Major rainfall hit Vermont on July 9–10, causing flooding and broken pipes at water and wastewater facilities across the state.
Governor Scott declared a State of Emergency for all of Vermont on July 9. This enables Vermont Emergency Management and the Vermont National Guard to provide support. President Biden declared a federal emergency on July 11. This enables the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate disaster relief efforts. On July 14, a major disaster was declared in 6 counties (Chittenden, Lamoille, Rutland, Washington, Windham, Windsor). On July 21, the major disaster delcaration was expanded to include Caledonia and Orange counties, and Orleans county was added on July 26.
A second disaster was declared for flooding in Addison county on August 3–5.
Mutual Aid & Volunteer Assistance
Recovery Funding & FEMA Grants
Information for the Public
Boil Water/Do Not Drink Notices
A list of water systems currently under Boil Water or Do Not Drink public notices can be found at https://bit.ly/vermontboil
If your system has been impacted by flooding or power outages, please contact the Drinking Water and Groundwater Protection Division (DWGPD) to discuss whether a boil water and/or water conservation public notice is appropriate.
Here are forms and information that may be helpful for water systems in this situation:
Boil Water Notice Procedure
Boil Water Notice Template
Water Conservation Notice Template
Public Notice Certification Form
Guidance for Wastewater Systems
The Vermont Wastewater Management Program has released some updated guidance during this emergency flooding event:
- At this time the priority is to avoid catastrophic failure of the facility and to restore normal operations as soon as possible. If you are unable to follow standard operations, reach out to the analyst assigned to your facility or Michelle Kolb at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-490-6165.
- If you are unable to complete any required sampling or deliver samples to the lab, report it in the nForm (this needs to be entered as a frequency violation but indicate in the comment box how the flooding caused the frequency violation).
- Systems impacted by flooding or power outages will need to submit an incident report, available at: https://anronline.vermont.gov/?FormTag=WW_CSOReport, as soon as possible but ideally by the end of the week. These reports can be edited later as circumstances change.
- Public alerts also need to be submitted as soon as possible but ideally by the end of the week: https://anrweb.vt.gov/DEC/WWInventory/SubmitPublicAlert.aspx?PA=0&option=add.
If you have any questions, contact Michelle Kolb or your assigned analyst.
Wastewater License Renewal Extension
Pollution abatement facility operators and well drillers have been given an extra six months to renew their licenses due to the flooding emergency. Wastewater operators now have until January 31, 2024 to complete required continuing education credits and pay the licensing fee.
Governor Scott signed an addendum to the State of Emergency order that allows this extension. Click here to read the addendum.
The Vermont Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (VT WARN) allows water and wastewater systems to receive rapid mutual aid from other systems. It is free and voluntary—find more info at vtwarn.org.
If your system needs assistance such as equipment or extra personnel, use this form to submit a request. (We are aware that the form was not working on Monday morning but it has been fixed.) Systems that provide mutual aid as well as systems that request mutual aid can receive reimbursement from FEMA, but only if they have signed the WARN mutual aid agreement (PDF).
Thank you to those who have offered assistance through VT WARN! The items on this list are available from VT WARN or have been offered by members:
- Ground penetrating radar
- Portable correlators
- Valve and hydrant exerciser
- Tilt-and-pan sewer line camera
- Safety gear
- Portable tanks
- Pumps (various sizes, including a trailer-mounted 500 gpm wastewater pump)
- Pump station skid
- Pumper and vactor trucks (dependent on road conditions)
- KN95 & N95 masks
- Pallets of bottled water
- Industrial fans and dehumidifiers
- Assistance from operators and other personnel
You can check whether you system is a member of VT WARN using this list. If your system wants to join VT WARN, or if you need to update your system’s contact info, you can do so at vtwarn.org. It is free to join and you are never obligated to provide assistance.
In-State Volunteers & Out-of-State Experts
Vermonters have been signing up to volunteer with flood recovery, such as cleaning out previously flooded buildings.
