The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation is working to reduce water pollution in the Lake Champlain watershed by requiring a number of municipalities and other groups to do more to control storm water runoff.
The new permit requires 13 communities, the University of Vermont, the Burlington International Airport and the state Transportation Agency to develop storm water management plans.
Environmental Conservation Commissioner David Mears says the goal is to reduce the amount of polluted runoff that flows into streams, rivers, ponds and lakes.
"The most important benefit from this permit is that it requires the communities in the Lake Champlain watershed – at least some of the larger communities – to really step up their game in terms of implementing a set of practices on the ground that will reduce the level of pollution that comes off their communities in the form of stormwater when it rains, or when there’s snow fall or ice melt and so forth," Mears says.
The affected communities will be eligible to apply for zero interest loans to defray the costs of the planning efforts.
The permit requires the communities to implement the storm water control as soon as possible, but no later than 20 years from the effective date of the permit.
That potentially lengthy timeline concerns Chris Kilian, the Vermont director of the Conservation Law Foundation.
"We don’t want this 20 year period to simply be a blank check for delay," Kilian says. "That would be a real problem."
But Kilian supports the program in general. He says it’s a critical step to protect water quality in the lake’s watershed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.