Ahead of the Storm

Ahead of the Storm (AOTS) is the culmination of all programmatic areas in which Lewis Creek Association works. AOTS ties data collection, planning, restoration, and education together to act as a holistic tool for identifying and addressing water quality problems and habitat enhancement in the LaPlatte River watershed.

The goal of the AOTS program is to showcase examples of positive land stewardship throughout the LaPlatte watershed region. Ahead of the Storm strives to not only meet current water quality standards and permits, but surpass them when site conditions allow. These "Optimal Conservation Practices" (OCPs) act as a strategy for climate adaptation, and will be able to treat larger volumes of stormwater. Increased stormwater runoff from driveways, fields, parking areas and lawns is a major factor in the deterioration of our streams and lakes. The Ahead of the Storm introduction packet provides more background information and details. Visit our Resource Library to view the full suite of Ahead of the Storm materials currently available.

The Silver Street Rain Garden in Hinesburg after installation

The Silver Street Rain Garden in Hinesburg after installation

Locations that have a high public profile and are easy to access, showcase a variety of land uses, and are based on water quality data collected by the South Chittenden River Watch (SCRW) are selected to be Ahead of the Storm sites. Sites with high nutrient pollution that drain large areas of land, and that are highly visible by the community, are selected to showcase how nutrient pollution can be mitigated on a range of land uses. 

Currently, 16 demonstration sites are in design or implementation stages. Design plans, site details, and project costs are available so that these practices can be replicated by community members like you.


LCA was awarded three grants in spring 2019 from LCBP to advance our projects in the Ahead of the Storm program. The Shelburne Community School rain garden was completed at the end of June 2019! This project, begun in 2017, will treat water runoff from the parking lot and roof at SCS, to improve water quality flowing into McCabe’s Brook then into Lake Champlain. Students and teachers were involved this fall in finishing plantings in the rain garden, and are receiving classroom time for education, under a separate education and outreach LCBP grant. Check out our article in the Shelburne News for more information on this project, or view these two short clips from WCAX news on the rain garden and the subsequent fall plantings.

The completed Shelburne Community School rain garden

The completed Shelburne Community School rain garden

LCA has received a LCBP grant to implement two more water quality improvement projects at Champlain Valley School District (CVSD) schools. One is a filter strip and plantings off the east parking lot at Shelburne Community School, and the other is swale improvements, a filter strip, and plantings off the north parking lot at Champlain Valley Union High School. These projects will likely be completed over the summer of 2020, with the support of the CVSD. Students at these schools, and others in the school district, received classroom visits in the fall of 2019 to educate them on stormwater and involve them in the final design of these projects (under an additional LCBP education and outreach grant awarded to LCA in 2019). This education/outreach grant resulted in a packet of information to be used for educating students, and provided funding for training of community members and teachers in how to use this material and teach with it.

Finally, LCA recently completed a study, in conjunction with the town of Shelburne, to design water quality improvement projects in the Lower McCabe’s Brook watershed. This project looked at a variety of potential areas for water quality improvement projects, and chose those on two town-owned parcels adjacent to McCabe’s Brook to advance to a concept design. These sites are across Harbor Road from each other: at the Wastewater Treatment Plant on Turtle Lane and at Davis Park on School Street. You can learn more about these two projects from this press release.

Thanks to grant funding through the Lake Champlain Basin Program in 2018, Lewis Creek Association was able to summarize the AOTS demonstration site information into simple two-page summaries. We used these updated documents to develop two self-guided tours (in Charlotte and Hinesburg) and a survey that will help us track the effectiveness of the Ahead of the Storm program. If you want more detailed technical information, please visit the resource library to learn more about each demonstration site including site assessments, designs, and construction summaries.