The Vermont Statutes Online
Subchapter 002 : GENERAL(Cite as: 10 V.S.A. § 1394)
§ 1394. Classification of groundwater
(a) The State adopts, for purposes of classifying its groundwater, the following classes and definitions thereof:
(1) Class I. Suitable for public water supply. Character uniformly excellent. No exposure to activities that pose a risk to its current or potential use as a public water supply.
(2) Class II. Suitable for public water supply. Character uniformly excellent but exposed to activities that may pose a risk to its current or potential use as a public water supply.
(3) Class III. Suitable as a source of water for individual domestic water supply, irrigation, agricultural use, and general industrial and commercial use.
(4) Class IV. Not suitable as a source of potable water but suitable for some agricultural, industrial, and commercial use, provided that the Secretary may authorize, subject to conditions, use as a source of potable water supply or other use under a reclassification order issued for the aquifer.
(b) All groundwater of the State is hereby classified as Class III water unless reclassified by the Secretary.
(c) Any hearing on a classification or reclassification shall be held in a location convenient to the users or potential users of the groundwater which is the subject of the hearing.
(d) Class I or II classification shall apply to aquifers in use as a public water supply source or that in the opinion of the Secretary have a high probability for such use.
(e) In determining the appropriate classification of groundwater, the Secretary shall consider:
(1) its use or potential future use as a public water supply source;
(2) the extent of activity which poses a risk to the groundwater;
(3) its current water quality;
(4) its availability in quantities needed for beneficial use;
(5) the consequences of its potential contamination and the availability of alternate sources of water;
(6) the classification of adjacent surface waters; and
(7) other factors relevant to determine the maximum beneficial use of the aquifer.
(f) It is the policy of the State to protect permanently Class I aquifers. The Secretary pursuant to subsection (h) of this section shall establish by rule activities that pose risks to Class I aquifers and which activities shall be prohibited in Class I aquifers. Any classification of Class I waters involving privately owned lands or reclassification of Class I waters by the Secretary shall become effective only when approved by act of the General Assembly.
(g) The Secretary's classifications shall be presumed correct if, in establishing the geographical limits of each class of groundwater, he or she uses generally accepted methods of determining aquifers based on existing knowledge of surficial and bedrock geology and available hydrological data.
(h) The Secretary by rule may establish technical criteria and standards to define the classes of groundwater and manage activities that may pose risks to groundwater classes. The criteria and standards shall include the identification of activities which constitute risks to the groundwater and which may be precluded. In adopting criteria and standards, the Secretary shall consider:
(1) drinking water standards adopted by the Department of Health and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency;
(2) the nature and quantity of groundwater at risk;
(3) the availability, cost, and effectiveness of measures to mitigate risks;
(4) the nature and quantity of risks that activities may generate;
(5) the expense and effectiveness of correcting the damage the risks may cause;
(6) the consequences to the public interest should damage occur and be irremediable;
(7) the economic, social, and environmental value of existing activities;
(8) the surface water quality standards, including the classification of surface waters; and
(9) other factors relevant to designating appropriate groundwater classes or managing risks to groundwater quality.
(i) The Secretary shall not adopt criteria and standards to manage activities that restrict agricultural activities or those activities under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets without the Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets' consent. Nor shall the Secretary adopt criteria and standards that restrict forestry management activities without consultation with the Commissioner of Forests, Parks and Recreation. (Added 1985, No. 53, § 1; amended 2003, No. 42, § 2, eff. May 27, 2003; 2017, No. 55, § 8, eff. June 2, 2017; 2019, No. 14, § 34, eff. April 30, 2019.)