2016 Water News

  • Wastewater License Renewal Instructions from the Office of Professional Regulation

    Vermont Secretary of State - Office of Professional Regulation

    To: Currently Licensed Pollution Abatement Facility Operators

    On January 1, 2017, regulation of Pollution Abatement Facility Operators will move to the Office of Professional Regulation (OPR).

    Even though your current license has not expired, you must fill out the OPR application in order for OPR to reissue you a license. Once your transition to OPR is complete, your current license will remain valid through your current expiration year at no additional charge. To assure a smooth transition, we encourage you to complete and submit the application to OPR as soon as possible.

    Follow the instructions below to create an on-line account and fill out the OPR application. Please be aware that your record will not appear on the OPR Licensee Lookup until after your renewal is complete. See the FAQ page for more information

    IMPORTANT RENEWAL INFORMATION: In the future when it is time to renew, you will be contacted with additional information and instructions to the email address you provide. Please be aware it is solely your responsibility to renew on time and maintain your current contact information with OPR. Our renewal reminders are a courtesy and we cannot guarantee delivery. The expiration date will appear on the license OPR issues. It is considered unprofessional conduct to practice without a valid current license.

    OPR is paperless! All correspondence will be sent to the email address you provide.

    Details and updates are available here:


    1. Using Internet Explorer, navigate to our Registration page.
    2. Register as an individual.
    3. Create your username and password. (Please retain this information to access our system to check your status online and renew in the future.)
    4. The system validates your account and will send a verification email. You must access your email account and click on the link provided within the validation email. Once clicked, you will be provided access to the online application.
    5. Enter the username and password you created in Step 3. Click on the tab “Apply for New License.”
    6. Scroll down and select your profession Pollution Abatement Facility Operators.
    7. Click “Start.” Verify information and answer all questions, proceeding through screens by selecting “Next” in the bottom-left corner of each completed screen.
    8. When you are asked “how are you are applying for licensure?” You will select “Transitional”
    9. At the end of the application click “Finish”.
    10. Once the application has been received you will receive a confirmation by email.
    Application Status: The status of your application will be available by logging into your online account with the credentials you created. Notifications regarding your application will be sent to your email.

    If you need assistance, we will be happy to help! Please contact Kara Shangraw at kara.shangraw@sec.state.vt.us or (802) 828-5434. Thank you.

  • Invitation to Comment on Proposed Administrative Rules for Pollution Abatement Facility Operators

    Dear Licensees and Other Interested Parties:

    On January 1, 2017, the Office of Professional Regulation (OPR) will become responsible for the licensure of Pollution Abatement Facility (Wastewater) Operators. To complete this transition, OPR has proposed administrative rules. Where possible, these rules are consistent with past DEC requirements, but they differ in some important respects.

    More information, including a copy of the proposed rules, can be found at


    A public hearing on the proposed rules will be held Friday, December 9, 2016, from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm, at the Office of Professional Regulation, 89 Main Street, 3rd Floor, Montpelier.

    Those who cannot attend in person can join remotely from most computers, tablets, and smartphones. We recommend testing connectivity before the hearing.

    Use the following link to join remotely: https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/447175661
    You can also dial in using your phone, a good option for those with no computer or poor computer audio.
    United States (Toll-free) 1 877 309 2070>
    United States +1 (571) 317-3116
    Access Code: 447-175-661

    Written comments are welcome and encouraged. Email comments to sos.operators@sec.state.vt.us, or mail comments to the address atop this letter.

    If you have questions about the rulemaking process, please do not hesitate to contact Terry Gray, at 802-828-2191 or terry.gray@sec.state.vt.us.

    Very truly yours,

    Gabriel M. Gilman
    General Counsel

  • USDA Announces $331 Million Investment for Clean Water Infrastructure in Rural Communities

    Nearly Half of Grant Funds to Assist Persistently Poor StrikeForce Counties

    WASHINGTON, Nov. 1, 2016 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $331 million in 85 projects that will improve water and wastewater infrastructure in rural areas in 39 states and American Samoa. Community infrastructure investments are a key piece of USDA's mission to support America's rural communities, and these investments build on the $13.9 billion USDA has invested over the course of the Obama Administration to support 5,825 water and waste infrastructure projects that currently benefit 19.5 million rural residents.

