2015 Water News

  • VT DEC to host Biosolids White Paper Forum


    Wednesday, December 9, 2015
    1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
    St Leo's Hall
    109 S. Main St
    Waterbury, VT

    The Department of Environmental Conservation has produced a white paper that was written to present a broad overview of residuals management in Vermont and provide a general survey of scientific research applicable to concerns and issues raised at the 2013 public forum. That forum was the first step toward developing new regulations to govern the management of residual waste in Vermont. The Department is hosting a follow-up forum to present the findings of the white paper and is open to the public. The general format will include a presentation of the white paper with a chance for comments from the audience. The white paper can be found at: http://www.watershedmanagement.vt.gov/ww/residuals/
    RMS%20White%20Paper_Release%20draft.pdf

  • VRWA comments on State of Vermont Combined Sewer Overflow Control Policy Update

    October 30, 2015

    Julia Butzler
    Vermont DEC Watershed Management Division
    1 National Life Drive, Main 2
    Montpelier, VT 05620-3522

    Ms. Butzler,
    Thanks to you, Commissioner Schuren, and Director LaFlamme of VT DEC for hosting the public hearing on October 28, 2015 to present information and also receive feedback on proposed changes to the Vermont Combined Sewer Overflow Control Policy (original 1990). It is evident you all put a great amount of time and effort into the noted updates. We did offer several comments on the proposed draft and asked some clarifying questions at the hearing. A brief summary of our feedback is listed below.

    • As this policy is developed, please do consider there are many regulatory requirements being put upon Vermont communities and some consideration should be given to prioritizing and ranking these improvements. As we noted in the hearing, this is best summed up by a section of the United States Environmental Protection Agency Memorandum from October 27, 2011. The subject of this memorandum is, "Achieving Water Quality Through Integrated Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater Plans." On page one of the memorandum, the following is noted; "Today, the EPA, states and municipalities often focus on each CWA requirement individually for protecting water quality. As a result, we sometimes assess and implement the best alternative to solve one problem at a time without full consideration of all CWA obligations. This approach may have the unintended consequence of constraining a municipality from implementing the most cost-effective solutions in a sequence that addresses the most serious water quality issues first." Toward this goal, VRWA strongly recommends an approach that reviews all CWA required improvements such as TMDL, MS4, etc. and allows for investments first and foremost that will give the most pollution reduction per dollar invested. Toward that end this policy does note adequate time for phase-in and your department did note awareness of all regulations coming at given communities all at once. In addition, VRWA is aware of VT DEC efforts to insure access to capital as contributing factors to determine when an upgrade can be achieved. This being noted, even with access to capital, the economy is tight at the user level and if costs for future improvements have to be absorbed by users alone for all regulations, without a prioritization approach, this will not be an achievable goal.
    • It is noted in the draft policy update that in the event of a CSO discharge, notification by the system to the public and VT DEC must occur within 4 hours. We well understand the importance of providing public notification for situations like this, but a 4-hour response time will be impractical for many systems. This issue was discussed at the hearing and a point was made that only one wastewater system in the state has 24-hour staffing. Please consider eliminating the 4-hour requirement and listing as, "as soon as possible and not to exceed 24 hours." Bear in mind many of the identified CSO locations are remote, do not have power nearby, and in some instances cannot readily house a monitoring building / infrastructure site. For this item, more data must be acquired to determine the potential cost vs. environmental protection gained. As noted above, ranking this investment against other initiatives for environmental protection should be a goal.

    If you decide to seek out additional input on this issue, please be in contact with us. Thanks again for all your efforts to update the Combined Sewer Overflow Control Policy and for allowing VRWA the opportunity to provide feedback on this issue. Please keep us informed on this issue as the final policy is developed.

    Sincerely,
    Shaun Fielder
    Executive Director

    View comments as PDF.

