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Waterbury Reservoir Risk Management Project

Better amenities on the way for public at Waterbury Reservoir | Vermont  Business Magazine

The dam at Waterbury Reservoir in Waterbury is situated on the Little River, about 2.5 miles above its confluence with the Winooski River. From Waterbury, the dam can be reached by traveling two miles west on U.S. Route 2, then right on Little River Road for three miles.

In conjunction with East Barre Dam and Wrightsville Reservoir, Waterbury Reservoir provides flood protection to the downstream communities of Duxbury, Bolton, Richmond, Williston, Jericho, Essex, Colchester, Burlington, South Burlington, and Winooski.

Construction of the project began in April 1935 and was completed in October 1938. The project consists of an earthfill dam with stone slope protection 1,845 feet long and 187 feet high; an 882-foot-long semicircular concrete conduit 10.5 feet high and 14 feet wide; two 230-foot-long steel conduits, each with a diameter of four feet six inches; a 290-foot-long steel circular conduit with a diameter of four feet; three 26.5-foot-high tainter gates, with two gates each measuring 20 feet wide and the third 35 feet wide; and a spillway cut in rock with a 154-foot-long concrete ogee weir. The weir’s crest elevation is 15.5 feet lower than the top of the dam. Waterbury Reservoir was one of four flood damage reduction projects constructed in Vermont by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s. Construction was overseen by the Corps’ North Atlantic Division. Because of accounting procedures, the construction costs of Waterbury Reservoir were not calculated separately, but instead lumped together with the construction costs of East Barre Dam, Wrightsville Reservoir, and the Winooski River Local Protection Project. The construction costs of these four projects totaled $13.7 million. Following completion, Waterbury Reservoir and associated lands were turned over to the state of Vermont for operation and maintenance.

The present-day configuration of the dam is the result of two major modifications that allow a greater amount of water to pass through the spillway, increasing the dam’s structural integrity. The first modification, which began in September 1956, included raising the dam three feet and installing the 35-foot-wide tainter gate. This work was completed in November 1959 at a cost of $861,000. The second modification began in January 1985 and involved constructing the 290-foot-long steel conduit, rebuilding the toe of the dam, and grouting the dam’s foundation to control seepage. This work was completed in December 1985 at a cost of $4.8 million.

For most of the year, Waterbury Reservoir has a pool of 860 acres with a maximum depth of approximately 100 feet. During the winter, the pool is drained to a surface area of between 250-300 acres by the Green Mountain Power Corporation, owners of the hydroelectric power plant at the base of the dam (see below), in anticipation of spring rains and snowmelt. The flood storage area of the project, which is normally empty and utilized only to store floodwaters, totals 1,330 acres and extends approximately six miles upstream through Stowe. The project and all associated lands (including part of Mount Mansfield State Forest) cover 12,912 acres. Waterbury Reservoir can store up to nine billion gallons of water for flood control purposes. This is equivalent to 4.8 inches of water covering its drainage area of 109 square miles.

Swim, paddle or picnic at reservoir in Waterbury

The main recreational attraction at Waterbury Reservoir is the Little River State Park, a 1,100-acre block within the larger 37,000-acre Mount Mansfield State Forest. Little River State Park has a 60-acre campground on the western shore of the reservoir containing 101 campsites (20 of these sites have lean-tos), each with its own picnic table and fireplace. There are two designated swimming areas: Area A has about 300 feet of beach situated on one side of Stevenson’s Brook Cove, and Area B, located approximately 650 feet across the cove, has about 150 feet of beach. Little River State Park also has an excellent marked trail system, with dozens of hiking trails totaling about 30 miles. During the winter, about 17 miles of trail are marked for snowmobiling, with the remainder marked for cross-country skiing. The campground has a boat ramp (located in Area A); boat rentals; hot showers; drinking water; and sanitary facilities.

History buffs take note: There are three areas of archeological and historical significance within the Little River State Park. They are:

  • The Civilian Conservation Corps campsite used by the workers constructing the dam at Waterbury Reservoir. Between 1933 and 1939 over 2,000 men lived and worked here. At one time, this self contained community featured more than 80 buildings. Although a few foundations exist, none of the buildings remain. This area is located on Little River Road, about .25 mile southwest of the dam.
  • The foundations of a farm community dating back to the late 1800s. This site is situated about 2.5 miles northwest of Stevenson’s Brook Cove.
  • Several foundations of farmhouses dating back to the late 1700s. These are located near Cotton Brook, about eight miles north of dam. Note that the final six miles of travel must be made through woods; this site is not directly accessible by car.

Another recreational area enjoyed by visitors to Waterbury Reservoir is the Waterbury Reservoir Day Use Recreation Area, a 90-acre peninsula situated on Town Highway 17 (Old River Road), about .25 mile off Route 100. This site offers picnicking on 12 tables and 10 charcoal grills; swimming on 220 feet of beach; a concrete boat ramp; snowmobiling and cross-country skiing on unmarked trails; and sanitary facilities.

Three other areas offer limited recreational opportunities. The Waterbury Reservoir Boat Launch Area is located immediately behind the dam and provides boaters with an area in which to unload. The Blush Hill Recreation Area, located on Route 100 about six miles north of the dam, offers snowmobiling on marked trails. The Little River Canoe Access Area, located on Moscow Road (off Route 100) about five miles north of the dam, allows canoeists easy access to the reservoir. All of the above-mentioned recreational areas are operated and maintained by the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation, except for the Waterbury Reservoir Boat Launch Area, …

WATERBURY CENTER STATE PARK AND WATERBURY RESERVOIR

Lake Area:

860 acres

click for larger map of Waterbury Center State Park

Lake Max. Depth:

100 feet

Fish Species

Rainbow troutbrown troutrainbow smeltsmallmouth bassbullhead, and yellow perch.

Habitat

family fishing at Little River State Park

When the Little River was dammed, it created the Waterbury Reservoir. Little River flows into the reservoir at its north end and out of the reservoir via controlled flow at its southern end. The reservoir features clear water and a bottom consisting of a mix of sand, silt, gravel, boulders and ledge.

Quality fish habitat ranges from submerged trees and brush, to rocky points, bluff walls, gravel banks and some aquatic vegetation.

Park Fishing Tips

Waterbury Reservoir provides anglers with the opportunity to fish diverse fish-holding habitat including submerged woody cover, rocky points, bluff walls and some aquatic vegetation. Fallen trees cover a wide range of depths and will produce fish during all open water months.

A good portion of the reservoir’s shoreline consists of steep rock walls that can be very productive for smallmouth bass during the warmest months. Fish these walls with unweighted soft plastic lures and suspending jerk baits. If you are looking for a rush, get out in the early morning and enjoy a fantastic top water bite! While fishing with these tactics, anglers may also hook into some nice yellow perch, rainbow trout and brown trout.

Shoreline fishing opportunities abound at Waterbury Center State Park and via various trails around the reservoir. Wild brook trout and rainbow trout can also be found in Stevenson Brook, which flows through Little River State Park on the southern end of the reservoir.  Or you can take a canoe, kayak or motorboat to any fishing spots on your radar! 

Nearby Fishing License Dealers

You can purchase a fishing license at Parro’s Gun Shop in Waterbury, The Fly Rod Shop in Stowe, or online.

Nearby Boating Access Areas

Various boat launches are available on Waterbury Reservoir, including launching areas at Little River State ParkWaterbury Reservoir State Park, and adjacent to the Waterbury Reservoir dam.…