Water Quality & PFOA

Rutland is one of more than a dozen Vermont municipalities with a combined sewer system. When the city's water treatment system is overloaded, untreated sewage and runoff flows out of this pipe into a local creek.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR File

Unintended releases from sewage treatment plants are happening all over the state, most recently in Burlington where a computer failure last week allowed 3 million gallons of partially disinfected wastewater to enter Lake Champlain.

A water fountain mounted on a wall.
gerenme / iStock

The Vermont Department of Health is adding three new polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, to its drinking water advisory, and the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation says it will be testing the drinking water in 10 schools that have used cleaning supplies that contain the chemicals.

The Connecticut River.
Ric Cengeri / VPR File

Those who swim or boat on the Connecticut River and its tributaries can go online to check the water quality at their favorite spots.

New Englanders had a chance to speak out this week about what they want to see in new Environmental Protection Agency rules for industrial chemicals in drinking water – but residents say the proof that they were heard will be in what the regulators do next.

A very old sewer system is still in use at about 800 wastewater treatment plants in the U.S., including along the Connecticut River. It’s called “combined sewer overflow,” or CSO. What overflows into waterways is a mix of storm water, street runoff and raw sewage.  

Blood tests. A new federal report looks at the long-term health effects of PFOA.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR file

A new federal report on the health effects of perfluorinated compounds, including PFOA, could force Vermont to lower its safe drinking water standard.

EPA Region 1 Administrator Alexandra Dunn says Vermont still has to come up with a long-term funding plan to clean up Lake Champlain.
John Dillon / VPR

Lake Champlain will get a $4 million increase in federal clean-up funds this year. But the Environmental Protection Agency says Vermont still needs to develop a funding source of its own.

Rows of soda bottles with different color caps.
Kwangmoozaa / iStock

Gov. Phil Scott has signed a bill into law that redistributes several million dollars from the state's uncollected bottle deposit fund into clean water programs.

Rutland-Southern Vermont Regional Airport.
Nina Keck / VPR

The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation will continue testing drinking water near the Rutland-Southern Vermont Regional Airport in Clarendon.

Vermont's Department of Health tested the blood of 477 people in Bennington County. This week, the EPA held a conference to discuss issues around chemicals like PFOA.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

This week, the Environmental Protection Agency held a summit in Washington D.C. to discuss the environmental impact of chemicals known as PFAS.

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.

If Scott Pruitt arrived on Capitol Hill expecting to be grilled Wednesday, he did not have to wait long to see that expectation fulfilled.

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.

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