  • VRWA comments on EPA Region 1 Phosphorus TMDLs for Vermont Segments of Lake Champlain


    October 15, 2015
    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 1 - New England
    Attention: Stephen Perkins, Lake Champlain TMDL Project Manager
    5 Post Office Square, Suite 100 Mail Code OEP06-3
    Boston, MA 02109-3912

    Mr. Perkins,
    Thanks to US EPA Region 1 for allowing VRWA the opportunity to comment on the plan recently released by your office, "Phosphorus TMDLs for Vermont Segments of Lake Champlain - August 14, 2015." Several comments listed below for your consideration.

    • VRWA appreciates the point your office has made that indicates the State of Vermont is in charge of determining how to best achieve phosphorus-loading reductions to Lake Champlain.
    • The approach to divide Lake Champlain into segments and give the details on given segments is right on target. It is known there are distinct differences in the lake quality in given areas and by dividing into segments a one size fits all tactic will be avoided. Given one pollution reduction approach may work in one watershed does not mean it will work in another; it is good Vermont will be given authority to figure this out at the local watershed level.
    • VRWA requests EPA Region1 support any future efforts by the state for phosphorus trading initiatives. We understand the state has the flexibility to offer trading and is now exploring this concept within watersheds and between similar phosphorus source discharges. VRWA will continue to advocate for trading options across sectors as well. There are examples to show efforts across sectors leads to cost effective measures to reduce phosphorous discharges and the clean up dollars get stretched further.
    • EPA Region 1 has clearly noted Vermont will need to demonstrate reasonable assurance on clean up initiatives and make some progress. This being noted VRWA hopes all involved with these clean up efforts recognize it will take some time for measurable improvements to lake water quality. This is partly due to the legacy load issues as phosphorus is already deposited in the sediment in many locations. In addition it will take some time for implementation of new regulations, practices, and grassroots start up. VRWA supports the implementation timeline flexibility EPA Region 1 has noted in the plan.
    • It is good that a reasonable amount of time to implement stricter discharge standards for certain direct NPDES permit holders is noted in the plan. The data clearly shows for those with lower future discharge standards a significant amount of capital will be needed. The most recent survey on upgrade costs (VT ANR FED -Lake Champlain TMDL: 2014 Cost Estimate Analysis for Vermont Wastewater Treatment Facilities - April 2015) shows numbers approaching a hundred million dollars. This amount of capital, even with the many sources of funds available, is not on hand in Vermont in a given year.
    • VRWA recognizes EPA Region 1 has no authority over New York and Quebec but the lack of requirement for them to reduce discharges is problematic. It needs to be recognized no reduction in their loading and or an unanticipated increase will negatively impact Lake Champlain quality. Poor performance by New York and Quebec will only result in a penalty situation for Vermont.
    • Given increasingly tight budgets for communities with NPDES permits the TMDL plan should address the issue that improvement costs cannot be absorbed on the backs of local users alone. As an example the City of Montpelier upgrade to meet the TMDL plan guidance is estimated to cost $20 million. City ratepayers would not be able to cover this cost via user fees alone.
    • To repeat a point VRWA made early in the stakeholder process for the Lake Champlain TMDL topic, "the detailed costs associated with all possible strategies to reduce phosphorus loading should be included in the final tmdl plan. This information needs to illustrate what the costs for any given strategy will be and also what that given investment will provide in regards to total benefit, in this case reduction in phosphorus loading. This information could then be used to target and prioritize investments (using a cost-benefit analysis). For each dollar invested it should be made clear which investments provide the most reduction in phosphorus loading." It is our understanding the state has the control on this item now and VRWA encourages EPA Region 1 to direct the state to dedicate funding toward those projects that will yield the most phosphorous load reduction per dollar invested.
    • The data available does demonstrate focusing efforts in areas other than point source will lead to more significant phosphorus loading reductions. Without clearly defined direction to prioritize investments in non-point source, an unsustainable economic situation could be created for direct discharges and for the state collectively in the future. Without getting into the exact financial details, ratcheting down discharge standards toward zero via enforcement tactics and not focusing efforts in other non-point source areas would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Since the direct discharges only account for approximately 3 percent of the total load to Lake Champlain overall this would not be a wise investment. Tying up the hundreds of millions, a majority of capital available, to reduce the 3 percent would prevent any chance of hitting the required 34 percent reduction of phosphorus loading to Lake Champlain.

