Groundwater Protection in Your Town: A Guide

Because of the importance of groundwater the Vermont Legislature passed Act 199 in 2008, creating (among many other things) new groundwater protection options for municipalities. For instance, now, large groundwater withdrawals must comply with town and regional plans, and the public has an opportunity to weigh in on a new state permitting process for large withdrawal projects. VNRC’s revised guide summarizes what Act 199 means to municipalities.  

Act 199 declares groundwater to be a public trust resource.  That means it belongs to all Vermonters – a significant step in protecting the water we depend on. Declaring groundwater a public trust resource means that Vermonters – not any private individual or corporation – own Vermont’s water. The Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) is entrusted with the stewardship of our groundwater, and is enabled to regulate it in a way that benefits all Vermonters.

 Maintaining the quality and availability of current and future groundwater supplies will require vigilance and involvement by private citizens, local officials, and state regulatory bodies, and each group has a role to play. This guide is designed to clarify those roles and help towns understand how they may take action to manage their local groundwater resources.


How to use this guide

This guide is designed for municipal officials, citizens and anyone else interested in the management of groundwater at the local level in Vermont. In it, you will find:

  • an overview of groundwater and its properties
  • a summary of relevant state law relating to groundwater
  • new ways that municipalities may protect groundwater, and
  • draft groundwater management language for town plans and bylaws for local officials to consider.

Click here to download a copy of the groundwater guide.