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Water: Nonpoint Source Success Stories

Vermont: Adams Brook

Stream Restored Through Improved Agricultural Practices and Erosion Control Work

Waterbody | Problem | Project Highlights | Results | Partners & Funding

Waterbody Improved

Sediment and nutrients in agricultural, roadway, and parking lot runoff degraded Adams Brook's biological communities and resulted in the waterbody being listed on Vermont's section 303(d) list of impaired waters. The installation of several best management practices, including improvements to a manure storage facility and erosion control work in several areas, resulted in improved water quality and allowed Adams Brook to be removed from the 303(d) list in 2004.

 

Contact:

Eric Perkins
(perkins.eric@epa.gov)
EPA Region 1
617-918-1602

Rick Hopkins
(rick.hopkins@state.vt.us)
VT DEC Nonpoint
  Source Program
802-241-3769

Steve Fiske
(steve.fiske@state.vt.us)
VT DEC Biomonitoring
  Program
802-241-1378


 
Adams Brook

Ditch near Adams Brook prior to being lined with rock. Rock lining reduced sedimentation into Adams Brook.

 
Adams Brook

Geomorphic instability and an unauthorized culvert (upstream of the location in this photo) caused heavy erosion and the dumping of rock piles at the culvert shown here. Removing the unauthorized culvert helped to address the instability and reduce the water quality impacts on Adams Brook.

 

Problem

Adams Brook, a 3.5-mile stream in the central Vermont town of Randolph, is a tributary within the White River Basin. The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VT DEC) classifies Adams Brook as a Class B water, a designation defined as "suitable for bathing and recreation, irrigation and agricultural uses; good fish habitat; good aesthetic value; acceptable for public water supply with filtration and disinfection."

In 1997, VT DEC monitored macroinvertebrates in Adams Brook using the EPT index, which measures the presence of pollution-sensitive aquatic insects in a waterbody. The index assumes that streams showing high EPT richness are less likely to be polluted than streams showing relatively low EPT richness in the same geographic region. In addition, VT DEC measured Adams Brook's biotic integrity (BI). Monitoring results from both indices indicated that Adams Brook failed to meet Vermont's Class B water quality standards for aquatic life support.

As a result of these findings, the state placed Adams Brook on Vermont's 303(d) list of impaired waters in 1998. Two VT DEC surveys and a concurrent White River Basin planning process indicated that the impairment was caused by nutrient and sediment loads coming from a nearby farm, poorly protected roadside ditches, and certain stretches of badly eroding streambanks.

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Project Highlights

In 1998, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets worked with a local farmer to plug a leak in the farm's manure storage pit. They also expanded the pit size to better accommodate the volume and type of animal waste being generated. These actions helped to significantly reduce nutrient loading to the waterbody. Other activities helped to reduce sedimentation. In 2001, VT DEC secured the removal of an unauthorized culvert at an upstream tributary, thereby reducing the erosive force of stormwater in the channel. During the summer of 2002, the Vermont Agency of Transportation lined the eroding roadway ditches with stone and stabilized erosion at a nearby parking lot. All these actions contributed to bringing the stream into compliance with Vermont's water quality standards.

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Results

Macroinvertebrate sampling in 2001 showed improvements in EPT taxa richness and BI, allowing Adams Brook to be assessed as "good" and attaining water quality standards. However, a waterbody cannot be removed from the state's impaired list until 2 years of biological monitoring data indicate compliance with water quality standards.

Consequently, Adams Brook was reassessed in 2002 and evaluated to be in "very good" condition, exhibiting only minor differences from nearby reference streams. The EPT richness remained well above the guideline for Class B waters (though down somewhat from the 2001 sampling period) and the BI value was significantly lower (better) than the previous two sampling years.

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Partners and Funding

This project included financial and technical support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets for improvements to the animal waste storage facility. These improvements were also funded in part by the farm producer. The Vermont Agency of Transportation protected roadside ditches and established parking area erosion control measures. All the improvement and protection work was facilitated by the broader White River Basin planning process, which was managed by VT DEC and supported, in part, with approximately $50,000 in section 319 funding.

Adams Brook Biomonitoring Results
Sampling Site Date
 
Assessment Rating
 
EPT
 
BI
 
1.5 9/16/1997 Fair 15.0 4.77
1.5 9/10/2001 Good 23.0 4.30
1.5 10/2/2002 Very Good 19.0 2.14
  Class B Guideline > 16.0    < 4.50   

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