Under the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Ecosystem Restoration Program (ERP), the towns of Barre City, Barre Town, Plainfield and Berlin, were awarded funds to develop municipal stormwater management plans. With the assistance of the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission (CVRPC), work on these plans is set to begin in late 2016.
Water quality of streams and rivers in Central Vermont and throughout the state are threatened by bacteria (E. Coli), sedimentation from road runoff, nutrient loading from runoff, and issues surrounding the remaining combined sewers. These municipalities have a number of challenges including developed hillsides and steep slopes, nutrient loading from runoff and poorly addressed stormwater in the floodplain where ponding occurs during heavy storm events.
The towns of Barre City, Barre Town and Plainfield are all within the Gunners Brook watershed and all experienced heavy flooding during Hurricane Irene and in more recent years. When heavy rains occur, Barre City receives the majority of water and runoff from Plainfield and Barre Town. Identified as a top priority in the finalized Barre Vermont Economic Resiliency Initiative report and one of the first in the state, this watershed wide planning effort will help provide the tools and resources necessary for these municipalities to target areas that are in danger from stormwater and take the next steps in protecting them. At the same time, this plan will help outline the best practices to help in the reduction and protection of the water quality in the lakes, rivers, and streams running through these three municipalities.
The Town of Berlin sits in two sub watersheds of the Winooski; the Dog River Watershed and the Stevens Branch Watershed. Significant development has occurred along Route 302 and 62 and Berlin has significant areas of impervious surfaces. Berlin faces many of the same challenges as Barre City, Barre Town and Plainfield as well as stormwater gullies directed over steep slopes and poorly addressed stormwater on those large impervious parcels. Heightened levels of flooding in Barre City, Barre Town and Plainfield has attributed to the greater amounts of stormwater runoff and pollutants that flow into Berlin.
With assistance from CVRPC through this planning process, the Town of Berlin will organize previous studies including stormwater infrastructure mapping, road erosion assessments, road erosion inventory for the Dog River, river corridor plans, culvert and bridge inventory and will evaluate projects and programs that will remedy stormwater and water quality concerns. The project will include the examination of existing data and will include field work to identify problems, evaluate alternatives, and prioritize projects to implement.
The completion of the stormwater master plan for Berlin and the joint stormwater master plan for Barre City, Barre Town and Plainfield will result in a regional water quality planning effort that CVRPC has been targeting for years. That section of Central Vermont has repeatedly been hit with destructive flooding. The completion of analysis and best practices through the stormwater master planning effort will significantly help to meet the State’s water quality goals as well as improve the quality of life for citizens of those communities.