Citizens Take Action on Clean Water Day

These folks have made it clear to their legislators that they support clean water. Have you contacted your legislators yet? Photo by Carolyn Bates.

On March 17 nearly 200 water quality activists gathered at the Vermont State House in Montpelier to call for strong water quality protections and stable ongoing funding for water projects. During a press conference held during the day a farmer, angler, sailing educator and members of watershed groups all urged action to protect and restore waterways across the state. Eleven-year-old Anika Eastman, a member of Trout Unlimited since she was 4, emphasized the importance. “Please help pass this bill, and fully fund it, not only for the fish, but for me, and my generation, so that we can have clean water in Vermont,” Eastman said.

Governor Peter Shumlin, House Speaker Shap Smith, Senate Majority Leader John Campbell and other legislative leaders addressed the crowd and then participants fanned out in the State House to lobby legislators. The "Clean Water Day" event demonstrated Vermonters' support for statewide action to clean up polluted waters. 

“Lake Memphremagog, where I live and work, faces the same water quality threats as Lake Champlain and other places," said Mary Pat Goulding, Vice President of the Memphremagog Watershed Association. "We are working on our own TMDL, and support stronger statewide clean water policies.” 

The water quality bill that was the focus of the "Clean Water Day" event continues to move through the State House. Since our last Enews the bill has passed the Agriculture, Ways and Means, and Appropriations Committees. The funding in the current proposal relies upon a 0.2 percent increase in the property transfer tax. Other major components of the bill remain intact. The Agriculture Committee tried to remove a provision that would tie eligibility for Current Use to compliance with the Accepted Agricultural Practices, but that language has been put back in the bill. The bill is expected to see action on the House and Senate floor during the week of March 30.

Clean Water Day was organized by the Lake Champlain Committee, Vermont Conservation Voters, Vermont Natural Resources Council, Sierra Club Vermont, Conservation Law Foundation, Toxics Action Center and Watersheds United Vermont.