Did you know that the water running into the Shelburne Village and School St. Neighborhood storm drains flows directly into McCabe’s Brook, untreated? Anything it takes with it - road salt, oil, fertilizer, etc. - ends up directly in the brook, and from there, in Lake Champlain. Lower McCabe’s Brook is listed as state impaired for aquatic life support due to nutrient pollution. The brook also has documented erosion, elevated turbidity and nutrient concentrations during low flow conditions (South Chittenden River Watch/VT DEC, 2016). Nutrients like these can cause serious algal blooms (including harmful blue-green algae) in the lake, and can lead to fish die-offs. Chloride (which is in road salt) is also bad for the environment, and can kill off plants. So, what can we do about this problem? The Town of Shelburne and the Lewis Creek Association (LCA) are working together to improve the quality of stormwater leaving the Village.
The Lewis Creek Association (LCA) has worked with citizens, municipalities and the State of Vermont for more than twenty years to solve water quality problems and protect habitat in the Shelburne, Charlotte, Hinesburg, Starksboro, Monkton and Ferrisburgh communities. This work is possible through the help of generous donations from concerned citizens along with crucial town partnerships, grants and volunteer involvement.
Residents’ alarm about the serious decline of Lake Champlain's health sparked the “Ahead of the Storm” (AOTS) program of LCA in 2014. Stormwater runoff from driveways, fields, parking areas and lawns is a major factor in the deterioration of our water quality. AOTS helps communities change the way stormwater is managed on properties to reduce water pollution and be more prepared for extreme weather events. Fourteen municipal, commercial, and private properties were selected to become demonstration sites of optimal conservation practices across a variety of landscape settings.
Three grants awarded to LCA recently are facilitating solutions to these stormwater runoff problems in Shelburne. One grant, from Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), allowed LCA to examine potential stormwater treatment options in the Lower McCabe’s Brook watershed, in particular on two town-owned parcels adjacent to McCabe’s Brook. These sites are across Harbor Road from each other: at the Wastewater Treatment Plant on Turtle Lane and at Davis Park on School Street. To learn more about the proposed designs at these two sites, please visit http://www.lewiscreek.org/ahead-of-the-storm. A tour will be held this fall to view the AOTS projects in the Shelburne area. Maps are available for self-guided tours in Hinesburg and Charlotte, as well.
As part of the match for this grant, a bioretention area (“rain garden”) was constructed at Shelburne Community School in late June (in the circle where the buses drop off) to treat runoff from existing impervious surfaces (parking lots and rooftops). Two other AOTS stormwater improvement projects at schools will be built next year thanks to a Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) grant: at SCS (off the east parking lot) and at CVU (off the north parking lot).
The third grant, also from LCBP, will allow LCA to hold stormwater training sessions this fall for community members and teachers. This grant will also fund classroom visits with an engineer to educate students on previous and possible future water quality and resiliency projects on their campuses.
If you are interested in learning and teaching about stormwater, or to get involved with any of LCA’s projects, please reach out to Kate Kelly, Program Coordinator for Lewis Creek Association, at email@example.com.