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Flood Plain Management

Welcome to Waterbury’s Flood Information Page! This page, and all of its content, is managed by the flood working group, which meets once a month. Please join us! Call the Town Clerk at (802) 244-8447 for the next meeting time.

For both community and state-wide flood information, please visit the State's new Flood Ready website.

Waterbury Center Stormwater Report April 2018

Archive of Minutes & Agendas

Flood Preparedness & General Information

2012 Family Preparedness Workbook

  • Winooski and Little River Water Levels
    For current levels of the Winooski River at Waterbury, VT, please check here; current levels for Little River, check here.  These links will bring you to the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, which documents the most recent observed levels of both the Winooski River at Waterbury and the Little River.  The “Flood Stage” – or the elevation where the rising river starts to damage property – for the Winooski River at Waterbury is 419ft.  This is an important tool in tracking river levels during the threat of a flood
  • Things you can do to protect your home:
    • Have sandbags and other house protecting items (plastic sheeting, plywood, portable pumps) at the ready.
    • Store important documents and personal objects where they won't get damaged.
    • Elevate or relocate utilities.
    • Install backflow prevention devices in your sewer connections to prevent floodwaters from entering your home.
    • Build and install flood shields for doors and openings to prevent the entrance of floodwater.
    • Install a sump pump with backup power in crawl spaces or basements.
    • Place openings in your foundation walls that will allow the entrance and exit of floodwaters to prevent foundation failure.
  • During the Storm
    The safety of your family is the most important consideration. Since floodwaters can rise very rapidly, you should be prepared to evacuate before the water level reaches your property. During the storm, the following tips may be helpful:
    • Keep a battery-powered radio tuned to a local station and/or tune into Waterbury’s local WDEV (AM550 or FM96.1) or VPR (FM107.9)
    • If you are caught in the house by suddenly rising waters, move to the second floor and, if necessary, to the roof. Take warm clothing, a flashlight and a portable radio with you. Then wait for help. Don't try to swim to safety. Rescue teams will look for you.
    • When outside the house, remember: WATER DEPTHS DURING FLOODS ARE DECEPTIVE. Try to avoid flooded areas, and DO NOT attempt to walk through floodwaters that are more than knee deep.
      If, and only if, time permits . . . there are several precautionary steps that can be taken:
    • Turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve if evacuation appears necessary.
    • Move valuable items to upper floors or higher elevations.
    • Fill bathtubs, sinks, and jugs with clean water in case regular supplies are contaminated. You can sanitize these items by first rinsing in bleach.
    • Board up windows or protect them with storm shutters or tape to prevent flying glass.
    • Bring outdoor possessions inside the house or tie them down securely. This includes lawn furniture, garbage cans, tools, and other movable objects that might be swept away or hurled about.
    • Stock the car with blankets, first aid kit, flashlights, dry clothing, and any special medication needed by your family. Park the car in an area safe from rising waters.
  • Important things you DO NOT do during a flood
    • DO NOT drive where the water is over the roads. Parts of the road may already be washed out.
    • If your car stalls in a flooded area, DO NOT remain in the car. Abandon it as soon as possible and seek higher ground. Floodwaters can rise rapidly and sweep a car (and its occupants) away. Many deaths have resulted from attempts to move stalled vehicles.
    • Avoid areas subject to sudden flooding. DO NOT try to cross a flowing stream where water is above your knees. You could be swept away by strong currents.
    • DO NOT sightsee in flooded areas and do not make unnecessary trips. Use the telephone only for emergencies or to report dangerous conditions
  • After the flood: During the aftermath of a flooding event, follow these steps to aid your family's safety:
    • Before entering a building, check for structural damage. Make sure it is not in danger of collapsing. Turn off any outside gas lines at the meter or tank, and let the house air for several minutes to remove foul odors or escaping gas.
    • Avoid downed power lines and broken gas lines. Report them immediately to the electric or gas company, police or fire department.
    • Upon entering the building, DO NOT use an open flame as a light source since gas may be trapped inside. A battery-operated flashlight is ideal.
    • DO NOT handle live electrical equipment in wet areas. If appliances or electrical equipment have been in contact with water, have them checked before use.  
  •  Emergency Shelter Committee – To prepare for future flooding disasters, Waterbury’s Emergency Shelter Committee has identified the Congregational Church (8 N. Main Street) and Thatcher Brook Primary School (47 Stowe Street) as the two locations for emergency shelter during a disaster.   For more information, call Peter Plagge at the Congregational Church (802) 244-6606 or Carla Lawrence (802) 244-8447.
  • National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) – In the event of a flood disaster, a flood-damaged property is not covered under homeowner’s insurance.  A property owner must have flood insurance with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to ensure their property is insured.  Because Waterbury is a community participating in the NFIP, any resident with flood-vulnerable property has access to this insurance.
  • Additional Resources available from FEMA