    "Strategic investments like these into community infrastructure provide a path to rural economic growth," Vilsack said. "Water and wastewater upgrades protect the health and safety of those who live and work in rural areas, and are especially critical given today's aging infrastructure in areas that have not fully benefited from rural America's economic rebound. Modernizing water and wastewater systems improves the quality of life and can help attract jobs to rural communities."

    USDA is providing $264 million in loans and $67 million in grants through Rural Development's Water & Environmental Programs. These programs provide assistance and financing to develop drinking water and waste disposal systems for communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.

    For example, in South Carolina, the Laurens County Water and Sewer Commission is receiving a $34.8 million USDA loan and a $1.2 million USDA grant to construct a water treatment plant. Currently, the Commission purchases water from three separate water systems, whose infrastructure is aging.

    The Summit Springs Regional Waste District in Henry County, Ind., is receiving a $1.4 million loan and a $4.2 million grant for a sewer rehabilitation project to address raw sewage leakages and to comply with environmental regulations.

    The city of Truth or Consequences in Sierra County, N.M., has been selected for a $715,000 loan and a $4.5 million grant for the second phase of wastewater treatment plant improvements to comply with environmental regulations. Sierra County is included in USDA's StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity initiative to address persistent poverty across America.

    Of the 85 projects announced today, 21 are located in StrikeForce areas, and one project – an Emergency Community Water Assistance Grant in Jackson, Ky., – is also in an area targeted for assistance by the Obama Administration's Promise Zone initiative. These 21 projects are receiving more than $63 million in loans and $30 million in grants, which is 28 percent of today's total investment and nearly 45 percent of the grant funding.

    Funding for each project announced today is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan, grant or loan/grant agreement.

    Today's funding builds on USDA's historic investments in rural America over the past seven years. Since 2009, USDA has worked to strengthen and support rural communities and American agriculture, an industry that supports one in 11 American jobs, provides American consumers with more than 80 percent of the food we consume, ensures that Americans spend less of their paychecks at the grocery store than most people in other countries, and supports markets for homegrown renewable energy and materials.

    Since 2009, USDA Rural Development (@USDARD) has invested $13.9 billion for 5,825 water and waste infrastructure projects, benefiting 19.5 million rural residents; invested nearly $13 billion to start or expand nearly 112,000 rural businesses; helped 1.1 million rural residents buy homes; funded nearly 9,200 community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care facilities; and helped bring high-speed Internet access to nearly 6 million rural residents and businesses. USDA also has invested $38.2 billion in 1,057 electric projects that have financed more than 198,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines serving 4.6 million rural residents. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/results.

    To read more about USDA's investments in rural America and its successful turnaround, visit USDA's entry on Medium.com, Rural America Is Back in Business.

  • Wastewater Treatment Facility Operator Certification Transfer to the Office of Professional Regulation

    In the spring of 2016, the Legislature passed Act 156 to transfer the licensing of Wastewater (Pollution Abatement) Facility Operators from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to the Secretary of State’s Office of Professional Regulation (OPR). OPR manages 46 professional licenses for approximately 58,000 licensees, and has an efficient, on-line license application and renewal process. After the transfer, DEC will continue to review and approve wastewater courses for the requisite continuation credits for your certification. DEC will continue to work with OPR and anticipates a smooth transition.

    The implementation date is January 1, 2017. After that date OPR will handle the administration of all wastewater operator licenses, including exams.

    If your license is up for renewal and you have obtained the required number of training hours, consider submitting an application to DEC by December 19, 2016 so that it can be processed before the transfer occurs.

    Additional information is provided on the Watershed Management Division’s web page.

