Clean Water Costs

Restoring water quality won’t be cheap. Photo by Steven Depolo via flickr.

Earlier this year the Vermont Legislature asked the Agency of Natural Resources (VT ANR) to produce a report that did four things: examined funding options for water quality improvements, estimated the total state-wide need for such funding, suggested ways the funds could be administered, and identified priority needs for action. In the draft report issued December 14, the Agency estimates it will cost over $155 million dollars annually to meet all statewide needs.

Costs include replacing aging drinking water and waste water facilities, expanding treatment and regulation of smaller plots of developed land, better treating runoff from roads, and increasing various water quality protection programs for farms. They explored 16 different funding options including various excise taxes, targeted fees, statewide stormwater fees, and others. According to the report, if all funding options posed were utilized it would raise less than 20% of the annual revenue necessary to restore water quality throughout the state – leaving a $130 million funding gap.

This discouraging news makes it clear that moving forward we will need to set priorities to maximize and target available resources to where they can have the greatest effects. LCC will continue to be involved in this work and in making the case that investing in the health of our waterways is an investment in our future. Clean, accessible water is fundamental to our quality of life and the health of our communities and economy. You can download a copy of the report or read it online at VT ANR’s website. Comments are due by December 28 and a revised report is expected to be issued to the Legislature by January 11, 2013.