By Lisa Loomis

Waitsfield extracted 21,253 cubic yards of material from the Mad River and the Mill Brook in the days following Hurricane Irene flooding. That represents enough gravel for 4.25 years at the town’s regular rate of 5,000 cubic yards of gravel a year.

That material was collected from five spots, with state permission, and is currently stored in two places—the Tardy parcel across from the Purple Moon Pub and Easy Street and the parking lot of the Lareau Swim Hole.

The number of cubic yards may change a bit as final bills are received at the town offices. When Governor Schumlin lifted the ban on gravel extraction from the state’s waters, Waitsfield and many towns hired excavating companies to remove the gravel.

Waitsfield relied on Kingsbury Construction and Griffin and Griffin to do the work. The town has yet to tally all numbers associated with the August flooding. Town Administrator Valerie Capels said she expected the August cleanup would cost about $200,000 out of pocket (excluding staff time and overtime). Last May’s flooding also cost the town about $200,000 out of pocket. After the May flooding and its accompanying extensive road damage, the town took a $500,000 line of credit which it has been using for both disasters.

The town will receive state and federal reimbursements for parts of the that work but will not likely see reimbursement for any work in the river—except upstream of the Waitsfield covered bridge where a gravel bar needed to be removed to lower water levels to prevent further damage to the bridge.

The cost of removing gravel from the river stands at $70,228 this week, or $3.30 per cubic yard of gravel. What has yet to be determined is where the town will store its 21,253 cubic yards of gravel. The town owns the Tardy parcel, but there is a Vermont Land Trust easement on it and the town has permission to store the gravel there for one year. The town also owns the Lareau Swim Hole and will want to move that gravel before peak summer use occurs.

Capels said that the select board has not yet had a chance to sit down with the road crew and discuss the issue of the gravel. She said that that discussion had to happen first and board members must determine if there are any specific town needs or projects that will require a large amount of gravel. She said until that happens, the town can’t answer questions from individuals who want to know if they can have some of the gravel for their own uses.

Down the road at the Sugarbush snowmaking pond is some 80,000 cubic yards of material that was removed from the 10-acre pond after the flood; that pile of dirt is closing up for the winter. Sugarbush made that topsoil and gravel available to farmers and others for several weeks, including 1,000 cubic yards that went to Yestermorrow to create a farm field where an installation art memorial of white flags for fallen soldiers had stood since 2005.

According to Margo Wage at Sugarbush, for erosion prevention and sediment control purposes, the pile will be stabilized for the winter and shut down as of today.

“Contingent on the weather next spring, we will reactivate the pile in mid-April. At this point we believe there will be soil available for folks in the spring,” Wade said.