Natural Resources Conservation District Completes Stormwater Project

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In August, the installation of underground system, progressing east to west, completing layers as they go.

ST. JOHNSBURY – The Lamoille River is an important recreational, economic, and scenic resource that’s now a step closer to being protected for future generations by a recently completed conservation project under the parking lot at 64 North Main Street in downtown Hardwick.

The project was first identified in a 2012 stormwater mapping report funded by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. The report shows the paths stormwater in Hardwick takes from impervious surfaces such as parking lots, roads, and rooftops into streams, rivers, and lakes. While rainfall mixing directly into rivers and lakes isn’t a problem, that’s not the case when it travels long distances over impervious surfaces and picks up dirt and pollutants, including phosphorus.

The stormwater report revealed the contribution of two municipal drainage systems that come together in Hardwick under the parking lot at 64 North Main St. Prior to this fall, those systems released untreated stormwater collected from 31 acres, including 9.3 acres of impervious surfaces, into the Lamoille River. The project directs stormwater from the two drainage systems through one of three underground water filtration units that remove solids and debris. The water then flows through a maze of perforated pipes, then slowly infiltrates stone installed around the pipes and into the surrounding ground. Overflow rain during big storm events empties into the river through two pipes in the stone wall bordering the lot.

This new system, completed in September of 2022, will reduce the phosphorus getting to Lake Champlain by an estimated 14.29 kilograms per year. This is significant; for context, the State has set a goal to reduce 39.8 kilograms per year of phosphorus going to the Lamoille Watershed as part of the effort to clean up Lake Champlain, so this single project would help meet more than a third of that goal.

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On North Main Street in Hardwick, the clean water sign signals the completion of the stormwater project.

Projects on this scale require coordination and cooperation among many stakeholders, including landowners and town officials. “Identifying a project is just the first step,” explained Emily Finnegan, the District Manager for the Caledonia County Natural Resources Conservation District who managed the project with support from Vermont’s Clean Water Initiative.

“As organizations focused on protecting natural resources, we can identify all the projects we want, but unless we have support from the town and private landowners, it’s impossible to actually do the project,” she said.

The Town of Hardwick has supported the development of the North Main project and has worked with the conservation district on several other projects over the years.

When asked why he agreed to move forward with the project at 64 North Main Street, Isaac Jacobs, the property owner, said, “It was kind of a no-brainer. The project seemed beneficial to everyone, and I couldn’t really see a reason not to do it.”

“It was really great to interact with people on the street as the project was going in,” said Jessica Louisos, who worked on the design and provided construction oversight with SLR International Corporation.

“Initially I could see that they were skeptical when they first approached, and it was cool to see their energy change as I explained the project,” Finnegan added. “It’s very satisfying to shepherd a complex project like this from start to finish, where all of the pieces have to come together just right. It’s really a testament to the Town of Hardwick and Isaac, that they were excited to work with us to complete this project that has real benefits in terms of reduced pollution to the Lamoille River and Lake Champlain.” The project was managed by the Caledonia County Natural Resources Conservation District, with construction oversight from SLR International Corporation and construction completed by Desroches Services, Inc. All project steps were funded by Vermont’s Clean Water Initiative.