MONTPELIER -- The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has prepared for Environmental Protection Agency approval the 2014 listing of impaired waters in Vermont. This list, also known as the 303(d) Impaired Waters List, is issued every two years in compliance with the Federal Clean Water Act.
"Impaired" streams and lakes are those that do not meet Vermont's stringent water quality standards, and are legally designated as polluted. Impaired waters are scheduled for the development of a clean-up or remediation plan sufficient to restore water quality.
For the development of the 2014 list, the most recent water quality information collected was assessed to determine the condition of the state's waters. A draft list was developed for which public comments were solicited and an opportunity for a public meeting was provided, but no meeting was requested. Comments were received and a response summary was developed.
These are publicly available at the Watershed Management Division's website. Vermont has multiple robust water quality monitoring programs that provide a comprehensive assessment of rivers, streams and lakes throughout the state.
For 2014, these data indicated that fewer impaired waters existed in the state relative to 2012, when the previous list was developed.
Areas of water quality improvement include:
Lords Brook and West Branch of the Ompompanoosuc -- these streams are adjacent to the now abandoned Elizabeth Copper Mine in Strafford. DEC and USEPA have been overseeing a long-term cleanup of tailings from mining operations. Efforts have been successful and the majority of streams previously impacted by acid mine drainage are no longer impaired.
North Branch Ball Mountain Brook tributary -- in the vicinity of the Stratton Mountain ski area, this stream has been subject to a successful long-term cleanup plan.
Chester Brook -- an agricultural area in Fairfield has shown continual improvement over the years and is no longer impaired.
Mill Brook tributary -- this stream in the vicinity of the Bromley ski area was previously impacted by runoff from impervious surfaces and sediment.
Muddy Brook -- bordering South Burlington and Williston, a long reach of this stream from the Winooski River upstream now meets water quality standards.
Several new streams were found to be impaired. These include:
Tributary of Muddy Brook (Williston) -- this previously impaired reach was expanded both up and downstream and is caused, in part, by high chloride levels from deicing salt.
Stevens Brook (St. Albans) -- a previously impaired reach was extended slightly upstream because of impacts from contaminated soils.
Big Spruce Brook (vicinity of Stowe Mountain Resort) -- the upper portion of this previously impaired stream has responded to cleanup actions and is no longer impaired. However, new data revealed that the lower end extends 0.1 miles further downstream than originally known.
In the vicinity of the Jay Peak Resort, an impaired water was identified in an area where two impaired streams already exist. While the conditions in these two streams continue to improve towards attainment of water quality standards, recent data collected by the Resort on a previously unmonitored stream indicated that it too was impaired. Like the other streams in the area, the problem was caused by too much sediment running off into the streams. Since the resort was already implementing a cleanup plan for the existing impairments, DEC ordered the cleanup plan to be expanded and updated to address the new impaired stream reach, as well as to redouble efforts in the previously impacted areas.
As a result of these actions, Jay Peak Resort conducted reconnaissance to identify the sources of sediment in the new stream, and developed a set of actions to be implemented over the next two years for all streams near the Resort. Currently the plan is being reviewed by the DEC to ensure that it is adequate to bring these streams into compliance.
For more information regarding the Impaired Waters Listing, visit the Watershed Management Division's websiteor contact Tim Clear at the Division 802-490-6135. Upon request, the Division will provide a public meeting for a more thorough presentation of any of the above topics.