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NO. 144.  AN ACT RELATING TO GROUNDWATER MANAGEMENT.

(H.294)

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  10 V.S.A. chapter 48, subchapter 5 is added to read:

Subchapter 5.  Interim Groundwater Withdrawal Permit

§ 1415.  INTERIM GROUNDWATER WITHDRAWAL PERMIT

(a)  As used in this section:

(1)  “Groundwater” means water below the land surface.

(2)  “Person” means any individual, partnership, company, corporation, cooperative, association, unincorporated association, joint venture, trust, the state of Vermont or any department, agency, subdivision, or municipality, the United States government or any department, agency, or subdivision, or any other legal or commercial entity.

(3)  “Withdraw” means the removal of groundwater by any method or instrument.

(b)  No person shall withdraw more than 50,000 gallons of groundwater a day from a well drilled after July 1, 2006, for commercial or industrial purposes without first receiving from the secretary of natural resources an interim groundwater withdrawal permit under this section.  Prior to issuance of a permit under this section:

(1)  The secretary shall determine that such withdrawal meets the applicable requirements of section 1675 of this title and any applicable rules adopted thereunder or the requirements adopted pursuant to subsection (e) of this section; and

(2)  the applicant shall submit to the Vermont state geologist and the department of environmental conservation a geologic cross section and groundwater contour map of an area, the size of which shall be in conformance with appendix A, part 3, subsection 3.3.5.2 of the Vermont water supply rule, surrounding the proposed source of the groundwater withdrawal..

(c)  Groundwater withdrawal by a public water system, as that term is defined in section 1671 of this title, or for use for fire safety, agriculture, agricultural or dairy processing, dewatering operations during building construction, geothermal energy production, or public sanitation shall be exempt from the requirements of this section.

(d)  A permit issued under this section shall be valid for the period of time specified in the permit but not more than five years.

(e)  The secretary of natural resources may adopt rules to implement the provisions of this section and to establish criteria for the issuance of a permit under section 1675 of this title for commercial or industrial groundwater withdrawals from a well drilled after July 1, 2006.

Sec. 2.  10 V.S.A. § 1675(g) is added to read:

(g)(1)  Effective July 1, 2006, a public water system applying for a permit under this section for the bottling of more than 50,000 gallons of drinking water a day from a single source for public distribution and sale shall, in addition to complying with the requirements of this chapter and any rules adopted thereunder, submit to the Vermont state geologist and the department of environmental conservation a geologic cross section and groundwater contour map of an area, the size of which shall be in conformance with appendix A, part 3, subsection 3.3.5.2 of the Vermont water supply rule, surrounding the proposed source.

(2)  The requirements of subdivision (1) of this subsection shall apply to a public water system permitted under this section when the system proposes to expand the bottling of drinking water from a single source such that the total gallons of water bottled from the single source would exceed 50,000 gallons a day.

Sec. 3.  STUDY OF GROUNDWATER REGULATION AND FUNDING

(a)  A committee is established to examine potential regulatory programs to protect the groundwater resources of the state.  The committee shall issue a preliminary report of its findings to the house committee on fish, wildlife and water resources, the senate committee on natural resources and energy, and the house and senate committees on agriculture by January 15, 2007.  The committee shall issue a final report of its findings to the house committee on fish, wildlife and water resources, the senate committee on natural resources and energy, and the house and senate committees on agriculture by January 15, 2008.  The final report shall include:

(1)  A recommendation from the committee as to whether the groundwater resources of the state of Vermont should be declared a public trust resource.

(2)  An analysis of the regulatory implications of declaring the groundwater of the state to be a public trust resource if the committee so recommends under subdivision (1) of this subsection.

(3)  A proposed schedule for the groundwater mapping of the state by the agency of natural resources.

(4)  A proposed appropriation to the agency of natural resources for the groundwater mapping of the state, including any proposed new or existing revenue sources that may be used by the agency to aid in funding the groundwater mapping.

(5)  Proposed legislation for the regulation of groundwater withdrawal in the state, addressing:

(A)  The type of groundwater withdrawals subject to regulation;

(B)  A threshold amount or amounts of groundwater withdrawal subject to regulation;

(C)  Groundwater users exempt from regulation;

(D)  The regulation of interbasin groundwater transfers;

(E)  The fee to be charged for regulated groundwater withdrawal;

(F)  Monitoring, reporting, or recordkeeping requirements for regulated groundwater withdrawal; and

(G)  Any other issues deemed relevant by the committee.

(b)  The committee shall consist of the following members:

(1)  the secretary of natural resources or his or her designee;

(2)  the state geologist or his or her designee;

(3)  the secretary of agriculture, food and markets or his or her designee;

(4)  one member each from the house committees on agriculture and on fish, wildlife and water resources and the senate committees on agriculture and on natural resources and energy as appointed respectively by the speaker of the house and the committee on committees;

(5)  a representative appointed by the governor from each of the following:  the business community, municipalities, a local environmental organization, a regional or statewide environmental organization, and the general public;

(6)  two representatives of the agricultural community appointed by the governor.

(c)  The committee may elect a chair and a vice chair and may hold public hearings.  Legislative council shall provide support for the committee.

(d)  All members of the committee shall serve on the committee for the duration of the study unless circumstances dictate a permanent replacement.  Vacancies shall be appointed in the same manner as original appointments.

(e)  Legislative members are entitled to per diem payment and reimbursement for expenses pursuant to 2 V.S.A. § 406.

Sec. 4.  GROUNDWATER MAPPING

The agency of natural resources shall explore all available alternatives for the immediate initiation of groundwater mapping in the state, including working in cooperation with the U.S. Geologic Survey and obtaining the necessary funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  The agency shall report its findings to the house committee on fish, wildlife and water resources, the senate committee on natural resources and energy, and the house and senate committees on agriculture by January 15, 2007.

Sec. 5.  AGENCY OF NATURAL RESOURCES GROUNDWATER

             REPORT

On or before January 15, 2008, the agency of natural resources shall submit a report to the senate committee on natural resources and energy and the house committee on fish, wildlife and water resources regarding the status of the agency’s efforts to collect and analyze information regarding the groundwater resources of the state.  The report shall include:

(1)  An analysis by the agency of natural resources of whether the withdrawal of groundwater or bottling of drinking water in certain geographic areas of the state has impacted the use or quality of groundwater or surface water for domestic drinking water or other purposes;

(2)  A listing of any areas identified under subdivision (1) of this section, a summary of how the agency of natural resources responded to groundwater or surface water shortages in those areas, and agency recommendations on how to avoid similar impact areas in the future;

(3)  A compilation of groundwater supply information included in the well completion or closure reports submitted to the agency of natural resources in the last 15 years by licensed well drillers;

(4)  The amount of drinking water approved for bottling per day from each source in the state permitted under 10 V.S.A. § 1675 for use by a bottled water facility;

(5)  Any groundwater mapping completed by the agency; and

(6)  Any other information deemed relevant by the agency.

Sec. 6.  10 V.S.A. § 8003(a)(6) is amended to read:

(6)  10 V.S.A. chapter 48, relating to well drillers and groundwater withdrawal;

Sec. 7.  SUNSET

10 V.S.A. chapter 48, subchapter 5 (interim groundwater withdrawal permit) is repealed July 1, 2011.

Approved:  May 15, 2006



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us