In 2004, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) found that Jay Branch and Tributary 9 of Jay Branch were “impaired” by sediment pollution, meaning the streams failed to meet applicable minimum state water quality standards for aquatic life. Elevated sediment runoff into streams can negatively impact the habitat of fish and other aquatic organisms. Though various Water Quality Remediation Plans were approved by the Department to improve water quality over the following decade, the streams remained impaired.
In 2014 VNRC, represented by the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic of Vermont Law School, appealed the Department’s issuance of new stormwater discharge permits to Jay Peak. As a result of the appeal, the parties engaged in settlement discussions to craft a clean-up plan that would require additional measures to provide for attainment of Vermont’s Water Quality Standards within a specified timeframe.
Our work resulted in an innovative agreement between VNRC, Jay Peak Resort, and DEC to improve water quality and protect streams adjacent to the fast-growing, four-season ski resort in northern Vermont. It required Jay Peak to follow an aggressive compliance schedule for stream restoration, and offset any sediment discharges so there would be no net increase of pollution into impaired streams.