Addison County River Watch Collaborative

Our mission is to monitor and assess the condition and uses of our local rivers over the long term, raise public awareness of the values and functions of our watersheds, and support stewardship that improves water quality.

In Memory of Marty Illick

Photo by Matt Witten

 

A celebration of the lives of Marty and Terry will be held on August 14, 2021, at Shelburne Farms. To learn more and RSVP, please visit: LINK

Click here to view the Lewis Creek Association’s tribute to Marty

Click here for Seven Days Obituary

 

Marty Illick was a founding member of the Addison Country River Watch Collaborative, bringing along her knowledge of and passion for the Lewis Creek and Vermont’s rivers and streams.  ACRWC Board members and volunteers have been mourning her untimely and tragic death this spring.

Marty brought drive, insight, political savvy, and a sense of humor to her work with ACRWC. In terms of water quality and stream health, she was all in. She was current on the science of water quality monitoring, in tune with what was happening politically, and engaged with an impressive roster of state and local administrators, scientists, and planners. As a member of the ACRWC Board up until her death, she focused on Lewis Creek but had useful questions and perspectives for our other streams and helped to develop the mission of the Collaborative. She was a driving force and fierce advocate for healthy waterways and the land practices which support them.

Our Board and our volunteers are among the many who will miss her expertise, passion, and love for Vermont’s rivers and streams.

 

In Memory of Pete Diminico (1949-2020)

Click here for the full Tribute to Pete

Pete Diminico, who passed away on Christmas Day, 2020, had a long-standing love affair with the New Haven River. He was an angler, and as such loved to match wits – and his knowledge of hatching insects and fly-fishing lures – with the trout in the stream. During his decade or more of fighting serious illnesses, Pete often retreated to the banks of the New Haven with his dog Roxy* for sustenance and hope, and always found both there by the waters of his treasured river.

 

History of ACRWC

The Addison County River Watch Collaborative (ACRWC) was formed in late 1997 to unite ongoing stream-monitoring efforts by citizens in the Addison County region. Citizen monitoring efforts for these streams have involved various water quality measurements, including bacteria, pH, total phosphorus (TP), total nitrogen (TN) and water temperature.

Member groups of the collaborative have monitored the following stream sections: the Middlebury River and the middle section of Otter Creek, begun in 1989 by Otter Creek River Watch (a project of Otter Creek Audubon Society) and Middlebury Union High School; Lewis Creek, begun in 1992 by the Lewis Creek Association; New Haven River, begun in 1993 by New Haven River Watch (a project of New Haven River Anglers Association); and Little Otter Creek, begun in 1997 by The Watershed Center with assistance from Addison County Regional Planning Commission and Otter Creek Natural Resources Conservation District. In the summer of 2003, the Addison County Regional Planning Commission (ACRPC), and the Weybridge Conservation Commission (WCC) in partnership with Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Middlebury Union High School (MUHS) partnered to gather reliable base-line water quality monitoring data on the Lemon Fair River in the Otter Creek Basin.

Prior to the efforts of these River Watch groups, there was little long-term information available regarding the health of these rivers. The groups believe that keeping ongoing records of water quality measures is necessary to create a profile of the status of these rivers and to understand how future changes in agricultural, residential, industrial, or recreational uses may affect them.

Addison County River Watch Collaborative (ACRWC) is one of a number of citizen water monitoring groups in Vermont whose volunteer members work to ensure the ecological integrity and the recreational viability of their communities’ watersheds.

Goals of the ACRWC:

  1. To monitor and assess the condition and uses of our local rivers, creeks, and streams over time
  2. To raise public awareness of and commitment to the ecological, economic, and social values and functions of our local rivers, creeks, and streams.
  3. To support and praise actions taken by landowners that improve the health and quality of our local rivers, creeks, and streams.

In combining their efforts, the partner groups are creating an integrated watershed approach to natural resources. This makes sense ecologically and will also, ideally, encourage greater citizen responsibility for the integrity of these watersheds.

  • Click here to learn more about the value of monitoring water quality.
  • Click here to learn more about the science behind monitoring water quality.
  • Click here to access ACRWC water quality sampling reports.
  • Click here to learn about our volunteer activities.
  • Click here to view provisional E.coli sampling results from the 2020 season.

The Study Area

All the watersheds in this report are considered by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources to be part of the Otter Creek Basin, known as Vermont’s Basin 3, and drain a large portion of the middle Champlain Valley in Vermont. Lewis Creek and Little Otter Creek drain directly into Lake Champlain in Ferrisburgh and, where they join the lake (at their mouths), they share a 400-acre wetland complex with deep emergent marshes, a lakeshore floodplain, and bottomland forests. The Middlebury, New Haven, and Lemon Fair Rivers are tributaries to Otter Creek, which then drains into Lake Champlain, also in the town of Ferrisburgh. (Dead Creek, another major tributary to Otter Creek, has not been studied by the collaborative).

Learn more about the each individual watershed by exploring the following links:

Otter Creek     New Haven River    Lewis Creek     Little Otter Creek     Lemon Fair River    Middlebury River

These watersheds include forested mountains, agricultural lowlands, urban/residential areas, and industrial areas. The study area also includes municipal and industrial sewage treatment facilities, as well as power generation dams on some of the rivers. The streams are valued and used by local citizens and tourists for boating, swimming, and fishing, and the waters and the trees along the banks provide important habitat for a wide range of flora and fauna. To explore interactive maps and gain an overview of the watersheds in Addison County, click the image below.

Water Quality Monitoring

According to the Otter Creek Basin: Water Quality Assessment Report, published by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources in June, 1998, the greatest threat to the streams in Basin 3 is sedimentation. This process occurs when many soil particles enter the water column. The second greatest threat to these streams is stream bank erosion, resulting from various land use practices, including the removal of streamside vegetation. Pathogens, such as E. coli bacteria, threaten the third greatest number of stream miles in this basin, and nutrients, including phosphorus, are the fourth greatest cause of impact. Other causes of water quality impairment include turbidity (cloudiness of the water), organic enrichment, suspended solids, and metals, such as mercury.

Citizen monitoring efforts for these streams over many years have focused primarily on E. coli bacteria counts, total phosphorus levels, pH, and water temperature, with the addition of total nitrogen, dissolved phosphorus, turbidity and total suspended solids in recent years.

For more information on the Addison County River Watch Collaborative, please contact Matthew Witten. To learn more about other watershed-related activities in Addison County, visit the following links:

Lewis Creek Association – Otter Creek Audubon – New Haven River Anglers – Otter Creek Tactical Basin Plan Vermont Agency of Natural Resources – Lake Champlain Basin Program – EPA Water Pages

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