The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation has released a draft tactical basin plan for the Passumpsic and Upper Connecticut River Basin for public comment until May 8th. The draft plan is available at http://www.watershedmanagement.vt.gov/planning/htm/pl_passumpsic.htm.
The draft tactical basin plan includes targeted actions (as shown in the maps below) to address bacteria from combined sewer overflows in St Johnsbury, flooding in the town of Lyndon, erosion hazards in many locations in the basin, sediment and stormwater in the Dish Mill Brook, sediment and phosphorus issues across the watershed, and nitrogen loading to the Connecticut River that empties to Long Island Sound. Top priority actions in the plan include improving river corridor and floodplain protections in town zoning, estabilishing a water quality sampling program, addressing combined sewer overflows with a focus on targeted green stormwater infrastructure, working with farmers on nitrogen managment, developing a stormwater master plan for the Dish Mill Brook watershed, and completing road erosion inventories for towns in the basin. The draft plan includes a description of high quality waters recommended for reclasification to Class 1 wetlands and Class A(1) streams, the potential designation of the Nulhegan River basin as an Outstanding Resource Water, and potential floodplain forest protections and restoration along the Connecticut and Passumpsic Rivers. Maps of these actions can also be viewed in the Natural Resource Atlas available at http://anrmaps.vermont.gov/websites/anra/ (select tactical basin planning from the Atlas Layer drop down list in the upper right hand corner).
The Department is hosting public meetings from 6:00 to 7:30 on April 17th at the Conte Refuge Visitor Center at 5396 Rte. 105 in Brunswick and on April 22nd at the Northeastern Vermont Development Association (NVDA) office at 36 Eastern Avenue, St. Johnsbury. The public is encouraged to attend one of these public meetings and to provide written comments to Ben Copans at firstname.lastname@example.org by May 8th. The draft basin plan was developed with input from partnering organizations in the basin, but public input is needed to ensure that the plan effectively identifies priority actions. The identified priorities will help guide grant funding over the next five years.