Stream Reclassification


Overview

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 Meeting and Comment Period Notice

October 7, 2021, 5:30 - 7:30 pm

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 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. .

A public meeting is scheduled Thursday, October 7, 2021, 5:30 – 7:30 pm. The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation is seeking public comments on the petitions. Any person can submit oral or written statements and data concerning the petitions. The meeting facilitator may fix reasonable limits on the time allowed for oral statements. The meeting will be held at the Community House, 1305 Vermont Route 125, Ripton, and online via Microsoft Teams. To join the meeting remotely, click “Join Microsoft Teams Meeting” at the scheduled time or call 802-828-7667 and enter the Conference ID number: 366 905 447#. Note: the call-in option provides audio only.

The following guidelines will help facilitate participation in the meeting:

  • If you would like to comment during the meeting, please send an email to bethany.sargent@vermont.gov or call 802-490-6131 by 4:00 pm on October 6, 2021. A list of names will be created chronologically from the time the request was received. There will also be a sign-up sheet at the meeting, or you can indicate you’d like to comment in the Microsoft Teams chat box after joining.
  • If you are joining the meeting via Microsoft Teams, you will be “in the lobby” until a meeting facilitator 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 facilitator 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.

If you would like to submit a comment after the meeting has ended, comments will be accepted via email to Bethany Sargent (please use "Stream Reclassification Public Comment" in the subject line) or mail to the following address by 4:00 pm on Monday, October 18, 2021:

Attn: Bethany Sargent
Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation
Watershed Management Division
1 National Life Drive, Davis 3
Montpelier, VT 05620-3522

Tuesday, March 30, 2021, 6:30 - 7:30 pm

 


Response to Comments

Several comments were received during the first public comment period, which ended April 9, 2021, on the stream reclassification petitions submitted by the Ripton Conservation Commission. 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

The document linked below contains excerpts of selected comments organized under summary statements. In some cases, a single response addresses similar comments that are grouped together. These initial responses address comments and questions about the reclassification process and its implications. As noted above, a second comment period and public meeting will be held in October 2021.


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.