Flooding is a natural event. In a healthy system, the river broadens across the floodplain during high water events, losing velocity and depositing sediment as it widens. Over the years, a river corridor develops which support the river’s natural movement over the years and reduces the amount of erosion. The protection of river corridors is an important piece of water quality protection in Vermont and falls under the oversight of the Rivers Program within the Watershed Management Division. Their work not only assists Vermonters learn how to accommodate the natural meanderings of the rivers that flow along our property and run through our villages, but also reduces the amount of soil carried to our lakes during high water events.
Since European settlement, we’ve been ditching, dredging and armoring. Waterways adjust their channels in response to those changes, resulting in high rates of bed and bank erosion. Straightened streams don’t slow water velocity. They dig deeper channels separating themselves even further from the floodplain and carry eroding sediment much more quickly to lakes. In the aftermath of large floods, we often make the situation worse as we take steps to protect property from future events. To protect and restore good water quality in lakes, we also need to look upstream at the condition of our river corridors.
To learn more about protecting and restoring river corridors, visit the Rivers Program’s Planning, Protection, and Restoration webpage. There you’ll find resources to create corridor plans for your local waterways and the science behind river management.
To learn more about river management for flood protection visit the Flood Ready Vermont website.