Testing the stormwater system

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BRATTLEBORO — A crew walking around the Whetstone Brook and tributaries should not set any alarms off.

"There will be roaming in the watershed area," said Brattleboro Department of Public Works Director Steve Barrett.

Testing scheduled for Friday is being conducted by Burlington-based Watershed Consulting Associates. The study is meant "to find and eliminate potential sources of water pollution linked to non-stormwater discharges into stormwater systems, such as those from sanitary sewers or leaking septic systems," according to a press release.

The focus is on identified sites within an approximately four-mile area on the Whetstone Brook from Main Street into West Brattleboro. The project is funded through an Ecosystem Restoration Program grant provided by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. Barrett said waterways throughout the state will be tested.

"We conducted a study a couple years ago," Barrett said. "They'll find outfall pipes for areas that may look suspicious."

Bacteria may be in the lines if soap suds or other items not found in regular stormwater systems are discovered, he said, explaining that the stormwater system should only be carrying water runoff from the roadway, residences and other places where rainwater is discharged.

If the study shows bacteria such as E. coli or phosphorous, more testing could be done to look at what might be contaminating the water.

"It's responsible for us to do this," Barrett said. "It protects the waterways. It also verifies if the system is working properly. We want to eliminate any sources of pollution."

Barrett hopes to hear back about results within a week or so of the study. He anticipates only one day of testing.

But if it rains, there could be a delay.

"Because that could give us bad readings on the test," Barrett said. "There is some rainfall predicted. We may hold off another week. They like to see several days prior to with no rainfall because that can produce false results on the test."

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or @CMaysBR.

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