Watershed and Water Quality Planning

Surface and groundwater are interconnected, and both are directly affected by land use.  Vermont is blessed with beautiful meandering rivers and streams that are filled with clean water. But there are threats to water quality throughout the state and the TRORC region with many opportunities for improvement.

Proper planning can prevent poor water quality.  In general, development that is set back up and away from rivers and streams  lessens the contamination of surface waters with polluted runoff and reduces the potential for flooding and erosion of development areas. Rivers, brooks, and streams are dynamic and changing natural phenomenon. They often flood due to snow runoff and during high intensity rain events, and their course and direction will change over time. The best way to avoid endangering development is to avoid constructing it in areas that are vulnerable to river dynamism

See the Vermont Department of Conservation’s Watershed Management Division’s blog regarding water related activities and work being done across the state.



Stormwater  is any form of precipitation, including rain and snow, which runs off the land. Usually this water either infiltrates the soil, where it is absorbed as groundwater, or runs off the landscape towards surface water. 

Human development, more specifically the construction of impervious surfaces, prevents stormwater runoff from effectively infiltrating the ground. High impervious surface area and unmanaged stormwater runoff cause many detrimental effects. These include more concentrated pollutants and sediment within the runoff as well as flow alterations in river bodies, such as channel erosion, channel instability, restriction of stream access to floodplains, and channel incision. These river corridor alterations result in decreased water quality and increased flooding, which threatens houses and roads, and jeopardizes the resiliency of communities.

The effects of runoff and stormwater can be lessened through designs and plans to “slow it, spread it, sink it” including the use of Low Impact Development Principles and Green Infrastructure.

For more information on stormwater management, visit the following pages:

Stormwater Management Plans

Statewide City and Village Stormwater Mapping

Sample Stormwater Plans with Rural Road Focus

Required Agricultural Practices for water quality

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets recently adopted a rule amendment to the Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) that addresses nutrient contributions from surface tile drainage on agricultural fields. See the following links to find more information on RAPs and to read the rule amendment.

RAPs General Information

RAP Rule Summary

New Amendment

RAP Farm Size Fact Sheet

What Size Farm Am I? Factsheet

Surface Water vs Ditch

TRORC’s Jessica Richter completed work on mapping the locations of farm and agricultural operations in the TRORC region. These maps include locations of farms in the White, Ottauquechee, Black watersheds, as well as the brooks that drain directly into the Connecticut River. Jessica utilized existing databases of farm resources to catalog farm ownership and location. She then mapped these locations by subwatershed across the TRORC region.

The project features a partnership with the White River Natural Resources Conservation District, who will utilize the locations of farms to focus her outreach efforts to agricultural landowners regarding Vermont’s Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs). Marina Welch, the district manager will be working with farmers to implement best agricultural best management practices (BMPs) on their farms to reduce runoff and nutrient contamination in streams in waterways.


Flood Regulations

TRORC can assist towns with flood regulations and incorporating policies that protect water into town plans and local bylaws including the new river corridor regulations.

Tactical Basin Planning

Watershed basins are areas of land off of which all water that drains collects in the same place. TRORC is involved in the state basin planning process. These Tactical Basin Plans describe the current conditions in the streams, brooks, and rivers in each basin, they detail the problems that need to be addressed throughout the watershed, and they develop projects to restore river functionality and improve water quality. There are three primary watersheds in TRORC’s region

Water Related Conservation Organizations

See http://www.trorc.org/programs/conservation/ for a full list of Conservation Organizations