Grant to help curb local discharge problems
By Lucia Suarez
STAFF WRITER | February 14,2013
Seven towns in Rutland County are in line for a state program to detect and fix problems with stormwater discharges.
Starting early next month, a consulting team for the state Agency of Natural Resources will head to the towns of Proctor, Wallingford, West Rutland, Poultney, Benson, Castleton and Fair Haven.
The team will look for bacterial, nutrient and hazardous material discharges caused by wastewater leaking from sanitary sewer and malfunctioning septic systems into stormwater flows.
They will focus on drainage systems that discharge into the upper Otter Creek and Poultney River basins.
Jim Pease, a state environmental biologist, said the investigation is part of an ongoing regulatory process recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about 10 years ago.
He said the state worked on detecting problems in the city of Burlington before starting similar projects across the state. The projects in Rutland County were next on the list.
“We are progressing basin by basin,” he said.
Pease said ANR has found many problems across the state and is working to fix them. One of the most expensive has been a $100,000 project in Springfield. About 75 problems have been solved over the last 10 years.
Pease said most of the problems they find are homes that discharge waste into stormwater systems without their owners knowing about it.
“Nine of out 10 times, they are not deliberate,” Pease said.
The goal is to reduce surface water pollution from phosphorus and sediment in Vermont’s waterways.
The effort is funded by a $63,980 ecosystem restoration grant awarded to the Rutland Natural Resources Conservation District, which is managing the project.
District manager Nanci McGuire said bids for the project were sent out to three contractors and they are expected back at the end of the week. She said the bid winner will be announced in two weeks and work is expected to begin immediately after.
“They are just going out to find the problems, do the mapping,” McGuire said.
According to the project proposal, there are 250 to 300 stormwater outflows in these seven towns — 107 in West Rutland, 69 in Proctor and the remaining towns having fewer than 25 each.
The contractors will be out on the field throughout the summer and into the fall. A final report is due at the end of the year.
McGuire said the information collected by the contractors will be used to start fixing the problem with the use of grants.