  • VRWA Drought Update and Action Item for Consideration by Public Water Suppliers in Vermont

    Drought conditions continue to impact a number of public water systems as well as hundreds of private supplies throughout Vermont. I received word late last week that many folks on private springs in the vicinity of Randolph and Chelsea high country and beyond have gone and are going dry. Vermont did get rain and snow prior to and over the weekend of October 22 but recognize the drought conditions are still in place. It is estimated we are off on precipitation amounts by 15 to 20 inches compared to normal. More info on drought conditions as published by NOAA is at this link:


    The October 18 edition shows that all of Vermont is impacted as abnormally dry, and a large swath covering Chittenden, Addison, Rutland, and Windsor counties is in severe drought.

    All public water suppliers, please remind your customers to conserve. This should be your message at all operational times, not just in drought phases. In addition, be very diligent buttoning up any known leaks to prevent losses and stresses on your supply.

    One other item for your consideration; if you have adequate supply and a filling station and/or process to provide water to those in need, consider a public notice advertising this. This is not for a bulk haul situation but something as simple as a private homeowner filling a jug and or other bottles with a safe supply. I am very sure for anyone who has lost their private supply, getting some water from their nearby local public water supplier would be appreciated by them and their family members.

    Shaun Fielder
    Vermont Rural Water Association

  • EPA Region 1 Shared Drinking Water Drought Information

    An Excellent Set of Resources and References for Your Use

    What EPA materials/tools are available on Drinking Water and Drought?

    • Drought Resilience and Water Conservation Technical Brief (EPA -600-F-16-051) for comprehensive agency-wide actions and research on many areas related to drought and water resources.
    • EPA WaterSense program drought outreach: The program also conducts partner and marketing webinars to teach partners about the latest news, tools in WaterSense programs. A series of drought materials are provided to WaterSense partners to use in educating their customers about the importance of water efficiency and ways they can save water and conserve resources with WaterSense labeled products and services. (See a few sample factsheets---WaterSense water efficient landscaping and drought tips factsheet). For WaterSense (Partners Only website): bill stuffers, media templates, PSAs, web banners and graphics, and social media images and infographics are available to use. General WaterSense information and how to sign up free as a partner is available at www.epa.gov/watersense
    • EPA Drought Response and Recovery Guide: a step-by-step approach to drought planning and response for water sector utilities. This interactive, user-friendly guide provides fillable worksheets, best practices, videos and key resources for responding to drought emergencies and building long-term resilience. The guide contains four main sections: Staffing, response plans and funding; Water supply and demand management; Communication and partnerships; Case studies and videos.
    • EPA Incident Action Checklists, simple tools for water suppliers to prepare and plan for various disasters, including one for drought.
    • EPA Water Utility Response On-The-Go mobile website tool that includes the above incident action checklists and other key weather, contact, and reporting information for responses by the water sector.
    • EPA Climate Ready Water Utilities (CRWU) Adaptation Strategies Guide, which includes simple ways for water sector utilities who have identified drought as a vulnerability to look at adaptation options and general costs to implement them, better helping the utilities plan for future infrastructure needs. (See pages 67-76 in the guide for specific information sheets on drought challenges for the water sector.)
    • Workshop Planner for Climate Change and Extreme Events Adaptation: Extreme events including floods, drought, sea-level rise, wildfires and reduced snowpack may become more frequent or intense due to climate change. Planning for these extreme events can help protect utility infrastructure and operations, allowing utilities to provide reliable and sustainable service to their customers. This tool provides simple steps for drinking water and wastewater utility personnel and other water sector stakeholders, to conduct a climate change adaptation workshop in their own community or regional area. Tailored materials are generated by the tool for the planner’s specific workshop needs. https://workshopplanner.epa.gov/eewp/
    • EPA Water Utilities Public Awareness Kit was launched this past year as a tool for the water sector to better engage with customers on the value of tap water and the importance of water infrastructure funding, improvements. Materials such as web and social media graphics, PSAs, bill stuffers, and posters are provided for them to use or customize with local utility logos.

    Some other helpful links:

    EPA general Drought/Disaster info for all types of audiences/sectors: https://www.epa.gov/natural-disasters/drought
    USGS Drought Monitor (for Northeast): http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/RegionalDroughtMonitor.aspx?northeast

  • Vermont's CSO Rule -- ADOPTED! - Effective September 15, 2016

    The Vermont Watershed Management Division announces the updated Combined Sewer Overflow Rule. As reported by Julia Butzler (VT DEC), "The Combined Sewer Overflow Rule was reviewed and approved by the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (LCAR) on August 25, 2016…..We have also added it to the webpage that lists the state’s Environmental Protection Rules by Chapter (http://dec.vermont.gov/laws) – Chapter 34 can be seen in all its glory. . ..down at the bottom.

