Every generation hopes to bequeath to the next generation something it created or improved. This gift can be something personal — such as a bank account, stock portfolio, house, farm, or woodlot — or it can be something shared by society, such as a more democratic, more secure nation. Whatever this gift may be, it ultimately is something we can present to our children and say, “I’ve worked to make this better, and now it is yours.”

In the past few decades, many — if not most — of us have come to believe that we should leave our children a natural environment that became cleaner, healthier, and more fully functioning under our stewardship. This is a belief we at the Agency of Natural Resources share. It is why we work here.

This report focuses on Vermont’s waters. I’m glad to say that we in Vermont have improved water quality across the state dramatically during the past 30 years, and our society as a whole today regards rivers and lakes as something to treasure — not means for disposing of waste.

Many of our state’s rivers and lakes are not yet clean enough, however, so we continue to develop ways to tackle water quality problems. Three recent examples:

• The Agency launched the Watershed Improvement Project in 1999 to implement short-term, action-oriented projects within Vermont’s 17 major watersheds while involving thousands of Vermonters in the identification of long-term water quality management goals. The project encourages Vermonters to look beyond their town boundaries and consider their lives within the context of the watersheds in which they live.

• We created a new River Management Section in the Water Quality Division in 1999 to carry out the Stream Alteration Permit Program, complete stream morphology assessments, and restore flood-damaged reaches using natural channel design techniques.

• The Agency unveiled a watershed improvement permit system in 2001 to accelerate the cleanup of urban streams polluted primarily by stormwater run-off. Under this permit system, many businesses, municipalities, and homeowners’ associations in urban and suburban parts of the state will need to repair, install, or upgrade stormwater treatment systems within the next two years.

Because of these and other initiatives, which we’ll explore in more detail in this report, we continue to make progress. Nothing, however, will do more to assure our success than the strong support of Vermonters who want and will work for a cleaner, healthier environment for themselves and for future generations.

As always, I hope you enjoy this document and share it with others. We invite your comments and suggestions.

Scott Johnstone

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