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DEC Tactical Basin Plans for the Missisquoi Bay watershed and the Lamoille River watershed.  

 
These Basin Plans have become more important since the passage of the VT Clean Water Act as they will be used as a road map for DEC on where to spend money and what reaches of streams and rivers to focus on for restoration and protection.  Basically, they are the restoration plan for these watersheds for the next five years and will impact the distribution of grant money.  Also, they make recommendations for Outstanding Resource Waters, so if you can think of a candidate that is not included, we need to suggest it.
 

I know they are both in northern Vermont, but we all know the state well enough to read them and make recommendations.  Comments are due Dec 2, so we have some time, but please distribute them to Board Members and delve in.

Contact Jared Carpenter at rjaredcarpenter@gmail.com to get copies of the proposals.

Update on Waterbury Reservoir Dam by Jared Carpenter

On Tuesday afternoon, Clark and I, along with Ann from Friends of the Winooski River, Jon Groveman and Brian Fitzgerald with VNRC, and Laurie from Friends of Waterbury Reservoir met with GMP (and their engineers at Gomez & Sullivan) and staff from ANR regarding future operating conditions and timelines for upgrading Waterbury Dam. Overall, it was productive and I’m generally optimistic this is a good start. The flows look better, but the timeline got pushed back due to FERC’s delayed issuing of the license.

If you recall, FERC issued the new operating license several months ago. The final goal is to operate the dam in a run-of-river fashion with inflows matching outflows into the Little River, but there are some hurdles, so it will happen in stages. The turbines need to be replaced in order to provide a better conservation flow and be able to gradually ramp up to a lower generating flow. Also, the goal is for a stable Reservoir pool year-round. But, before stable pool and run-of-river can happen, the gates need to be replaced to the tune of $40 million, so it may be awhile before that happens.

The meeting was about timelines before this can happen. In the past, conservation flows were 13 cfs and generation was at 600+ cfs. Currently under the new license, the dam is operating at about 35 cfs for regular conservation flows and generating at about 300 cfs. All in all, this is a good turn of events, but the generating flows are lasting longer now than they did before. While the hours vary, now 300 cfs is going to be expected from about 2 pm to 10 pm. If the reservoir pool is over 590.5 feet, the generation flows will be about 425 cfs. For the near future, these will remain the dam flows.

FERC issued the license later than expected, so the construction timeline was pushed back. Under the initial timeframe, the updated equipment was to be installed by December 2017. But now, installation of the new bypass pipe and turbine will begin Sept 2017 and end April 2018. So all in all, it only pushed in back by a few months. GMP will have to raise the level of the reservoir so much it will overflow the parks (as the flow pipes will be out of commission), so the later start will not interfere with the summer season too much, but flood the parks in the fall of 2017.

But, during this time, the pipes that normally release the flows will be removed and replaced, so the higher reservoir level will allow for water to be spilled over the gates and into the spillway. During this time, the river will be true run of river, as they need to maintain a constant reservoir height, with equal flows in and out of the reservoir. Personally, I’m interested to see what flows on the Little River will be like under ‘natural’ conditions.

Also discussed were plans for recreational upgrades on the reservoir itself. The boat launches will be updated, more parking added, some facilities added, and the gated area just below the dam into the tailwater pool will be updated with more parking as well.

Looks good and I’m optimistic, but the process has taught me to be skeptical, so ask me again what I think in a few months. We will have to keep a close eye on things.


With New Law, Sewage Spills Get More Publicity
… shumlin-sewage-bill-20160504

Under a new law signed Wednesday, Vermonters will be informed within hours if any sewage is dumped or spilled into streams, rivers and lakes.  Before the new law, sewage spills caused by wastewater treatment problems or system overflows could happen for an entire day before officials were required to inform the public about the potential health hazard. Now, officials have to provide public notice within an hour of the sewage spill. Advocates hope the shorter timeline will help Vermonters avoid public health risks created by spilled sewage. Environmental Conservation Commissioner Alyssa Schuren said the new law isn’t just about the public health risks caused by sewage. Cyanobacteria, otherwise known as blue-green algae, can also be toxic to humans and pets. “In addition, this bill is also going to help as we have blue-green algae blooms, to make sure that … there’s an alert system and a website maintained also for those blooms so no one is exposed and people have the information almost as soon as we have it,” Schuren said.

The latest efforts on culvert replacement was recently broadcast by WCAX Burlington. Culvert replacement in Vermont is essential to allow fish
passage to get to their spawning grounds and cooler waters during the Summer…  Check out the story here.

We are finally doing it!!
Yes, the MDTU Fly Tying Class!
We begin on Thursday March 24th and go for classes on 3/24, 3/31, 4/14 and 4/21.
The 4/7 date is our Chapter meeting and those who wish to tie can choose to have the class on 4/7 if you wish.
Cost is $40 / person.
It is open to the public.
The class meets at the Waterbury Village Fire Station at 6:30 to 8:30.

MadDog Chapter of Trout Unlimited Monthly Meeting
(And … RAFFLE!)
Thursday, March 3.
Meeting from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Join us for dinner on your own at 6:00 p.m.
At the Steak House Restaurant,
Barre-Montpelier Road, Barre, VT.
Featuring …
Joe Norton, Trout Unlimited Project Manager, Upper CT Home Rivers Initiative
For an update on restoration and research of the
Upper Connecticut River and Nulhegan Rivers.
And, Save the Date!
The 2016 MadDog Banquet, Auction and Raffle is
April 30, 2016
At the Commodore’s Inn, Stowe, VT.
See you March 3 for the MadDog Monthly Meeting.
And … RAFFLE!

New FERC License for the Waterbury Hydro Project.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC, issued the long awaited license for the Waterbury Hydro Project, i.e. Little River and the Waterbury Reservoir. This license has been in process since the late 90’s! The new license takes effect within 30 days of the issuance which was Friday 2/1/16. The license includes 3 stages for flow requirements from the hydro facility. The 1st stage isn’t much different then the current state of affairs. The low flow about 33 CFS and high flow at over 600 with no ramping. This includes a winter drawdown of the Rez. By 12/31/17 the new turbine and bypass valve must be in place, which will allow for ramping flows and a lower peak flow just over 300 cfs with low flow of 60 cdc, certainly a better state for the river. However, the winter drawdown remains in place. At Stage 3, after the major project of replacing the “tainted gates” at the dam is managed the river will be “run-of-river’ with a stable rez level. We should all live long enough to see stage 3…

FERC License for Waterbury Hydro 021916

Damnation Movie showings this upcoming season!

You are invited to join us for an amazing evening focused on river health. DamNation is an award winning, riveting film that sheds a new light on America’s dams. Admission is free so invite your friends and neighbors.

Here in Vermont our dams may not be considered big but they are plentiful–there are over 1,000 dams on Vermont’s waterways. An estimated 200 of these are considered “deadbeat” dams, meaning that they serve no utility or purpose. The Nature Conservancy and its partners are working to remove “deadbeat” dams from Vermont’s waterways. Join us for an engaging discussion about restoring our rivers and streams.

http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/vermont/events/damnation-comes-to-a-town-near-you.xml

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