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. Find where you live and see which stream, rivers and watersheds are impaired or damaged.

Map your address on the map 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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What is an 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.

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.

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:

Why 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. The current water quality standard for chloride is 230 mg/L. The highest chloride concentration measured by the Stream Team was found at Centennial Brook in 2016, with a reading of 535.5 mg/L

Average Sodium Chloride in Monitored Streams, 2012-2017

Sodium Chloride is measured in mg/L, with a chronic standard of  230 mg/L.

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.

The Vermont Water Quality Standards currently set no specific standard for phosphorus levels in Class B waters below 2500 feet in elevation. The State of Vermont has proposed amendments to the water quality standards to set a limit of 27 µg/L for Class B warm water medium-gradient streams. Phosphorus concentrations exceed the proposed standards at most sites measured.

Average Phosphorus in Monitored Streams, 2012-2017

Phosphorus is measured in ug/L, with a chronic standard of  27 ug/L.

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. The Vermont Water Quality Standards state that turbidity should not exceed 10 NTU (nepholometric turbidity units) in cold-water fish habitat and 25 NTU in warm-water fish habitat. The highest turbidity levels observed were in Morehouse Brook in 2013, with a measurement of 182 NTU, however the annual average measurement for 2013 was 41.4 NTU.

Average Turbidity in Monitored Streams, 2012-2017

Turbidity is measured in NTU, with a chronic standard of  25 NTU.