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DEC Divisions and Programs

A listing of links and brief descriptions of the various offices, programs and divisions within the Department of Environmental Conservation:

AIR QUALITY & CLIMATE DIVISION
The Vermont Air Quality and Climate Division (AQCD) of the Department of Environmental Conservation implements state and federal Clean Air Acts. As part of this implementation, the AQCD monitors air quality and air pollution sources, proposes regulations to improve existing air quality, ensures compliance with the regulations, and issues permits to control pollution from sources of air contaminants across the state. Within the Division are sections: Air Planning, Engineering Services, Field Services, Mobile Sources, Climate Change, and Technical Services.

The Planning Section develops plans and programs to meet state and federal requirements and implements regulations developed by the Division. Revisions of state air quality plans required by federal law and maintenance of comprehensive emissions inventories are the responsibility of this section. Staff members perform the analysis needed for new programs or attainment or maintenance strategies, and coordinate activities on issues such as acid rain, air toxics, and visibility. Primary activities include maintenance of the point source hazardous air contaminant emissions database, development of statewide hazardous air contaminant emissions inventories, and development of toxic action plans for about a dozen hazardous contaminants.

Engineering Services: Air pollution control permits are required to make sure sources of air contaminants comply with regulations and outdoor air quality standards, and to control and minimize air pollutants. Engineering Services issues permits to construct and operate stationary sources of air pollution. These permits regulate activities such as the wood products industries; rock and gravel crushing operations; large fuel-burning equipment; surface coating operations such as spray painting; incinerators, and processes using plastics, rubber and resins. The Engineering Services Section also issues permits for indirect sources of air pollution, such as shopping malls, industrial parks, and recreational facilities with parking capacities of 1,000 vehicles or more.

Field Services: As the Division’s compliance arm, staff members inspect commercial and other sources of air pollution to ensure that pollution control requirements are being met. Staff monitors the testing and operation of gasoline vapor recovery systems at service stations. This section also provides technical assistance, issues open burning permits and investigates air pollution-related citizen complaints.

The Mobile Sources Section provides technical expertise for transportation-related air pollution activities such as motor vehicle emissions inspection and maintenance, automotive technician training, the low-emission vehicle program, alternative fuels, heavy-duty diesel emissions, and non-road engines.

The Technical Services Section operates the Division’s statewide ambient air monitoring network for ozone, particulate matter, various volatile organic and carbonyl compounds, toxic elements, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide. The Section also oversees air pollution permit—required continuous emission monitoring at significant air pollution sources.

COMMISSIONER'S OFFICE
The Commissioner is responsible for all Department activities. To support the overall function of the Department and the work of individual divisions, the Commissioner’s Office encompasses several programs. The Administration and Innovation Division includes the Finance Office and the Planning and Innovation Office, as well as the programs listed below.

Permit Coordination: The Permit Specialists, who are located in the Agency of Natural Resources Regional Offices, can provide guidance to permit applicants.

Vermont Geological Survey: The Vermont Geological Survey, in the Department of Environmental Conservation, conducts surveys and research relating to the geology, mineral resources and topography of the State. TheSurvey also provides information to the public, government, industry, and other organizations who request assistance; reviews projects as they relate to Criteria 9D and 9E of Act 250; and maintains and publishes Vermont geological information.

Laboratory Services
The Department of Environmental Conservation's Environmental Laboratory is located in Burlington, Vermont on the University of Vermont Campus. The DEC maintains a laboratory to analyze water, air, and soil samples for organic and inorganic compounds and heavy metals.The Lab provides high quality analytical support to divisions in the DEC, other departments in the Agency of Natural Resources and state government as well as other publicly funded environmental management and protection programs.

Compliance and Enforcement
The Compliance & Enforcement Division (CED) enforces the environmental laws and regulations administered by the various regulatory programs within the departments located within the Agency of Natural Resources. It records and assigns potential environmental violations (citizen complaints) for investigation. CED also provides investigative services for the Natural Resources Board (the administrators of Act 250, Vermont's land use law). In cooperation with the Vermont Law School, CED hosts legal interns who have an interest in environmental law.

The Environmental Investigation Section of CED is staffed by a Chief Environmental Enforcement Officer located in Waterbury and six Environmental Enforcement Officers (EEOs) located within designated geographical districts throughout the state. This section investigates alleged violations of any/all of Vermont's environmental rules, regulations, and statutes that are under the jurisdiction of DEC and/or DFPR. Many of these investigations are subsequently referred to the Legal Section for formal enforcement actions.

