Introduced by Representatives Klein of East Montpelier, Edwards of Brattleboro and McCullough of Williston
Subject: Public health; water supply; private water supply testing
Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to create a landlord obligation to test private water supplies and a remedy for tenants if the landlord does not comply. It proposes to add private drinking water testing to the information required in the property tax transfer form. It proposes to require adoption of rules for screening in private water supplies; require the filing of private water supply test results with the department of health; establish a process for licensing private water supply samplers; require that samples be collected by licensed samplers; require that analysis be performed by certified laboratories; require the commissioner of health to use a database to monitor groundwater contamination in the state; and establish a public education program to inform the public of the requirements established by the commissioner of health.
AN ACT RELATING TO PRIVATE WATER SUPPLY TESTING
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. 9 V.S.A. § 4457a is added to read:
§ 4457a. LANDLORD OBLIGATIONS; DRINKING WATER TESTING
(a) A landlord shall comply with the rules regarding private water supply under section 1222 of Title 18.
(b) If a landlord fails to comply with subsection (a) of this section, the landlord’s tenant may withhold payment of rent for the period of noncompliance.
Sec. 2. 18 V.S.A. § 1222 is added to read:
§ 1222. PRIVATE WATER SUPPLY
(a) Definitions. The following words, as used in this section, have the following meanings:
(1) “Certified laboratory” means a laboratory certified under section 501b of this title or a laboratory certified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program.
(2) “Private water supply” means any water supply that is supplied from private wells or springs located on the property or on adjacent property and that is not regulated by chapter 56 of Title 10.
(b) Private water supply testing. The department shall adopt rules protecting the health of humans who consume water from a private drinking water supply. These rules shall:
(1) Adopt testing parameters for total coliform bacteria, lead, iron, turbidity, odor, nitrate, nitrite, and radon.
(2) Require sellers of real property, where the water is supplied through a private water supply system, to test the water supply with respect to the parameters adopted in subdivision (1) of this subsection. The seller must provide the results to the buyer of the real property and file the results with the commissioner before the closing of the real estate transaction. A defect in marketable title shall not be created by a failure to comply with this subdivision.
(3) Require landlords, where the water is supplied through a private water supply system, to have the water supply tested annually for total coliform bacteria, and every three years for lead, iron, turbidity, odor, nitrate, nitrite, and radon. The landlord is required to provide every unit with a copy of the results and file the results with the commissioner within 30 days of receiving them.
(4) Require sampling of private water supplies be conducted by persons licensed under this section.
(5) Require private water supply samples be analyzed by certified laboratories.
(c) The department, in consultation with the agency of natural resources, shall develop or use a preexisting database to analyze groundwater contamination in the state. The commissioner shall file the information collected under subsection (b) of this section in the groundwater database within 30 days of its receipt. This database shall be available to municipalities and citizens who wish to access it.
(d) Licensing samplers.
(1) The department shall, by rule, establish application and renewal procedures for persons desiring a license to sample private water supplies under this section. Rules relating to licensing standards shall be fair and reasonable and shall be designed and implemented to insure that all applicants are granted licensure if they demonstrate they possess the minimal occupational qualifications necessary for the purposes of sampling drinking water supply. The standards shall not be designed or implemented for the purpose of limiting the number of licensees.
(2) After a hearing conducted in accordance with chapter 25 of Title 3, the commissioner may suspend, revoke, or impose conditions upon a person licensed to test private water supplies. Upon revocation of a license, notice of that revocation shall be included in the next published environmental notice bulletin. This proceeding may be initiated on the commissioner’s own motion or upon a written request for imposing conditions, for suspension, or for revocation. Cause for imposing conditions, suspension, or revocation is any one or more of the following:
(A) False or misleading information submitted in support of an application.
(B) Misrepresentation of any relevant fact at any time.
(C) Negligence or incompetence in completing the work necessary for analysis of a private water supply sample.
(e) Public education. The department shall establish a program to educate the public of the requirements of the rules adopted pursuant to this section. It shall inform persons involved with a transfer or lease of land of available sampling and testing providers.
Sec. 3. 32 V.S.A. § 9606(c) is amended to read:
(c) The property transfer return required under this section shall also contain a certificate in such form as the secretary of the agency of natural resources and the commissioner of taxes jointly shall prescribe and shall be signed under oath or affirmation by each of the parties or their legal representatives. The certificate shall indicate:
(1) whether the transfer is in
compliance with or is exempt from regulations governing potable water supplies
and wastewater systems under chapter 64 of Title 10;
(2) that the seller has advised the purchaser that local and state building regulations, zoning regulations, subdivision regulations, and potable water supply and wastewater system requirements pertaining to the property may significantly limit the use of the property; and
(3) whether the transfer is in compliance with the rules regarding private water supply adopted under section 1222 of Title 18.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street