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Reporter Debrief: Vermont's Split Water Regulation System Sows Confusion, Pollution

Long dark stains run down a brown grassy hill.
Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, courtesy
An April 2019 photo shows brown stains running down the side of a manure pit at a farm outside Middlebury.

For decades, the federal Clean Water Act — and Vermont state law — have made it illegal to have farm waste enter the water stream. Farms of all sizes face permitting and inspection requirements to prevent run-off.

But how, exactly does the state regulate its water? And how are violations investigated? VPR senior reporter John Dillon found the oversight system split between two state agencies can lead to confusion, delayed enforcement and ongoing pollution. 

Dillon joins Vermont Edition to share his reporting sourced from complaints about farm runoff, such as this voicemail left for state regulators:

st-albans-bay-runoff-complaint.mp3

"You got acres of it! And you got an active stream running right through the middle of it. It's just above freezing, it's melting and going into the stream, which then goes into the St. Albans Bay, as you well know."

Hear the whole conversation with John Dillon by clicking the audio player at the top of this post.

Broadcast live on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

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