The Legal Section of the CED is staffed by three attorneys, one of whom is also the Director of the Division. This unit pursues formal enforcement actions which may conclude in a negotiated settlement or, if contested, a trial before a judge of the Environmental Division of the Superior Court. These actions, whether settled or litigated, seek penalties, remediation and other conditions as necessary. We refer a number of major cases to the Attorney General or the U.S. Attorney's Office which may file and prosecute a civil action, or, if justified by the nature of the offense, a criminal charge. We work cooperatively with the Environmental Protection Agency on cases that have significant violations. Lesser criminal offenses may also be referred to the State's Attorney in the county where the offense occurred.

The Environmental Compliance Section contains the Salvage Yard Unit which is staffed by an inspector who is responsible for regular, multi-media inspections of all of Vermont's salvage yards.

Environmental Assistance - part of the DEC Commissioner's Office.
The Environmental Assistance Office is comprised mostly of non-regulatory programs. The Office provides guidance to permit applicants, offers environmental compliance assistance to Vermont businesses and municipalities, and provides assistance to municipal household hazardous waste programs. Office staff assist businesses, communities, state agencies, and others to identify effective and economical ways to reduce waste at the source in order to avoid waste treatment and disposal costs and to safeguard human health and the environment.

Business Compliance Assistance: Got environmental compliance questions? The Small Business Compliance Assistance Program (SBCAP) has the answers. The SBCAP provides no-cost, confidential compliance assistance to Vermont businesses.

Municipal Compliance Assistance: Most towns have limited resources available to deal with environmental compliance issues. The Municipal Compliance Assistance Program (MCAP) provides no-cost, confidential compliance assistance to Vermont municipalities. Contact MCAP to ask a question or to arrange an on-site compliance review.

Pollution Prevention Planning & Assistance: Office staff assist businesses, communities, state agencies, and others to identify effective and economical ways to reduce waste at the source - the prevention of waste at the source before it is created and substitution of non-toxic materials, where possible - in order to avoid waste treatment and disposal costs and to safeguard human health and the environment. Companies subject to Vermont's Pollution Prevention Planning law complete and submit Annual Progress Reports.

Vermont Governor's Awards for Environmental Excellence & Pollution Prevention: The annual awards honor the foresight and actions taken by Vermonters who contribute to the protection of Vermont's environment, the safety of its citizens, and the health of its economy.

Business/Environmental Partnership: The Vermont Business/Environmental Partnership is sponsored by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and the Vermont Small Business Development Center. The goals of the Partnership are to achieve greater environmental and economic performance and to promote public recognition of environmental excellence.

Green Hotels in the Green Mountain State: Vermont's Green Hotels and Environmental Partners are using sound environmental management practices to reduce their impacts on the environment, improve their bottom line and satisfy customer demand for environmentally conscious lodging establishments. The Green Hotels in the Green Mountain State program provides assistance to Innkeepers desiring to achieve these goals.

Mercury Education & Reduction Campaign: The Mercury Education & Reduction Campaign (MERC) was developed by the Division to increase awareness of the environmental and health impacts of mercury and to reduce mercury pollution at its source. MERC also administers Vermont's mercury-added product labeling law.

FACILITIES ENGINEERING
The Facilities Engineering Division administers state and federal pollution control funding programs, assists municipalities through the planning and construction of pollution control projects, provides fund administration for other Department of Environmental Conservation grant and loan programs, and provides project engineering and implementation services to the Agency for a variety of projects, including construction and maintenance of state park facilities, fish culture stations, access areas, and dams. The Division also operates the Dam Safety Program, which carries out inspections of non-power dams and the review of plans for dam construction or alteration.

The Agency Facilities Section provides engineering and project implementation services to the Agency’s three departments for a variety of construction and maintenance projects, including fish hatcheries, access areas, state park facilities, and dams.

The Dam Safety Section manages the Department’s State Dam Safety Program, operates, maintains, and periodically inspects the Winooski Valley Flood Control Dams and the Agency’s other 89 dams. The section operates a permit program for construction and alteration of non-hydroelectric dams (the Public Service Board regulates hydroelectric dams). The section inspects other dams (owned by other agencies, municipalities, and private individuals) on a resources-available basis, maintains an inventory of dams, and provides dam safety information to dam owners and operators.

