S.260 and the White River

You’ve probably heard a lot about the water quality issues in Lake Champlain recently. And you may know something about the state’s efforts to raise funding to address these issues. But did you know that the White River watershed is impacted by these efforts as well?

Vermont has been busy improving waterways throughout the state by passing laws that protect these important resources and providing funding to address water quality issues. And for the past few years, the state has ramped up those efforts in response to concerns about phosphorus issues in Lake Champlain – from establishing the Vermont Clean Water Initiative to developing the Clean Water Fund. The newly introduced S.260 bill seeks to continue this legacy.

S.260 would work to restore impaired waters throughout the State and protect healthy waters from degrading through the use of funding gathered through a Water Quality Fund. On the surface, this bill sounds like it will continue the state’s legacy of protecting existing watersheds. So, how did it come about and why is it important to the White River watershed?

Act 97: Vermont Clean Water Initiative

  • The Vermont Clean Water Initiative was established with the intent to protect the rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds throughout Vermont.
  • A major concern with the introduction of this initiative was determining where funding for improving water quality would come from.

Act 64: Vermont Clean Water Act

  • Governor Shumlin passed this act, establishing the Clean Water Fund.
  • Initial funding for the first three years of the Clean Water Fund was raised through a fee on property transfer tax.
  • However, continued funding needed to be determined after that point.

Act 73: The Working Group on Clean Water Funding

  • Since the Clean Water Fund was only financed through the first three years of its inception, it was necessary to develop a new method of funding.
  • The working group goal was to determine long-term funding methods for protecting and restoring the waters throughout Vermont.

S.260: Water Quality Fund

  • This bill seeks to develop a Water Quality Fund that will replace the Clean Water Fund currently in effect within the state.
  • This bill would establish some form of authority that directly handles the financing required for water quality initiatives.
  • S.260 seeks to ensure that water quality funding will continue to be available for years to come.

Many watershed groups throughout the state have testified in favor of S.260. If passed, this bill would allow for thousands of projects to be funded across the state. With increased support from the Water Quality Fund, hundreds of on-the-ground projects could be completed within the White River watershed. This is an important bill to keep an eye on, particularly for watershed groups like the White River Partnership.

For more information about S.260, follow this link.