Water Bottling Company Sets Sights on East Montpelier Spring
FOR AN UPDATE ON THIS STORY AND VNRC’S GROUNDWATER GOALS, CLICK HERE.
A large-scale commercial bottled water operation is being proposed in central Vermont.
The Montpelier Spring Water Company has, in recent weeks, approached the East Montpelier selectboard and the Montpelier City Council for general statements of approval and right-of-way permissions for the project.
Landowner Daniel Antonovich and project manager Steve Kerr (who is the former secretary of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture) want to capture water from a spring off North Street in East Montpelier and, using a pipeline they hope to build, transport the water to an industrial park in neighboring Montpelier. There they would bottle the water and send it out on trucks.
Vermont must be careful about putting its groundwater up for sale.
For several years, VNRC, Vermonters for a Clean Environment, Water 1st!, and others, have been highlighting the potential of corporate commodification, privatization and depletion of groundwater, one of Vermont’s most important natural resources. Big withdrawals of groundwater threaten neighbors’ wells (more than half of Vermonters get their home drinking water from groundwater) and also endanger nearby streams and ponds that are fed by groundwater.
Vermont lags far behind many states, including neighboring New Hampshire, in protecting its groundwater and until Vermont has a groundwater protection program in place, “Vermont is a sitting duck, vulnerable to big water withdrawals,” like the one proposed in central Vermont, according to VNRC’s Executive Director Elizabeth Courtney.
VNRC sits on a governor-appointed task force studying the groundwater issue. By January 2008, the task force will make recommendations to the Legislature for consideration in crafting a groundwater protection program. This timeline, however, leaves proposals like the water bottling operation in Montpelier moving forward with limited public scrutiny and potentially insufficient analysis of the impact it could have on the resource and community.
So far there aren’t many specifics on this East Montpelier project, but VNRC will continue to ask the questions and evaluate the science on this and similar proposals that could affect this finite and fundamental resource.
Montpelier and the state of Vermont must move forward swiftly and thoughtfully as opportunities to commercialize, bottle and sell the state’s water unfold. In an increasingly thirsty world, communities have a lot to lose with lack of foresight and caution on how the state’s fresh water resources are used.
Read the Times Argus story about the recent meeting at Montpelier City Hall here:
For more information about VNRC’s work to protect groundwater in Vermont or to get involved, contact Water Program Director Kim Greenwood at 802-223-2328 ext. 119 or firstname.lastname@example.org.