Press Release: Town Stormwater Study Being Conducted: Will Utilize Environmental Canines

August 28, 2015
Press Release
Bennington Stormwater Study
(Also Known as an “Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination” IDDE Study)

In an ongoing effort to improve water quality, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation will use grant money from the Ecosystem Restoration Program (ERP) to complete a study in Bennington designed to find and eliminate potential sources of water pollution linked to sanitary sewers or leaking septic systems. Known as an Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination, or IDDE, Study, contractors will spend the summer and fall working to identify possible pollutant sources.

The work has been contracted to Watershed Consulting Associates (WCA), LLC of Burlington, VT. WCA has ten years of experience in stormwater management and water quality issues.

Residents of the Town of Bennington, Old Bennington, and North Bennington can expect to see these contractors throughout the late spring, summer, and early fall traversing various streams and their tributaries. They will be sampling stormwater system outfall pipes and analyzing effluent for various water quality parameters, such as phosphorous and E. coli, to determine if a stormwater system may be cross-connected with a sanitary sewer system. If any pollution indicators are found, the contractors will work closely with the Town to resolve the issue.

The ultimate goal of this work is help eliminate potential sources of pollution that reach bodies of water in the Bennington area. As many of these water bodies are important amenities for recreation as well as sources of drinking (well) water for some, eliminating potential pollutants benefits the entire community and protects natural ecosystems.

During the week of August 31 to September 4, WCA will be working with Environmental Canine Services (ECS) of Maine to conduct a specific phase of the IDDE’s Advanced Investigation. Using information gathered over the course of the summer, WCA and ECS will visit specific stormwater sewer systems with dogs that have been specially trained to detect the presence of human sewage in water. Since 2009 these dogs and their handlers have trained to detect and differentiate between human and animal-based sewage. This provides a rapid, cost-effective way to source track potential pollution issues. Expect to see teams of contractors with dogs in the Bennington area during that week.

Most of the canines were rescued or adopted and are breeds typically chosen for scenting work, such as from the sporting, herding, and working dog groups.  They are specially trained with methods similar to other scent detection canines, such as for drug or arson detection.  To the canines, their job is exciting, and they look forward to being rewarded for successful work with food, play, or their favorite toy.

For questions, please contact the Town of Bennington (802) 442-1037.