Senate votes to roll back lake cleanup law passed last year

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(Host) The Senate has rolled back a law it passed just last year that called for accelerated clean-up of Lake Champlain.

The new bill satisfies the concerns of the Douglas Administration and the Vermont League of Cities and Towns. They were worried that the legislation passed last year would require towns to invest money in sewage treatment upgrades.

The new bill – which passed the Senate yesterday – removes a requirement that towns in the Lake Champlain watershed limit phosphorus pollution to 2006 levels.

Karen Horn of the League of Cities and Towns was pleased.

(Horn) “It doesn’t have that deadline of this July 1, at which point municipal treatment systems would have had to invest millions in reducing phosphorus discharges. So from that point of view it’s a major improvement.”

(Host) But Anthony Iarrapino of the Conservation Law Foundation says the new bill is not an improvement, but a step backward for the lake.

(Iarrapino) “This definitely represents a vote to allow increased pollution from sewage treatment plants, both in the from of rolling back the cap on increases to pollution at the end of the pipe under the permit, as well as the requirement to identify those part of your waste water treatment infrastructure that are prone to failure and if they fail could result in massive discharges of untreated sewage.”

(Host) The Senate legislation also gives existing composting operations a two year exemption from Act 250 review. A similar bill covering the lake and compost has passed the House, and now the differences in the two versions must be settled by a conference committee.

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