State highlights Bennington river management projects

Aug 23, 2018

BENNINGTON — Streambed work done along the Roaring Branch before Tropical Storm Irene struck in 2011 is being recognized by the state as an example of how to work with a river's natural flow, not against it.

In town as the anniversary of the storm neared, Josh Carvajal and Todd Menees, engineers with the state Watershed Management Division's Rivers Program, pointed out locations along the river that illustrate Vermont's favored approach to flood and erosion control.

The volatile Branch flows rapidly downslope from the Green Mountains in Woodford, headed toward flatter sections of Bennington and the Walloomsac River. During the Aug. 28, 2011, storm, raging water ripped up berm work, swept away or destabilized streambank structures and collapsed a major bridge on Route 9 in Woodford, cutting off the main route toward Wilmington and Brattleboro.

After the rains stopped, riverbed in sections of Bennington was stripped of vegetation and packed with rocks, sediment and debris from upstream, and lower-lying areas around the confluence with the Walloomsac River were inundated.

But it could have been worse, Carvajal said, if not for the town's participation, beginning in 2008, in a state Department of Environmental Conservation initiative to discourage streambank development and allow rivers wider channels in which to roam. . . . Town Planning Director Dan Monks said that this much larger floodplain project, designed by Roy Schiff, of Milone & MacBroom, who also designed the pre-Irene project, expanded and continued the process of recreating a more natural flow patterns for the Roaring Branch.

He said the engineering firm also now periodically measures sediment levels, particularly around bridge abutments, to point out areas that might need more work prior to the next big storm.

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