The following on-line resources provide additional information on Flood Insurance and how to protect property from flood damage.     

FEMA’s Floodsmart webpage:

FEMA’s Homeowner’s Guide to Retrofitting:

  • Community Rating System (CRS) – The CRS is a voluntary incentive program under the NFIP that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum NFIP requirements.  Waterbury municipal staff, the Planning Commission, and Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission (CVRPC) are working together to develop programs and regulations to meet the requirements of the CRS, and, in turn, provide reduced NFIP premium rates for residents and business owners that own property in the floodplain.
  • Community Resilient Organizations – The Town of Waterbury is currently working with Peg Elmer,, to participate in the CRO pilot program in the state. 

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Flood Damage Reduction

  • Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP):  The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) provides grants to states and local governments to implement long-term hazard mitigation measures after a major disaster declaration.  The purpose of HMGP is to reduce the loss of life and property due to natural disasters and to enable mitigation measures to be implemented during the immediate recovery from a disaster.  There are a variety of eligible projects under HMGP, including property acquisition, structure elevation, and more.
  • HMGP Implementation Grant – Based on the results of the Choke Study and at the request of the Town of Waterbury, the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission (CVRPC) submitted a $3.1 million HMGP grant application to implement the floodplain reconnection strategy outlined by Milone & MacBroom in its July 2013 report.  FEMA Region I has preliminarily indicated, as of March 2014, that floodplain reconnection projects are not likely to obtain funding through HMGP.  With assistance from ANR (Rebecca Pfeiffer), CVRPC (Dan Currier) is drafting a letter for FEMA with examples of floodplain restoration grants approved in other FEMA regions. The Town will also investigate other possible funding sources, including the Ecosystem Restoration Grant program (Vermont ANR) and Pre-Disaster Hazard Mitigation Planning (FEMA).
    • CVRPC has indicated three points where floodplain reconnection would help to mitigate the levels of flood waters in Waterbury, Moretown and Duxbury.  With this HMGP funding, CVRPC will conduct a phased project to lower the floodplain.
      • Phase I – includes the designs for preferred alternative and associated Benefit Cost Analysis (BCA), as well as establishment of an easement with the landowner of one of these points.
      • Phase II – includes the construction portion of the project (i.e. reconnection of the floodplain at the site in Duxbury).  Phase II is dependent upon the BCA determined in Phase I.
  • HMGP Home Elevation Pilot Project – On November 5, 2013, the Town and Village of Waterbury held a meeting at St. Leo’s Hall in Waterbury, VT to solicit interest from homeowners to participate in an HMGP grant application to elevate homes located in the floodplain.  Nearly 40 homeowners attended the meeting and in late November 2013, Waterbury submitted 3 HMGP grant applications to elevate 7 homes out of the 100-year floodplain.  It is important to note that HMGP funds are only available if the first livable floor of a home is below or at the 100-year floodplain.  HMGP will not fund projects to fill in a basement alone, but will pay to fill in the basement if the home is also being elevated.  The total project cost cannot exceed $175,000 in order for FEMA to award HMGP funds.   If awarded, HMGP grant monies will pay for 75% of the cost to elevate a home and fill in its basement, with a required 25% match to come from either the homeowner or other grants/funding sources.  We are expecting to hear from FEMA in late spring/early summer regarding the 3 grant applications.
  • HMGP Ground Floor Elevation/Basement Fill-In Project – The town of Waterbury is currently in the process of submitting 2 HMGP applications to fill-in the basements of 3 homes.  These homes, not eligible under the elevation project due to first floors located above the 100-year floodplain, have basements located in the floodplain and therefore, homeowners are required to pay high flood insurance premiums.  By filling in the basements of these properties, the ground floor of each property will effectively be “elevated” above the floodplain.  This will protect the home from structural and utility damage during the next flood event.  Applications will be submitted early May 2014.
  • HMGP Voluntary Property Acquisition Program – In addition to home elevation, a popular program under the HMGP umbrella is voluntary property acquisition of structures damaged in floods.  Under this program, a Town or County can purchase private land, typically at pre-flood fair market value.  Once acquired, all structures are removed, the utilities are capped, ground is leveled and the property is deed-restricted to green space.
  • Choke Study – On August 29, 2011, the small town of Waterbury, Vermont, population 5,000, was hit by Tropical Storm Irene.  Over 200 of the 600 structures in the Village of Waterbury were damaged by flooding. Waterbury residents wanted to know if the flooding was caused by a “choke point” in the river where it is spanned by the Winooski Street Bridge, and if flooding could be mitigated by opening a tunnel at the Bolton Falls Dam, five miles downstream from the village.

