Stream Reclassification


The Vermont Water Quality Standards establish designated uses, management objectives, and minimum criteria that all surface waters must meet. Surface waters are classified independently for each designated use. The designated uses in the Vermont Water Quality Standards are:

  • Aquatic biota and wildlife that may utilize or are present in the waters;
  • Aquatic habitat to support aquatic biota, wildlife, or plant life;
  • The use of waters for swimming and other primary contact recreation;
  • The use of waters for boating and related recreational uses;
  • The use of waters for fishing and related recreational uses;
  • The use of waters for the enjoyment of aesthetic conditions;
  • The use of the water for public water source; and
  • The use of water for irrigation of crops and other agricultural uses.

There are four possible classifications of Vermont surface waters: B(2) – good; B(1) very good; A(2) public water source; and A(1) excellent. All waters at or below 2,500 feet are designated Class B(2) for all uses, unless specifically designated as Class A(1), A(2), or B(1) for any use. All waters above 2,500 feet are designated Class A(1) for all uses, unless specifically designated Class A(2) for use as a public water source. All waters must continue to meet the criteria for their classification, otherwise they are then listed as impaired, and a restoration plan must be developed and implemented.

The classification structure for all surface waters is established by the legislature and individual reclassification decisions are made through rulemaking by the Agency of Natural Resources Secretary pursuant to 10 V.S.A. § 1253. The public may petition the Agency to reclassify a waterbody for any of the designated uses.

Activities in the watersheds or stream corridors of Class A(1) surface waters can be continued with the exception of the restrictions below.

Prohibitions in Class A waters:

  • A direct discharge of any wastes that, prior to treatment, contained organisms pathogenic to human beings. (10 V.S.A. § 1259)
  • New indirect discharge systems (e.g., in-ground septic system) with a design flow greater than 1,000 gallons per day. The design flow of an existing soil-based system that discharges to Class A waters may not be increased if the total design flow will exceed 1,000 gallons per day. In addition, for a permit to be issued, there must be no more than one soil-based disposal system per lot and no more than one lot per application. (10 V.S.A. § 1259)
  • The Solid Waste Management Rules prohibit siting solid waste management facilities (§ 6-702) and application of biosolids or septage (§ 6-1306) in Class A watersheds.

Current Petitions

Pursuant to 10 V.S.A. § 1253, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation received petitions to reclassify the following streams: Alder Brook and Blue Bank Brook in Ripton and Lincoln, Vermont; and Goshen Brook in Goshen, Hancock, and Ripton, Vermont. The petitions, linked below, request the streams be reclassified from B(2) to A(1) for Aquatic Biota, Aquatic Habitat, and Aesthetics Designated Uses in the Vermont Water Quality Standards.

Alder Brook - Ripton and Lincoln, Vermont

Blue Bank Brook - Ripton and Lincoln, Vermont

Goshen Brook Goshen, Hanock, and Ripton, Vermont

Public Notice and Meeting

Tuesday, March 30, 6:30 - 7:30 pm

The purpose of the public meeting is for the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and the petitioners to explain the petitions, and for the public to ask questions and comment on the petitions. Any person can submit oral or written statements and data concerning the petitions.  

The meeting was held via Microsoft Teams. Join the meeting at the scheduled time by clicking the “Join Microsoft Teams Meeting” link below or by calling 802-828-7667 and entering the Conference ID number: 668 725 898#. 

The following rules will help facilitate the meeting and minimize interruptions:

  • If you would like to verbally ask a question or comment during the meeting, please email Bethany Sargent or call 802-490-6131 by 4:00 pm on March 29, 2021. A list of names will be created chronologically from the time the request was received.
  • When you join the meeting, you will be “in the lobby” until a meeting presenter admits you into the meeting. You will be muted once you are admitted.
  • Please remain muted unless instructed otherwise. Unmuting yourself may negatively impact the audio for all meeting participants.
  • When a meeting presenter indicates it is your turn to ask a question or state your comment, unmute yourself by clicking the microphone symbol or press *6 if you called in to the meeting. Before moving to the next individual, a meeting presenter will mute your audio again.
  • Public comments can be submitted using the chat box, which will be visible to online meeting participants. If there is still time remaining in the meeting and those that requested to speak in advance have spoken, you may request to speak in the chat box. Please wait to be called on by a meeting presenter before speaking. If called on, please unmute yourself.

Comments will be accepted via email to Bethany Sargent or mail to the address above (Attn: Bethany Sargent) through Friday, April 9, 2021. We will prepare and post on this webpage responses to comments received.

Public Comments

Many comments were received in response to the stream reclassification petitions submitted by the Ripton Conservation Commission. A response to comments will be posted here in June. DEC received several comments requesting more time for out-of-state landowners to travel to Vermont, once quarantine requirements are lifted, to gather additional information related to the reclassification petitions. In response to those comments, DEC is postponing action on the petitions until October 2021, at which time a second public comment period and public meeting will be held. 

DEC will consider comments received during the spring and fall comment periods; information on the biological, chemical, and physical condition of the streams; and land use information in the watersheds in determining to initiate rulemaking to reclassify the streams in accordance with 3 V.S.A. § 806 or to deny the petitions.

Written Comments Received

Watershed Map

Alder Brook, Blue Bank Brook, and Goshen Brook

The map below depicts current Class A(1) watersheds, parcel boundaries, and watershed boundaries for the three streams the petitioner proposed for reclassification from B(2) to A(1) for aquatic biota, aquatic habitat, and asethetics. The downstream extent of the three watersheds in the map reflects the downstream extent described in the petitions. DEC staff will evaluate the length of the stream to be recommended for reclassification by analyzing the extent of biological, chemical, physical habitat, and land use information available for the watershed, which could ultimately impact the watershed boundaries.