    The CSO Rule will become effective September 15, 2016.

    We would like to thank you for your participation in the process of updating the 1990 Policy. We believe that the many lively discussions with you have made this Rule a respectable road map for working together to address the human health and environmental challenges that these systems pose. We look forward to continuing this work with the CSO communities, and we hope that the conversation will remain positive and fruitful."

    The updated CSO rule can be viewed at this link - http://dec.vermont.gov/sites/dec/files/wsm/Laws-Regulations-Rules/2016_08_26%3B%202015_WSMD_005%3B%20Final_Adopted_CSO_Rule.pdf

  • Wastewater Operator Certification To Move From DEC to Secretary of State - Office of Professional Regulation

    See the letter from the Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner. (pdf)

  • VRWA Launches Online Training Program

    VRWA is partnering with SunCoast Learning Systems to provide online based training courses. The courses offered through this program are approved for water and wastewater training contact hours by the VT DEC Drinking Water & Groundwater Protection Program and the Wastewater Management Program. See course titles, hours, and cost information at this link, https://www.suncoastlearning.com/courses/vt/vt.html. VRWA is excited to offer this type of training to supplement our classroom based training.

  • EPA Region 1 Releases Final Phosphorus Limits for Vermont Segments of Lake Champlain

    On June 17, 2016 EPA Region 1 released the long awaited TMDLs for Lake Champlain. A press release and details associated can be accessed at this link - https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-releases-final-phosphorus-limits-vermont-segments-lake-champlain

  • Clean Water Economy Gubernatorial Candidate Forum
    presented by LCI

    Tuesday, June 7 at 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

    McCarthy Arts Center at St Michael's College

    One Winooski Park, Colchester, VT

    First ever gubernatorial candidate forum centered on a Vermont “Clean Water Economy." Moderated by Peter Hirschfeld of Vermont Public Radio.

    The scope of issues related to water and the economy include: drinking water infrastructure, wastewater infrastructure, sustainable agriculture, TMDLs impacting several waterbodies statewide, renewable energy, water-based tourism, recreational waters, fish and wildlife, and the most recent ACCD CEDS Report which declares that in 200 of our 251 communities insufficient water/wastewater infrastructure limits economic opportunities. Democrats Peter Galbraith, Sue Minter and Matt Dunne and Republicans Bruce Lisman and Phil Scott have all confirmed their participation.

    Presented by Lake Champlain International. Co-sponsored by VT Rural Water Association, Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Lintilhac Foundation, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, Vermont Council Trout Unlimited, Vermont Conservation Voters, Rights & Democracy VT, Rural Vermont, and Green Mountain Water Environment Association.

  • Vermont Water Quality Day Proclaimed - Friday May 27, 2016

    A big thank you to all wastewater, stormwater, and drinking water facilities and the dedicated personnel who operate and manage them 365/24/7. Your ongoing efforts are critical for environmental and public health protection. To honor this good work, Governor Shumlin has signed a proclamation dedicating Friday May 27, 2016 as Water Quality Day.

    A number of facilities around Vermont will host open houses and here is the list planning to host tours. Contact the facility operator for more information.

  • Vermont Environmental Consortium Presents:
    5th Annual Water Quality Conference

    June 8, 2016
    Judd Hall, VT Technical College
    Randolph, VT

    The Vermont Environmental Consortium and Vermont Technical College (VTC) are excited to announce registration is open for the 5th Annual Water Quality Conference. The conference will be held June 8, 2016 at VT Technical College in Randolph, VT. Vermont faces numerous water quality challenges attributable to human activity. Wastewater management, storm water runoff from impervious surface associated with roads, homes and businesses, drainage from farm fields and logging roads, and historic hydrologic modification of our streams and rivers all impact current surface water conditions. Act 64, Vermont’s 2015 Clean Water Act, validated that healthy waters are essential to our economy, health, property values, recreation, fisheries and wildlife, and the Vermont brand.

