Project Examples - Vermont Case Studies

Riverfront Park Raingarden

Riverfront Park Rain Garden 
Riverfront Park was created with the combined effort of the Town of Middlebury, the MarbleWorks Partnership, and LandWorks, a local landscape architecture firm. The park is situated along the Otter Creek just downstream from the falls. A portion of the lawn area heading down to the river was vegetated with native grasses and shrubs and sculpted to enhance slope stabilization and increase infiltration. A sizeable rain garden was installed in the upper portion of the park to capture stormwater runoff from the nearby parking lots and rooftops. The rain garden reduces the amount of surface runoff and pollutants reaching the Otter Creek.

Handy's Porous Pavement Parking Lot
Handy's Porous Pavement Parking LotThe owner of Handy’s Hotels and Rentals paved an 18,000 square foot parking lot with porous asphalt.  The parking lot services a thirty-unit residential apartment building and two triplex condominiums. Runoff from the rooftops of the apartment buildings and condominiums is conveyed beneath the pavement surface for infiltration. 

The project is an alternative to the standard approach of capturing stormwater in a pipe, treating it, and discharging it to surface water.  The porous asphalt helps to control runoff of pollutants and protects groundwater supplies.

South Burlington Community Library Rain Garden

South Burlington Community Library Rain Garden
This rain garden was installed in the Spring of 2013 in front of the South Burlington Community Library. It was specifically designed to capture excess water from the parking lot which was the cause of periodic flooding. The rain garden is planted with various native and non-native vegetation specifically chosen to suit the location. An informative sign provides general information about stormwater and the project.
The installation was made possible through partnerships between the South Burlington School District, the South Burlington City Library, the South Burlington Public Works Department, and the Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District.

UVM's Outdoor Bioretention Laboratory
This project investigates the mechanisms influencing nutrient retention and greenhouse gas emissions within eight stormwater bioretention systems. Utilizing the Outdoor Bioretention Laboratory recently constructed at the University of Vermont (October 2012), UVM will compare the capacity of these bioretention units to reduce runoff, total suspended solids, and nutrients (P and N) under both existing and simulated increases in precipitation, and under two different vegetation treatments. Precipitation simulations are based on projected climate-driven changes in rainfall intensity projected through the year 2050.  Vegetation treatments are one high-biodiversity plant “palette” that uses native vegetation and another low-biodiversity palette employing plants known to be tolerant to roadside conditions, including road salts.  In a unique experimental design for stormwater treatment, we will also compare greenhouse gas content in the soils and plant layers of the bioretention systems. Each bioretention cell is layered with an engineered soil mix designed to promote drainage and representing a typical mix that might be used in Vermont raingardens/bioretention cells; two of the eight cells also include a layer of proprietary media “SorbtiveMedia” by Imbrium Systems, Inc. UVM's Outdoor Bioretention Laboratory

In the first year of the project (February 2012-January 2013), the team worked with Watershed Consulting Associates (Design and Engineering), UVM Campus Planning (Construction Management and Permitting), and EcoSolutions (Primary Contractor) to design and construct the bioretention laboratory. They also advertised for and hired a graduate student, Amanda Cording, to conduct the proposed research for her PhD thesis.  In the second project year, they are securing plant material – to be planted approximately May 1, 2013—as a combination of purchased and donated plants.  They have also constructed the rain-pan systems that will be used to simulate rainfall volumes and intensities predicted for the Lake Champlain Basin in 2050. Monitoring of the project- including sampling for water quality and greenhouse gases- will begin in May 2013. they are also developing high-quality interpretive signs, to be placed at each end of the project (which is, notably, along a road that is adjacent to UVM’s visitor parking lot), which will contain project descriptions in both layperson’s terms and scientific language and which will list project sponsors and supporters.

604(b) ARRA Stimulus Project
Clean Water Act (CWA) section 604(b) provides annual funding for states to “carry out water quality management planning." The sections refer to a broad range of water quality planning activities, addressing both point sources and nonpoint sources. Activities could include developing water quality management plans or watershed plans, revising water quality standards, collecting and analyzing data or other similar water quality related activities. Vermont typically receives $100,000 of 604b funding each year and is required to pass through at least 40% to regional comprehensive planning organizations. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 provided an additional $39.3 million nationwide in funding for state planning efforts over and above the annual 604(b) allocation. About $194,000 in 604b ARRA funds was awarded to Vermont and close to $78,000 was used by the eleven Regional Planning Commissions for a variety of tasks related to low impact development and green infrastructure. These tasks included:

  • Education to local communities and landowners
  • Development of resource guides
  • Development of BMP fact sheets
  • Workshop presentations
  • Production of impervious cover maps
  • Review and analysis of town plans and zoning bylaws to identify and document barriers to low impact development