.....The river itself reflects the health of its watershed. The Connecticut River was once known as "the best landscaped sewer in New England." No more... and there are many reasons why. You can be one of them.

Best Management Practices
Long experience with the water quality impacts of various kinds of land management has led the States of Vermont and New Hampshire to develop detailed guidance for landowners and towns in how to best manage land to minimize nonpoint pollution.

When we surveyed the 1300 riverfront landowners in VT and NH, riverbank erosion turned out to be their number one concern. Learn what you can do to help avoid erosion on your property.

Homeowner's Guide to Nonpoint Source Pollution
Useful, pollution-reducing hints for homeowners for managing the home landscape, indoors and out.



Best Management Practices

Below is a general summary of selected practices for a variety of activities.

Each state has its own approach to these land management practices. For instance, spreading of manure in the winter, when it is likely to wash into streams because the frozen ground cannot absorb it, is highly discouraged by New Hampshire but prohibited between December 15 and April 1 by Vermont's rules for "acceptable agricultural practices." Contact the New Hampshire Dept. of Environmental Services or Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, or your county office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, for information on the guidance or regulations which apply in your area.

Click on the topic below to learn more.












NEW: AMERICAN GROUNDWATER TRUST'S Non-point Source Pollution Manual



Ensure good oversight of erosion and sedimentation control.

  • provide erosion, sedimentation, and stormwater management plans
  • use all natural resource information, including soils, topography, and geology

Minimize the amount of bare soil exposed.

  • limit clearing on building sites and rights-of-way
  • cluster buildings; build one phase at a time
  • mulch all bare soil as soon as possible, before storms or rainfall
  • stabilize, seed and mulch the area when soil will be exposed for an extended period

Minimize water-impervious surfaces that increase runoff.

  • minimize the area of roofs, roads, sidewalks, and parking lots
  • leave undisturbed as much of the site's natural vegetation as possible
  • consider using porous pavement

Direct water away from construction areas.

  • don't concentrate stormwater into channels
  • redirect clean water that could otherwise drain onto the construction site
  • schedule work during periods of low water, low rainfall, and when vegetation can best be established
  • work with the natural contours of the site; use natural drainways (not man-made ones or streambeds)
  • avoid building roads up and down steep slopes
  • provide ditches and channels of sufficient stability and capacity to handle storm runoff velocities
  • install ditch turnouts so that runoff flows into vegetated areas
  • use natural ground cover (such as grass) on slopes and in drainage ditches
  • use wet (retention) ponds to trap sediment and phosphorus
  • ensure that storm and other drainage systems (not wastewater systems) empty into adequately sized channels and
  • don't enter sewage systems

Protect existing stormwater inlets and culverts from sediment.

  • mulch all bare soils
  • install silt fencing and hay bale filters
  • use sediment traps in larger ditches
  • install a temporary, perforated riser at culverts

Make sure your erosion control measures are effective.

  • adjust, maintain, and repair erosion controls after every storm event
  • remove all temporary measures once construction has ceased and vegetation has taken root


Minimize pollutants washed into waterways from developed sites.

  • use natural vegetation or new landscaping to act as a filter or buffer
  • limit the amount of clearing
  • divert runoff around sites where it could pick up pollutants
  • keep parking areas, outdoor storage areas, and streets clean of debris
  • maintain catch basins to prevent backup
  • use grassed swales, constructed wetlands, detention ponds, wet ponds, and catch basins
  • direct water away from unpaved road surfaces and keep runoff velocities low


Control erosion on exposed soils.

  • construct water bars, turn-ups, and ditches on sloped trails and haul roads to divert runoff into the forest
  • use appropriate method of wetland or water crossing for size of stream and traffic it must bear
  • cross streams at right angles
  • keep steep road pitches to a minimum and run skid trails at an angle to the slope
  • size culverts properly; use on all truck road crossings of permanent streams
  • maintain filter strips between logging operations and water bodies
  • locate landings and roads on level or gently sloping ground, away from water bodies
  • install water diversions at log landings to prevent sedimentation
  • keep all slash away from streams and water bodies
  • seed and mulch trails and exposed soils once operations are complete


Keep fertilizers from fertilizing waterways.

