July 19th, 2019

State Seeks to Protect Streams and Lakes With New Water Quality Rules

On Thursday, Oct. 30th, the State updated Vermont’s water quality standards to better protect our rivers, streams, lakes and ponds. These standards set limits upon levels of pollutants in lakes and streams, and are the foundation for the State’s efforts to protect, maintain, enhance, and restore water quality. The changes strengthen the State’s ability to ensure clean water for fishing, swimming, drinking, and boating. The revised rules accomplish this in three ways:

1) Limits on phosphorus nutrient pollution for all of Vermont’s waters now complement the prior existing limits for Lakes Champlain and Memphremagog. The new phosphorus limits are designed to protect rivers and inland lakes by stopping the harmful effects of nutrients including unsightly algal growth, loss of recreation, and impacts to swimming.

2) A comprehensive update to the limits for toxic pollutants, to ensure that Vermont’s standards are in-step with national guidelines. As part of this update, Vermont has now put in place limits on levels of de-icing salt residues (chloride) to prevent damage to fish and other aquatic life.

3) Update to the limits on E. coli bacteria, to protect swimmers. Vermont’s limits are now in-step with those of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and New York State. This important update will ensure that pollution is accurately identified and managed to protect swimmers.

David Mears, Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation said “The modernization of Vermont’s water quality standards will keep lakes and streams safe from bacteria, toxic chemicals and excessive nutrients, to the benefit of our environment, public health and economy.”

Interested persons can view or download a Fact Sheet on this topic at https://www.vtwaterquality.org/mapp/docs/mapp_2014wqs_factsheet.pdf

Additional information regarding the new Water Quality Standards may be found at the Division’s website, at https://www.vtwaterquality.org/rulemaking/htm/rules.htm

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