Regulatory Update- Surface Water Withdrawl Requirements
Friday, June 9, 2023

Section: Advocacy News

We have received some calls recently regarding a new regulation related to surface water withdrawals used in construction work and what this means to contractors. The Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) has been charged through Act 135 of the 2022 legislative session to calculate and then regulate the withdrawal and inter basin transfer of surface waters. Surface waters being rivers, streams, ponds and lakes. The legislation was spurred by environmental groups due to regional droughts in Vermont and some concerns that Killington was transferring water from one watershed to another for snowmaking. The main concerns were single point withdrawals like farming, golf courses or other irrigation needs but the requirements do include all significant withdrawals of surface water. What does this mean for the contracting community?

The first phase of the implementation of this program takes effect this year requires ANR to figure out who is using surface waters and how much they are using. To do this anyone who takes 10,000 or more gallons per day or 150,000 in one month must register with ANR at their website you can visit by CLICKING HERE. All registrants are then required to monitor and provide water usage statistics to the agency by January 15 of the following year so they may begin their calculations for how much water is used in the aggregate. The calculations can be by meter or by estimate for the annual report. 

For contractors using surface waters (which do not include wells, springs or municipal water) logs should be kept in water trucks and operators should keep track of the number of truck fills and the general location and water body. An easy calculation of the number of fills times the volume the tanker can hold will give the necessary information to file a report.

Once the reporting is in the agency will then create a permit program as the second phase. Your lobbying team got involved early on this bill because of the challenges contractors may face due to uncertain withdrawal locations and need. Simply put it would be terribly laborious to have to apply for a permit for each water withdrawal and location due to the mobile nature of the work performed. The lobbying team was successful in creating a carve out in the law for companies doing infrastructure working including roads, bridges, civil and other work done for municipalities, the state or federal government. The carve out would require the agency to create a general permit for the industry which would avoid individual permitting. We anticipate that this will be followed by a notification system so that registrants can receive messaging if a water way was prohibited to withdraw from due to drought or other condition.

The goal of the program was clear that it would continue to provide healthy water systems in Vermont. There was a lot of opposition to the bill as many felt that it was a "taking" by the state which helped negotiate higher daily/monthly thresholds and for infrastructure projects to have a program designed with their challenges in mind. If you have any questions please let me know at and watch your email for an opportunity to meet with us and the agency to answer any questions in the near future.