Opinion: Sheldon thanked for water bill vote
I would like to thank Rep. Amy Sheldon for her vote and strong support for H.35. This water quality bill passed through the House Fish, Wildlife & Water Resources Committee with a resounding 7-2 vote, with Rep. Terenzin (Rutland) and Rep. Willhoit (St. Johnsbury) representing the opposing votes. This bill (pending,we have a long way to go) gives the Agency of Natural Resources and the Agency of Agriculture new powers with reasonable requirements to implement and enforce the clean water laws in the state of Vermont.
The goal of H.35 is to improve our water quality not only in Lake Champlain but all waterways in Vermont. This bill helps to achieve the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) plan for Lake Champlain and implements strategies to mitigate water pollution in all forms. The goal is to help reverse the current trend and lead Vermont down the path to healthier waters.
Pollution sources originate from farms, roadways and developments and are often exacerbated by storm-water runoff. H.35 establishes a “priority system” (degree of impairment) to identify and prioritize cost-effective strategies to achieving reductions in Total Phosphorous where most needed. H.35 will improve efforts to engage more municipalities, agricultural operations, business and all interested parties. A Clean Water Fund established by H.35 in part will provide technical assistance to farmers, businesses and Vermonters. Mechanisms will provide staffing and financing necessary for compliance and enforcement to achieve Vermont’s water quality standards.
Please contact your legislators regarding this bill and encourage them to vote yes. A clean water state should be the goal of all Vermonters to improving their quality of life.
Editor’s note: Among his other credentials, the writer is a member of the Addison County River Watch board and cofounder of the Bristol Conservation Commission.