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Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee
H.576 – Three-Acre Stormwater Permitting
March 29, 2018

Thank you for the opportunity to testify on H.576. The bill, as it passed the House, addresses the three-acre and one-half acre stormwater permits. We support passage of the bill.

One of the more difficult problems facing stormwater managers has been how to reduce discharges from parcels containing impervious surfaces that historically did not have permits. The three-acre and one-half acre permits address some of that problem.

The Municipal Roads General Permit (MRGP) and Transportation (TS4) General Permit for stormwater require retrofits and infrastructure investment on all hydrologically connected segments of highway, based upon inventories of vulnerable areas and prioritized so that projects solving the biggest problems are completed first. Wastewater treatment facilities must first upgrade their phosphorus controls on a schedule that is based upon their proximity to Lake Champlain and impact on the most impaired sections of the lake.

Vermont continues to face substantial financial constraints as we start every session with a deficit. Our property tax is severely over-burdened and daunting demographic and social shifts contribute to our fiscal difficulties. We know there is not enough money to do all the necessary water quality-related work at once. Nor would it be judicious, as different approaches will be more effective at addressing certain circumstances. Both approaches and circumstances may change as stormwater infrastructure is deployed across the state.

We endorse the language in H.576 that gives the secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources the flexibility to prioritize projects so those most beneficial in reducing stormwater runoff and phosphorus discharges in the most impaired watersheds are completed first – as is the case in the MRGP and wastewater treatment programs.

H.576 requires rules to be pre-filed April 1, which is next Monday, a date by which the bill will not have passed. The committee may want to change that date.

We ask that you hear specifically from MS4 communities about the language regarding one-half acre permits and how that will fit with efforts they already undertake to address runoff from one-half acre (or smaller) parcels of impervious surface.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on H.576.

Karen Horn, Director
Public Policy and Advocacy
khorn@vlct.org and 802-229-9111