A sewer cover is seen along the shore of Lake Champlain on Wednesday in Burlington. The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation is working to reduce water pollution in the lake’s watershed by requiring a number of municipalities to do more to control stormwater runoff.
MONTPELIER — The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation is requiring a number of municipalities and other groups to do more to control stormwater runoff to reduce pollution in the Lake Champlain watershed with measures that could cost up to $100 million.
The permit issued Wednesday requires 13 communities, the University of Vermont, the Burlington International Airport and the state Transportation Agency to develop stormwater management plans within three years to reduce the amount of polluted runoff that flows into streams, rivers, ponds and lakes.
The permit requires the communities to implement the stormwater control as soon as possible, but no later than 20 years from the effective date of the permit.
“Many streams and rivers in Vermont’s urbanized areas suffer from polluted runoff from buildings, parking lots, and roads that contains metals, oil and grease, and nutrients. In addition, this runoff can cause serious erosion with associated damage to fish and wildlife living in and along streams, and impacts to recreational and fishing opportunities,” the department said.
The sediment and nutrients eventually wash downstream, much of it as pollution into Lake Champlain, the department said.
The stormwater control measures are expected to cost St. Albans Town millions of dollars, said Steve Beauregard, its public works director.
The communities will be eligible to apply for zero interest loans to defray the costs of the planning efforts. The department also plans to work with the Legislature to find funding options.
“We’ve known that this has been coming for some time,” Beauregard said.
Because the town is so rural, it has plenty of space to do some of the projects, such as creating stormwater ponds to catch the water and release it over a longer period, he said.
“I think it’s going to be a much tougher road for the cities just because they don’t have the space to put the projects in,” he said.
In Rutland, Evan Pilachowski, commissioner of public works, said he didn’t yet know what the implications could be.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge,” he said.
There’s less space for surface water ponds so cities often use underground water detention, which is more costly, Pilachowski said.
That might include a pipe and a gravel bed underground or other options, he said.
The affected communities are Burlington, Colchester, Essex, Essex Junction, Milton, Shelburne, South Burlington, Williston, Winooski and the towns and cities of both Rutland and St. Albans.MORE IN Vermont News
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