The Design Section assists and directs municipalities through the planning and design phases for wastewater collection system and treatment facility construction or upgrade projects and for combined sewer overflow abatement projects.

The Construction Section performs construction phase technical and administrative overview functions for water supply and pollution control facilities projects.

Financial Management: This section processes the grant and loan documents and payments for the pollution control funding programs administered by the Division, and for the water supply, solid waste, and aquatic nuisance funding programs of other divisions. It also performs audit functions for these programs.

WASTE MANAGEMENT & PREVENTION -
The Waste Management & Prevention Division oversees the use, treatment, and handling of hazardous and solid wastes. The Division performs emergency response for hazardous materials spills, issues permits for federal and state programs regulating hazardous wastes, solid wastes, and underground storage tanks, and manages cleanup at hazardous sites under state and federal authorities, including the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA, also known as Superfund).

The Management and Prevention Section performs permitting and compliance inspections for hazardous waste facilities, including locations where wastes are generated, stored, treated, or disposed. Staff also performs hazardous waste planning activities.

The Sites Management Section performs activities at petroleum and chemical release locations ranging from evaluation and immediate control, to long-term hydrogeologic and risk assessment studies at Superfund sites. Project management includes contract administration and cost control for funds expended from the Petroleum Cleanup Fund and Environmental Contingency Fund.

Technical Services is comprised of the Spill Response program, the
Underground Storage Tank (UST) program, and technical support (data, web,
graphics, and presentations) to the Division. The UST program issues
permits and conducts inspections of UST facilities to ensure compliance
with regulations. Spill response program staff work to ensure spills of
hazardous materials are properly investigated, cleaned up and removed for
disposal.

Staff members in the Recycling Section work with the state agencies, businesses, communities, and others to identify effective and economical ways to reduce, re-use, or recycle waste as a means of conserving natural resources, minimizing waste treatment and disposal costs, and protecting human health.

The Solid Waste Management Program staff helps solid waste management districts plan and comply with Act 78, Vermont’s solid waste management law. Solid Waste also certifies landfills and all other solid waste facilities, inspects these facilities, enforces permits, and reviews and approves applications for solid waste grant funds.

The Solid Waste Certification and Compliance staff writes certifications for all solid waste management facilities including composting facilities, landfills, recycling centers, transfer stations, waste haulers and trash incineration facilities. Oversees bottle bill program. Once certifications are issued, staff inspects facilities and investigates and recommends enforcement for certification violations.

The Solid Waste Technical Assistance staff members review engineering plans for solid waste facilities as part of the permit process. They work with solid waste facility operators, towns, and solid waste districts to provide technical review, and assess the need for and types of hydrological studies required for solid waste facility sites. Implement solid waste planning and data management programs.

WATERSHED MANAGEMENT
The goal of the Watershed Management Division is to maintain and enhance the quality of Vermont’s lakes, rivers, and wetlands to support healthy ecosystems and appropriate public uses. Division programs address many issues, including physical and chemical characteristics of surface waters, aquatic habitat, streamflow, stream morphology, invasive exotic species, and wetland and riparian zone protection.

Administration and Compliance Program

The Administration and Compliance Program supports the division's permitting programs and general business processes. The staff provides specific program support for the Stormwater, Wastewater, Lakes and Ponds, Wetlands, and Rivers programs, as well as provides general division-wide administrative support.

Ecosystem Restoration Program

The Ecosystem Restoration Program provides leadership, financial resources, technical and educational assistance, and a sustained commitment to ensure that Vermont achieves and maintains high water quality standards, healthy and naturally stable rivers, well- functioning wetlands, floodplains, and river corridors that can protect against flood impacts, and clean and well-buffered lakes.

Lakes and Ponds

The Lakes and Ponds Program monitors and seeks to improve the water quality of lakes and ponds. Staff provides assistance to municipalities, lake associations, and individuals. Staff also administer permits for aquatic nuisance control and for encroachments into lakes and ponds.

Monitoring, Assessment, & Planning

The Monitoring, Assessment and Planning Program (MAPP) integrates three components of the Vermont water pollution control program. MAPP measures water quality indicators and evaluates these indicators in light of applicable standards or thresholds. Information about the condition of waters is then used to develop watershed plans that target waters for protection or remediation.

