SPRINGFIELD -- The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources today announced the release of the new Deerfield River and Lower Connecticut River Basin (Basins 12 - 13) Water Quality Management Tactical Basin Plan. This plan reflects two years of preparation within the region to evaluate the health of the basin.

The Basin 12-13 Water Quality Management Plan provides an overview of the health of the basin and a description of the priority future and ongoing steps to restore and protect the quality of its surface waters. Watershed Coordinator, Marie Levesque Caduto said, "This Plan reflects what is happening on the ground with the rivers, streams and lakes in southeastern Vermont. The Agency is looking forward to working with the watershed communities to begin implementing projects that will help improve local water quality and habitat conditions."

The central component of the water quality management plan is the implementation table, which offers 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.

Deb Markowitz, Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources, said, "This is the first coordinated water quality management plan issued for this part of the State in many years. The level of participation invested by many partner organizations in the development of this Plan will result in positive outcomes. The plan directs new water quality protections and stepped up restoration in targeted areas of the watershed, resulting in a truly integrated approach to managing surface waters in the Deerfield Basin."

Chris Campany, Executive Director of the Windham Regional Commission stresses that, "Basin plans are foundational to understanding how our watersheds function, what influences water quality within the basins, and where life and property are most at risk due to flooding and bank erosion. The fate of our rivers and streams, and how well we coexist with them, lies with the choices we make, and it is our hope that knowledge will inform action at the individual, household, town, region, state and federal levels."

The plan is being released after public review and meetings that were held in January and early February. Questions should be directed to: Marie Levesque Caduto, DEC/ WSMD, 100 Mineral St., Suite 303, Springfield, VT 05156, or Marie.Caduto@state.vt.us. The Plan and appendices are available online at: http://www.vtwaterquality.org/ or by request at 802-885-8958.