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Technical Guidance

River Management

The methods presented in these documents include the best principles and practices to maximize public safety and infrastructure protection while minimizing habitat impacts, maintaining water quality, mitigating future hazards, and controlling the cost of flood recovery activities. At the same time, the actions described here can meet the thresholds of State Performance Standards for stream alteration (VTANR, 2014). During flood recovery, emergency actions may not meet Performance Standards, but work in the channel must be conducted to meet them to the maximum extent possible. Flood recovery activities that protect public safety at one location may cause greater hazard at another location if not conducted appropriately.

These documents compile the most current river management practices based on the best available science and engineering methods to create consistent practice and language for risk reduction while maintaining river and floodplain function.


Stream Measurement



Comprehensive program mandated by the Vermont Legislature and developed by Vermont ANR in cooperation with VTrans that explains the workings of rivers and how to design, construct and maintain roads and bridges to create greater river stability and more flood resilient transportation infrastructure.

Introductory Level – Tier One

Online training that provides a general awareness and understanding of river processes, aquatic habitat and how transportation infrastructure affects and is affected by river stability.

Intermediate Level – Tier Two

Classroom and field based training that focuses on accommodating channel stability and minimizing impacts to aquatic habitat in design, construction and maintenance of transportation infrastructure.

Tier Two Overview (pdf, 800 KB)

field guide (pdf, 5488 KB)

field guide - booklet form (pdf, 5475 KB)

Advanced Level – Tier Three

Training in the use of the ANR Standards for Stream Alterations to select, design and oversee construction of projects involving river instability and crossing structure repair and/or replacement.

Stream Crossing Structures


Unregulated stream crossings, constructed with inadequate attention to engineering standards, in combination with the physical adjustments of stream channels over time, have been linked with significant public safety hazards, avoidable economic loss, and degradation of water quality during and following flood events (Options for State Flood Control Policies and a Flood Control Program; VT DEC, 1999, pdf, 1 MB).

Placement or construction of Stream Crossing Structures within or over streams requires authorization under the Stream Alteration General Permit, or an Individual Stream Alteration Permit from the Department of Environmental Conservation. Jurisdiction is promulgated under the 10 V.S.A. Chapter 41.

Stream Crossing Structures include any structure type; i.e., bridge, box, arch, culvert, truss or other type structure, intended to convey people, animals, vehicles or materials from one side of the stream or stream channel to another. This does not include private, non-commercial footbridges, pole mounted aerial electric or telecommunications lines; nor does it include below grade utility lines authorized by a Stream Alteration General Permit issued pursuant to 10 V.S.A. Chapter 41. Stream Crossing Structures do include other above grade utility lines such as individually supported aerial sewer or water supply pipelines (not suspended on or supported by an existing structure).

Projects constructed by the VT Agency of Transportation, subject to 19 VSA, Section 10(12), are exempt from this regulatory requirement.

If the proposed stream crossing structure is located on a perennial stream and is subject to the jurisdiction of 10 V.S.A. Chapter 41, persons proposing stream crossing structures must comply with the crossing standards established for reporting activities in the Stream Alteration General Permit and the Standard River Management Practice for Stream Crossing (pdf, 13 KB) and also notify the River Management Engineer with information supportive of project design and review, including sketch plans and profiles providing the following technical information:







a. the size (length along the stream, span length, opening size, etc.) and type of structure including any structural treatments, stone fill, headwalls, etc.,

b. any proposed changes in the stream channel bed elevation,

c. existing and proposed channel dimensions

d. elevations of structural elements (headwalls, stringers, etc.) relative to streambed and top of bank

e. watershed size at the location of the crossing

f.  USGS location map

Sketch plans and profiles, except in special cases, may generally be provided based on tape and hand level accuracy field survey data. If not drawn to scale, all dimensions and elevations must be noted on the drawings. Information shall be submitted to the VT DEC River Management Engineer located at the appropriate VT Agency of Natural Resources district office.

It is recommended that the project manager contact the River Management Engineer and conduct a site inspection prior to preparing a General Permit Activity Reporting Form or an Individual Stream Alteration Permit and supporting information and plans so that project review can proceed more efficiently.

Direct any inquiries to the DEC  River Management Engineer at the appropriate DEC regional office.

Additional Stream Crossing Resources

VT DEC Watershed Management Division 1 National Life Drive, Main 2  Montpelier, VT  05620-3522  Tele: 802-828-1535   Fax: 802-828-1544


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