River Management

River Corridor and Floodplain Management: The Program carries out stream geomorphic and habitat assessments and river corridor planning to assist in the management of river systems and floodplains toward their highest ecological integrity and equilibrium conditions. River Scientists and Floodplain Managers provide technical and regulatory assistance for projects in river corridor and floodplains to avoid and mitigate flood and fluvial erosion hazards; restore and protect the instream processes and floodplain functions (equilibrium conditions) to increase retention of sediments, nutrients, and riparian habitat features. This section also manages the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for Vermont.

River Management: The Program provides technical and regulatory assistance for those activities that involve construction or excavation in rivers and streams. River Management Engineers issue stream alteration permits and provide river diagnostics, alternatives analysis, project design, and construction inspection for instream work and technical assistance during flood recovery operations.

Streamflow Protection: Protection of flows in rivers and streams is critical for fish and other aquatic life that depend on high quality aquatic habitat to thrive. The Program maintains and restores natural streamflows by regulating the water withdrawals and hydropower projects that are designed to provide public benefits. We also work to restore connectivity within our rivers and streams by identifying dams that no longer serve a useful purpose and facilitating their removal.

Stormwater

The Stormwater Program provides technical assistance and regulatory oversight to ensure that stormwater discharges are managed in a way that meets the requirements of the Vermont Water Quality Standards. The program is responsible for defining those discharges which are required to obtain a stormwater discharge permit and determining treatment and control requirements necessary to minimize the adverse impacts of stormwater run-off.

Wastewater

Discharge Permits: A discharge permit is required whenever an individual, municipality or company wants to discharge waste directly to the waters of the state. Some industries are also required to treat waste before sending it to a municipal wastewater treatment facility.

Wastewater Treatment Facility Operations and Management: This group performs oversight functions of municipally-owned wastewater treatment facilities, and of privately-owned treatment and pretreatment facilities. In addition to performing certification and training programs, periodic discharge sampling for permit compliance checks, and laboratory evaluations, this group also assists municipal officials in the proper budgeting of their wastewater facilities.

Residuals Management: This group oversees the management of the state's residuals, such as septage and wastewater sludge. Permits are required for treatment, storage, or disposal of these residuals and for the operation or construction of facilities that handle them.

Wetlands

The Vermont Wetlands Program is responsible for identifying and protecting wetlands and the functions and values they provide. Activities to achieve these goals include education, project review, and enforcement. The Vermont Wetlands Program is responsible for the administration, implementation and informal interpretation of the Vermont Wetland Rules; for providing advisory recommendations on Act 250 projects with potential wetland impacts to the District Environmental Commissions; and for the review of wetland projects which fall under federal jurisdiction (Section 404 of the Clean Water Act) to ensure that State water quality standards are met.

DRINKING WATER AND GROUNDWATER PROTECTION
The Drinking Water and Groundwater Protection Division protects public health by assuring safe, affordable drinking water and by managing the water resources which provide drinking water.

The Engineering and Financial Services Section administers the construction permits program for public water systems; manages the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Loan Program for system improvements; and the Capacity Development Program designed to help systems meet the provisions of the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

The Operations and Compliance Section assures public water system compliance with the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act, Vermont statutes, and the Vermont Water Supply Rule. The section facilitates this assurance by way of providing water system operator education and training; conducting sanitary surveys; issuing operating permits, certifying operators; technical assistance; management of emergency events; and the investigation of contamination events and population disease outbreaks.

The Support and Planning Section is responsible for managing the long– and short-term strategic and financial planning for the Division; security and emergency response planning; support for the Division; and general outreach and education. This section also is responsible for the administration of the Intended Use Plan and budget management of the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.

The Water Resources Section manages public water, source-related activities and groundwater protection such as source permits, well driller licensing and well completion reports, groundwater reclassification, drought assistance, investigation of potential sources of contamination and source protection planning and technical assistance.

Wastewater:

Underground Injection Control
Site Designer Licensing
Wastewater-related Permit Documents Search

Indirect Discharge Permits: This section issues permits for land-based sewage treatment systems larger than 6,500 gallons per day, such as septic tank-leach field systems and treatment facility-spray field systems. In these systems, soils are part of the processes providing further treatment of the sewage.

Engineering Services: Wastewater System and Potable Water Supply - This section issues water supply and subsurface wastewater disposal permits required for all buildings other than single family homes and all permits for subdivisions, sewer line extensions, mobile home parks and campgrounds which have flows less than 6,500 gallons per day. Any subdivided lot under ten acres is regulated by this process. If the subdivision involves ten or more lots, it may be regulated by Act 250. Engineers in regional offices review applications and make permit decisions.

 
 
 

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