The State of Vermont and FEMA are also working on bringing in out-of-state experts to provide technical help, such as water/wastewater operators, engineers for assessments, GIS mapping assistance, and electricians.
If your system could benefit from either of these types of assistance, contact Liz at email@example.com. We can help you through the process for requesting the right type of volunteers for your needs.
Aerial Images of Flooding
The University of Vermont Spatial Analysis Lab has drone teams available to survey flooding and damage. There is no charge for this service. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a drone survey. Find a fact sheet about UVM’s drone support at https://go.uvm.edu/tmuzx
The Vermont Center for Geographic Information (VCGI) has put together a flood imagery web app using aerial photos collected by UVM, VTrans, volunteers, and the Civil Air Patrol. See the map at https://2023flood.mapvt.com
Funding for Disaster Recovery
EPA has a list of funding sources available to water/wastewater systems recovering from natural disasters at https://www.epa.gov/fedfunds
Use EPA’s search tool to find funding options based on your system type and the type of project at https://www.epa.gov/fedfunds/search-right-funding
FEMA’s Public Assistance Grant Program can help pay for the cost of the repairing or replacing flood-damaged water and wastewater facilities, as well as hazard mitigation to protect against future disasters. Municipally-owned water and wastewater systems, as well as certain nonprofits, in Addison, Bennington, Caledonia, Chittenden, Essex, Lamoille, Orange, Orleans, Rutland, Washington, Windham, and Windsor counties are eligible. Find more info at https://vtruralwater.org/fema-pa/
Watch the 7/31/23 Applicant Briefing recording here
View the presentation slides here
VLCT’s page on Public Assistance: https://www.vlct.org/fema-public-assistance-program-pa
FEMA’s page on Public Assistance: https://www.fema.gov/assistance/public
Vermont Rural Water’s page on Public Assistance: https://vtruralwater.org/fema-pa/
Fact sheet from EPA about Public Assistance for Water/Wastewater Utilities
Fact sheet from EPA about lessons learned from water/wastewater utilities that participated in FEMA’s Public Assistance Program
Emergency Watershed Protection Funding
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has funding available through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program to help repair stream and watershed safety hazards. Funding is available to private and public landowners. The goal is to safeguard property and infrastructure. Eligible projects include addressing debris-clogged waterways, unstable streambanks, and severe erosion.
Click here to read a fact sheet about the program. For more information, contact Michel Lapointe, Vermont EWP Program Manager, at email@example.com or 802-497-5977.
Collect Documentation for Insurance & FEMA
Be sure to document damage to buildings, equipment, and infrastructure caused by the storms and flooding. Take pictures and videos, write down timelines and notes while it is fresh in your memory, and save receipts. These things will be helpful for filing insurance claims and applying for FEMA funds. Click here for recommendations from EPA.
The Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT) has shared the following:
While we are likely weeks away from seeing FEMA officials on the ground to conduct public assistance visits, it’s never too early to be prepared. A few important reminders:
- Document everything – this includes taking A LOT of pictures and getting GPS coordinates!
- Track all expenses for this event in your general ledger – this includes staff time and equipment use.
- Keep detailed time sheets that show which hours were charged to this event, how (which road or road sections, bridges, administration etc.), and what pieces of equipment were used during these hours. Keep digital copies of these time sheets with your documentation.
- Learn more about what FEMA will be looking for in the Applicant’s Guide for Submitting Public Assistance Documents and download the FEMA Public Assistance Checklist.
Find more from VLCT at https://www.vlct.org/news/flood-response-information
Information for the Public
The Agency of Natural Resources has put together resources for the general public at https://anr.vermont.gov/flood
For those who get their drinking water from a public water system, check if you have a Boil Water Notice or Do Not Drink Order in effect at https://bit.ly/vermontboil
- If your water system is under a Boil Water Notice, you should boil water for at least 60 seconds before using it for drinking, food preparation, brushing teeth, making ice, washing dishes, and using water for juices or formula. Boiling water will kill pathogens like bacteria or parasites.
