Like many aspects of municipal actions, good planning is key to success. Green Infrastructure can be promoted through various types of plans.


Stormwater Master Plan (SWMP)

One of the most common ways to “plan” for Green Infrastructure is to develop a Stormwater Master Plan.

For a useful introduction to Stormwater Master Planning in Vermont, see Stormwater Master Planning in Vermont (Watershed Consulting Associates).

The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources has also prepared Vermont Stormwater Master Planning Guidelines.

The guide recommends that the Plan address the following elements:


Model Outline for Stormwater Master Plans

Municipal Regulations are key because of the numerous factors and mechanisms that indirectly or directly manage stormwater including but not limited to:

I. Problem Definition

  1. Water quality or water quantity problems;
  2. Biological or chemical monitoring data of receiving waters;
  3. Receiving stream or river geomorphic data.

II. Existing Data Collection

  1. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data – Stormwater infrastructure, impervious surfaces, soils, wetlands, watershed-subwatershed boundaries, culvert and bridge inventories, roads, stormwater best management practices, tree canopy cover, elevation data, slope, build out analyses and land use;
  2. Existing reports/studies of water quality problems (i.e. water quantity or water quality modeling analyses, class 3 or 4 road assessments/inventories, sanitary surveys, surface water drinking water protection plans, stormwater illicit discharge assessments, municipal capital development plans;
  3. Existing Data Analysis – Define priorities for receiving water restoration based on current data, define water quality and/or quantity goals, define data gaps and plan to fill data gaps.

III. New Data Collectioin

  1. Conduct field surveys (windshield, public polls, public meetings, DPW –Street Dept. meetings, watershed walks, etc.) and compile list of sites contributing to the water quality problem;
  2. Define any field data gaps and plan to fill gaps;
  3. Field data analysis;
  4. Compile list of sources associated with defined water problem;
  5. Prioritize list based using decision matrix that can lead to feasible project selection, funding and implementation.

IV. Existing and Proposed Program, Prodecure or Practice Evaluation

  1. Define existing programs, procedures or practices that address problem;
  2. Define new programs, procedures or practices that could address problem.

V. Summary and Recommendations

  1. Summarize current conditions;
  2. Propose additional system knowledge acquisition based on II c and III b;
  3. Proposed actions for existing development;
  4. Proposed actions for new development;
  5. Coordinate V c and V d actions with municipal capital development plans;
  6. Coordinate public comments/input.

For the latest information on Storm Water Master Planning in Vermont visit this link at the Vermont DEC.


Promoting Green Infrastructure in the Town Plan

At a more general level, the principles embodied in Stormwater Master Planning (e.g. problem identification, data gathering, recommended actions) can also be incorporate at a general level into a municipal Comprehensive Plan aka “Town Plan” For example, a Plan can identify areas where stormwater runoff should be minimized or areas where development should be limited in order to facilitate retention of stormwater (e.g. hillsides, streambanks, etc.).

Projects (e.g., rock lined ditches, rain gardens, pervious pavers, etc.) can also be outlined in Capital Plans.