    In spring 2012, the Waterbury Village President (Skip Flanders), Waterbury Select Board Chair (John Grenier), and the Waterbury Public Works Director (Alec Tuscany) – all civil engineers – drafted a request for proposals to answer those two questions.  The estimated cost of the study was $30,000 to $40,000.

    The study was jointly funded by the Town of Waterbury ($14,000); the Vermont Department of Buildings & General Services, owner of property in the village ($14,000); and Green Mountain Power, owner of a substation net to the Winooski Street Bridget ($7,000).

    The study concluded that Winooski Street Bridge was not a significant cause of flooding in the Village of Waterbury, nor was the bypass at the Bolton Falls Dam a solution to the flooding problem.  Rather, the field work and data collected by Milone and MacBroom (Roy Schiff) showed that floodplain reconstruction at three locations (the State Office cornfield, the State Office northern parking area, and the Duxbury Harvey Farm) could lower the floodplain in Waterbury Village by 1 foot.  The estimated cost of this work is $3.1 million.

    CVRPC and the project team have selected the site in Duxbury as the first site to focus on for the floodplain reconnection.  This site was selected because it has been determined to provide a global reduction in flood level up stream by as much as 12 inches.  With HMGP funds CVRPC proposes to conduct a phased project.  The consultant has completed conceptual design for the sites.  Phase 1 will include preliminary and final design for the preferred alternative.
  • Ecosystem Restoration Grant & Fluvial Erosion Hazard (FEH) Zoning – Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission has been awarded a grant from the Ecosystem Restoration Program Watershed Management Division of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.   CVRPC’s grant is for the creation of a River Corridor Plan that will help to highlight strategies for river corridor protection and flood hazard mitigation.  This will serve the dual purpose of protecting the State’s water quality and supporting the Regions goal to assist communities with natural resource planning and protection.

    After Irene’s 2011 flooding, the town approached CVRPC for assistance in the development of a Fluvial Erosion Hazard (FEH) Zone and corresponding language to include in their various town documents.  To help in the creation of this zone, phase 2 geomorphic data needed to be collected along the Winooski River and numerous tributaries that run through Waterbury into the Winooski River.  All told, there is a total of 24 river miles that have been identified for geomorphic assessment and FEH zone creation.  CVRPC has contracted with Bear Creek Environmental to conduct the phase 2 geomorphic assessment, write the River Corridor Plan, and assist with the creation of the FEH zone. 
  • Lake Champlain Basin Grant – This project evaluates the costs and benefits of floodplain protection in two municipalities in the Lake Champlain Basin, U.S.A – Waterbury, Vermont and Willsboro, New York.  The primary elements of the project will include hydrologic calculations, hydraulic modeling, and damage estimation to determine what form of flood risk reduction makes sound economic sense.  Gauge data will be analyzed to establish current and predicted future floods since data are showing an increase in the size and frequency of flooding over the past several decades.  Hydraulic models will be updated, and then used to investigate inundation and erosion hazards and map inundation areas for various floods.  Software will be used to determine estimates of potential loss that include physical damages, economic loss, and social impacts.  This study will result in a recommendation for floodplain management and provide important information for and about Waterbury.
    Middle Winooski River Corridor Plan - A stream geomorphic assessment of the Winooski River and tributaries was conducted by Bear Creek Environmental, LLC (BCE) under the direction of Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (VANR) during the summer of 2014.  Funding for the project was provided through the State of Vermont Ecosystem Restoration Program. A planning strategy based on fluvial geomorphic science (see glossary at end of report for associated definitions) was chosen because it provides a holistic, watershed?scale approach to identifying the stressors on river ecosystem health. The stream geomorphic assessment data can be used by resource managers, community watershed groups, municipalities and others to identify how changes to land?use alter the physical processes and habitat of rivers.

