Vermont allocates $29.25 million to combat combined sewer pollution

(UI) — Governor Phil Scott and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) have announced $29.25 million in grants aimed at improving municipal combined sewer infrastructure and curbing pollution in Vermont’s water bodies.

These funds, allocated as grants to 11 Vermont municipalities by DEC, prioritize projects aimed at reducing or treating combined sewer overflows (CSOs). Examples of these projects include separating stormwater and wastewater infrastructure, increasing storage within the sewer network, and modifying wastewater treatment facilities to mitigate peak flow during wet weather events.

The program, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), was proposed for this purpose by the Governor and approved by the Legislature.

Governor Scott emphasized the importance of upgrading water and sewer infrastructure with ARPA dollars, citing benefits to economic development, environmental cleanliness, and public health. The focus remains on critical infrastructure upgrades across communities statewide.

Combined sewer systems, which collect sewage and stormwater runoff in the same pipe for treatment at a wastewater treatment facility, pose challenges during heavy storms. The overflow of untreated sewage and stormwater into streams and lakes during such events, although designed to prevent backups into homes and roads, adds pollution to water bodies.

To address this, municipalities must adhere to Vermont’s CSO rules, prompting modernization efforts to bring these systems into compliance. The ARPA funding will aid in these endeavors, enabling municipalities to update infrastructure and reduce pollution entering waterways from CSOs.

The allocated funds will be utilized by municipalities such as Burlington, Enosburg Falls, Hartford, Middlebury, Montpelier, Newport, Rutland, St. Albans, St. Johnsbury, Vergennes, and Northfield for projects aimed at permanently reducing or eliminating sewer overflow events.

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