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RED DUFRESNE TESTIFIES TO STATE ON PROTECTION OF WATER SOURCES

3.6.15

Robert Dufresne, PE, provided testimony to the House Fish & Wildlife and Water Resources Committee regarding House Bill H33 on February 25, 2015. This proposed legislation provides authority for Vermont Communities to establish their own measures to protect their surface water sources of water supply. The motivation for this bill arises from the loss of State enabling authority for such protection. This authority was lost when the Health Department was merged with the former Water Supply Section of the Agency of Natural Resources Department of Environmental Conservation. This left surface water sources for drinking water totally unprotected. Under current Vermont Law frozen ponds are open to unrestricted access including vehicle travel, ice shanties, and general fishing. The issue became heated during litigation when sportsmen sought unrestricted use of Berlin Pond which for the past century was controlled by the City of Montpelier. In an outcome that counters Vermontís protection of natural resources, the City lost which opened up Berlin Pond to anyone. Even more surprisingly follow up petitions to the State of Vermont failed to restrict ice shanties in and around the intake or totally restrict gasoline powered equipment from use on the water supply.

House Bill H33 seeks to allow Vermont Municipalities to protect their surface water supplies as they see fit. Testimony was also delivered by representatives of Vermont Coalition for Clean Water and New England Water Works Association and other interested parties in an attempt to bring source water protection up to similar measures used in other New England states. Red was the former Vermont Director for NEWWA and testified that without an isolation distance around the intake, the susceptibility of the source to willful contamination is completely breached as there are no warning systems for many types of contaminates that could be used to maximize loss of life. Red made the point that even if such a willful contamination event would appear fanatical, so would pressure cooker bombs going off at the Boston marathon finish line. Vermontís high environmental standards appear to be falling way behind other states on source water protection.

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