The Storm Smart program is now available for all homeowners and property managers across the Winooski watershed! Storm Smart is a free program that helps people make their homes, driveways, and yards better able to ‘soak up the storm’ so each property builds flood resilience, protects biodiversity, and keeps rivers clean. Developed and launched in 2018 by Friends of the Mad River (FMR) in the Mad River watershed, Storm Smart expands its reach this year across the Winooski through a partnership with FMR, Friends of the Winooski River (FWR), and the Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District (WNRCD).
“Raindrops on roses may be one of our favorite things, but when lots of raindrops flow together they can become a powerful force that washes out driveways, rips apart stream banks, and carries pollution into our rivers and lakes,” explains Gianna Petito of WNRCD. “A combination of more frequent and intense storms, as well as more developed land, roofs, and compressed lawns that shed water more quickly has made Vermont’s raindrops a real challenge for clean water and flood resilience.”
Keeping rainfall on site can help stop driveways from eroding, keep rivers clean and clear, and replenish groundwater. “It can help you be a good neighbor, too,” says Ira Shadis of FMR. “Water that stays on your property is water that is not washing away town roads or blowing out culverts in big storms. Storm Smart properties slow down, spread out, and sink in rainfall to help keep water on site and stop it from causing damage downhill and downstream.”
Any property owners or managers within the Winooski watershed interested in finding out the actions they can take to make their homes Storm Smart can work with one of the Winooski Watershed Partners to receive a free property assessment. During an assessment, a knowledgeable staff person from one of the three partner organizations will work with you to trace the paths water takes across your property. After the in-person assessment, the program provides written water management recommendations specific to your home. Program staff maintain a safe distance, work outdoors, and wear masks whenever working with the public.
Since 2018, Friends of the Mad River has helped more than 100 homeowners or managers in the Mad River Valley. FMR has worked across the landscape – from downtowns to upland sites – to figure out how each property can play a role in building a Storm Smart community. Thanks to a grant from the Lake Champlain Basin Program, the Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District and Friends of the Winooski River have teamed up with Friends of the Mad River to offer these free assessments across the entire Winooski Watershed!
“We’re excited to bring this program from the Mad River Valley to the broader Winooski watershed,” said Michele Braun of Friends of the Winooski River. “This partnership builds on the work of three well-established organizations and we look forward to working with each other and our watershed neighbors to build a broad and connected Storm Smart community,” “Every little bit adds up,” agrees Corrie Miller of the Friends of the Mad River. “By taking small steps on our own properties, together we reduce flood vulnerability locally and downstream, and we keep our swimming holes clean! Soaking up storms reduces erosion, keeps pollutants out of waterways, and minimizes flooding. On top of all that, most of the Storm Smart recommendations, like planting trees, converting lawns to wildflowers, or repairing riparian buffers, help our wildlife neighbors, too!”
An additional benefit of the project is it will allow the Partners to develop a list of prioritized clean water projects within the Winooski Watershed in support of the Basin 8 Tactical Basin Planning Process managed by the Department of Environmental Conservation. The project also provides an effective and innovative way to support stormwater management education for private landowners – a key Clean Water strategy promoted by the Agency of Natural Resources
Over 100 of your Winooski Basin neighbors have already received an assessment – learning more about their properties and how they can protect our watershed. Will you be the next Storm Smart steward? Space is limited for assessments. To learn more or participate, contact any one of the Winooski Watershed Partners. Not sure whether you live in the Winooski Watershed?* Just give us a call and we can help sort it out:
*Residents living outside the Winooski Watershed may still be able to access a free home assessment from Salix Solutions (https://www.salix-solutions.com/blue).
This project has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement (LC00A00605) to NEIWPCC in partnership with the Lake Champlain Basin Program