Water Quality

Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Under the new Vermont Clean Water Law, cities and towns will be required to apply for a permit to verify that paved and unpaved roads are maintained to prevent stormwater runoff.

Kathleen Masterson / VPR

As many Vermonters know all too well, catastrophic floods have become increasingly frequent in the state. In many cases, they devastate homes, roads and farms.

Toby Tabot/AP, Angela Evancie/VPR, Kathleen Masterson/VPR

On this final day of 2015 we're taking a look back at some of the year's most significant news stories, some of which will no doubt influence events in 2016.

Green Mountain Power/Google Maps

In addition to making milk, Vermont’s dairy cows create a lot of manure. And what to do with that waste can sometimes be a challenge.

Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Cleaning up Vermont’s polluted waterways is going to be an expensive undertaking, and earlier this year, lawmakers approved a new tax to begin paying for it. But the revenue plan isn’t generating as much money as officials had anticipated.

Lawmakers and administration officials heralded the Clean Water Fund as an important first step in generating the financial capacity needed to fund pollution-reduction efforts.

ErikaMitchell / iStock.com

Drinking water with a musty smell and taste is flummoxing Montpelier officials, but the city's Director of Public Works Tom McArdle says all tests indicate the water is safe to drink.

jtyler / iStock.com

With the passing of Vermont’s Clean Water Act last year, the state has made a serious commitment to tackle the pollution problems plaguing Lake Champlain.

But less well known are recent major updates to the pollution data that’s the guiding force dictating just how much runoff the state needs to cut back.    

Vizerskaya / iStock.com

Rain gardens, porous pavement and green roofs – what do these three things have in common? They are all examples of green infrastructure, designed to help alleviate stormwater runoff.

Márcio Cabral de Moura / via Flickr

More than 1,200 dams hold up rivers, creeks and streams across Vermont. Some, built over a century ago, are relics of another time when Vermont ran on mills, logging and small-scale hydro power.

Currently only 80 of the state's dams are actively used for hydropower or flood control. Far more are no longer serving any purpose at all. About 200 of these so-called “deadbeat dams” are, to critics, deteriorating and reducing habitat for fish and hampering recreational activities for humans.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Members of a Burlington homeowners association will soon be able to enjoy the association’s private beach without fear that they’re swimming in a neighbor’s excrement.

A private contractor is fixing an improper pipe connection in Burlington Wednesday that caused a home’s sewage to flow untreated into Lake Champlain for as many as 15 years. City officials discovered Sept. 2 that the home's wastewater, which is supposed to be connected to sewer pipes that lead to a treatment plant, was instead flowing to a stormwater pipe that flows directly into Lake Champlain.

Rutland is one of more than a dozen Vermont municipalities with a combined sewer system. When the city's water treatment system is overloaded, untreated sewage and runoff flows out of this pipe into a local creek.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR File

Vermont lawmakers met with local and state officials Tuesday to try to figure out how to slow the flow of raw sewage into the state’s rivers and lakes.

Charlotte Albright / VPR

Northeast Kingdom residents like to boast that Lake Willoughby is one of the clearest, cleanest, deepest lakes in Vermont. Now there’s proof. 

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

A Burlington home connected to the wrong city pipe has been fueling a public health hazard on a private beach in the city’s New North End all month, and officials don’t know when the problem started.

Burlington Public Works Director Chapin Spencer says that a wastewater line coming from a home in the New North End was connected to the city’s stormwater pipe instead of a sewer main.

In that area of town, Spencer said, the underground pipe networks for stormwater and wastewater are separate, “so the stormwater pipe goes to Lake Champlain.”

In response to requests from the public, the Environmental Protection Agency has extended the deadline for public comments on its new pollution reduction targets for Lake Champlain.

In an announcement Wednesday, the agency said that “[i]n response to requests for additional time, EPA is extending the comment period for 30 additional days, until October 15, 2015.”

The agency released the plan August 14, initially opening a 30-day comment period.

Alford et al. / Lake Scientist

While much discussion of water pollution in Vermont focuses on excessive nutrients, there’s another problem pollutant in our waters. 

Tiny bits of plastic – coming from everyday sources such as degraded plastic bags and flecks of fleece jackets – are seeping into Lake Champlain. Often smaller than the period at the end of this sentence, the plastics may seem inconsequential, but scientists say they carry chemicals, are being eaten by fish and moving up the food chain.    

Kathleen Masterson / VPR

One of the challenges to stemming the flow of pollution into Lake Champlain is that so much of runoff comes from disparate sources across the vast watershed. And one source of water pollution is hidden-in-plain-sight: roads.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Even as state and federal officials direct new money and staffing to water quality efforts across the state, the networks of pipes that bring water to and from Vermont homes and businesses are crumbling beneath their feet.

Kathleen Masterson / VPR

Vermont’s small farms have always been subject to state clean water standards, but now the state’s near 7,000 small farms are facing a new reality: farm inspections.

Sometimes Vermont's sewage plants dump sewage into rivers and lakes. And they're allowed to. What's up with that?

Vermont Department of Health

The hot and humid dog days of summer are usually perfect swimming weather — but that’s not true in St. Albans Bay.