The Mettowee River has been placed on the Vermont 303(d) List of Impaired Waters because of high water temperatures documented by previous studies of the River. The Mettowee River experiences elevated water temperatures during worst-case summertime conditions, when strong sunlight and low water conditions occur. These conditions adversely impact the cold-water fish species that live in the Mettowee.
In 2001, a study was conducted on the 20-mile segment of the Mettowee located in Vermont. The purpose of this study, which was funded by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) and conducted by the engineering firm ENSR, was to determine why the temperatures were elevated and create a computer model to evaluate alternatives and make recommendations for alleviating the problem. Copies of the complete report are available from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.
A set of recommended management actions were identified. These are based on the summer 2001 data and the computer application used to evaluate alternative management scenarios.
Increased shading. Specific sections of the Mettowee were identified as the most effective reaches for implementation of tree planting projects. Shading here would have the greatest effect on river temperatures; however, other shading in other reaches would also benefit fish habitat.
Channel Modification. Restoring the width to depth ratio in the Mettowee River, in particular one wide, shallow reach upstream of a narrow bridge, is predicted to be effective in reducing maximum water temperatures. If properly designed and implemented, channel modification resulting in increased pools and channel variability throughout the Mettowee would provide beneficial fish habitat
Reduction of Water Temperatures Entering from Flower Brook. The water temperature of Flower Brook entering the Mettowee was elevated and contributed to the temperature impairment problem. The study recommended that management actions designed to reduce maximum water temperatures in Flower Brook be evaluated and implemented.
According to the computer modeling, these proposed actions will result in reduced summer water temperatures in the Mettowee River. In addition, the report recommended a stream morphology study to identify appropriate restoration projects that would substantially improve the Mettowee’s long-term stability and habitat. It also recommended a field investigation focusing on Flower Brook to identify management actions.
The Poultney Mettowee Watershed Partnership has continued monitoring summer temperatures at 14 locations along the Mettowee River and several of its largest tributaries; Flower Brook, Beaver Brook, and the Indian River. Temperature monitoring along these rivers has been conducted since 1999.
Multiple sites along the Mettowee have been identified for significant tree planting projects to help increase shading along a sensitive area of the river and the District continues to pursue tree planting projects along the Mettowee and its tributaries.
A geomorphic assessment was completed in 2005 and 2006 on the Mettowee River and Flower Brook. The geomorphic assessment was conducted by the Poultney Mettowee Watershed Partnership and Kristen Underwood of South Mountain Research and Consulting. This assessment lists many projects aimed at restoring the Mettowee River and provides extensive information that the District will use to prioritize future projects..
The Partnership conducted these river studies, as well as on-the-ground projects with additional funding from VT ANR, Vermont’s Clean and Clear Initiative and US EPA.
2006 TEMPERATURE MONITORING REPORT (1.4MB PDF Document)
2006 TEMPERATURE MONITORING APPENDIX (551KB PDF Document)
Poultney - Mettowee