MONTPELIER >> The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates the five-year cost of cleaning up Vermont waters is about $154 million.
The figure was contained in the 2012 Clean Watersheds Needs Survey that compiles 2012 data for wastewater and stormwater projects planned for the five years following the survey. The nationwide figure for the same period is $271 billion.
"Clean water is our most precious resource," said Alyssa Schuren, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. "If anything, the U.S. EPA's survey understates the cost of restoring and enhancing the quality of Vermont waters. I remain committed to working with the Vermont Legislature and U.S. EPA to secure long-term clean water resources."
Both the EPA and State of Vermont contribute money to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which provides low-interest loans to municipalities for clean water projects such as upgrades to waste water treatment plants.
Some of the Vermont projects included in the EPA survey were phosphorus upgrades at the Waterbury wastewater treatment facility, the refurbishment of the Royalton wastewater treatment facility, a study of phosphorus removal options for the St. Albans wastewater treatment facility, and a needs assessment for wastewater treatment in Fairfield.
Low-interest loans for wastewater and stormwater projects for Vermont communities are available through the state's clean water state revolving fund, which receives an infusion of roughly $17 million a year from federal and state sources. The fund can be used for project planning.
The state is also working with federal agencies and private groups to reduce the amount of polluted water that reaches the state's rivers and streams from agricultural land, roads and other sources. A goal of that is to clean up Lake Champlain, but the same efforts will clean up waters in other parts of the state as well.