image description: a slice of a topographical map highlighting the two areas of this study in purple

Two small Vermont agricultural watersheds are being studied as part of a long-standing national monitoring and research network established by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

This network, known as the Conservation Effects Assessment Project, or ‘CEAP’, has included forty-two watershed studies across the country, all initiated with the goal of ‘improving efficacy of conservation practices and programs by quantifying conservation effects and providing the science and education base needed to enrich conservation planning, implementation, management decisions, and policy.’  In short, this project will help us measure and understand the effects of agricultural conservation practices on hydrology and water quality at the watershed-scale in the Lake Champlain Basin over the long-term. 

Portions of two watersheds have been selected for the study: Dead Creek and Headwaters Little Otter Creek.  Because these entire watersheds are too large to confidently evaluate the effects of agricultural conservation practices, we have selected smaller portions to intensively monitor.  Continuous streamflow and water quality sampling by automated samplers will occur on these waterways during baseflow and storms.  The focus will be on phosphorus in its various forms (i.e., dissolved and sediment-bound) but we will also be measuring the different forms of nitrogen and runoff volumes.

More information about CEAP

image description: red truck in a field with young green plants in rows under a blue sky

Project Abstract

UVM is leading a long-term partnership with multiple state and federal agencies to intensively monitor water quality at the field- and watershed-scale in the Lake Champlain Basin.  The goal of this project is to accurately assess the effects of agricultural conservation practices on non-point source pollution concentrations and loads.   This is the newest initiative within the USDA-NRCS Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) nationwide network.  In Vermont, a paired-watershed study design will be utilized, and implementation of conservation practices will be closely tracked in a control and treatment watershed, during both a calibration and a treatment period.  Gaging stations and automated water quality monitoring stations have been established, and will be followed by similar monitoring infrastructure on fields nested within the treatment watershed.  At the field-scale, performance of innovative conservation practices and ‘stacking’ of practices will be evaluated.  Partnerships with the USDA-NRCS, USGS, Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture are critical to the project’s implementation and success.


Interested in knowing more about the Center's work or do you have a question we haven't answered here?  Contact us via email or  802-656-5459 and we'll do our best to help.