Water Quality

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Rep. Peter Welch has signed on to a bipartisan letter demanding that the Environmental Protection Agency released a study on the health effects of the chemicals PFOA and PFOS.

Blue-green algae blooms, like this one photographed in the summer of 2014 in Lake Champlain, have many in the state concerned. A new draft plan proposes funding sources for water cleanup efforts.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR FILE

The Vermont House on Friday advanced a bill that raises taxes to fund clean water programs.

Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

The Westminster Democrat says he won't seek re-election this year, after nearly 30 years serving in the Vermont House. 

Rep. David Deen, center, listens to testimony last week on a water quality bill. Deen, who chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources, Fish & Wildlife, says his committee may unveil a water quality funding plan this week.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

From the governor on down, just about every elected official in Montpelier says Vermont needs more money for water quality projects. And that’s where the agreement ends.

The issue of how to pay for water funding has turned into one of the most intractable policy debates of the 2018 legislative session.

A chrome kitchen sink that is turned off.
rodho / iStock

The state of Vermont issued a "Do Not Drink" order to tenants of the Rutland Airport Business Park in Clarendon, following the detection of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the water.

Blue-green algae blooms, like this one photographed in the summer of 2014 in Lake Champlain, have many in the state concerned. A new draft plan proposes funding sources for water cleanup efforts.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR FILE

Vermont’s phosphorus pollution problem is almost a century in the making and persists today, as the nutrient contained in fertilizer and animal feed continues to accumulate in watersheds.

Rebecca Harvey, a scientist with Vermont's Acid Lakes Monitoring Program, caps a water sample taken by a solar-powered automatic sampler at an outlet flowing from Hardwood Pond, in Elmore.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

Vermont's water quality issues can seem like an insurmountable problem, but state scientists have a treasure-trove of acid rain data that could prove useful in tackling those concerns.

Michael Colby, right, of Regeneration Vermont, testifies about what he says is lax state oversight of large dairy farms.
John Dillon / VPR

One of the largest farm businesses in the state expanded its operation and constructed a manure pit in Franklin County last summer — without a permit or state oversight.

Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

The Agency of Natural Resources is poking holes in a report that says Saint-Gobain was not responsible for some of the PFOA contamination in Bennington.

Chittenden Couty Sen. Chris Pearson says Vermont could improve enforcement of state water quality laws by allowing citizens to sue polluters.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

As environmental advocates grow increasingly worried about whether government regulators will adequately enforce new water quality rules, some lawmakers want to give regular citizens the authority to hold polluters to account.

Taps like this one at Academy School in Brattleboro were replaced after state tests discovered lead was leaching into the water.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

In November, the Department of Health announced that it was going to test 16 of the older schools around Vermont that get water from municipal sources to see if the pipes and fixtures in those buildings were leaching lead into the water. So far, they have detected unsafe levels of lead in some of the school buildings' water.

Secretary of Natural Resources Julie Moore, left, says a federal rollback of fuel efficiency standards for vehicles sold in Vermont could thwart the state's push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
John Dillon / VPR file

Phosphorus is a basic building block of life. It’s in our bones, and it helps plants grow. But too much of this good thing is bad for places like Lake Champlain, where the nutrient fuels toxic algae blooms.

Gov. Phil Scott has suggested capturing and selling phosphorus before it gets to the state's waterways and lakes.
VPR File

In his budget address on Tuesday, Gov. Phil Scott suggested Vermont should turn lemons into lemonade by capturing the phosphorous flowing into our waterways - and selling it.

Would that work? We’re talking about whether the suggestion is feasible, how phosphorus could be separated out and what the economics of the idea might look like.

Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Tom Torti, at the podium, joined environmental and municipal leaders last week to call for a per-parcel fee, on every property owner in Vermont, to fund clean water projects.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Environmental advocates aren’t the only voices pressuring Montpelier to come up with a long-term funding mechanism for water quality projects. Members of the state's business community are also joining the call.

The Vermont Clean Water Act will hold more than 1,000 properties across the state to stricter stormwater standards, but environmental advocates say the Scott administration is trying to undermine some key provisions.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR/File

Environmental advocates say the Scott administration is trying to dismantle key provisions in a 2015 law that set out rigorous new water quality standards across Vermont.

Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

The company that reached a $20 million settlement with the state over PFOA contamination in one area of Bennington says it can't be linked to pollution in another, disputed, region of town.

Upward view of the Vermont Statehouse
Angela Evancie / VPR File

Citizen legislators from across Vermont return to the Statehouse Wednesday morning for the second half of the legislative biennium, and many lawmakers are preparing for an unusually busy year in Montpelier.

A Jersey heifer peers through a door used to push manure into a manure pit.
Emily Corwin / VPR

A leading source of contamination in Vermont's lakes is nitrate pollution leeching from animal manure on dairy farms. Now VPR Investigative Reporter Emily Corwin has found those nitrates are also finding their way into groundwater and private wells across the state. 

An illustration of the nitrogen cycle.
ttsz / iStock

Farm runoff isn't just polluting Vermont lakes and streams. Nitrate from manure and fertilizer is also contaminating private drinking wells. VPR interviewed hydrogeologist Miles Waite of Waite-Heindel Environmental Management to help us understand how the nutrient gets into groundwater.

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson and Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe say they're reviewing the policies that each chamber uses to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR file

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson and Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe have outlined their key priorities for the legislative session that begins in January.

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