Public invited to participate in clean water meetings

For the thousands of people who use the Winooski River watershed’s lakes, ponds, wetlands and streams, now is the chance to play a meaningful role in cleaning and protecting the water.

The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation is hosting a series of public meetings to provide updates and gather feedback on its Draft Winooski River Tactical Basin Plan.

For those who missed the first meeting Tuesday at the Williston Police Department, another opportunity is coming Oct. 17 at 5 p.m. at the Act 250 conference room at 111 West Street in Essex Junction.

“The Winooski River Tactical Basin Plan is an important tool in protecting this valued watershed,” said Charlie Baker, Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission executive director. “We’re asking Vermonters from all corners of the Winooski watershed to join us in reviewing the draft plan. Their ideas and feedback will help guide our work over the next five years and, ultimately, reach our clean water goals.”

The Winooski River Basin includes all of Washington County, roughly half of Chittenden County and small parts of Lamoille and Orange counties. The plan outlines a series of actions the state, towns and local organizations will take to improve the watershed. It also provides information about how landowners, organizations and communities can access clean water funding and technical assistance.

“The Plan lets us get a pulse on the current health of the Winooski River Basin and allows us to determine which actions will deliver the greatest return on our investments,”said Karen Bates, DEC watershed planner.

The plan addresses phosphorous reduction and other high-priority stressors like channel erosion and invasive species such as Eurasian water milfoil.