UVM's Main Campus includes approximately 463 acres located in Burlington and South Burlington. This area drains into four different stream watersheds:
- Centennial Brook
- Englesby Brook
- Potash Brook, and
- Winooski River.
Ultimately, these four watersheds discharge to Lake Champlain. Some portions of UVM stormwater also drain into the City of Burlington's combined (sewer) system where it is treated before draining to Lake Champlain.
Regulations - MS4 Permit
The University’s stormwater system functions within a highly regulated environment of federal, state and local regulations and permit requirements. The University uses a multifaceted approach to limit and treat stormwater runoff as well as participate within the wider regional network to address stormwater impacts throughout the affected watersheds and beyond. Within these regulations, the University is defined as a ‘non-traditional’ MS4 (responsible for a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System). This means that the University has to obtain and comply with an MS4 permit, which is a federally required Clean Water Act permit that the State of Vermont has been authorized to administer.
Storm Water Management Plan (SWMP)
The MS4 permit requires that UVM prepare and implement a Storm Water Management Plan (SWMP) that addresses these six (6) Minimum Control Measures:
- Public Education and Outreach
- Public Participation/Involvement
- Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
- Construction Site Runoff Control
- Post-Construction Runoff Control
- Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping
The first two measures (Public Education/Outreach and Public Participation/Involvement) are not site specific, and the University participates in a regional effort with other MS4 entities to educate and involve the public in best practices to reduce stormwater impacts.
UVM helps fund and regularly attends the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission’s Clean Water Advisory Committee (CWAC) meetings to discuss stormwater projects, regulations, goals, education, outreach, etc. The CWAC also has an MS-4 Subcommittee consisting of representatives of the nine municipalities and three agencies, including UVM, charged with implementing activities as part of minimum control measures 1 &2, the Public Education, Outreach, Participation and Involvement portion of the state permit requirements. There are several branches of activities including the "Rethink Runoff" public education campaign.
Annual reports for the activities related to Minimum Measures 1 & 2 can be found on the right-hand side of this page.
The other 4 “minimum measures” are met by a complex, campus-wide system of stormwater facilities, treatments, conveyances and best practices. The University submits an annual report to the state that documents these efforts. As permit conditions evolve, the University has added treatments and adjusted best practices as necessary.
Flow Restoration Plans (FRPs)
In 2012, new permit conditions were added to develop Flow Restoration Plans (FRPs) to implement more stringent stormwater goals in each impaired watershed. The University worked with other MS4s in the same watershed to produce FRPs that address region-wide goals. Part of this process included identification of treatments and sites, and financing of these treatments. The University is a full partner in this effort, and there are several treatment sites that are on UVM land, funded by the University. *
See UVM’s Storm Watershed Map for definition of the storm watersheds, sizes and other information.
The cities of Burlington and South Burlington, and the towns of Colchester and Shelburne have created storm water utilities that charge all land owners, including UVM, for addressing storm water impacts. These cities and towns then use the funds from these fees to improve stormwater treatments and comply with their own MS4 requirements. The University pays fees as necessary, and also gets “stormwater credits” (i.e. discounts on the fee amounts) for use of our own stormwater treatment facilities.
UVM-owned and managed Natural Areas, such as the Colchester Bog, naturally contribute stormwater capacity to the municipal systems.
In addition to the regulatory component of UVM’s efforts, there are other small projects, sometimes student and/or faculty-initiated, to treat stormwater on-site and/or provide infiltration where soil types enable this. The University of Vermont continues to be a steward of the land, and participate in both UVM-specific and community efforts to address stormwater impacts locally and regionally. Below are ongoing examples:
*Some of the information on this page was adapted from State of Vermont Agency of Natural Resources information on the MS4 Permit.