    The 5th annual Water Quality Conference will highlight the tremendous opportunity for innovation in water quality management by showcasing a wide-range of efforts currently underway in Vermont to protect, restore and enhance clean water. The day’s events will include four panels; related exhibitors; keynote speaker; and more!

    See this link for more details and registration information; http://www.vectogether.org/vec-events/spring-conference/

  • VRWA and Lake Monsters: Night Out At The Ballpark

    Saturday, July 16th
    Game Time 6:05, Gates Open at 5:00

    Vermont Lake Monsters vs Williamsport Crosscutters

    Tickets are just $6!

    Use this link to purchase:



    The Vermont legislature recently passed H.674, a bill that requires public notification by operators of wastewater treatment facilities (WWTFs) of releases of sewage to Vermont’s surface waters. The Governor will sign this bill into law in May 2016. These new requirements will become effective immediately upon the Governor’s signature. The Department is sending this email to assist you in understanding and complying with these new requirements, which require WWTF operators to:

    1. Post an electronic “Public Alert” within 1 hour of discovery of an untreated discharge from the WWTF (which includes the treatment plant, collectionsystem, pump stations, and attendant facilities permitted by the Agency for the purpose of treating sewage). If an operator is working to stop the discharge in a location with no telephone or internet access, the “public alert” must be posted no later than 4 hours from discovery;

      “Untreated discharges” that must be posted include:
      Combined sewer overflows
      Overflows from sanitary sewers and combined sewer systems during dry weather flows, which result in a discharge to waters of the State
      Upsets or bypasses around or within a wastewater treatment facility during dry or wet weather conditions that are due to factors unrelated to a wet weather stormevent and that result in a discharge of sewage that has not been fully treated to waters of the State; and
      Any other untreated discharges from a wastewater treatment facility to separatestorm sewer systems.

    2. Submit a follow-up Overflow and Incidents Report within 12 hours of discovery with notification to the Department’s on-line event reporting system and to the local health officer.
    3. Post a permanent sign at each combined sewer overflow (CSO) outfall; and
    4. Post temporary signs at any public access areas downstream of sewage releases or other untreated discharges from the WWTF.
    Posting a “Public Alert” – within 1 hour
    Within 1 hour of discovery of an untreated sewage discharge WWTF operators must submit a public alert to our electronic alert system. This system is already operational and we have attached instructions on how operators can access and post to this system. Once you have entered the required information, your public alert will be immediately available for public viewing on the Department’s website. We are currently developing a system for the public to sign up to receive text and email notifications when public alerts are submitted. (PublicAlertProcedure.docx)

    Submitting a Follow-Up Overflow and Incident Report to the Department – within 12 hours
    WWTF operators must also give notice to the Department, and to local public health officers, of each untreated sewage discharge from the WWTF within 12 hours of discovery. The Department has an existing on-line reporting system (ANROnline) that has been expanded to meet this new law. Many municipalities already have access to this system for CSO event reporting. If you are a WWTF operator who does not already have access to this system, you will need to establish an account. Instructions are attached to this email that explain how to set up your account. (ANROnlineWWTFAccounts.docx)

    PostPermanent Signs at Each CSO Outfall
    WWTFs will now be required to post permanent signage at every CSO outfall. The Department had signs made for each CSO outfall in Vermont. These signs have been modeled after CSO outfall signs required under New York’s CSO notice law. Please post a sign so that it can be readily seen at each of your CSO outfalls ASAP. We will be coordinating directly with the WWTFs with CSO outfalls in getting these signs to you.

    Posting of Temporary Signs at Public Access Areas
    WWTF operators will be required to post temporary signs at public access areas downstream of sewage discharges and other unpermitted discharges identified by the Secretary that may pose a threat to human health or the environment. The signs shall remain in place for 48 hours after the untreated or unpermitted discharge has stopped. A template available for your use is attached (PublicAccessTempSign.pdf).

