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Searching 2023-2024 Session

The Vermont Statutes Online


Title 10 : Conservation and Development



(Cite as: 10 V.S.A. § 1253)
  • § 1253. Classification of waters designated; reclassification

    (a) The waters of all lakes, ponds, and reservoirs, natural or artificial, used exclusively as a public water source prior to July 1, 1971, and all waters flowing into such lakes, ponds, and reservoirs, and all waters located above 2,500 feet altitude, National Geodetic Vertical Datum, are designated Class A waters and shall be maintained as such unless reclassified.

    (b) The remaining waters are designated Class B(2) waters and shall be maintained as such unless reclassified.

    (c) On its own motion, or on receipt of a written request that the Secretary adopt, amend, or repeal a reclassification rule, the Secretary shall comply with 3 V.S.A. § 806 and may initiate a rulemaking proceeding to reclassify one or more uses of all or any portion of the affected waters in the public interest. In the course of this proceeding, the Secretary shall comply with the provisions of 3 V.S.A. chapter 25 and may hold a public hearing convenient to the waters in question. If the Secretary finds that the established classification is contrary to the public interest and that reclassification is in the public interest, he or she shall file a final proposal of reclassification in accordance with 3 V.S.A. § 841. If the Secretary finds that it is in the public interest to change the classification of any pond, lake, or reservoir designated as Class A for a public water source, the Secretary shall so advise and consult with the Department of Health and shall provide in its reclassification rule a reasonable period of time before the rule becomes effective. During that time, any municipalities or persons whose water source is affected shall construct filtration and disinfection facilities or convert to a new water source.

    (d)(1) Through the process of basin planning, the Secretary shall determine what degree of water quality and classification should be obtained and maintained for those waters not classified by the Board before 1981 following the procedures in sections 1254 and 1258 of this title. Those waters shall be classified in the public interest. The Secretary shall prepare and maintain an overall surface water management plan to assure that the State water quality standards are met in all State waters. The surface water management plan shall include a schedule for updating the basin plans. The Secretary, in consultation with regional planning commissions and the Natural Resources Conservation Council, shall revise all 15 basin plans and update the basin plans on a five-year rotating basis. On or before January 15 of each year, the Secretary shall report to the House Committees on Agriculture and Forestry and on Natural Resources, Fish, and Wildlife and to the Senate Committees on Agriculture and on Natural Resources and Energy regarding the progress made and difficulties encountered in revising basin plans. The report shall include a summary of basin planning activities in the previous calendar year, a schedule for the production of basin plans in the subsequent calendar year, and a summary of actions to be taken over the subsequent three years. The provisions of 2 V.S.A. § 20(d) (expiration of required reports) shall not apply to the report to be made under this subsection.

    (2) In developing a basin plan under this subsection, the Secretary shall:

    (A) identify waters that should be reclassified outstanding resource waters or that should have one or more uses reclassified under section 1252 of this title;

    (B) identify wetlands that should be reclassified as Class I wetlands;

    (C) identify projects or activities within a basin that will result in the protection and enhancement of water quality;

    (D) review the evaluations performed by the Secretary under subdivisions 922(a)(1) and (2) of this title and update those findings based on any new data collected as part of a basin plan;

    (E) for projects in the basin that will result in enhancement of resources, including those that protect high quality waters of significant natural resources, the Secretary shall identify the funding needs beyond those currently funded by the Clean Water Fund;

    (F) ensure that municipal officials, citizens, natural resources conservation districts, regional planning commissions, watershed groups, and other interested groups and individuals are involved in the basin planning process;

    (G) ensure regional and local input in State water quality policy development and planning processes;

    (H) provide education to municipal officials and citizens regarding the basin planning process;

    (I) develop, in consultation with the regional planning commission, an analysis and formal recommendation on conformance with the goals and objectives of applicable regional plans;

    (J) provide for public notice of a draft basin plan; and

    (K) provide for the opportunity of public comment on a draft basin plan.

    (3) The Secretary shall, contingent upon the availability of funding, negotiate and issue performance grants to the Vermont Association of Planning and Development Agencies or its designee, the Natural Resources Conservation Council or its designee, and to Watersheds United Vermont or its designee to assist in or to produce a basin plan under the schedule set forth in subdivision (1) of this subsection in a manner consistent with the authority of regional planning commissions under 24 V.S.A. chapter 117 and the authority of the natural resources conservation districts under chapter 31 of this title. When negotiating a scope of work with the Vermont Association of Planning and Development Agencies or its designee, the Natural Resources Conservation Council or its designee, and Watersheds United Vermont or its designee to assist in or produce a basin plan, the Secretary may require the Vermont Association of Planning and Development Agencies, the Natural Resources Conservation Council, or Watersheds United Vermont to:

    (A) conduct any of the activities required under subdivision (2) of this subsection (d);

    (B) provide technical assistance and data collection activities to inform municipal officials and the State in making water quality investment decisions;

    (C) coordinate municipal planning and adoption or implementation of municipal development regulations better to meet State water quality policies and investment priorities; or

    (D) assist the Secretary in implementing a project evaluation process to prioritize water quality improvement projects within the region to ensure cost-effective use of State and federal funds.

