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Another Busy Field Season Advances Science and Understanding in the Area of Water Quality

Jan 11, 2017

Starting with the oddity of a practically snowless winter, 2016 developed as a fair and consistently dry year. As always, some of our projects benefited from this year's weather conditions while others progressed more slowly due to the lack of rain.  

Nutrient Management Focused Projects Abound

Stone's varied efforts, as described below, reflect the multidimensional nature of nutrient pollution sources and transport in the environment, as well as the breadth of the Water Resources Group's capabilities. At one level, we are shining a light in buried storm sewers to identify wastewater discharges to streams and rivers. At another level, we are providing information from monitoring and planning studies that informs federal, state, and local management programs.

  • We monitored runoff from nine agricultural fields in the Lake Champlain basin, in a continuing effort to quantify the effects of conservation practices intended to reduce phosphorus, nitrogen, and sediment losses.
  • We inventoried stormwater management opportunities for several Vermont communities to identify areas of active erosion and opportunities for implementation of stormwater treatment practices. Stormwater treatment practices we designed that were constructed in 2016 included two swales at Cabot School and a bioretention area at Rumney Memorial School (shown in photo below). 

 IMG 1051

  • We worked with some of Vermont's largest companies to develop waste management alternatives intended to capture and beneficially reuse phosphorus.
  • With the Friends of Northern Lake Champlain, we operated two experimental treatment systems to reduce phosphorus loading from a tile drain on a Franklin County farm.
  • We have selected 12 tile drains in the Jewett Brook Watershed for installation of continuous flow monitoring and automated sampling stations in order to estimate the phosphorus contribution of tile to St. Albans Bay. Construction of these stations was completed just before Christmas, and instrumentation is ongoing.

In-Stream Flow Monitoring Begins in Chittenden and Franklin Counties 

In September and October, we installed gaging stations on 11 streams in Chittenden and Franklin Counties. Working with our partner, Fitzgerald Environmental Associates (FEA), we plan to collect continuous streamflow data over the next five years for Vermont DEC and nine participating towns and cities. Very low flows were seen at the stream gaging stations throughout the fall, which aided our construction efforts, particularly anchoring sensors and staff gages in the stream channels. One of these streams, Englesby Brook in Burlington, went entirely dry just in time for us to perform a major repair on a failing weir. Construction of these stations has been quite a workout, and we are confident the many thousands of pounds of steel conduit, rebar, metal strut, angle iron, and steel anchors we installed will withstand substantial abuse in these flashy streams. Prevailing dry conditions also helped us define the low flow portion of stage-discharge rating curves. The continuous (every 5 minutes) stream data we are now collecting will go online over the next month. Stone and our partner FEA have successfully embarked on this rigorous monitoring effort and expect to produce highly accurate, continuous streamflow data for DEC and the participating municipalities.

Detection and Elimination Projects Address Unknown Sources of Water Pollution 

Our illicit discharge detection and elimination projects on the whole benefited from the dry weather in 2016; fewer field days needed to be canceled due to rain events. In some cases, however, conditions became so dry that intended samples could not be collected. We worked in 23 towns in Vermont in 2016. Significant wastewater discharges were eliminated in Barre City, Montpelier, Hyde Park, Proctor, Poultney, Wallingford, and Concord. We believe we are closing in on additional wastewater discharges in Montpelier, Barre City, Proctor, Gilman, Groton, Middlebury, Plainfield, and Brandon. Once again, our experience supporting Vermont DEC and Jim Pease on these projects has reinforced to us that persistence pays. Often the process of identifying specific wastewater cross connections and leaks is full of surprises and takes longer than we would prefer, but ultimately we find the root of the problem. With DEC, Stone has now assessed and investigated illicit discharges in over 66 Vermont towns. While we recognize that new discharges are occasionally created, on balance, Stone and DEC are systematically cleaning up an underappreciated source of water pollution across Vermont.

Working Together to Tackle Your Toughest Water Quality Problems 

Stone's Water Resources scientists and engineers are pleased to be a partner with our colleagues in government, business, academia, environmental organizations, and the agricultural community. Nutrient pollution will continue to challenge us all for years to come--but we believe there is no constellation of people more knowledgeable and committed to improving water quality than the one that exists here in Vermont. We are honored to contribute to this important work, and look forward to great innovations and progress in the future.

We're Here to Help You Meet Your Water Quality Goals in 2017

Learn Who to Contact Today!

Stone's own Julie Moore is now Vermont's Secretary of Agency of Natural Resources - and she leaves a group of capable professionals to carry on Stone's important water resource work.

  • For inquiries about Stone's water resource investigation services, including field studies, water monitoring, and discharge detection work, contact Dave Braun ( 
  • For information regarding Stone's stormwater management planning, treatment practice design, and policy work, and our expertise in managing runoff from farmsteads and barnyards, contact Amy Macrellis (