    VRWA is prepared to continue to assist communities and continue partnerships with systems, communities, and state and federal partners with the overall goal of insuring systems have the resources needed to both promote public health and protect the environment. Again thanks for all your efforts developing the Lake Champlain TMDL plan and for allowing VRWA the opportunity to provide feedback on this issue.

    Sincerely,
    Shaun Fielder
    Executive Director

    View comments as PDF.

  • Public Meeting Announcement -

    Vermont Agency of Natural Resources to hold public meeting to receive input on 2015 CSO Policies

    The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources is undertaking the task of amending the state's 1990 Combined Sewer Overflow Control Policy, and is hosting a public meeting to receive input on the preliminary draft. Copies of the final 1990 and draft 2015 CSO Control Policies can be found on our website under Quick Links (right of screen) at: http://www.watershedmanagement.vt.gov/wastewater.htm

    Date: Wednesday, October 28th, 2015
    Time: 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM
    Location: Pavilion Auditorium, 109 State Street, Montpelier
    Notes: There is no ID required to access the Pavilion Auditorium, and there is no sign-in required for this particular venue. However, any bags or backpacks will be subject to inspection by the Security personnel at the Lobby kiosk. There is no food or drink allowed in the Pavilion Auditorium.

  • EPA's 3rd Annual Septic Smart Week

    EPA's 3rd Annual Septic Smart Week starts today and runs September 21-25. The goal of Septic Smart Week is to encourage education, care, and maintenance for homeowner septic systems. The link below will bring you to EPA's Septic Smart Week homepage, which provides a great deal of information, printable items, and educational materials to provide to owners of septic systems. http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/septic/Septic-Smart-Week.cfm

  • EPA Extends Public Comment Period on Phosphorus Limits for Vermont Segments of Lake Champlain

    BURLINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is extending the public comment period on the Phosphorus Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for the twelve Vermont segments of Lake Champlain until October 15, 2015.

    On August 14, 2015, EPA made the phosphorus TMDLs for the Vermont segments of Lake Champlain available for public comment. The comment period was set to expire on September 15, 2015. In response to requests for additional time, EPA is extending the comment period for 30 additional days, until October 15, 2015.

    Further information and copies of the Lake Champlain TMDLs may be obtained on-line at http://www.epa.gov/region1/eco/tmdl/lakechamplain.html or by requesting a copy from the contact listed below.

    Comments may be submitted via the US Mail or by email to the contact listed below. Copies of the documents listed in the "References" section of the TMDLs may also be obtained from the contact below. Following the close of the comment period, the EPA Regional Administrator will issue a final decision and transmit the final TMDLs to the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Conservation.

    For further information or to submit comments please contact:

    Stephen Perkins, Lake Champlain TMDL Project Manager
    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 1 - New England
    5 Post Office Square, Suite 100
    Mail Code OEP06-3
    Boston, MA 02109-3912
    Phone: (617) 918-1501 Email: perkins.stephen@epa.gov

  • News Releases from Region 1

    EPA Seeking Public Comment on Phosphorus Limits for Vermont Segments of Lake Champlain

    Release Date: 08/14/2015
    Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

    BURLINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making available for public comment the Phosphorus Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for the twelve Vermont segments of Lake Champlain.

