Water Quality

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.

Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

The first municipal waterline extensions to homes contaminated with the chemical PFOA have been installed. State officials were in Bennington Monday marking the important milestone.

Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR file

The Environmental Protection Agency says it wants to better coordinate the nationwide response to soil and water contaminated with chemicals like PFOA.

Catherine Goldsmith, of Responsible Growth Hinesburg, stands by a stake marking the corner of a proposed supermarket. The Vermont Supreme Court reversed an approval of Hannaford's site plan due to a required setback from a canal behind her.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

For seven years a citizen’s group has been fighting a proposed supermarket in the Chittenden County town of Hinesburg. The battle went all the way to the Vermont Supreme Court and it’s still not settled.

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

Phosphorus runoff from farms and other sources is a nuisance for Vermont’s lakes. Phosphorus loading can lead to toxic algae blooms that threaten the health of our waterways. This is a well-known problem for Lake Champlain, but now Vermont’s second-largest body of water, Lake Memphremagog, is in the spotlight for a new plan developed to correct its water pollution issues.

The health department will test drinking water in 16 schools for lead, and the results could lead to a statewide testing program.

Sen. Christopher Bray is backing a per parcel fee on all property in Vermont to help fund water quality projects
courtesy / the Vermont Department of Health

The head of the Senate Natural Resources committee, Addison Sen. Christopher Bray, is backing a plan to boost funding for water quality projects throughout the state.

Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Two years ago, then Gov. Peter Shumlin signed Vermont's most comprehensive clean water law. Now, many of the and a lot of the regulations included in that law are coming into play.

UVM researchers will be studying the impacts of blue-green algae blooms on St. Albans Bay and the reactions in the community.
Sally McCay / UVM

Researchers at the University of Vermont have received a $598,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to study the effects of cyanobacteria, otherwise known as blue-green algae. It will also take into account the human reaction to those blooms.

A giant, miles-long tunnel is about to be drilled hundreds of feet beneath Connecticut’s capital. This subterranean project will take years, cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and the hope is, result in cleaner water for the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound.

Melody Bodette / VPR

Work has been completed on one of the projects state officials hope will improve water quality in Lake Carmi, which has been plagued by blue-green algae, a bacteria that can release toxins.

New Jersey last week set its safe drinking water standard for the chemical PFOA at 14 parts per trillion, which is lower than Vermont's standard.

Deicing winter roads by applying salt is poisoning Vermont's ecosystems, and experts say it’s over-salting by private contractors in parking lots and other urban areas that are increasingly the source of the salt.
Modfos / iStock

Salt used for deicing and winter road management is poisoning Vermont's ecosystems, but it isn't coming from where you'd think. Parking lots and congested urban areas are increasingly the source of the salt, winter managers say. Drivers expecting visibly salted roads, and a lack of standards for private companies offering salting services, has many calling for tough standards to stop the problem cold.

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

Lake Champlain and Lake Carmi saw numerous outbreaks of blue-green algae blooms this summer, which seems to have rallied support for clean water efforts in the state. But the age-old question of how to fund those efforts persists.

Conservation Law Foundation Senior Attorney Chris Kilian, seen here observing a cyanobacteria bloom on St. Albans Bay in 2014, says state officials are allowing sewage plants to send more phosphorus into Lake Champlain instead of less.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR File

The Conservation Law Foundation has appealed four of the first sewage treatment plant permits that Vermont state officials have approved since the new Lake Champlain cleanup plan went into effect last year.

Sen. Christopher Bray is backing a per parcel fee on all property in Vermont to help fund water quality projects
courtesy / the Vermont Department of Health

A government official’s decision to bring armed law-enforcement officers to maintain order at a public meeting on water quality has raised questions about the use of force.

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

Vermont’s secretary of natural resources is out with a new plan to fund costly water quality improvements, but legislators have some concerns about where she wants the money to come from.

Pages