RRPC to map water quality and culverts
By Lucia Suarez
STAFF WRITER | February 20,2013
The Rutland Regional Planning Commission will begin mapping out water quality and culvert assessments across 15 towns in western Rutland and Bennington counties next month.
The project is part of an ongoing effort to improve water quality in the region and will focus on the Poultney/Mettawee River Basin and the Lower Lake Champlain Direct Basin.
Steve Schild, geographic information system (GIS) manager for RRPC, said the commission will start collecting data in the first week of March, though it will probably wait until snow melts before sending people into the field. Work will continue through the summer and the findings will be presented in August or September.
“It’s a data-collection process,” he said. “We are going through the data and will pull the really bad culverts. We will then help towns seek grants so they are repaired.”
Schild said they will work with road foremen from the towns to identify culverts near the watershed basins and determine which are worse for wear.
“They know about the culverts better than anyone,” he said. “There is a need for this kind of data.”
The team will use a GIS to map environmental data including wetlands, saturated soils, flood zones, erosion hazard zones, drinking water wells, water quality and past restoration projects.
“It will be a quick inventory of water features,” Schild said.
They will also use a hand-held global positioning system (GPS) that, according to Schild, will allow for very accurate coordinates and maps.
Once the data is collected, it will be sent to the state Agency of Transportation for its records. The data will also be integrated into town plans and the county’s regional plan.
“The bottom line is this will be good help in trying plans together in the county,” Schild said.
The project is funded by a federal Clean Water Act grant and administered by the state Department Environmental Conservation. Schild said the state will use the grant for different projects every year.