In 2008 VNRC urged lawmakers to formally declare groundwater — the source of drinking water for two-thirds of Vermonters — a public trust resource. At the time, despite the importance of Vermont’s groundwater, the state was one of the last in the nation without adequate safeguards in place to protect the resource from overconsumption and contamination.
Our work paid off when the Vermont Legislature passed Act 199, making groundwater a public trust resource and taking a significant step in protecting the water we depend on. The new law declared 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.
After working tirelessly to help pass this legislation, VNRC created a guide that summarized what Act 199 means to municipalities. It clarifies the roles that private citizens, local officials, and state regulatory bodies must play in maintaining the quality and availability of current and future groundwater supplies, and helps towns understand how they can take action to manage their local groundwater resources.