The Lake Iroquois, Sunset (Lower) Lake, and Patrick Brook complex (“the Lake Iroquois watershed”) drains almost 5,000 acres (slightly more than 7 square miles) from its headwaters in Williston, St. George, Hinesburg, and Richmond to its confluence with the La Platte River in Hinesburg, VT.
The “Lake Iroquois Watershed” is predominantly forested (60%) with sizable agricultural acreage (20%). Historic and increased development density around these water resources may be attributed to the brook’s history as a power source for town industry, and the desirability of lake frontage. As a popular recreational destination for many in burgeoning Chittenden County, Lake Iroquois and Sunset Lake have witnessed a rapid increase in visitors, a rise in seasonal camp conversions to year-round use, and upland neighborhood expansion particularly within Hinesburg. Collectively, these development pressures place greater stress on private road systems and subsequently may increase stormwater, sediment, and phosphorus runoff to the receiving water bodies.
For Patrick Brook, the development-driven increase in impervious surface stormwater runoff decreases groundwater recharge, leading to an inconsistent flow regime and stream instability. These conditions can lead to increased sediment load and elevated levels of phosphorus into Lake Champlain. From Sunset (Lower) Lake to its confluence with the LaPlatte River, Patrick Brook is listed as stressed by sediment and physical alterations with impacts to aquatic health and aesthetics caused by this development.
Currently, the watershed lacks any recent, systematic and comprehensive analysis of water quality and habitat stressors. To date, efforts to protect and restore Lake Iroquois are largely siloed from efforts to protect and restore Patrick Brook. Limited, if any, efforts have focused on Sunset (Lower) Lake.
The Lake Iroquois Association (LIA), Lewis Creek Association (LCA), and Winooski NRCD will collaborate with the Lake Iroquois Recreation District (LIRD) and other stakeholders to coordinate the development of a Lake Iroquois Watershed Action Plan (LIWAP) that will investigate sources of stormwater runoff and phosphorus pollution, distill a ranked list of projects, and develop concept designs for top priority opportunities to remediate these pollutant sources to improve water quality, wildlife habitat, and climate change resilience.
Lake Wise & Storm Smart Assessments
As part of this project the Winooski NRCD is offering FREE Lake Wise or Storm Smart assessments to residents of the Lake Iroquois or Patrick Brook Watershed. To sign up or get more information please fill out the form below: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf9TR19IKwyUWeXf-MbKlmmYAoGTOJQIS_R6baPtoCv4d58xA/viewform?usp=pp_url
Watershed partners unite to develop Watershed Action Plan for Lake Iroquois
The Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District (WNRCD) has been awarded funds through the Lake Champlain Basin Program to develop a Watershed Action Plan for Lake Iroquois and the Patrick Brook watershed. WNRCD has partnered with Lake Iroquois Association (LIA), Lewis Creek Association (LCA) and SLR consulting to identify and address priority opportunities that remediate stormwater runoff and phosphorus pollution to improve water quality, wildlife habitat, and climate change resilience.
In completing this project, watershed residents will have increased knowledge of their impacts on water and habitat quality. Communities will have improved planning tools and a holistic road map with clearly prioritized projects as a guidepost for design and implementation. Regional partners can then target limited funds toward high priority projects that benefit the watershed and its residents.
Throughout spring and summer 2023 partners will be conducting road and stream assessments to identify projects. Stream assessments will focus on evaluating: erosion of channel and embankments, riparian buffer conditions, and point features of interest including stormwater inputs and undersized culverts. These assessments will aim to identify a list of instream or floodplain restoration projects that could serve to reduce runoff and sediment loading to receiving waters. Road assessments will loosely follow the Municipal General Roads Permit Road Erosion Inventory guidance to generate a baseline of road conditions particularly across the network of private roads within the watershed and identify a list of road, drainage, and other stormwater improvements to reduce runoff and sediment loading to receiving waters. These assessments may also look at frequently traveled areas such as parking lots or public meeting spaces where Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) opportunities exist. Commonly called windshield surveys, this is a strategy to ID project opportunities from driving the roads.
Sediment and phosphorus pollution and stormwater sourced from individual properties will be identified either through Lake Wise or Storm Smart assessment protocols depending on whether or not the property is lakefront. Both protocols assess the flow of water on a site and generate a collection of clean water best management practice recommendations such as rain gardens, buffer plantings, infiltration strips, and driveway water bars that keep rain water on site and grow water-shading wildlife habitat. We aim to recruit at least 10 properties in these targeted neighborhoods that welcome either a Lake Wise (lake front) or Storm Smart (riparian or upland) assessment. Assessments follow pre-existing protocols and provide an opportunity to further engage the landowner on GSI and best practices to on-site stormwater management for clean water and wildlife habitat. Typically, 3-6 projects are identified per assessment.
The WNRCD is offering free Storm Smart assessments to help homeowners identify opportunities to mitigate stormwater damage and improve water quality. Do you have issues with erosion, pooling water or stormwater runoff? Learn more about how you can slow down, spread out, and sink in rainfall at home. Join dozens of neighbors who have already taken part by signing up for a FREE on-site assessment. Trained staff from the WNRCD will visit your home and help you trace the path water takes through your property. After the visit they will provide you with individualized recommendations to create Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) solutions.
Sign up at the link below:
WNRCD will also be conducting Lake Wise assessments on properties along the shores of Lake Iroquois this spring and summer. The Lake Wise Program is a Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) initiative that awards lake-friendly shoreland property, including that of state parks, town beaches, private homes and businesses. A property that earns the Lake Wise Award will represent a “model” shoreland property. The Lake Wise Award certifies a property is well managed, using shoreland Best Management Practices, and is maintained to care for the lake.If you live in the Lake Iroquois Watershed and are Lake Wise please contact our District Staff to get a FREE property assessment and receive the Lake Wise awarded signage!
Sign up at the link below:
“This project has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement (LC 00A00707-0) to NEIWPCC in partnership with the Lake Champlain Basin Program.”