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Towns, State Prepare To Better Manage Stormwater On Roads

Howard Weiss-Tisman
Under the state's new Clean Water Law, towns will have to apply for a state permit to show their roads are maintained to protect waterways.

Under the new Vermont Clean Water Law, cities and towns will be required to apply for a permit to verify that paved and unpaved roads are maintained to prevent stormwater runoff.

Jim Ryan from the Department of Environmental Conservation was in Brattleboro Monday talking with road crews and municipal officials about the new law.

More than 40 road crew members attended a morning session and town officials from across Windham County listened to an afternoon session.

Ryan says roads account for about 10 percent of the phosphorous running into Vermont's waterways, but roadways bring other challenges to protecting rivers, streams and lakes.

"So we keep talking about sentiment and nutrients. There's also nitrogen issues associated with road runoff," Ryan says. "We also have anti-freeze, and oil and gasoline and hydrocarbons coming from cars. And we have metals and chlorides, salts, trash. A lot of that winds up in waterways."

Municipal roads make more than 80 percent of the roads in Vermont, with state highways covering the rest.

Ryan says he is traveling around Vermont to hear about local issues and concerns as state officials draft the new rules.

"In Addison County there's a lot of big agriculture issues that road foremen are very concerned about," he says. "Up in the Northeast Kingdom there's some logging issues. So depending on where you are in the state there are different issues that may be relative to the different regions."

Ryan says municipalities will be subject to fines for not meeting the standards established in the new law.

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