Our Work

VNRC Celebrates Successful Effort to Help Protect Vermont’s Groundwater

August 2008

VNRC has long pressed for a state-managed program to help safeguard the state’s groundwater resources – the fresh, cold water that flows beneath our feet.  After a long and hard effort, VNRC helped lead a successful effort to convince the Legislature and Governor to remove Vermont from its precarious position as one of the last state’s in the nation to adequately protect this increasingly valuable natural resource.

This past June, the state enacted a comprehensive groundwater protection program. Now, the nearly two-thirds of Vermonters who depend on groundwater for their drinking water supply can breathe more easily knowing Vermont, finally, has a law in place that will help protect our drinking water from overconsumption, depletion and privatization.

Read a little more about it in a New York Times article here.

VNRC’s advocacy on this front helped to close the troubling gap in the state’s water law so that Vermonters are ensured access to clean, ample supplies of fresh water for generations to come.

Below is a summary of the problem we helped identify and address with passage of a strong groundwater protection bill.

AN EFFORT TO PROTECT VERMONT’S GROUNDWATER – January 2008

What is the problem?

Unchecked water consumption and contamination by homes, farms, and businesses threatens this life-sustaining resource. Nearly 66 percent of Vermont’s population depends on groundwater for their drinking water supply. Groundwater, and its interconnection with surface water, provides an essential function by recharging Vermont’s rivers, lakes, wetlands and streams, thereby helping to maintain surface water quality and support habitat for fish and other aquatic species.

We are approaching a world water crisis, where growing numbers of people are struggling to gain access to clean, ample supplies of fresh water. Despite this fact, and the importance of groundwater to Vermonters’ human health and the environment, the state has adopted very few protections for this invaluable water resource. Read all about the vulnerability of Vermont’s groundwater resources – and what VNRC suggests the state should do about it – in a comprehensive overview of the situation here.

What is the solution?

The State of Vermont should take the following action:

1. Establish funding for and require the Agency of Natural Resources to map and classify all drinking water. This includes funding for public aquifers and private wells, so that decisions to protect and regulate our water are based on sound scientific data.
2. Create a comprehensive statewide groundwater protection program. This program should regulate and manage groundwater withdrawals to ensure Vermont does not deplete its drinking water and guarantees public involvement in decisions about the future of this vital resource.
3. Declare Vermont’s groundwater a public trust resource. Such a declaration will help ensure that Vermont’s water is owned by no one person, but by everyone. It will also help ensure that any large-scale water withdrawal is carefully considered with the public’s interest in potable drinking water supplies, agriculture and responsible commercial and industrial uses come before private interest. Read VNRC’s case for declaring groundwater a public trust resource here.