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Work is underway to restore a section of the Cold River’s floodplain in Clarendon and is expected to be completed within weeks.

CLARENDON — Work is underway to restore a section of the Cold River’s floodplain, allowing the land to flood naturally so as not to cause bigger problems downstream.

The project began last week and will likely wrap up in the next fortnight, said Shannon Pytlik, river scientist with the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, on Tuesday.

Pytlik said the work mainly consists of removing a berm of sediment that has cut the river off from about 10 acres of floodplain east of Middle Road.

“The river has been dredged over time as part of post-flood recovery, because this is a highly depositional zone within the watershed,” she said. “The sediment builds up here and this area of the watershed has been highly modified over the years, it’s been channelized and dredged many times over.”

The berm being removed was created by sediment dredged from the river channel and left on site, she said. If there were no human development in the area, the Cold River would move much more than it does, she said. Because there are roads and houses present, it can’t.

“It’s not going to solve the problem completely, these homes are in a hazardous area in the landscape, but this will help take the pressure off,” she said.

The project is funded by a grant from the Clean Water Fund Grant Program, said Nanci McGuire, district manager at the Rutland Natural Resources Conservation District. The district, along with the Vermont River Conservancy, worked on planning and securing funding for the project.

“The most challenging part was the permitting and getting the landowners on board with allowing their property to flood,” said Pytlik.

“We have an easement program that I manage for the state to compensate landowners for allowing rivers to flood and deposit sediment and move onto their property; we pay a per-acre value as a public use.”

She said the paperwork portion of this project has been going on since 2017. As is often the case, it takes time to check deeds, reach agreements on easements and, for one property, dig a new well since their previous water source would be covered by the floodplain.

According to McGuire, the total cost of the project, for the work itself, easements and permitting was $95,100. Most of that was from the grant, $85,100, with a $10,000 match from the Town of Clarendon. The project was listed in the Cold River Corridor Plan, done by Fitzgerald Environmental Associates, in 2013.

K.T. Hathaway was awarded a bid to do the actual work in late June, McGuire wrote in an email.

Source: Rutland Herald