Program Overview

collage including mountaintops, stream with moss-covered rocks, and cliff along a lake edgeWhat is the Monitoring and Assessment Program?

The Monitoring and Assessment Program (MAP) measures water quality indicators and evaluates these indicators in light of applicable standards or thresholds. MAP also oversees water quality remediation planning for regulated entities and maintains a comprehensive water quality database representing Vermont’s surface waters. Information about the condition of waters is then used to develop watershed plans that target waters for protection or remediation.

Water Quality Monitoring

Vermont’s water quality monitoring program measures physical, chemical, and biological indicators of lakes and ponds, rivers and streams, and wetlands, on a rotating basis to document water quality conditions statewide. MAP oversees biological monitoring of rivers and streams, and coordinates Vermont’s other surface water quality monitoring activities using two complementary approaches; probability and fixed-station monitoring   within several different projects.  MAP, in partnership with the Lakes and Ponds Program coordinates Vermont’s citizen-based water quality monitoring programs. Current monitoring priorities are described by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation's Water Quality Monitoring Program Strategy.

Water Quality Assessment and Total Maximum Daily Load Activities

The assessment and TMDL efforts of MAP interpret water quality studies, stream, lake, and wetland information, and permit compliance data to develop statements of lake or stream condition, and determine the compliance of individual waters with the Vermont Water Quality Standards (which the program also maintains). For this purpose, MAP maintains an evolving Assessment and Listing Methodology that is compliant with Federal Clean Water Act guidance, and that is used to develop lists of waters that are “impaired” (meaning they do not meet Vermont’s standards and thus are polluted), or otherwise stressed. MAP issues individual watershed assessment reports that are used to support development of Basin Plans. MAP also develops total maximum daily load (TMDL) plans, which are documents that identify the reductions in pollutants necessary to restore impaired waters. MAP also oversees development of alternative water quality remediation plans when TMDL’s are not necessary.

Tactical Basin Planning

MAP supports tactical basin plan development. Basin plans summarize existing water quality conditions and public uses, and identify actions to protect high-quality waters or remediate degraded ones. The Vermont Clean Water Act requires the development of Tactical Basin Plans for each of Vermont’s 15 river basins basins to be adopted on a five-year recurring cycle. These plans integrate watershed modeling, water quality monitoring, sector-specific pollution source assessments, and stakeholder input to document geographically-explicit actions necessary to protect, maintain, enhance, and restore surface waters. These efforts are implemented through a combination of Clean Water Initiative funding, partner support, internal agency support, and public rulemaking processes.