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New efforts to stop stormwater pollution - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

New efforts to stop stormwater pollution

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

When it rains in Vermont it can cause real problems.

"Our challenge collectively in this state is to figure out how we can reduce that level of pollution," Vt. Environmental Conservation Commissioner David Mears said.

Mears says stormwater often carries dangers along our roads into our lakes and rivers.

"It can cause erosion and sediment to settle into streams, it also carries all the pollutants that come off of our cars and the fertilizers we put on our yards," Mears said.

This week, Mears' team joined with the Agency of Natural Resources to announce a new effort to curb stormwater problems.

"Our initiative is for green infrastructure looking at softer or more ecological  approaches to managing stormwater," Vt. Natural Resources Secretary Deb Markowitz said.

The team is using $245,000 from the USDA forest service to work with cities and town across the state to promote and implement Earth-friendly options for cleaning stormwater before it makes its way to the state's waterways.

"Examples are changing the way that we have curbs so that the water, rather than running down the pavement, runs into greenery where it can slow down and infiltrate or having holding ponds or rain gardens in our backyards," Markowitz said.

The new program is designed to coordinate statewide green infrastructure effort and could prove to be beneficial as a new pollution budget for Lake Champlain is being worked out with the EPA.

"This is a long-term problem, not one that we will see immediate change around it. But it is a manageable problem, something I am confident we will be able to deal with," Mears said.

Training efforts with municipal public works employees and environmental engineers are already underway.

The Agency of Natural Resources is also working with localities on updated permitting standards for runoff water in neighborhoods. Those are expected within a year.

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