dollar a day less than a cup of coffee thats the
average most Vermont households pay for safe drinking water from public
thats a bargain by most standards, there is wasted money involved,
as many water systems have aging infrastructures that need repair.
State and federal regulations require system operators to address
these deficiencies and put a new emphasis on the long-term maintenance
and operation of each component in their systems.
federal and state laws require all public water systems to adopt plans
for protecting their water sources. Source protection plans identify
possible contaminants within a recharge area or source protection
area of a water source. The plans provide land use management
protection techniques for the corresponding area and water source,
such as purchase of development rights on land surrounding a water
source and passage of local ordinances to protect water quality. Source
protection plans also contain contingency procedures to follow in
case of contamination. As of 2000, source protection plans safeguarded
84 percent of Vermonters served by public community water sources,
up from 29 percent four years earlier.
and public involvement are essential elements of drinking water awareness.
For the Agencys Water Supply Division, better communication
with the regulated community has emerged in recent years as an important
focus. The Division now distributes a quarterly newsletter, Waterline,
to 2,500 Vermonters, including water system operators, town health
officers, and consultants. The Divisions website provides access
to drinking water regulations, program procedures, and, specifically
for certified water system operators who manage public systems, certification
requirements, training schedules, and educational opportunities.
Drinking Water State Revolving Fund provides financial assistance
for public water systems. In 2001, the federal government allotted
$7.8 million to Vermonts fund. The state, in turn, provided
another $1.56 million. The fund supports a wide variety of activities,
including public water system infrastructure improvements, source
water protection, and water system management support.
fund also provides money for engineering studies to public water systems
serving fewer than 500 consumers. The program establishes a fixed
fee for engineers to provide three levels of study:
1. identify technical and regulatory deficiencies;
2. determine total cost estimates for correcting deficiencies; and
3. determine sources of funding for financing improvements.
small water systems were participating in the program as of late 2001.
the cost of protecting water quality in the natural environment is
more complex as there are a variety of federal, state, and local programs
involved, from the obvious, such as
constructing sewage treatment plants, to the not-so-visible, such
as ensuring that loggers comply with the states Acceptable Management
Practices for Maintaining Water Quality.
total expenditure of state, federal, and local funds for all municipal
wastewater treatment facilities and equipment since 1957 is approximately
$512 million. The 2001 expenditure for these facilities, including
capital costs, operation, and maintenance, was $36 million.
amount of money spent to reduce nonpoint source pollution is particularly
difficult to calculate. Aside from several federal and state cost-sharing
programs that target run-off from farms, two federal programs deal
with nonpoint source pollution control (both named for sections of
the Clean Water Act): the 604(b) Pass-Through program
for planning and the Section 319 program for implementation. Expenditures
for the two programs have topped $11 million since 1990. As one of
the first states to have an EPA-approved Nonpoint Source Pollution
Management Program, Vermont has competed successfully for Section
319 money. The following four projects are examples of the types of
ventures funded through this grant program:
has supported a water quality restoration project in the Missisquoi
River watershed in Franklin County since 1994. Aside from visible
degradation of the watershed, the receiving waters have suffered from
increased bacteria and total phosphorus levels. The project was designed
to measure the water quality effectiveness of certain agricultural
management practices, including: livestock exclusion fencing, protected
livestock stream crossings, establishment of riparian buffers, and
bioengineering stream bank erosion controls. Preliminary results from
the first year of post-treatment monitoring indicated declines of
46 percent for E. coli, 52 percent for fecal coliform, and 42 percent
for total phosphorus export in the treatment watersheds. These encouraging
early results suggest that practices such as fencing out livestock
and stabilizing stream banks are making a real difference in water
roads so often paralleling streams and rivers, erosion control on
gravel roads can have a major impact on water quality. The Vermont
Better Backroads Program, begun in 1997, works with landowners and
town road crews to apply common sense techniques to maintain gravel
roads while protecting the environment. Information and assistance
are available through publications such as the Vermont Better Backroads
Manual, grants to inventory or correct road erosion problems, on-site
technical assistance, workshops, and informational meetings. The program
makes grants available for work on private roads as well as town roads.
The Better Backroads Program is a partnership between the Vermont
Local Roads Program, Vermonts Resource Conservation and Development
Councils, and the Agency of Natural Resources.
project seeks to demonstrate, on a farm within the Lake Champlain
Basin, the performance and adaptability of an electric reactor-type
technology for treating dairy manure in the cold climate of northern
New England. This technology is intended to separate cow manure and
accelerate composting. Partners in this project include the participating
farmer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the state Department of
Agriculture, Food & Markets, and the University of Vermont.
purpose of this project is two-fold: to address nonpoint source pollution
problems and also to provide meaningful short-term employment to high
school- and college-age youth. Working in a supervised setting under
the guidance of the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, participants
receive on-the-job training along with the opportunity to broaden
their base of conservation consciousness. Corps members are assigned
various in-stream, stream bank, and riparian restoration projects.