H.35, the Water Quality Bill, is being debated on the House floor today and tomorrow. The bill, which has 54 sections, would implement a suite of programs to clean up Lake Champlain and
waters of the state in order to comply with eventual Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandates through Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs). It would establish new permit
programs for farms and provide for removing parcels from the Use Value Program that fail to comply with agricultural practices to reduce runoff to state waters.
Please contact your representatives immediately by email (their addresses can be found at
http://legislature.vermont.gov/people/search/2016) or by calling the Sergeant at Arms (802-
828-2228) and leaving a message.
- Urge them to oppose the expansion of permit fees and increases in permit fees assessed on municipalities to pay for new DEC stormwater staff. Emphasize to them that local budgets have already been adopted and do not include funds to pay for increased fees to the agency. Ask them if DEC can realign its priorities to use existing staff to implement stormwater programs. (Sec. 41of H.35)
- Urge them also to oppose eliminating the requirement that the DEC pay the capital costs of phosphorus removal projects at wastewater treatment facilities, “subject to availability of funds.” (Sec. 44 of H.35)
- Make sure your representatives understand the tremendous amount of work and money that will be required of municipalities to comply with stormwater permits on municipal roads and impervious surfaces.
H.35 would create a new permit to apply to all municipal highways, with permit fees to support state administration, education, and enforcement. The Better Back Roads Program estimates up
to 75 percent of all roads need erosion control improvement. The bill would require permits for any size impervious surface the Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources determines is appropriate, and require maintenance after development of predevelopment runoff characteristics “as nearly as possible.” Impervious surfaces within municipal
borders include sidewalks, parking lots, and rooftops. Municipalities will have to reduce erosion along stream banks within their borders.