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Winter Construction Activities Must Take Measures to Protect Clean Water

With winter construction season ahead, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has been reminding Vermonters about additional requirements to help protect the state’s waterways.

“We understand that managing construction sites to protect water quality is a year-round challenge. Winter rainfall, thaws, and snowmelt can produce significant flows of water over frozen and saturated grounds, greatly increasing the potential for erosion and carrying sediments into our waterways,” said DEC Commissioner Jason Batchelder. “Therefore, it’s key to use measures that reduce erosion and keep soil on construction sites.”

Construction activities may require a Vermont Construction General Permit 3-9020 when total land disturbance is:

Equal to or greater than one acre, or

Less than one acre — but is part of a larger common plan of development — if the larger development will ultimately result in the disturbance of one or more acres.

Permittees must also have an Erosion Prevention and Sediment Control (EPSC) plan that addresses winter construction when seeking permit coverage between Oct. 15 and April 15. From making access points wider to covering exposed soils with stone, measures in the EPSC plan must follow the Vermont Standards and Specifications.

“In the winter, frozen soils limit the measures permittees can take to reduce erosion. Without measures like seeding exposed areas or adding silt fences, permittees need a feasible and effective EPSC plan,” said Tom Benoit, DEC Construction Section Supervisor. “That’s why DEC offers resources to help Vermonters understand the full suite of measures, follow the permit requirements, and protect our waterways.”

To learn more, interested parties may view the permit application instructions or the Low Risk Site Handbook. If a permittee did not specify winter construction activity in their application, they must file a Notice of Winter Construction form.

The DEC Stormwater Management Program oversees regulations and offers technical assistance for stormwater management. If Tom Benoit is not available at 802-490-6164 or Thomas.Benoit@Vermont.Gov, contact Taylor Flanagan at 802-490-6167 or Taylor.Flanagan@Vermont.Gov.

—press release