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Follow VPR's statehouse coverage, featuring Pete Hirschfeld and Bob Kinzel in our Statehouse Bureau in Montpelier.

Bill Addresses Littering In Waterways

It’s no surprise that throwing an old tire by the roadside or tossing an empty soda can out the car window is against state law.

But you might be surprised to learn that chucking a tire into a lake or stream or littering from a boat might not be clear violations.

Now  a bill would explicitly prohibit littering on state waters.

South Burlington Representative Maida Townsend is a cosponsor of the legislation which she said originated at the suggestion of a constituent. Townsend says the bill addresses an ambiguity in the existing littering law.

“The language of this bill clarifies that while there’s already statute that is crystal clear that you’re not supposed to be throwing stuff around on the ground, that it’s equally bad to be throwing it around our waters,” she explains.

Under the bill the fine for littering on or along waters is up to $500.

There’s also a kind of ‘restorative justice’ for those cited for littering. They’ll have to spend up to 80 hours collecting trash along the state’s roads and waterways.

The bill’s other cosponsor, Representative David Deen of Putney says there were roughly 150 citations issued last year for littering, and all were for roadside infractions.

Deen, who serves on the staff of the Connecticut River Watershed Council, says a four state cleanup of the river and its tributaries yielded 45 tons of trash. He hopes making it clear that littering the waterways is illegal might cut down on that.

“Maybe if someone does get fined and they do spend their 80 hours, maybe someone will do a press release and give people some notice that its not a good idea to litter the waters of the state unless you want to help clean them up,” Deen says.

Deen says he’s heard no opposition to the bill, which has passed the House and is under consideration in the Senate.