If you have a private well or spring that was impacted by flooding, you can find guidance from the Vermont Health Department at https://www.healthvermont.gov/environment/drinking-water/after-flood-drinking-water-guidance
- The Health Department is offering free drinking water testing for private wells and springs. Call 802-338-4724 to order free test kits.
- If your well tests positive for bacterial contamination, watch this video for instructions on disinfecting your well with chlorine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dN8GzI4XDJM
If you have a septic tank that was impacted by flooding, you can find information from the CDC at https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/foodwater/septic.html?fbclid=IwAR182BxDHt37HNncVQvgF-XfkDX09ipxsqj31EGMAou4jEigksj3nBnxzoQ
- Do not drive or walk on flooded streets.
- Close valves on propane and fuel tanks if possible.
- If you need to evacuate a flooding building, turn off the circuit breaker if you can do so safely.
- Wear a face mask, safety goggles, and work gloves to protect from dust and mold when cleaning up after a flood. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to request free KN95 masks.
- If you have come in contact with floodwaters, check that your tetanus shot is up-to-date. If it has been more than 10 years since your last tetanus shot, or if you had any cuts while you were in floodwaters, consider getting a tetanus booster.
- Mental health services are available at Disaster Recovery Centers. There are 3 locations around the state open Monday–Saturday. You can also call or text 988.
- Use extra caution when opening emails and clicking links because cyber attacks tend to target communities during emergencies and disasters.
- Be aware of disaster-related scams like fake contractors. Read more from Vermont Public
Face Masks Available
As floodwaters recede, dust and mold can make for unpleasant breathing and working conditions. Vermont Rural Water has KN95 masks available for free to water and wastewater systems. Email email@example.com to request masks. We will do our best to get them to you quickly and safely.
Be Aware of Cyber Attacks
Internet criminals often take advantage of emergency situations and natural disasters to target people when they are stressed and distracted. Please be extra cautious when opening emails and clicking links or downloads. Use a healthy dose of skepticism towards anything you may see online.
Flood Levels & Road Closures
Use these sites for up-to-date information:
- Find reports of flooding and road closures on the New England 511 map
- Find current flood warnings from the National Weather Service: Burlington Office for most of Vermont and Albany Office for Bennington and Windham counties
- Use this map from the National Weather Service to check river levels across the state
Here are several news stories featuring water and wastewater operators:
- In Johnson, no one knows how the wastewater treatment plant is faring (Vermont Public) featuring operator Dan Copp
Johnson’s wastewater facility completely destroyed (Vermont Public) featuring operator Dan Copp
Ludlow’s wastewater treatment facility hit hard in the flood (WPTZ) featuring operator Joe Gaudiana
‘Total destruction’: Flooding knocks out Johnson’s wastewater plant, disrupts operations elsewhere (VT Digger) featuring operator Tim Hall; Michelle Kolb from the Wastewater Management Program; and Vermont Rural Water’s executive director, Liz Royer.
- In Vermont, water issues require site-specific solutions (Valley News) featuring operators Wayne Manning, Mike Reynolds, Seth Bean, and Richard Manning; Ben Montross from the Drinking Water and Groundwater Protection Division; and Vermont Rural Water’s executive director, Liz Royer.
After flooding Vermont’s rural water systems are picking up the pieces and looking to the future (Vermont Public) featuring Vermont Rural Water’s executive director, Liz Royer.
Rising flood risks threaten many water and sewage treatment plants across the US (AP) featuring Ludlow’s operator Joe Gaudiana and Vermont Rural Water’s wastewater specialist Elijah Lemieux.
Montpelier wastewater plant among those struggling with flood debris (WCAX) featuring operator Chris Cox
Last updated October 10, 2023