  • tailor the application of manure and fertilizer to the nutrient needs of the crop
  • use soil tests to determine current nutrient levels and soil pH
  • diversify crop rotations and plant cover crops after harvesting to use residual nutrients
  • avoid spreading manure or fertilizer on frozen or snow covered ground
  • incorporate manure into the soil as soon as possible after spreading
  • do not store manure in the floodway or near wells
  • maintain filter strips between surface waters and fields and feedlots
  • control livestock access to water bodies
  • divert runoff away from high animal use areas
  • keep accurate fertilizer application and crop yield records
  • manage milkhouse and parlor wash water
  • store manure in properly constructed and located facilities

Control sedimentation and erosion.

  • plant crops along contour lines
  • rotate crops that provide limited ground cover with those that provide generous ground cover
  • maintain filter strips between fields and surface waters
  • plant cover crops or maintain residue cover on the fields after harvest
  • construct and stabilize diversions to control runoff across cropland and control erosion in gullies
  • keep livestock off bare streambanks
  • set farm buildings back from streams

Use pesticides carefully.

  • apply pesticides only when needed
  • consider using integrated pest management to reduce pesticide use
  • apply, store and handle pesticides properly
  • obtain training in pesticide application or hire a licensed applicator
  • do not spray or apply pesticides on windy days or before a heavy rain storm


It is illegal in both states to dump plowed snow directly into water bodies.

Keep salt, sand, and other pollutants in winter snow piles out of waterways.

  • store disposed snow near flowing surface waters, but at least 25' from the high water mark, in order to dilute the salt with river water and avoid impacts to ground water, lakes, and wetlands; solid materials contained in the snow remain on the land surface and should be removed each spring
  • avoid storing snow near water supply wells
  • store salt piles under cover and on a flat, impervious surface so salt does not wash into the ground
  • remove sand from streets in early spring

Apply road salt carefully.

  • identify sensitive areas such as public water supplies and ponds, and consider de-icing alternatives
  • give salt time to work; know when to plow and reapply salt
  • determine salt application rates and frequency for all roads in a service area
  • apply salt in a 4-8' wide center strip along lesser traveled roads
  • use ground-speed controllers on spreaders


Keep these pollutants out of ground and surface waters.

  • ensure that chemicals are recovered, recycled, or reused wherever possible
  • have a spill prevention and response plan, with containment equipment readily available
  • store containers and transfer chemicals only in areas that will contain spills, and away from waters, storm drains, and wells
  • inspect regularly for leaks or potential contact with stormwater
  • schedule routine cleanup operations
  • do not allow floor drains and work sinks to discharge into or onto the ground


Keep the system working well to prevent groundwater pollution.

  • know the location of septic tank and leach field; mark tank cover
  • inspect tank frequently and pump it out at least every 3 years
  • use water conservatively
  • keep vehicles and livestock off the system
  • do not use kitchen garbage disposal, which can clog the system
  • do not pour caustic or toxic materials down the drain; these may kill necessary bacteria and contaminate sludge later intended for land application
  • do not flush bulky items such as disposable diapers or sanitary pads into the system
  • avoid putting food waste and grease into the system
  • keep deep rooted trees and shrubs away from the leach field

Encourage local oversight.

  • consider a town septic system education and inspection program
  • consider adopting a local health ordinance for septic system regulation


Ensure that new marinas are properly constructed to minimize water pollution.

  • minimize the amount of paved, impervious surface
  • limit use of pressure-treated lumber
  • retain natural, vegetated buffers along the shore where possible
  • provide erosion, sedimentation, and stormwater management plans

Prevent pollution from marina and boating activities.

  • use only phosphate-free detergents and treat wash water before it enters the waterbody
  • perform engine maintenance out of the water
  • use propylene glycol as an antifreeze
  • conduct painting and scraping where debris will not enter the water
  • provide for spill containment
  • install catch basins around boat launches to trap pollutants
  • provide public restrooms and pumpout facilities to limit input of wastewater into water bodies
  • use an on-board holding tank

Avoid introducing exotic species.

