issues and promoting stewardship of water resources. Volunteer monitoring can go beyond education to identify specific problems, measure progress toward water quality improvements and shape public policy. Data collected by volunteers may be used by local and state government for decision-making and enforcement. Currently the Friends are working with volunteers in the Headwaters area (above the confluence with the Kingsbury Branch); and the Four Rivers (Barre-Berlin-Montpelier) area.

Headwaters: Since 2007, the Cabot Conservation Committee and the Marshfield and Plainfield Conservation Commissions have worked together with the Friends and other members of the Winooski Headwaters Community Partnership to monitor water quality in their towns. Commission members along with other volunteers have collected data for a number of water quality parameters including bacteria.

Four Rivers: In 2008, the Friends and many other partners formed the Four Rivers Partnership. The goal of this partnership is to work together to protect and restore the Winooski, Stevens, North Branch, and Dog Rivers. Volunteers sample the Four Rivers in addition to their tributaries.

The Chittenden County Stream Team managed by the Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District, samples streams in the lower part of the Winooski River watershed across an eight-town area (Burlington, Essex, Essex Junction, Milton, Shelburne, South Burlington, Williston & Winooski) to implement projects to reduce non-point source pollution and stormwater volume at the local level.

Water Quality Monitoring Results


2017 Headwaters Report

2016 Headwaters Report
2015 Headwaters Report
2014 Headwaters Report
2013 Headwaters Report
2012 Headwaters Report
2011 Headwaters Report
2010 Headwaters Report 
2009 Headwaters Data
2008 Headwaters Report
2007 Headwaters Report

Four Rivers Partnership Area (Barre-Montpelier includes sites on North and Stevens Branch, the Dog River and the Winooski River)

2017 Four Rivers Report

2016 Four Rivers Report
2015 Four Rivers Report
2014 Four Rivers Report
2013 Four Rivers Report
2012 Four Rivers Report
2011 Four Rivers Report
2010 Four Rivers Report

Chittenden County Stream Team

2015 CCST Report
2014 CCST Report
2013 CCST Report
2012 CCST Report


Stormwater Outfall Monitoring OverviewPhoto copyright: Times Argus

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. These ‘illicit discharges’ may be the result of either direct or indirect connections. Examples of direct connections include:

  • wastewater piping either mistakenly or deliberately connected to the stormdrain system;
  • a shop floor drain that is connected to the stormdrain system; and a cross-connection between the sanitary sewer and stormdrain system.

Examples of indirect connections include:

  • infiltration into the stormdrain system from a leaking sanitary sewer line;
  • infiltration or surface discharge into the stormdrain system from a failed septic system;
  • a spill flowing to a catchbasin;
  • and materials (e.g., paint or used oil) dumped directly into a catchbasin.

The Friends have conducted studies and worked with the Public Works Departments in Montpelier, Barre, Northfield, Richmond, Waterbury and Berlin to locate and correct sources of pollutants in the storm water drainage system. You can access the reports online.

Montpelier/Northfield/Berlin Report
Barre City Report
Richmond/Waterbury Report
Stevens Branch/Stowe Report

                                                                                                                                                                                                               Photo copyright: Times Argus