Town obtains money for stormwater plan

Nov. 24, 2010

By Greg Duggan
Observer staff

The town of Williston has obtained a grant meant to help develop a comprehensive stormwater management plan as the community grows.

The $49,000 from the Vermont Center for Clean and Clear Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program, along with a $2,000 in-kind match from Williston, will pay for the first phase of a two-part project. Town Planner Jessica Andreoletti said Williston will work with Essex Junction-based Herbert, Rowland & Grubic Inc. to compose a stormwater plan. The ultimate goal for the town is to ensure that development in the growth center area around Taft Corners does not occur at the expense of two sensitive waterways — Muddy Brook and Allen Brook.

“We need to come up with a plan now or improve the plan we have,” Andreoletti said. “We want a plan to make sure we’re moving in the right direction.”

Andreoletti said Williston began its stormwater management plan in 2003, and updated it in 2008.

“This project will better define Williston’s stormwater management plan,” Andreoletti said.

A timeline submitted with Williston’s grant application outlined the first phase of the project, which will take place through June 2011. Next month, work will revolve around gathering existing data and reviewing existing plans. In January, the project will compile a list of problem areas and begin developing watershed models. April will be spent visiting problem areas and collecting field data. In June, the project will wrap up its watershed modeling and produce a draft of the stormwater master plan.

Andreoletti said the town will have to apply next year for funding for the second phase of the project. Phase 2 will include the modeling of problem areas and developing solutions and costs, as well as issuing the final version of the stormwater plan.

“The idea is to get a comprehensive look at water quality and stream health in town,” said Jim Pease of the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Clean and Clear section. Pease has worked with Williston as the town’s contact for the grant. “Hopefully it will lead to a better approach for the town in resolving these issues.”

Pease said Williston was one of 20 applicants chosen from a pool of 60 to receive grant funding. The Clean and Clear grant program had approximately $600,000 available, Pease said. Andreoletti said Williston submitted its application in October, and received word this month that it would receive a grant.

Williston’s stormwater management plan will likely focus on Muddy and Allen Brooks. The state already lists Allen Brook as an impaired waterway, though Williston has been making progress toward taking the stream off that list.

Pease explained that the grant will help the town take more steps toward reducing sediment pollution in the Allen Brook and controlling the flow of water through the stream.

While Muddy Brook is not impaired, Andreoletti and Pease noted that it flows through a heavily developed portion of Williston. A stormwater management plan would help guide future development to protect the brook.

Protecting the streams will benefit the broader ecosystem, as well. The brooks connect with the Winooski River, which eventually flows into Lake Champlain. Limiting pollution in Williston’s streams would reduce the amount of phosphorous, sediment and other pollutants that reach Champlain.

“Hopefully we’ll jumpstart the discussion of how to deal with all these problems,” Pease said.