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Otter Creek Basin Planning

Executive Summary from 2012

This river basin water quality management plan (plan) provides an overview of the surface waters in the Otter Creek Basin and a description of ongoing and future steps to restore and protect those waters. With the purpose of improving both water quality and aquatic habitat, this plan presents the recommendations of local watershed residents, stakeholders from varying interests, the Agency of Natural Resources (VANR) and professionals from other State and federal agencies to guide efforts in the basin over the next five years. The primary action items are provided in detail in the Chapter 4 implementation tables. The tables include the strategies that address existing and potential threats to surface waters in the basin. The tables’ strategies are expected to be revised over the life of the plan as new information is obtained and priorities identified.

The Otter Creek Basin includes all surface waters that flow into the Otter Creek. The Otter Creek Basin or Basin 3 consists of the Otter Creek watershed plus the watersheds of Lewis Creek and Little Otter Creek, which drain directly to Lake Champlain. The headwaters of the Otter Creek originate in Bennington County where the mainstem is formed by waters flowing down from the Green Mountain National Forest and travels north approximately 100 miles to its mouth in Addison County where it flows into Lake Champlain in the town of Ferrisburgh. The Otter Creek watershed encompasses an area that is 936 square miles draining portions of Bennington, Rutland and Addison counties.

The extensive network of rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and wetlands in the Otter Creek Basin support many uses including swimming, boating and fishing. Impairments and threats to these uses in the basin include: sedimentation, siltation, turbidity, habitat alterations, nutrients, thermal modifications, flow alterations and metals as well as physical instability and river corridor encroachment.

The top ten priority strategies (unranked) in this management plan follow:

1. Implement steps to address the Bacterial TMDL for the Lewis Creek, Little Otter Creek, Middlebury River, and Otter Creek.

2. Complete stormwater system mapping and illicit discharge detection for Brandon, Middlebury, Pittsford, Rutland Town, Rutland City, and Vergennes.

3. Work with the nine towns that have not received a Better Backroad Grant to apply for funding to address road- related water quality problems.

4. Identify culvert replacement projects for headwater areas, including Class 4 road systems that will improve geomorphic stability of the stream as well as improve fish passage.

5. Promote existing programs such as CREP that provide incentives for fencing, watering tanks and other agricultural best management practices in targeted areas.

6. Work with towns to protect river corridors and promote flood resiliency by establishing Fluvial Erosion Hazard zones and buffer zones in local zoning.

7. Identify wetlands on agricultural lands for phosphorus retention, and in the river corridor for sediment attenuation, prioritize and conserve and/or restore.

8. Hold an annual Vermont Invasive Patrollers (VIP) training to support the establishment of VIP programs for lakes and ponds in the basin.

9. Encourage use of rivers and lakes in the basin to increase people’s appreciation.

10. Assist towns to address aging wastewater treatment facilities and associated sewer pipes through the Clean Water Act Revolving State Funds and other funding programs.

About the Basin

The Otter Creek Basin includes all surface waters that flow into the Otter Creek. The Otter Creek Basin or Basin 3 consists of the Otter Creek watershed plus the watersheds of Lewis Creek and Little Otter Creek, which drain directly to Lake Champlain. The headwaters of the Otter Creek originate in Bennington County where the mainstem is formed by waters flowing down from the Green Mountain National Forest and travels north approximately 100 miles to its mouth in Addison County where it flows into Lake Champlain in the town of Ferrisburgh.

Otter Creek Basin Details

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