    (e) In determining the question of public interest, the Secretary shall give due consideration to, and explain his or her decision with respect to, the following:

    (1) existing and obtainable water qualities;

    (2) existing and potential use of waters as a public water source, recreational, agricultural, industrial, and other legitimate purposes;

    (3) natural sources of pollution;

    (4) public and private pollution sources and the alternative means of abating the same;

    (5) consistency with the State water quality policy established in section 1250 of this title;

    (6) suitability of waters as habitat for fish, aquatic life, and wildlife;

    (7) need for and use of minimum streamflow requirements;

    (8) federal requirements for classification and management of waters;

    (9) consistency with applicable municipal, regional, and State plans; and

    (10) any other factors relevant to determine the maximum beneficial use and enjoyment of waters.

    (f) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (c) of this section, when reclassifying waters to Class A, the Secretary need find only that the reclassification is in the public interest.

    (g) The Secretary under the reclassification rule may grant permits for only a portion of the assimilative capacity of the receiving waters or may permit only indirect discharges from on-site disposal systems, or both.

    [Subsection (h) effective upon amendment of Vermont Water Quality Standards.]

    (h)(1) The Secretary shall administer a Clean Water Act Section 401 certification program to review activities that require a federal license or permit or activities subject to regulation under chapter 41, subchapter 4 of this title to ensure that a proposed activity complies with the Vermont Water Quality Standards, as well as with any other appropriate requirement of State law, including:

    (A) 10 V.S.A. chapter 37 (wetlands protection and water resources management);

    (B) 10 V.S.A. chapter 41 (regulation of stream flow);

    (C) 10 V.S.A. § 1264 (stormwater management);

    (D) 29 V.S.A. chapter 11 (management of lakes and ponds); and

    (E) the Agency of Natural Resources Rules for Water Withdrawals for Snowmaking.

    (2) The Secretary of Natural Resources shall not grant an application for certification under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act unless the applicant demonstrates all of the following:

    (A) there is no practicable alternative to the proposed activity that would have a less adverse impact on waters and wetlands of the State and provided that any proposed alternative shall not have other significant adverse human health, safety, or environmental consequences;

    (B) the proposed activity will not result in the violation of any applicable water quality criteria established in the Vermont Water Quality Standards; and

    (C) the proposed activity will not result in a violation of the State’s antidegradation policy.

    (3)(A) An alternative is considered practicable under subdivision (2)(A) of this subsection (h) if it is available and capable of being completed after taking into consideration cost, existing technology, and logistics in light of overall purposes of the proposed activity.

    (B) Failure to comply with the requirements of subdivision (2)(A) of this subsection (h) shall not be the basis for denial of an application for a certification under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act if the proposed activity is exempt from those requirements under a rule adopted by the Secretary.

    (4) The Secretary may issue a certification required by this subsection to any general permit or authorization issued by a federal agency. An applicant’s compliance with that federal permit or authorization shall be presumed to be in compliance with the certification unless the Secretary determines that an individual review of the applicant’s activity is necessary to assure compliance with the Vermont Water Quality Standards and other appropriate State laws. (Amended 1961, No. 100, § 2; 1964, No. 37 (Sp. Sess.), § 4; 1969, No. 252 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. July 1, 1971; 1973, No. 3, eff. Feb. 8, 1973; 1973, No. 103, § 16, eff. April 24, 1973; 1981, No. 222 (Adj. Sess.), § 25; 1985, No. 199 (Adj. Sess.), § 6, eff. May 17, 1986; 1987, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 1, 2, eff. April 20, 1988; 1991, No. 211 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 1999, No. 114 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. May 19, 2000; 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 26, eff. Jan. 31, 2005; 2009, No. 33, § 25; 2011, No. 138 (Adj. Sess.), § 22, eff. May 14, 2012; 2013, No. 142 (Adj. Sess.), § 18; 2015, No. 64, § 26; 2015, No. 79 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. April 28, 2016; 2015, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 12, eff. June 1, 2016; 2017, No. 113 (Adj. Sess.), § 44c; 2017, No. 168 (Adj. Sess.), § 4, eff. May 22, 2018; 2019, No. 76, § 2; 2021, No. 32, § 1; 2021, No. 135 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. July 1, 2022.)