February 5, 2016

Lake Champlain Action Plan

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Montpelier (Feb. 2): The Senate Finance Committee heard testimony today from members and leaders of the Vermont Citizens Advisory Committee (VTCAC) on Lake Champlain’s future. They were adamant about the need for a greater increase in funding from the current $5 million to $25 million. The VTCAC members were upset over the passage of Act 64, Vermont’s Clean Water Act, last year without any proper source of funding. The requested that the state must “Establish new, immediate, perpetual, and dedicated funding sources for the Clean Water Fund.” Senator MacDonald responded quickly by stating they should have fought harder during the last legislative session because “it doesn’t get easier to fund a bill once it’s passed.” The VTCAC proposed an income tax of $1 per person per week to fund the need for necessary improvements to the wastewater infrastructure of Vermont. The group pointed out that “200 out 251 wastewater treatment plants” are currently working at max capacity or over worked and that these 200 facilities are holding back economic growth in areas of Vermont to the tune of 30 million in the next decade. The group also argued to get more funding out into the field were people will actually see improvements, instead of the continued funding of water quality studies in Lake Champlain because the answers are already known and now it’s the time for action. VTCAC hopes to see a significant increase in funding over the next few years that will lead to investment in natural infrastructure, accelerate dam removal, provide more public access to Lake Champlain, improve water quality in Lake Champlain, and improve the overall wastewater infrastructure in Vermont. They believe that if all this is done not only will we undo the damage of the last 50 years, but also simulate economic growth in Vermont.

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