    Too much phosphorus pollution is reaching Lake Champlain primarily from the streams and rivers draining into it. The primary concern is polluted runoff - rainwater or snowmelt that drains off of parking lots, roads and streets, logging roads, farm fields and croplands, and lawns. The runoff carries pollutants - sediment, nutrients such as phosphorus that are naturally present in soils, pet and animal wastes, fertilizers, and other pollutants - and deposits these pollutants into streams and rivers or directly into Lake Champlain. Phosphorus concentrations have not decreased significantly in any areas of Lake Champlain, despite reductions in the amount of phosphorus entering the Lake from several of its tributaries. Long-term trends since 1990 indicate that phosphorus concentrations in several segments continue to increase.

    A Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) is an important management tool that can help resource agencies determine where to focus their management efforts. A TMDL is a calculation of the loading capacity - or the maximum amount of a pollutant that a body of water can be expected to handle, while safely meeting established water quality standards. EPA has prepared the phosphorus TMDLs for the 12 Vermont segments of Lake Champlain in close cooperation with the Vermont Dept. of Environmental Conservation and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets.

    EPA, the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Agency of Agriculture will jointly conduct public outreach meetings to provide an overview of the TMDL and Vermont's implementation plan. The meetings will be hosted by the Lake Champlain Basin Program and will take place in the following locations:

    • Wednesday, August 26, 6-8 pm, Historical Society, St. Albans, VT;
    • Thursday, August 27, 10-12, Doubletree Hotel, Burlington, VT; and
    • Thursday, August 27, 2-4, Rutland Free Library, Rutland, VT.

    Copies of the Lake Champlain TMDL may be obtained on-line at http://www.epa.gov/region1/eco/tmdl/lakechamplain.html or by requesting a copy from the contact listed below.

    The public comment period runs until September 15, 2015. Comments may be submitted via the US Mail or by email to the contact listed below. Copies of the documents listed in the "References" section of the TMDL may also be obtained from the contact below. Following the close of the comment period, the Regional Administrator will issue a final decision and transmit the final TMDL to the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Conservation, for incorporation in the Department's Water Quality Management Plan.

    For further information or to submit comments please contact:
    Stephen Perkins, Lake Champlain TMDL Project Manager
    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 1 - New England
    5 Post Office Square, Suite 100
    Mail Code OEP06-3
    Boston, MA 02109-3912
    Phone: (617) 918-1501 Email: perkins.stephen@epa.gov

  • VEC & VTC Present: 4th Annual Water Quality Conference

    Previous Water Quality Conferences focused on water quality regulations, sources of nutrient pollutants, storm water, modeling, political will, grass-roots efforts and innovative community action, implementation and funding. Progress has been made in understanding the causes and sources of Lake Champlain's water quality problems. And it is clear that best management practices on farms and beyond can stem the flow of nutrients into the lake and other water bodies. Vermont, and others, still continue to be challenged by organizing and funding implementation of solutions. This year's Water Quality Conference examines organizational structures and innovative approaches that have succeeded in other areas and might be applied to improvement of water quality.

    Use the following link to register: http://vectogether.org/vec-events/spring-conference/

  • DWSRF Draft Intended Use Plan (current year)

    The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) provides low interest loans to municipalities and certain privately owned water systems for planning, final design and construction of water system improvements that protect public health and facilitate compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The DWSRF is now accepting priority list applications for placement on the 2014 DWSRF Project Priority List. The deadline for 2014 priority list applications is Monday, May 15, 2015.

    Please use the following link for more information: http://drinkingwater.vt.gov/fundingdwsrfdraftiup.htm

  • New VRWA Director Appointed to Vacant Seat

    Margaret Dwyer (Winhall - Stratton Fire District) was appointed as a VRWA director in mid-January to fill the seat left vacant due to Paul Carroccio's resignation. Margaret now serves as the Water Superintendent and Chief Operator Water and Sewer Systems for Winhall - Stratton Fire District. Currently she manages all aspects of operations for the districts water and wastewater systems. She holds a number of certifications in the water sector and over the years has been a regular attendee of VRWA sponsored trainings and has previously volunteered time to join VRWA at a career day event held at VTC. Welcome to Margaret, we appreciate your willingness to serve as a director for the association.


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