Lewis Creek Association, town work to improve village stormwater quality

KATE KELLY, MARTY ILLICK and JESSICA LOUISOS
Lewis Creek Association

Did you know that the water running into Shelburne Village and School Street neighborhood storm drains flows directly into McCabe’s Brook untreated? Anything it takes with it — road salt, oil, fertilizer, etc. — ends up directly in the brook, and from there, Lake Champlain.

Lower McCabe’s Brook is listed as state impaired for aquatic life support due to nutrient pollution. The brook has documented erosion, elevated turbidity and nutrient concentrations during low flow conditions. Nutrients like these can cause serious algal blooms, including harmful blue-green algae, in the lake, and can lead to fish die-offs.

Chloride, which is in road salt, is also bad for the environment, and can kill plants.

The Town of Shelburne and the Lewis Creek Association, a non-profit conservation group, are working together to improve the quality of stormwater leaving the village.

Residents’ alarm about the serious decline of Lake Champlain’s health sparked the Lewis Creek Association’s program Ahead of the Storm in 2014. As stormwater runoff from driveways, fields, parking areas and lawns is a major factor in the deterioration of water quality, Ahead of the Storm helps communities change the way stormwater is managed on properties to reduce water pollution and be prepared for extreme weather events.

Fourteen municipal, commercial and private properties were selected to become demonstration sites of optimal conservation practices across a variety of landscape settings.

Three grants recently awarded to the Lewis Creek Association are facilitating solutions to these stormwater runoff problems in Shelburne.

A grant from Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation allowed the association to examine potential stormwater treatment options in the Lower McCabe’s Brook watershed, in particular on two town-owned parcels adjacent to the brook. These sites are across Harbor Road from each other, the wastewater treatment plant on Turtle Lane and Davis Park on School Street. To learn more about the proposed designs at these sites, visit lewiscreek.org/ahead-of-the-storm. A tour will be held this fall to view these projects. In addition, maps are available for self-guided tours of projects in Hinesburg and Charlotte.

As part of the match for the above grant, a bioretention area, “rain garden,” was constructed at Shelburne Community School in late June. It treats runoff from existing impervious surfaces such as parking lots and rooftops.

Additional Ahead of the Storm improvement projects will be built next year with the support of a grant from the Lake Champlain Basin Program. These will be off the east parking lot at Shelburne Community School and off the north parking lot at Champlain Valley Union High School.

A third grant from the Lake Champlain Basin Program supports Lewis Creek Association’s stormwater training sessions scheduled this fall for community members and teachers. This grant also funds classroom visits with an engineer to educate students on previous and possible future water quality and resiliency projects on their campuses.

For information, visit lewiscreek.org.

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