State Announces Green Schools Initiative to Fund Stormwater Mitigation at Public Schools

 

March 16, 2021 - Green Schools Initiative offers funding and technical assistance to help public schools and state colleges meet the Three-Acre General Permit stormwater regulation.

“In partnership with Senator Leahy’s Office and the Lake Champlain Basin Program, the State has secured funds to support stormwater design and permitting for all Three-Acre schools in the Lake Champlain basin that wish to participate,” said Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore.

The new Three-Acre General Permit requires sites with three or more acres of paved or developed surfaces, including roofs and parking lots, to treat polluted stormwater before it flows into Lake Champlain. This permit is an essential part of Lake Champlain’s restoration plan.

DEC is currently accepting applications from contractors to oversee a large block grant program that will complete stormwater design and permitting work on behalf of schools in the Lake Champlain basin. Public schools and colleges in the Lake Champlain basin that need to get a Three-Acre permit will be able to sign up to receive technical and financial assistance for stormwater design and get help applying for the permit. Then, the block grant recipient will select subrecipients, such as local partners and environmental engineering consulting firms, to complete these important initial steps to reduce runoff on behalf of the enrolled schools.

DEC’s Green Stormwater Initiative will also partner with Lake Champlain Sea Grant to provide stormwater education and outreach to school communities. Lake Champlain Sea Grant will provide schools with watershed and stormwater lesson plans as well as training for students and teachers. In addition, Lake Champlain Sea Grant will help schools identify ways to maximize the additional benefits of green stormwater projects, such as creating pollinator habitat and outdoor classrooms.

“Community-based problem solving is an important aspect of the science curriculum at our school,” said Vasanthi Meyette, a teacher at Shelburne Community School. “Lessons involving the water cycle, runoff, sources of pollution, and water filter design give students hands-on experience in understanding stormwater practices, like our school's rain garden, and how they help manage water from our impervious spaces.”

Senator Leahy, who secured this EPA funding through his leadership of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, said:  “This is a win for students, our schools, and for Lake Champlain. I’m pleased that the Green Schools Initiative will accelerate stormwater design work for districts all across the Basin and that the Lake Champlain Sea Grant will take this opportunity to educate students and inspire the next generation of water quality stewards. I am working now to deliver additional funds so schools can implement these improvements.”   

DEC anticipates additional funding opportunities under the Green Schools Initiative to support a second phase to construct stormwater projects for public Three-Acre schools in the Lake Champlain basin, as well as to extend this initiative to Lake Memphremagog basin.

Visit the VTDEC Clean Water Initiative Program Collaborative Grant Opportunities webpage for more information about the Green Schools Initiative. School enrollment details and subrecipient opportunities will be available following the selection of the block grant recipient.