Vermont Stream Alteration

Vermont law 10 VSA 41, (Regulation of Stream Flow), regulates activities in and along streams. The program is administered by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) Department of Environmental Conservation, Watershed Management Division.

When It Is Required

Any project that alters or modifies the course, current, or cross section of a perennial stream is subject to the Stream Alteration Permit Program. A perennial stream is defined as “a watercourse, or portion, segment or reach of a watercourse that, in the absence of abnormal, extended or severe drought, continuously conveys surface water flow. Human caused interruptions of flow; i.e. flow fluctuations associated with hydroelectric facility operations, or water withdrawals, shall not influence the determination.” Under the law, “ditches or constructed channels primarily associated with land drainage or water conveyance” are exempt. Perennial streams that have been channelized or converted to ditches are not exempt, and are subject to the law.

 

As a general guideline, streams with watersheds larger than 0.5 acres are assumed to be perennial. ANR has published Technical Guidance for Identification of Perennial Streams to help with this determination.

Permit Process

10 VSA 41 has an exemption for state highways and bridges, so that the Stream Alteration law does not apply to these projects. (The law does apply to municipal roads and bridges.) However, under Vermont Highway Law 19 VSA 10 (12) (“Title 19”), VTrans is required to consult with ANR prior to engaging in repairs or construction that involve streams, ponds, or lakes. In lieu of a formal application, VTrans coordinates Title-19 consultations through a VTrans SharePoint site, and provides the appropriate River Management Engineer (based on RMEs' assigned geographic regions) with the following for project impacts to all perennial streams:

  • USGS Locus

  • Construction plans (if available)

  • Details about the waterbody

  • Details about the proposed impact (length of stream affected, proposed construction timing, etc.)

Because there is no formal permit issued for VTrans infrastructure projects, there are no set procedures or timeframes for this process. Generally speaking, the ANR performance standard for Stream Alteration Permits is 40 days, and the review time under Title 19 is the same. A 401 Water Quality certification (a federal requirement) is issued with the Stream Alteration permit.

No permit duration or expiration date is dictated by law.

Related Regulations

Regulatory programs with overlapping jurisdiction with the Vermont Stream Alteration Rules include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:

  • Section 401 Water Quality Certification: Water Quality Certification is required for projects requiring a federal permit which involve discharges to water bodies or wetlands. Section 401 is administered by ANR, and requires a separate permit application with plans and details. Under the Army Corps of Engineers Vermont General Permit, ANR has granted certification for most types of impacts that require a State Wetlands Permit or a Stream Alteration Permit (Title 19).

  • Army Corps Wetland Permit (Section 404 of the Clean Water Act) regulates dredging and filling in navigable and non-navigable waters.

  • Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act regulates dredging and filling in navigable waters.

For More Information

Vermont Agency of Natural Resources DEC

Watershed Management Division

1 National Life Drive, Main 2

Montpelier, VT 05620-3522

802-828-1535

http://www.vtwaterquality.org/rivers.htm

See the ANR Watershed Management Division website for application forms and instructions, permit turnaround time frames, and other guidance, including the following:

Perennial Stream Identification –

http://www.vtwaterquality.org/rivers/docs/rv_guidance_for_the_identification_of_perennial_streams.pdf

ANR River Management Engineer Districts -

http://www.vtwaterquality.org/rivers/docs/rv_contact.pdf

ANR Stream Alteration General Permit -

http://www.watershedmanagement.vt.gov/rivers/docs/rv_StreamAltGeneralPermit2013.pdf

The USGS provides an interactive tool for measuring watershed areas:

http://water.usgs.gov/osw/streamstats