ORCA Pod Wastewater Infrastructure Mapping (WIM)

Repo: https://github.com/VERSO-UVM/Wastewater-Infrastructure-Mapping

Tasks: TBA

Vermont places a strong emphasis on maintaining its unique settlement pattern characterized by compact village centers surrounded by rural landscapes. However, a significant challenge arises when these village centers lack public water and sewer systems. 

The lack of comprehensive data on this issue underscores the necessity of this project, as anecdotal evidence suggests that existing village properties face numerous challenges due to regulatory compliance related to water and wastewater. This not only affects new development opportunities but also jeopardizes the retention of businesses and homes, leading to a looming housing crisis exacerbated by an inability to build new housing at scale without public infrastructure.

Villages without public water and sewer systems have been at a standstill since Vermont’s wastewater and potable water rules were revised in 2007. The costs and physical constraints of compliance, coupled with restrictions on new public water sources near existing septic systems, hinder business growth, job retention, and housing availability. This isn’t just a matter of individual property owners; it’s about the broader public good, economic sustainability, and the future vitality of our communities. 

Addressing this challenge may require strategic public investment solutions to ensure the continued prosperity and development of Vermont’s villages and regions.

This project hopes to address these problems by first identify what data resources for wastewater systems already exist and then build out a dataset to fill out what is missing at the town level. This, in conjunction with the Vermont Zoning Atlas and the ANR GIS – Vermont Wastewater Infrastructure  will help to determine the capacity and potential ideal locations for growing housing.

What We Do

The ORCA Pod will address critical challenges in Vermont’s development landscape by conducting a comprehensive assessment of wastewater infrastructure across towns in the state. A wastewater system, also known as a sewage or sewer system, refers to the infrastructure designed to collect, transport, treat, and dispose of wastewater generated from residential, commercial, and industrial sources. The system typically includes a network of pipes, pumps, lift stations, and treatment facilities that work together to manage and process wastewater before releasing it back into the environment.


This initiative, in collaboration with the Windham Regional Commission will systematically map wastewater infrastructure data to understand its impact on economic activity and housing development. This includes finding what data is already available, working with partners to determine the format of the data to be collect, and then working with available online resources and reaching out to towns to identify and record wastewater systems.


The UVM students will compile and publish town-level wastewater infrastructure data on a publicly accessible repository, working in tandem with state agencies like the Vermont Center for Geographic Information, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development.


These efforts will be in collaboration with the Town of Jericho’s efforts to pilot an outreach strategy to educate and empower stakeholders with essential information on funding pathways, resources, and planning considerations. These efforts aims not only to address immediate development challenges but also to align with broader state objectives outlined in the Vermont Climate Action Plan, Comprehensive Energy Plan, and Long-Range Transportation Plan, fostering a holistic approach to sustainable growth and resilience.


We are posting the job listing soon!

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