Mayor's Update: Ongoing Emergency Response


As the stormwaters recede, the City team has been hard at work assessing and repairing damages and supporting community members and other Vermont towns impacted by the floods.  

The major impacts of this emergency on Burlington and our local recovery efforts are focused on two serious events, a sewer line break under the Winooski River which brings wastewater from the east-side of the New North End to the City’s North Plant, and substantial flooding at the Intervale – which has devastated several small farms in our community with a near total loss at the height of their productive growing season.  

This update includes more information about the City’s ongoing response, and information about how to travel and recreate safely in the days and weeks ahead. 

Wastewater Break  

On July 12, DPW Water Resources staff discovered a break underneath the Winooski River at North Plant. We immediately mobilized to prevent as much untreated flow as possible from entering the Winooski. The DPW team is working rapidly to 1. reduce discharge into the river 2. re-route the wastewater temporarily 3. repair the line as soon conditions allow. 

For the last several years the City has prioritized needed improvements and repairs to public infrastructure, and as a result Burlington’s stormwater systems operated well during this serious weather event. This pipe undergoes dye testing twice a year and periodic inspections by a diver and the last inspection was actually just last month, with no significant findings. We believe this break was due to heavy scouring caused by the extreme stormwater conditions in the Winooski River, leading to erosion around the pipe that led to failure, or possibly large debris that could have hit the pipe. It is currently unsafe to send a diver to inspect the pipe now, but as soon as conditions allow, they will be assessing the damage and the DPW team can then plan for permanent repairs.  

In the meantime, our first phase of leak mitigation is underway and it involves using sewage pumping/hauling trucks (4000 gallons each) 24/7 to intercept and haul as much sewage as possible to prevent it from entering the river.  

Our second and more robust phase of leak mitigation involves constructing a temporary bypass piping system over a significant distance to be able to handle all of the flow that usually goes through this river crossing and safely convey it to North Plant for treatment. To get more information and updates, sign up for VT-Alert and visit for an ongoing incident response page and more details.  

Water Conservation Request for some homes in the New North End 

In an effort to support the emergency mitigation efforts we are asking customers in the Priority area of the North Plant Sewer System to reduce the amount of water/waste that is reaching the sewer system via their drains (sinks, showers, clothes and dishwashers) and toilets until further notice (likely at least 2 weeks), especially during peak usage hours (6 – 8 am, and 6 – 8 pm). 

This is extremely important for users who are in the area that flows to the river crossing (see map here). This includes but is not limited to: 

  1. Limit toilet flushing, when possible. 

  1. Running dishwashers and washers only with full loads. 

  1. Taking short showers and limiting bath tub use. 

  1. Turn off faucet when brushing teeth or washing hands. 

  1. Disconnecting sump pumps from discharging to the sewer system and running the discharge pipe onto your lawn (this is a best practice always) 

Email with questions (expect a reply within 1 business day). For urgent questions, please call 802-863-4501. 

The Intervale  

Substantial floodwaters from the Winooski River inundated the Intervale and its small-scale farms between late Monday night and Wednesday afternoon. Virtually every farm was flooded. Thanks to the work of many volunteers to answered the call on Monday afternoon, thousands of pounds of produce was saved and stored before the flood, however, most tenants will experience a total loss of crops left in the ground. This a heartbreaking hit to our community, the farms and farmers at the Intervale are critical to our local food systems and this vibrant, beautiful part of the City will need substantial work to rebuild.  

The Intervale Board and Staff are still evaluating the damage and overall impact. Burlington’s Department of Business and Workforce Development (BWD) has begun outreach to the affected farms and is able to provide technical assistance, including to access relief funds and navigate insurance claims, translation services, and in some cases low or no interest loans and grants to certain farm businesses who qualify. Any farms or businesses affected by the extreme weather should contact BWD for help.  

Mutal Aid 

At my direction many City departments have extended offers of mutual aid to communities across Vermont. Burlington Electric has sent trucks and lineworkers to assist GMP and Washington Electric, and the Department of Public Works has lent staff and equipment to Johnson to support a wastewater repair, to Waterbury to pump our flooded homes and businesses, and to Barre to sweep silt-laden streets. We expect several other departments including BCA, Parks, Recreation, and Waterfront, and the Airport to all join mutual efforts in the coming weeks.  

Notably, six specially trained members of the Burlington Fire Department have been deployed throughout the week to the state’s Urban Rescue Taske Force. Over many days and with little rest, thirteen of these rescue teams from across Vermont joined by several from other states performed over 100 rescues and over 60 evacuations.  

Stay Safe  

We continue to operate under a State of Emergency, and more heavy rain is expected Sunday. Again, I urge you to heed all road closures and all directions from state and local officials, including to stay away from the river banks, brooks, and streams where flash floods can happen quickly. If you are traveling to and from the City, pay careful attention for road closures and obstructions and do not attempt to walk or drive across moving floodwaters for any reason. You can find a list of road closures here.

City programming is able to continue uninterrupted. For Burlingtonians and anyone who can safely travel to the City, we have many regularly scheduled events and opportunities coming up to enjoy the downtown and waterfront. Visit and to see upcoming events and programs. 

We have faced crises before, as a City and together as Vermonters, and we will rise to today’s challenges as we have every time before – with caring and generosity for our neighbors, and with hard work and determination to emerge stronger than before. 

Stay safe,   

Miro  Weinberger 

Mayor of Burlington 


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Mayor's Office