Progress

Cooperative Monitoring and Planning Leads to Improvements in Water Quality

In the past, historical development in the vicinity of the Mansfield Base area of Stowe Mountain Resort has at times had unintended and significant impacts on nearby streams. These impacts have included increased runoff from paved surfaces that deliver undertreated stormwater runoff and associated sediment that impact streams. These impacts affect the instream habitat for the fish and bugs living there. Since 2010, the Resort has been working cooperatively with the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation’s (VTDEC) Watershed Management Division to improve water quality at the popular ski area. Through recent water testing conducted by both the Resort and VTDEC, some significant and emerging stream impacts came to light, and Stowe Mountain Resort was able to work proactively with the Division to fix these problems.

In late 2011, as VTDEC was reviewing the annual chemical and biological water testing results conducted by the Resort, it was determined that portions of the West Branch of the Little River in the vicinity of the Resort were becoming increasingly impacted by runoff. The Division contacted Stowe Mountain Resort to discuss the findings, and as the Resort became aware, they came forward with a plan to fix the problem. The plan, known as a Water Quality Remediation Plan, involved first investigating the developed areas that contribute runoff to the impacted portion of the stream. This was conducted in the spring of 2012. At the end of the investigation, a series of remediation measures were recommended to resolve the issues. The series of remediation measures included things such as:

  • Upgrading existing and building new stormwater control measures,
  • Protection of stream buffers, and
  • Modification of snowplowing and sanding operations

Stowe Mountain Resort’s plan was submitted and subsequently approved by VTDEC with the intent to complete as much as possible during the 2012 construction season. By the end of the year, the Resort had completed all identified fixes. A site visit in the spring of 2013 showed that the stormwater remedies were all functioning well following the significant spring runoff period. Follow-up monitoring in the coming years by the Resort will determine if the biota in the stream respond as expected; however, early signs are that the stream has already shown improvement.

Proper maintenance of stormwater control structures helps clean up the runoff. Note the sediment at the right captured even before it enters the treatment system.

Proper maintenance of stormwater control structures helps clean up the runoff. Note the sediment at the right captured even before it enters the treatment system.

Well-designed runoff swales prevent erosion from occurring.

Well-designed runoff swales prevent erosion from occurring.