The Watershed Management Division is responsible for protecting, maintaining, enhancing and restoring the quality of Vermont's surface water resources. Inherent in this effort is the support of both healthy ecosystems and public uses in and on Vermont’s 800 lakes and ponds, 23,000 miles of rivers and streams and 300,000 acres of wetlands. Division programs address many issues, including physical and chemical characteristics of surface waters, aquatic habitat, streamflow, stream morphology, invasive exotic species, and wetland, shoreland and riparian zone protection.
The Business and Operations program provides administrative and technical assistance for the Watershed Management Division’s (WSMD) permitting and resource based programs as well as provides general division operational support. The program is comprised of four distinct areas of responsibility: permit application review, permit compliance, financial operations, and technology and support. Program staff assists the Division in achieving the overall mission of protecting, maintaining, enhancing and restoring Vermont’s surface water resources through unifying the permit processes and providing a high level of internal and external assistance.
The Clean Water Initiative Program – formerly the Ecosystem Restoration Program -- coordinates implementation of clean water restoration activities and provides financial resources to support nonpoint source pollution controls (diffuse pollution sources and erosion caused by precipitation or snowmelt running off of developed areas, agricultural lands and logging areas). The program also supports the restoration of natural resources including floodplains, river corridors, wetlands and riparian areas for flood resilience, water quality and habitat benefits. The program tracks and reports on the Vermont’s progress in achieving and maintaining clean water statewide.
The Lakes and Ponds Program monitors and seeks to improve the water quality of lakes and ponds. Staff provide assistance to municipalities, lake associations, and individuals. Staff also administer permits for aquatic nuisance control, shoreland development, and encroachments into lakes and ponds.
The Monitoring, Assessment and Planning Program (MAPP) integrates three components of the Vermont water pollution control program. MAPP measures water quality indicators and evaluates these indicators in light of applicable standards or thresholds. Information about the condition of waters is then used to develop watershed plans that target waters for protection or remediation. MAPP also conducts water quality modeling, oversees water quality remediation planning for regulated entities, and maintains a comprehensive water quality database representing Vermont’s surface waters.
The Vermont Rivers Program provides technical and regulatory assistance for projects affecting the flows and physical integrity of streams, rivers, river corridors and floodplains to avoid and mitigate flood and fluvial erosion hazards; as well as restore and protect the instream processes and floodplain functions (equilibrium conditions) critical water quality and riparian habitat improvement. The Program also carries out stream geomorphic assessments and river corridor planning to support river diagnostics, project design, and technical assistance during flood recovery operations. The Program maintains and restores natural streamflows by regulating the water withdrawals and hydropower projects and manages the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for Vermont.
The Stormwater Program provides technical assistance and regulatory oversight to ensure that stormwater discharges are managed in a way that meets the requirements of the Vermont Water Quality Standards. The program is responsible for defining those discharges which are required to obtain a stormwater discharge permit and determining treatment and control requirements necessary to minimize the adverse impacts of stormwater runoff.
The Wastewater Management program provides regulatory oversight of municipal wastewater treatment facilities. The program is delegated to issue federal NPDES permits for the discharge of treated wastewater directly to surface waters and industrial wastewaters discharged to municipal sewer collection systems. The program also issues state solid waste facility certifications related to the management of residual wastes (sludge, septage, wood ash, and short paper fiber). The program also provides technical assistance, compliance oversight, and inspections of all permitted facilities.
The Vermont Wetlands Program is responsible for identifying and protecting wetlands and the functions and values they provide. Activities to achieve these goals include education, project review, and enforcement. The Vermont Wetlands Program is responsible for the administration, implementation and interpretation of the Vermont Wetland Rules; for providing advisory recommendations on Act 250 projects with potential wetland impacts to the District Environmental Commissions; and for the review of wetland projects which fall under federal jurisdiction (Section 404 of the Clean Water Act) to ensure that State water quality standards are met.