    Presentation on the Plan by Bear Creek Environmental
    Link to the Plan:

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Mapping & Regulations

Waterbury regulates development within the floodplain under the Flood Hazard Area Zoning Overlay District.  For more information regarding these regulations, please call the Town Planner and Zoning Administrator (802) 244-1012.

The Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) also provides an online mapping tool for property owners to utilize.  This mapping provides a variety of environmental data, including in the floodplain.  FEMA also provides an online mapping tool to generate personal Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs).  These maps can be created through the FEMA Map Service Center. 

The Waterbury Planning Commission is currently in the process of updating its Flood Hazard Regulations.  The commission will hold a public meeting and a public hearing prior to the adoption of the new regulations.  For more information about the Flood Hazard Regulations update and the Planning Commission, please contact Steve Lotspeich, the Community Planner at (802) 244-1012 or by email.

In addition, a LiDAR-based mapping project is currently taking place to gather more information on Waterbury’s floodplain:

  • LiDAR Mapping – Currently, elevation mapping for Waterbury is incomplete, and, as a result, the floodplain maps for the town are inaccurate.  CVRPC applied for, and was awarded, two CDBG-DR grants to conduct LiDAR mapping studies for Waterbury and the surrounding towns.  This mapping study of the Mad and Winooski Rivers will collect detailed elevation data, identify key vulnerable transportation infrastructure, and identify treatment options for these vulnerable sites.  This information will lead to understanding and actions that mitigate risks to public safety and infrastructure in the future, while contributing to current efforts to protect them from future flooding events.  Specific information gained from this study will include delineation of watershed boundaries and existing drainage patterns, determination of watershed slope, and sizing of bridges and culverts.  After these data are evaluated, the Town of Waterbury will be able to request a map amendment to the FEMA floodplain maps for Waterbury.  Flyovers for this mapping are expected to take place in spring 2014.
    • Due to the current, inaccurate data, several property owners have requested assistance from the Town in getting their homes out of the mapped floodplain through a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA).  For more information on LOMAs, visit FEMA’s LOMA information website.

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Long-Term Community Recovery (Irene 2011)

The 2011 spring flooding in Vermont was exacerbated on August 28th, when Tropical Storm Irene dumped eight inches of rain in a 12-hour time period. Waterbury was uniquely impacted, with the flooding of over 200 homes and businesses, including the state office complex and the Vermont State Hospital. Over 1,500 state employees were displaced, seriously jeopardizing the community's economic sustainability.

In the aftermath of the disaster, Waterbury community leaders recognized the need for the community to come together and create a path toward recovery. The Waterbury community began the process of developing a long-term recovery plan in November 2011 with support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Long-Term Community Recovery (LTCR) Team.

An LTCR committee was formed and met for 2 years following Irene, coming to a close in November of 2013. 


The Waterbury Village – Little River State Park Connector Trail was a project born out of Tropical Storm Irene flood recovery in Waterbury in 2011. The project was incorporated into Waterbury’s Long Term Community Recovery Plan as an economic development project. The project goal is to ultimately create a trail from Waterbury Village to Little River State Park to enhance access to the Village and bring outdoor enthusiasts downtown. The Connector Trail will be a non-motorized multi-use trail available for year-round use by bikers, walkers, cross-country skiers, and more. The first step in this project was a trail feasibility study that was funded by a $30,000 Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery grant. The feasibility study has recently been completed by ORW Landscape Architects and Planners and the Final Report can be accessed below.


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