Program Overview

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

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.

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. MAPP 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.  MAPP, in partnership with the Lakes and Ponds Protection 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 MAPP 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, MAPP 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. MAPP issues individual watershed assessment reports that are used to support development of Basin Plans.   MAPP also develops total maximum daily load (TMDL) plans, which are documents that identify the reductions in pollutants necessary to restore impaired waters. MAPP also oversees development of alternative water quality remediation plans when TMDL’s are not necessary.

Watershed Management and Basin Planning

The Planning section of MAPP is charged with developing and implementing watershed management plans that summarize existing water quality conditions and public uses, and identify means 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.  collage depicting the Champlain Valley, a GIS map, and a brown, turbid streamThese 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.