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H.131

Introduced by   Representatives Atkins of Winooski and Deen of Westminster

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:    Conservation; dams; licensing, relicensing, and removal

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to require that dams receive permits of limited duration when they are constructed, enlarged, raised, lowered, remodeled, reconstructed, or otherwise altered.  It proposes that dams found not to be in the public good are to be removed or breached.  It proposes that 25 interested persons, a municipal legislative body, or the department of environmental conservation may require a dam not currently regulated to receive a certificate of public good, which shall be a permit for a limited duration.  It proposes that if the certificate of public good is disapproved, the dam is to be removed or breached.  It proposes that, when a dam is without a known owner, abutting landowners shall be notified of the hearing to determine if the dam serves the public good, and if the dam serves the public good, a permit shall be issued if an owner is found for the dam.  It proposes that where an unowned dam does not serve the public good or no person is willing to buy the dam, the dam is removed or breached.

AN ACT RELATING TO THE PERMITTING, REPERMITTING, AND REMOVAL OF DAMS

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

Sec. 1.  10 V.S.A. § 1086 is amended to read:

§ 1086.  DETERMINATION OF PUBLIC GOOD; CERTIFICATES

* * *

(b)  If the state agency having jurisdiction finds that the proposed project will serve the public good, and, in case of it is located on any waters designated by the board as outstanding resource waters, will preserve or enhance the values and activities sought to be protected by designation, the agency shall issue its order a permit approving the application.  The order  Otherwise, it shall issue its order denying the permit.  A permit issued under this subsection shall include:

(1)  Include conditions for minimum stream flow to protect fish and instream aquatic life, especially during known spawning seasons, as determined by the agency of natural resources, and.

(2)  Be valid for a time period specified within the permit, not to exceed 30 years.

(3)  Include such other conditions as the agency having jurisdiction considers necessary to protect any element of the public good listed above.  Otherwise it shall issue its order disapproving the application in this section.

(4)  Include conditions for minimum stream flow to support existing water uses, including recreational uses.

* * *

(d)  In any order denying the permit, the state agency having jurisdiction shall order any project, completed or partially completed at the time of disapproval, to be removed or breached, drained, or both, by a specified date.  If, upon the expiration of the specified date, the owner of the dam has not complied with the order directing the removal or breaching of the dam, the state agency having jurisdiction may petition the superior court in the county in which the dam is located to enforce its order.

(e)  A dam permit may be renewed, from time to time, upon application to the agency having jurisdiction.  The agency having jurisdiction shall establish requirements by which a permit holder may apply for a permit reissuance.  These requirements may range from a simple written request for reissuance to a submission of all information required by the initial application.  A renewal permit shall be issued following all determinations required for an initial permit application.

Sec. 2.  10 V.S.A. § 1096 is added to read:

§ 1096.  NONPERMITTED EXISTING DAMS

(a)  On receipt of a petition signed by not less than 25 persons in interest or the legislative body of a municipality, the department shall, or upon its own motion it may, conduct a public hearing to determine whether a dam, not currently subject to a permit issued under this chapter, serves the public good as defined by subsection 1086(a) of this title.  The agency shall fix a time and place for a hearing, shall post notice in the municipal offices of any municipality in which the dam is located, and shall publish notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the area in which the dam is located, at least 10 days before the hearing.  This subsection shall not apply to dams licensed by the federal government.

(b)  If the department finds that the nonpermitted existing dam will serve the public good and, in case it is located on any waters designated by the board as outstanding resource waters, will preserve or enhance the values and activities sought to be protected by designation, the department shall issue its permit authorizing continued operation of the dam.  Otherwise, it shall issue its order denying the continued operation of the dam.  A permit issued under this subsection shall:

(1)  Include conditions for minimum stream flow to protect fish and instream aquatic life, especially during known spawning seasons, as determined by the secretary of natural resources.

(2)  Be valid for a time period specified within the permit, not to exceed 30 years.

(3)  Include such other conditions as the secretary considers necessary to protect any element of the public good listed in subsection 1086(a) of this title.

(4)  Include conditions for minimum stream flow to support existing water uses, including recreational uses.

(c)  In the order denying the continued operation of the dam, the department shall order the dam to be removed or breached, or both, by a specified date.  If, upon the expiration of the specified date, the owner of such dam has not complied with the order directing the removal or breaching of the dam, the department may petition the supreme court to enforce its order.

(d)  A permit issued under this section shall be renewed in the same manner as prescribed in subsection 1086(e) of this title.

(e)  If the owner of the dam is unknown, and does not provide notice of ownership to the department within 90 days after the publication of notice as provided in subsection (a) of this section, the department shall notify, by certified mail, all landowners abutting the water body created by the dam.  The agency shall fix a time and place for a hearing in the area where the dam is located.  If the department determines that the dam serves the public good, as defined by subsection 1086(a) of this title, the department shall issue a permit for the dam’s continued operation, subject to the same requirements as provided in subsection (b) of this section, provided that a person, financially capable of operating and maintaining the dam in a manner safe to people and property, is willing to acquire the dam.  If no such owner is found or if the department determines that the dam is not in the public good, the department shall bring an action in supreme court for the removal or breach of the dam. The court will hear such a petition within 60 days of the date it was filed.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us