On March 28, 2013 the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources announced the approval of the Missisquoi Bay Basin water quality management plan. This plan reflects years of work in the Missisquoi Bay Basin to evaluate the health of the basin. Secretary Markowitz commented on the achievement, saying, “I am proud of the work done by our basin planner Karen Bates and other agency staff. Her excellent work with the communities in the Missisquoi Bay Basin has resulted in a plan that will allow Vermont to protect and improve the water quality in the area for years to come.”
The Missisquoi Bay Basin water quality management plan provides an overview of the health of the basin and a description of the priority future and ongoing steps to restore and protect the quality of its surface waters. Karen Bates said, “In this plan we focused on both improvement of water quality and also the health of the aquatic habitat that is vital to our fisheries. We could not have completed this work alone. I am pleased to report that this plan reflects the recommendations of local watershed groups, residents, a variety of stakeholders, the Agency of Natural Resources and natural resource professionals from other state and federal agencies.”
The central component of the water quality management plan is the implementation table, which includes specific actions to address threats to surface waters in the basin. Examples of some of the priority actions in the plan include implementing steps to reduce bacteria in Berry, Godin and Samsonville Brooks; evaluating the feasibility of removing the Swanton Dam to improve fish habitat; augmenting stormwater system mapping and addressing 13 suspected illicit discharges identified in the towns of Enosburg Falls, North Troy, Richford and Swanton; supporting stormwater master planning and reduction in Swanton, Highgate, Enosburg Village and Falls, and Richford; assisting municipal road foremen with the identification and remediation of erosion from town roads by promoting Better Backroad grants; using the Critical Source Area study funded by the Lake Champlain Basin Program to reduce phosphorus from identified critical sources; and including protections for fluvial erosion hazard zones and buffer zones in local zoning.
Neil Kamman, program manager for the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Monitoring, Assessment and Planning Program, said, “This is the first of three plans the Agency will issue this spring, all of which reflect a transition to the new Tactical Basin Planning Process. In the coming weeks, citizens in the South Lake Champlain and White River watersheds of Vermont will have opportunities to engage in the tactical planning process by providing input to draft plans and assisting with new plans. The Agency is increasingly reliant on tactical basin plans to direct funding to the highest priority work that addresses stressors to our surface waters.”
The draft plan was released for public comment on December 6, 2012 and meetings were held on January 3rd and January 8th 2013 to receive public comment. Public comments have been addressed in a responsiveness summary – Appendix E of the plan. The final plan and appendix are available online at http://www.watershedmanagement.vt.gov/ or by contacting Karen Bates at (802) 879-2339 or firstname.lastname@example.org.