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ACT SUMMARY 2007-2008


ACT NO. 32


Conservation and development; potable water supply; wastewater

This act amends state requirements for wastewater systems and potable water supplies. The act amends the definitions of “failed water supply” and “failed wastewater system.” A failed water supply is one that exceeds the standard set by the secretary of natural resources for one or more of the following contaminants: total coliform, nitrates, nitrites, arsenic, or uranium. In addition, a water supply is a failed supply due to the presence of groundwater contamination if the secretary issues such a determination and posts the information to the agency of natural resources’ website. Similarly, the secretary may determine and subsequently post to the agency website that a water supply is failed because it provides an insufficient quantity of water to maintain the usual or customary use of a building. The statutory definition of failed system is amended to clarify that a wastewater system may fail due to a determination by the secretary of natural resources that the system has contaminated a water supply and caused that supply to fail. The act would require such a determination to be posted to the agency’s website. In addition, the act clarifies that a wastewater system may be determined to be a failed system by the completion of a site visit that identifies wastewater exposed to the air, pooling on the ground, discharging directly to surface water, or backing up into a building. However, the act imposes no requirement for homeowners to conduct such a site visit.

The act would also substitute a grandfathering provision, known as clean slate, for most of the existing exemptions in statute to the requirements for permitting wastewater systems and potable water supplies. Under the clean slate exemption, all buildings, structures, and campgrounds and their associated water supplies and wastewater systems status would be exempt from permitting requirements if completed before January 1, 2007. Similarly, all improved or unimproved lots that were in existence before January 1, 2007 would also qualify for the clean slate exemption. The clean slate exemption is lost when an action taken after January 1, 2007 requires a wastewater system or potable water supply permit. The clean slate exemption is not available to homeowners that possessed a wastewater system or potable water supply permit prior to January 1, 2007 if the permit contains conditions that require actions to be taken on or after January 1, 2007. In addition, if the owner of a single family residence that qualified for clean slate believes that his or her wastewater system or potable water supply has failed after January 1, 2007, the owner will not be subject to penalties for the failure if the owner conducts an inspection of the supply or system, notifies the secretary of natural resources of the inspection results, and has not taken any action that would require a permit.

The act authorizes ANR to bring enforcement actions against the designers of wastewater systems and potable water supplies when designers submit faulty or noncomplying plans. The act would allow the installers of wastewater systems and potable water supplies to submit the record drawings of installations when permit conditions or site conditions require the system as installed to be redesigned from the original permitted design. The act also authorizes municipalities to enact zoning bylaws that prohibit the initiation of construction under a zoning permit unless or until a wastewater system and potable water supply permit is issued. The act creates an exemption from the potable water supply permit requirements for a replacement well if the well is designed in accordance with water supply rules, a form is recorded in the land records regarding the well, and nothing else is done that would require a permit. In addition, the agency of commerce and community development is required to report to the general assembly in January 2008 with a status report on implementation of No. 133 of the 2001 Adj. Sess. (2002), including any recommended changes to the current prohibition in 10 V.S.A. §1978 on the siting of wastewater systems on lots with a slope in excess of 20 percent.

Effective Date: Upon passage

Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont