Upper West River to be Studied this Summer


June 21, 2022

CONTACT: Margo Ghia, Windham Regional Commission
mghia@windhamregional.org, Office: (802) 257-4547 ext. 116

Upper West River to be Studied this Summer

The water quality of the upper West River and some of its tributaries is getting closely examined this summer. Fitzgerald Environmental Associates has been hired through the State of Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to conduct a Stream Geomorphic Assessment (SGA), which is a way of assessing, understanding, and evaluating the condition of the river system.

According to Marie Caduto, Vermont DEC Watershed Planner for the southeastern portion of Vermont which includes the West River and its tributaries, “this project has been in the works for several years.  The local communities are concerned that the recreational use of Townshend Lake and the West River has been impacted by all the sediment moving down the river since Tropical Storm Irene.  What we are looking to study is where this sediment is coming from and to find on-the-ground projects that can be done to help stabilize the erosion.”

The portions of the West River and its tributaries that are being examined in this study range from Townshend Dam up towards the headwaters in Weston. Some of the problematic and highly erodible tributaries to the lower West River have already been studied and the reports on them can be found at https://anrweb.vt.gov/DEC/SGA/finalReports.aspx.

Margo Ghia, Natural Resource Planner at the Windham Regional Commission, commented that “the wonderful thing about studying a river system through a formal SGA is that it leads to a plan with a list of very tangible projects that landowners, municipalities, and water quality partners can work together on to stop river banks from failing and restore a more stable river environment that benefits both the environment and human infrastructure.” A river is always looking for ways to bring its system into equilibrium. Natural storms and human activity are constantly throwing a river system out of balance and the river finds ways to become a more stable environment again. Sometimes, a river trying to rebalance itself can cause loss of land for landowners, loss to infrastructure, or significant changes to recreational opportunities. According to the Vermont DEC, the SGA will help the communities along the upper West River find ways to “avoid conflicts between human investments and river dynamics in a manner that is technically sound and both economically and ecologically sustainable.”

This summer, you may see Fitzgerald Environmental Associates in the river measuring depths and widths of stream channels or studying site locations. A report will be released on the findings from the study later in 2022. A public meeting to share the results will be held once the study is released.


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