WILMINGTON -- Currently, there are plans for local rivers that are intended to protect the values of high quality water resources and restore the waters that do not meet the standards for water quality within the state.
"For the most part, what's important to people is whether or not they can enjoy the waters," said Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Department of Environmental Conservation Watershed Coordinator Marie Levesque Caduto. "It makes a difference whether or not they can swim, fish and eat the fish. It's also incredibly important ecologically. All the wildlife that is supported by rivers and streams need that clean water."
She told the Reformer that the job of ANR is to both protect and improve the waters in the state.
On Jan. 29 a draft of a document called the Deerfield River Tactical Basin Plan will be discussed for public review. The meeting will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Wilmington Town Offices.
"The DEC's tactical planning process to identify and prioritize state and local water quality issues and implement on-the-ground watershed protection and restoration projects is drawing to a close," stated an ANR document. "(Caduto) has collaborated with state, federal and municipal organizations, local conservation groups, businesses and a variety of landowners to develop the water quality management plan for waters in these basins."
Caduto will lead the public meeting, where she will present the data and information that the agency had found and put together. Action steps will be proposed and feedback will be recorded.
The goal is to learn all the parts that the agency does not already know about.
"Are these the right (plans) for this region? Are there holes in our information that we missed something that's really important? We only have so much information," Caduto said. "And it's the folks that live there that know the waters better than we know."
According to the press release, this plan "reflects years of preparation within the region to evaluate the health of the basin."
An important part of the plan is an implementation table. It will outline specific actions to "address threats to surface waters in the basin."
"Examples of some of the priority actions in the plan include mapping river corridors with high erosion hazards, protecting waters that offer outstanding recreational opportunities, working with towns to apply for Better Back Road grants and to include protections for fluvial erosion hazard zones in local zoning and expanding agricultural water quality programs to farms in the region to address water resource concerns," the press release stated.
There are two basins within the plan that will affect communities within Windham County.
The Deerfield River Watershed, which will be referred to as Planning Basin 12, rises in Glastonbury and Stratton then flows through the Vermont and Massachusetts border. It eventually joins the Connecticut River.
There are four branches of the Deerfield River in Vermont, which include the north, south, east and west branches.
According to the document, "Two of the Deerfield's main tributaries, the East Branch of the North River and the Green River, originate in Vermont and enter the Deerfield River near Greenfield, Mass. The Deerfield River systems, including the East Branch of the North River and the Green River, drains 14 Vermont towns in two counties and is about 318 square miles in area."
From Guilford, Vernon, Dummerston and Brattleboro, the water drains into the Connecticut River. Part of that basin in that area will be known as Planning Basin 13 for the project.
"We're looking to get local knowledge about water quality problems," said Caduto. "These are places people really care about and want to protect."
After an overview of the plans is presented, she hopes that most of the meeting will be spent listening to feedback. Those comments will be collected and added if necessary to final revisions. The document will be sent to the agency's secretary to sign off on.
Implementation of the plans will then begin and priority action items will be addressed.
"These are things that need to be done over the next five years," said Caduto. "There are a lot of projects that we hope people will get involved in."
The best way for people to become engaged in this process is by contacting her at Marie.Caduto@state.vt.us or calling 802-885-8958.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.