Explore the Lake Champlain Basin

Your environment - the land, river, streams and lakes - all work together to process, filter and otherwise manage rainwater.

Over time, these areas can be polluted, erode, or otherwise fill with sediment or other materials, causing both short and long-term problems in the environment.

What is a Watershed?

A watershed is an area of land that drains all the streams and rainfall to a common outlet such as the outflow of a reservoir, mouth of a bay, or any point along a stream channel. The word watershed is sometimes used interchangeably with drainage basin or catchment.

Ridges and hills that separate two watersheds are called the drainage divide.

The watershed consists of surface water–lakes, streams, reservoirs, and wetlands–and all the underlying ground water. Larger watersheds contain many smaller watersheds. It all depends on the outflow point; all of the land that drains water to the outflow point is the watershed for that outflow location.

Watersheds are important because the streamflow and the water quality of a river are affected by things, human-induced or not, happening in the land area “above” the river-outflow point.

Click the checkboxes below and take a look at the watershed you live in, as well as impaired rivers and streams around your neighborhood.

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Stream Monitoring

Stream monitoring is an important component of stormwater mitigation. Each year, volunteers are needed to take water samples from various local streams. These samples are sent to a lab and analyzed.

Where do we monitor?

The data collected through stream monitoring helps to guide our project selection process. Volunteers are recruited in the late spring and trained before testing begins in early summer. We currently monitor Chloride, Phosphorus and Turbidity in the following streams:

What do we monitor?

Consistent data related to water quality and quantity allows stormwater managers to better assess the state of our waters and develop solutions that will have a lasting positive effect.  Volunteers are typically used to collect samples at a variety of locations along a stream or within a watershed. On occasion, volunteers may also gather visual data as to the condition of a stream. Data collected in this way may include presence or absence of riparian buffers, streambank stability, and presence of litter or trash.

Sodium Chloride

Chloride is a component of salt found naturally in minerals and in oceans. Elevated chloride levels in surface waters can lead to poor health and reduced reproduction in aquatic species, according to the Vermont Surface Water Management Strategy. The sources of chloride in water include road deicing salts, wastewater form industries and municipalities, and leachate from landfills.

Phosphorus

Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for plants and animals in the aquatic food web and is naturally limited in most fresh waters; therefore, even a modest increase can set off a chain of undesirable events. Such events include algal blooms, accelerated plant growth, low dissolved oxygen, and death of aquatic animals. Phosphorus naturally occurs in soils and rocks. Additional phosphorus enters waterways through runoff from wastewater treatment plants fertilized lawns and cropland, failing septic systems, animal manure storage areas, pet waste and from erosion.

Turbidity

The turbidity of a water sample refers to its cloudiness. This measurement is based on the amount of algae, microbes, and sediment suspended in the water. Turbidity measurements can be used as an indicator for erosion and/or nutrient concentration. Higher turbidity levels can indicate a higher chance of disease-causing organisms being present.

Why do we monitor?

Consistent data related to water quality and quantity allows stormwater managers to better assess the state of our waters and develop solutions that will have a lasting positive effect.  Volunteers are typically used to collect samples at a variety of locations along a stream or within a watershed. On occasion, volunteers may also gather visual data as to the condition of a stream. Data collected in this way may include presence or absence of riparian buffers, streambank stability, and presence of litter or trash.