The Burlington Free Press reports that, “In the first cases involving Vermont’s 2008 groundwater protection law, an state Environmental Court judge has ruled that regulators must take additional steps to consider the impact on groundwater when reviewing projects with a potential to pollute.”

“Judge Merideth Wright on Wednesday reopened a permit issued last year by the Department of Environmental Conservation to Omya, a company that quarries marble and grinds it up to make calcium carbonate, a material with many industrial uses. The state solid waste certification allows Omya to dump tailings from its manufacturing process into a new, lined facility in Pittsford. Nearby residents challenged the permit. Wright concluded that the 2008 groundwater law declared that Vermont’s groundwater is held by the state in trust for the public and must be managed for the benefit of its residents. Many Vermont residents get their drinking water from wells that tap underground sources. The law requires regulators who are reviewing a permit application ‘to determine what public trust uses are at issue, to determine if the proposal serves a public purpose, to determine the cumulative effects of the proposal on the public trust uses, and then to balance the beneficial and detrimental effects of the proposal,’ Wright wrote.”

While an Omya spokesperson sought to minimize the ruling, “Sheryl Dickey, a Vermont Law School professor, (who) appealed the state permit on behalf of two Pittsford residents, said, ‘This is an important victory for groundwater protection’…”

THE COUNCIL OF CANADIANS

The Associated Press reported on April 3, 2008 that, “Lawmakers studying legislation that would protect Vermont’s groundwater heard dire warnings Wednesday about a worldwide shortage of fresh water that could worsen exponentially in the coming years, according to a Canadian author. ‘It’s going to surpass energy as a national security issue for the United States,’ said Maude Barlow, an Ottawa-based environmentalist… ‘There are alternative forms of energy, but we haven’t yet found an alternative to water,’ Barlow told a joint hearing of the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee and the House Committee on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources. …Barlow lauded the Senate for passing the bill and said she hopes the House will follow suit.” More at http://kennebecvalleypodium.forumotion.com/t6413-vermont-lawmakers-told-of-impending-water-crisis.

Two years earlier, it was reported that, “(Council of Canadians chairperson Maude) Barlow’s dire prediction — that in the 21st century, water will be what oil was in the 20th, a commodity worth fighting over — sounds like something out of a Mad Max movie. But she contends that signs of the coming crisis are already evident throughout the world, from Burlington to Beijing. (On July 12-13), she’ll be in Vermont urging citizens to act quickly to protect our public water supplies from pollution, depletion and corporate exploitation. Barlow’s visit coincides with the enactment of H.294, Vermont’s groundwater management act, which took effect July 1. This landmark legislation, which was signed by the governor in May, marks Vermont’s first step toward determining exactly where we stand in relation to that precious natural resource beneath our feet. …The task force is expected to begin meeting within the next month and issue a preliminary report of recommendations to the legislature by January.” More at http://www.vnrc.org/program-initiatives/groundwater/vnrc-hosts-water-activist-maude-barlow/ and http://www.vpr.net/news_detail/88559/.

And the Rutland Herald reported in 2000 that, “OMYA is involved in a battle with Canadian consumer and environmental groups over the withdrawal of millions of gallons of water a year from the Tay River in Ontario. The Ontario Ministry of the Environment recently granted OMYA a permit to withdraw up to 825 gallons of water a minute from the Tay River to produce slurry at its Steep Rock calcium carbonate plant. However, the permit was placed on hold two weeks ago when the Ontario Environmental Appeals Board granted the Council of Canadians, a consumer watchdog group, and seven other groups and individuals permission to appeal the permit, according to Jamie Dunn, water campaigner for the Council of Canadians. Dunn said the Ontario Ministry of the Environment acted hastily in issuing the permit. He charged that the ministry issued the permit without having adequate information to determine the possible environmental effects of withdrawing such a large amount of water from the river, which is the town of Perth’s primary source of drinking water.” In December 2003, we celebrated our win in a media release that stated, “The Council of Canadians welcomes Ontario’s Environment Minister’s surprise announcement of one-year moratorium on all new and expanding permits to take water in the province of Ontario, effective immediately.” That’s at http://www.canadians.org/media/water/2003/.

Today’s Burlington Free Press article is at http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20110303/NEWS02/103030309/Ver.

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