The Vermont Statutes Online
Subchapter 005 : WATER QUALITY RESTORATION AND IMPROVEMENT(Cite as: 10 V.S.A. § 924)
§ 924. Clean water service provider; responsibility for clean water projects
(a) Clean water service providers; establishment.
(1) On or before November 1, 2020, the Secretary shall adopt rules that assign a clean water service provider to each basin in the Lake Champlain and Lake Memphremagog watersheds for the purposes of achieving pollutant reduction values established by the Secretary for the basin and for identification, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of clean water projects within the basin. For all other impaired waters, the Secretary shall assign clean water service provider no later than six months prior to the implementation of the requirements of this subchapter scheduled by the Secretary under subdivision 922(b)(2) of this title. The rulemaking shall be done in consultation with regional planning commissions, natural resource conservation districts, watershed organizations, and municipalities located within each basin.
(2) An entity designated as a clean water service provider shall be required to identify, prioritize, develop, construct, verify, inspect, operate, and maintain clean water projects in accordance with the requirements of this subchapter.
(3) The Secretary shall adopt guidance on a clean water service provider's obligation with respect to implementation of this chapter. The Secretary shall provide notice to the public of the proposed guidance and a comment period of not less than 30 days. At a minimum, the guidance shall address the following:
(A) how the clean water service provider integrates, prioritizes, and selects projects consistent with the applicable basin plan, including how to account for the co-benefits provided by a project;
(B) minimum requirements with respect to selection and agreements with subgrantees;
(C) requirements associated with the distribution of administrative costs to the clean water service provider and subgrantees;
(D) the Secretary's assistance to clean water service providers with respect to their maintenance obligations pursuant to subsection (c) of this section; and
(E) the Secretary's strategy with respect to accountability pursuant to subsection (f) of this section.
(4) In carrying out its duties, a clean water service provider shall adopt guidance for subgrants consistent with the guidance from the Secretary developed pursuant to subdivision (a)(3) of this section that establishes a policy for how the clean water service provider will issue subgrants to other organizations in the basin, giving due consideration to the expertise of those organizations and other requirements for the administration of the grant program. The subgrant guidance shall include how the clean water service provider will allocate administrative costs to subgrantees for project implementation and for the administrative costs of the basin water quality council. The subgrant guidance shall be subject to the approval of the Secretary and basin water quality council.
(5) When selecting clean water projects for implementation or funding, a clean water service provider shall prioritize projects identified in the basin plan for the area where the project is located and shall consider the pollutant targets provided by the Secretary and the recommendations of the basin water quality council.
(b) Project identification, prioritization, selection. When identifying, prioritizing, and selecting a clean water project to meet a pollutant reduction value, the clean water service provider shall consider the pollution reduction value associated with the clean water project, the co-benefits provided by the project, operation, and maintenance of the project, conformance with the tactical basin plan, and other water quality benefits beyond pollution reduction associated with that clean water project. All selected projects shall be entered into the watershed projects database.
(c) Maintenance responsibility. A clean water service provider shall be responsible for maintaining a clean water project or ensuring the maintenance for at least the design life of that clean water project. The Secretary shall provide funding for maintenance consistent with subdivision 1389(e)(1)(A) of this title.
(d) Water quality improvement work. If a clean water service provider achieves a greater level of pollutant reduction than a pollutant reduction goal or five-year target established by the Secretary, the clean water service provider may carry those reductions forward into a future year. If a clean water service provider achieves its pollutant reduction goal or five-year target and has excess grant funding available, a clean water service provider may:
(1) carry those funds forward into the next program year;
(2) use those funds for other eligible projects;
(3) use those funds for operation and maintenance responsibilities for existing constructed projects;
(4) use those funds for projects within the basin that are required by federal or State law; or
(5) use those funds for other work that improves water quality within the geographic area of the basin, including protecting river corridors, aquatic species passage, and other similar projects.
(e) Reporting. A clean water service provider shall report annually to the Secretary. The report from clean water service providers shall be integrated into the annual clean water investment report, including outcomes from the work performed by clean water service providers. The report shall contain the following:
(1) a summary of all clean water projects completed that year in the basin;
(2) a summary of any inspections of previously implemented clean water projects and whether those clean water projects continue to operate in accordance with their design;
(3) all administrative costs incurred by the clean water service provider;
(4) a list of all of the subgrants awarded by the clean water service provider in the basin; and
(5) all data necessary for the Secretary to determine the pollutant reduction achieved by the clean water service provider during the prior year.
(f) Accountability for pollution reduction goals. If a clean water service provider fails to meet its allocated pollution reduction goals or its five-year target or fails to maintain previously implemented clean water projects, the Secretary shall take appropriate steps to hold the clean water service provider accountable for the failure to meet pollution reduction goals or its five-year target. The Secretary may take the following steps:
(1) include in grant agreements with the clean water service provider requirements, benchmarks, conditions, or penalty provisions to provide for ongoing accountability;
(2) enter a plan to ensure that the clean water service provider meets current and future year pollution reduction goals and five-year targets; or
(3) initiate rulemaking to designate an alternate clean water service provider as accountable for the basin.
(g) Basin water quality council.
(1) A clean water service provider designated under this section shall establish a basin water quality council for each assigned basin. The purpose of a basin water quality council is to establish policy and make decisions for the clean water service provider regarding the most significant water quality impairments that exist in the basin and prioritizing the projects that will address those impairments based on the basin plan. A basin water quality council shall also participate in the basin planning process.
(2) A basin water quality council shall include, at a minimum, the following:
(A) two persons representing natural resource conservation districts in that basin, selected by the applicable natural resource conservation districts;
(B) two persons representing regional planning commissions in that basin, selected by the applicable regional planning commission;
(C) two persons representing local watershed protection organizations operating in that basin, selected by the applicable watershed protection organizations;
(D) one representative from an applicable local or statewide land conservation organization selected by the conservation organization in consultation with the clean water service provider; and
(E) two persons representing municipalities within the basin, selected by the clean water service provider in consultation with municipalities in the basin.
(3) The designated clean water service provider and the Agency of Natural Resources shall provide technical staff support to the basin water quality council. The clean water service provider may invite support from persons with specialized expertise to address matters before a basin water quality council, including support from the University of Vermont Extension, staff of the Agency of Natural Resources, staff of the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, staff of the Agency of Transportation, staff from the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, and U.S. Forest Service. (Added 2019, No. 76, § 1.)