Library filed under Erosion from Vermont
In order to build the project, mountainous terrain must be blasted and graded to develop the roads to provide access of trucks and cranes to these high elevations. The natural hydrology is interrupted and redirected, with tens of acres of imperious cover created. To compensate for this change in the natural runoff patterns the Stiles Brook project would contain upwards of 50 plus structural storm water management facilities that would require maintenance in perpetuity. If these systems fail due to insufficient design or construction, lack of maintenance or poor siting, storm water runoff from the site will increase significantly.
Smith said the runoff trouble was predicted by a team of 10 concerned Vermonters, including water quality experts and lawyers ...“At the end of each meeting, the people we met with told us there was massive political pressure (to approve the Lowell project),” she said. “During the meeting they told us we were raising good issues, and that they would look carefully at them and get back to us. Well they never got back to us and then the permits went out.”
Geoff Goll, the principal engineer of Princeton Hydro, Exton, Pa., said that it is very difficult to control stormwater runoff from steep terrain, and he said that the measures currently being employed often don’t work. He said roads and trails would need to be built to the turbine sites themselves, creating impervious surfaces, which increases runoff and pollution. The Lowell Mountain wind project created 27 acres of impervious land, and total disturbance of the mountain totalled 135 acres.
"We all support renewable energy, but it must be built in conformance with the existing standards intended to prevent stormwater pollution of our pristine streams. We cannot trade a wind project for our water quality. Our water is everything -- our wells, our water supply for fire fighting, our high elevation streams, our wetlands, our rivers. We cannot let our water be compromised so Gaz Metro and their cronies can make a buck."
The below letter sent to the Vermont Public Service Board describes a significant flooding event in the vicinity the Lowell wind energy facility under construction.
He is concerned that the storm water controls are insufficient and poorly designed for the area due to its steep slopes and for other reasons. He, like others, questions whether or not the site impacted nearby water quality near and if the storm caused a larger volume of water at the base of the mountain due to the run-off.
Lowell wind opponents were outraged that problems cropped up with the project so early in the construction phase. During storm water hearings this summer, they questioned whether the state has enough staff involved in erosion control oversight to handle high-elevation construction sites like the Lowell wind project.
Natural Resources Secretary Deb Markowitz confirmed that the order had been issued for what an inspector determined was inadequate handling of storm runoff during the early stages of work on the project, which is being developed by Green Mountain Power Corp.
Individual members of the grassroots group Ridge Protectors Inc., filed an appeal in Vermont's Environmental Court arguing that more ground would be disturbed by the Sheffield wind facility than was approved in the storm water discharge permit issued by the State's Agency of Natural Resources (ANR). The wind developer, First Wind has been approved by the Vermont Public Service Board to erect sixteen 2.5 megawatt wind turbines along a ridgeline in Sheffield, Vermont. The final brief filed by the Ridge Protector appellants can be accessed by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page. An excerpt of the brief is posted below.
Planning Commission Chairman Brian Keefe had his hands full keeping the overflow audience from drifting away from the siting issue. Many wanted to discuss questions of aesthetics or the merits of wind power. Keefe explained that there would be at least two or three meetings to discuss those other issues.