The Vermont House of Representatives has taken a major step towards establishing long-term funding for clean water.
Long-term water funding is required by the Vermont Clean Water Act, Act 64 of 2015, and is needed to restore water quality in Lake Champlain and Lake Memphremagog, which are under orders issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as a statewide need to protect and restore our rivers, lakes, ponds and streams.
In the past few years, Vermont has been using a patchwork of funds with an inadequate system to prioritize spending public dollars. S.96, which passed today with a strong 126-14 vote in the House, represents important progress in helping ensure that clean water funds are being spent on high priority projects, and by dedicating a new, long-term revenue source that effectively doubles the Clean Water Fund.
If the action taken by the Vermont House is approved by the Senate and signed into law by Governor Scott, there will be nearly $15 million dedicated to clean water each year. While the Vermont Treasurer estimated we will need $25 million per year in the Clean Water Fund, today’s vote represents important progress toward achieving that longer-term goal.
Jon Groveman, Vermont Natural Resources Council Policy and Water Program Director, said, “After three years, Vermont is finally making real progress towards funding projects that are needed to protect and restore our public waters. It is clear that the House, Senate, and Governor all recognize we will not achieve clean water in Vermont without long term stable funding.”
Lauren Hierl, Executive Director of Vermont Conservation Voters added, “We appreciate the leadership of Speaker Mitzi Johnson, Chairs Amy Sheldon and Janet Ancel, and many other legislators who worked hard to move forward increased long-term clean water funding, and to establish a process for getting money to clean water projects implemented across the state. This money is essential to ensuring safe, clean water for all Vermonters, which is critical to our health, economy, and way of life.”