    As an overview, attached is a simple PowerPoint presentation (exported as a PDF) explaining these new requirements. (PresentationOverflowReporting.pdf)

    Contact Information The Department understands that WWTF operators will likely have questions on how to comply with this new law. If you have any questions, please contact:

    • For general questions on these new notice requirements: Ernie Kelley, Wastewater Program Manager at 802-490-6187 or ernie.kelley@vermont.gov.
    • For specific questions on how to establish an account for the 12 hour on-line reporting system: Greg Lutchko, DEC Systems Coordinator, 802-272-4529, or greg.lutchko@vermont.gov

  • Water Emergency Preparedness Workshop

    Tuesday, May 17 at 8:30 am, Hadley, MA

    By: U.S. EPA: Water Security Division and other New England partners including Vermont Rural Water Association

    This workshop is intended to improve overall community preparedness for emergencies that may affect drinking water and wastewater service. The workshop objectives include:

    • Promote a better understanding of public-private sector interdependencies.
    • Foster a greater understanding of water infrastructure and the potential impacts from a loss of service.
    • Identify actions and resources needed to respond to and recover from a water emergency.
    • Assist stakeholders in building strong response plans for water service interruptions.

    The agenda will include presentations on water resiliency, panel discussions, and a water emergency scenario break-out activity.

    Continuing education hours will be available to drinking water and wastewater operators, pending state approval.

    Lunch will be available for purchase (range $7-10, TBD) at the workshop. Cash in small bills will be appreciated.

    This event is being planned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Vermont Rural Water Association (VRWA), Massachusetts Water Works Association (MWWA), Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES), Granite State Rural Water Association, and New England Water Works Association (NEWWA).

    EPA will use your registration information solely for this event. We will not share your information with any third party.

    If you require accommodations, please contact Jonathan Nagata at nagata.jonathan@epa.gov or (202) 564-4995 by May 10, 2016.

    Tuesday, May 17, 2016 from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM (EDT) - Add to Calendar

    U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services - 300 Westgate Center Drive, Hadley, MA 01035 - View Map

    Click here for the Eventbrite invite if you would like to send it to others.

  • EPA Update on Optimal Corrosion Control Recommendations

    Link below to the information on EPA updates on optimal corrosion control recommendations, please note the webinar opportunities.


    This document promotes greater public health protection by offering technical support that both public water systems and primacy agencies can leverage to ensure effective implementation of OCCT and strengthen compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule. The document builds upon previous EPA technical support documents by including new research findings as well as experience with rule implementation. It was also piloted at the state level through partnerships with EPA Regions 4 and 5, leading to the additional development of customizable spreadsheet templates (attached) that public water systems and primacy agencies can use to enhance coordination on the collection, evaluation, and review of system information and corrosion control parameters.

    We hope you can join us for the rollout webinar on April 14. We will also repeat the webinar on the 19th for those who are unable to attend the first session. Please register for the webinar using either of the links provided below.

  • Vermont Drinking Water Week Taste Contest

    Tasting Event at VRWA Conference May 5 – Application deadline April 29

    Contestants need to register for the VRWA Conference and Trade Show.

  • Vermont DEC Watershed Management Division is Extending the Public Comment Period for the Proposed CSO Rule from March 31st to April 29th, 2016.

    Written public comments on the proposed CSO rule must be received on or before the close of business day (4:30 pm) April 29, 2016. Comments may be submitted by email ( ANR.WSMDWastewaterComments@vermont.gov ), or by mail ( Agency of Natural Resources / Department of Environmental Conservation / Watershed Management Division / 1 National Life Drive – Main 2 / Vermont 05620-3522 ).

    For more info, including the proposed CSO rule see this link - http://www.watershedmanagement.vt.gov/rulemaking/htm/rules.htm

  • VT DEC has Submitted CSO Rule and Will Hold Another Public Hearing on March 24

    As released by VT DEC on January 28 - The proposed CSO Rule has been submitted to the Secretary of State's office, and has been posted on their website (https://secure.vermont.gov/SOS/rules/index.php).

    There will be a public meeting on March 24, 2016, 3 - 5:00 PM, at the Pavilion Auditorium in Montpelier. Comments regarding the proposed rule will be accepted until March 31, 2016.

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