  • remove plant fragments from boats and trailers
  • wash boat and flush cooling system; leave boat out of water for 48 hours after boating in a contaminated waterbody


Avoid pollution of nearby drinking water supplies and surface waters.

  • investigate proposed pit areas during planning; allow space for mild pit slopes, diversions, and setbacks from abutters, water bodies, and drinking water supplies
  • provide buffer strips of natural vegetation
  • maintain 5 feet of unexcavated material above the seasonal high water table as a filter
  • do not store petroleum products in the pit area
  • develop spill prevention plan and clean up spills immediately
  • maintain and wash equipment outside the pit area
  • control dust to prevent nuisance and public hazard; use water rather than calcium chloride; never use oil
  • use retention basins to trap fine material; clean out regularly
  • use anti-tracking pads at gravel pit access roads to dislodge mud from tires

Reclaim excavations.

  • leave surface soil which can sustain vegetation, and plant with grass or seedlings to prevent erosion
  • grade slopes to at least the natural angle of repose
  • restore original, natural drainage


Reduce risk of nutrient contamination of surface or subsurface water.

  • do not store or apply biosolids near surface water or wells
  • do not apply biosolids during time of high water table
  • total available nitrogen should not exceed crop requirements

Reduce risk of contamination of feed crop lands.

  • prioritize non-cropland or non-food crop lands for application
  • for feed crop land, apply in fall before soil freezes or prior to planting
  • avoid application where food crops are grown, especially leaf and root crops
  • manage and monitor the land carefully

Apply and monitor carefully.

  • select weather conditions when odors will dissipate quickly
  • test soil nitrate levels annually
  • calibrate equipment for uniform application rates
  • avoid use of heavy equipment on wet soil
  • do not apply on frozen, excessively wet, or snow-covered ground
  • monitor the site and maintain at pH 6.5 long-term
  • keep good crop records on individual fields



  • Best Management Practices to Control Nonpoint Source Pollution: A Guide for Citizens and Town Officials, NH Dept. of Environmental Services, 1994.
  • Best Management Practices for Urban Stormwater Runoff, NH Dept. of Environmental Services, 1996
  • Stormwater Management / Erosion and Sedimentation Control Handbook for Urban and Developing Areas in New Hampshire, NH Dept. of Environmental Services, 1992
  • Best Management Wetland Practices for Agriculture, NH Dept. of Agriculture
  • New Hampshire's Manual of Best Management Practices for Agriculture, NH Dept. of Agriculture, 1993
  • Resource Manual: Best Management Practices for Erosion Control on Timber Harvesting Operations in New Hampshire, NH Division of Forests and Lands, 1991.
  • Best Management Practices: Biosolids, UNH Cooperative Extension, 1995


  • Vermont Agricultural Nonpoint Source Pollution Reduction Program Law and Regulations, VT Dept. of Agriculture, Food and Markets, 1996
  • Acceptable Management Practices for Maintaining Water Quality on Logging Jobs in Vermont, VT Dept. of Forests, Parks and Recreation, 1987
  • Vermont Handbook for Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control on Construction Sites, VT Agency of Natural Resources, 1982
  • Vermont Streambank Conservation Manual, VT Agency of Natural Resources, 1987
  • Vermont Better Backroads Manual, George D. Aiken/Northern VT Resource Conservation & Development Councils, 1995
  • Wetland Fact Sheets: "Erosion Control," "Agricultural Activities in Wetlands," "Stormwater and Wetlands," VT Dept. of Environmental Conservation, 1992
  • "Road Salt and Salted Sand Storage Guidelines," Dept. of Environmental Conservation, 1993



  • The Challenge of Erosion in the Connecticut River Watershed, 1996
  • The Watershed Guide to Cleaner Rivers, Lakes, and Streams, 1995
  • A Homeowner's Guide to Controlling Nonpoint Source Pollution in the Connecticut River Valley, 1994