Private Wells and Water
During and after flooding events, private water systems (wells, springs, and surface water intakes) can become contaminated with microorganisms and chemicals that can cause serious illnesses. Water may not be safe to use for drinking, cooking, or cleaning after a flood until it has been tested by a Vermont certified laboratory and treated accordingly.
- Private Drinking Water Guidance (DEC)
- Private Drinking Water Guidance (Department of Health)
- Where to Get Water
- On-Site Drinking Water and Wastewater Funding Sources (DEC)
Flooding events can compromise critical public water infrastructure, leaving drinking water vulnerable to biological or chemical contamination. Depending on the extent of actual or potential contamination, a public water system may be placed on a Boil Water or Do Not Drink notice. This notice will remain in place until it is determined that water treatment is operating as designed, and there is no longer an immediate public health risk of drinking water contamination.
- List: Public Boil Water and Do Not Drink Notices (DEC)
- What should you do if you're under a Boil Water and Do Not Drink Notice? (DEC)
- Where to Get Water
- Guidance for Businesses and Water Professionals: Public Drinking Water Systems (DEC)
Flooding can have various impacts on your home or business septic system (on-site wastewater system). Floodwaters can damage the system’s physical structure and prevent wastewater from being treated properly. Floodwaters can also overwhelm systems and cause wastewater to back up into your home.
- Home septic system troubles? Contact a DEC regional engineer for support.
- Managing Your Septic System During a Flood (DEC)
- On-Site Drinking Water and Wastewater Funding Sources (DEC)
Cleaning Up After the Flood
Managing Flood Debris
Be safe! Use gloves, eye protection, masks, and other protective gear. Handle household chemicals with care. After a flood event, most debris can be disposed of in one container. Separate out hazardous items from trash.
- After the Flood - River and Stream Debris Management (DEC)
- ANR Flood Debris Cleanup Guide (DEC)
- Cleaning Up (Department of Health)
Did the flooding cause a heating fuel tank to topple over and/or spill onto the ground or in your basement? Report any spills of hazardous materials (such as heating oil) that reached the ground or water so the Spills Program can help assess the situation and provide guidance and services for cleanup.
To report a spill:
- Call 802-828-1138 during regular office hours (Monday through Friday from 7:45 am to 4:30 pm) OR
- Call 800-641-5005 anytime to reach the 24-Hour HAZMAT Hotline OR
- Call 800-424-8802 to reach the National Response Center if there are any impacts or potential impacts to surface waters.
The widespread flooding in Vermont caused many basements to fill with water and, in some cases, cause a release of oil from heating oil tanks in the basement. Heating oil tanks may have also become filled with water or unstable. Check out this guidance on how to safely pump out your basement:
- How to Safely Pump Out Basements (Press Release)
Oily Flood Debris
After pumping out your basement, if any debris is coated with oil (such as furniture, wood, sheetrock, etc.), the material should be removed, put onto a plastic layer such as a drop cloth or tarp, and covered in an additional plastic layer to allow for it to drip dry. These materials can be disposed of as solid waste. Any liquid with oil in it – including liquid that collects on the plastic layers as noted above – should be put into a container with a lid and disposed of as household hazardous waste.
If your heating oil tank has water in it or has become unstable due to flooding, call 802-828-1138 or the HAZMAT Hotline at 800-641-5005. DEC can help get a contractor out to assist with your tank.
Mud or Silt Cleanup
When you are cleaning up any mud or silt from flooding, use gloves, eye protection, masks, and other protective gear. If the mud or silt is contaminated with any petroleum, oil, or other hazardous material, call the 24-Hour HAZMAT Hotline at 800-641-5005 to report. For non-contaminated or pathogen-contaminated mud or silt, contact a local septic hauler for disposal services.
Above Ground Storage Tanks (ASTs)
If your AST needs to be replaced due to flooding, all new installations must follow the State’s 2017 AST Rules. These standards provide guidance on how to install ASTs in flood-prone areas and outline key measures that help prevent damage, disruption, and environmental impacts in the future.
If your AST was impacted by flooding but does not need to be replaced outright, it can be reinstalled in the same location, however, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) strongly advises that these same standards are followed.
Erosion and Landslides
Dial 911 to report a landslide threatening your home or business, then immediately leave the structure. In a non-emergency situation call 211 and Report a Slide online if you are concerned that recent erosion may impact structures on your property.
- Vermont Has a High Risk of Landslides After Recent Flooding (Press Release)
The Dam Safety Program (DSP) regulates dams in accordance with state law and works to reduce risks to life, property, and the environment from dam incidents and dam failure. DSP regulates non-power, non-federal dams and acts as the owner and operator at 14 DEC-owned dams, including the 3 Winooski River Flood Control Dams (Waterbury, Wrightsville, East Barre). The program manages the Vermont Dam Inventory database, a permit program for construction and alteration of dams, an inspection program, an annual registration program, and other related tasks. The DSP also educates dam owners and the public about dam safety issues.
Recreation After the Flood
Trails, Hiking, and Forests
- Know before you go.
- Check road conditions and closures at Vermont 511.
- Check weather forecasts at NWS Burlington and NWS Albany.
- Check trail, park, and water conditions:
- Trail Finder: hiking and multi-use trails
- Vermont Mountain Bike Association (VMBA) Trail Conditions: mountain bike trails
- Green Mountain Club (GMC) Trail Conditions: Long Trail system alerts
- Vermont State Parks: State Park list of current park and site closures
- Fish and Wildlife Access: access area closures
Find flood resources from the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (FPR) for:
- Outdoor recreation businesses, recreation managers and service providers, and municipal parks and recreation departments
- Forest economy businesses and landowners
Lakes, Ponds, and Rivers
After a flood, surface waters (such as lakes, ponds, and rivers) and flood waters could contain debris, contaminants, and pathogens such as viruses and bacteria that may cause illness or injury. Though these areas may not be posted with notices to avoid contact, recreation, wading, boating, swimming, or fishing should be avoided for several days until flows return to normal levels. Wait until the water is clear and calm and use extra caution.
With high water levels, move at slower than normal speeds when boating to reduce shoreline erosion. The lake level for Lake Champlain is dropping and at 98.26 feet (below the flood stage level of 100 feet) as of August 3, 2023. Docks may have become submerged but there should not be any widespread property damage.
Flood waters also carry excess nutrients and sediments, further reducing water quality. Blue-green algae blooms are more likely for the next several weeks.
- VT DEC Issues Public Alert for Polluted Water (Press Release)
- Check for blue-green algae blooms before going out using the VT Cyanobacteria Tracker (Department of Health)
- Check for beach and swimming closures at Vermont State Parks
- Find information about swim water testing and bacteria in water (Department of Health)
- Use Caution Recreating, Consider Volunteering (Press Release)
River Damage and Restoration
- Concerns with a river or stream impacting your property? Request assistance.
- Flood Recovery Work in Rivers and Streams (Press Release)
- Help for Communities on How to Comply with FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program After a Flood (DEC)
- Property Concerns with Rivers and Streams After Recent Flooding (Press Release)
- After A Flood: Guidance from the DEC Rivers Program
- Vermont Wetlands Program Emergency Allowed Use Guidance