April 25, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Kirt Mayland, Eastern Water Project Director, 413-274-6329 (w), 646-302-3639 (c)
Trout Unlimited Applauds House Vote on Senate Bill 304
House vote is an important step in managing Vermont’s groundwater and stream flows
MONTPELIER -- Trout Unlimited (TU), the nation’s leading coldwater fisheries conservation organization, applauded the action by the Vermont House of Representatives to pass Senate Bill 304. The bill next goes to Governor Douglas who is expected to sign the bill next week.
The bill increases state oversight and protection of Vermont’s groundwater resources. It requires large, commercial users withdrawing over 57,600 gallons per day to apply for a state permit and to undergo environmental review. It also states that groundwater is now a “public trust” resource, one that is held by the state in trust for the benefit of all citizens. Previously, Vermont law was that landowners, by virtue of their land ownership, were considered the owners of the groundwater underneath their property and could pump as much of it as possible, without regard to the effect the pumping had on neighboring landowners or streams.
Significant leadership for this bill has been provided by Representatives David Deen (Windham) and Senator Ginny Lyons (Chittenden).
“This bill addresses a significant gap in state water policy” said Kirt Mayland, TU’s Eastern Water Project Director. “With this authority, the state will now be able to regulate bottled water interests and other commercial groundwater users in order to ensure they do not drain nearby streams or affect neighboring wells.”
Dana Baker, chair of TU’s Vermont Council, praised the House’s passage of the bill. “This bill is long overdue and represents a major step forward by the state towards protection of groundwater that feeds Vermont’s waterways. Groundwater is our coldest, cleanest water and its flow into our streams is invaluable and essential to the survival of trout and other coldwater species.”
Trout Unlimited is North America’s leading coldwater fisheries conservation organization, with 150,000 members dedicated to the protection and restoration of trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. The Eastern Water Project focuses on creating state policies that promote sustainable water management and healthy instream flows.