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H.294

AN ACT RELATING TO GROUNDWATER MANAGEMENT

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.  Groundwater Withdrawal Moratorium

§ 1415.  GROUNDWATER MORATORIUM

(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, including the bottling of drinking water from an underground spring that percolates to the surface.

(b)(1)  As of July 1, 2006, a moratorium is established on:

(A)  the operation of a groundwater well for commercial or industrial purposes if the well is drilled after July 1, 2006 and has a pump rate at installation of more than 50,000 gallons a day; and

(B)  the issuance of a new public water source permit under section 1676 of this title to a bottled water facility proposing to withdraw more than 50,000 gallons a day of groundwater or percolating spring water from a single source.

(2)  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, or public sanitation shall be exempt from the moratorium established under this subsection.

(c)  The secretary of natural resources may authorize a new groundwater withdrawal in excess of 50,000 gallons a day if, after review of the factors set forth in subdivisions 1410(e)(1) to (9) of this title, the secretary determines that such withdrawal would be in the public good.

Sec. 2.  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 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.  The 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 withdrawals in the state.

(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.

Sec. 3.  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. 4.  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. 5.  SUNSET

10 V.S.A. chapter 48, subchapter 5 (groundwater withdrawal moratorium) is repealed July 1, 2011.

 



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us