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Vermont Groundwater Considerations (19-VT-c)

A hydropower developer must submit a Groundwater Withdrawal Report to the Drinking Water and Groundwater Protection Division (DWGPD) if the project “withdrawals more than 20,000 gallons of groundwater a day.” Groundwater Reporting, 10 V.S.A. § 1417(a).


The policy in Vermont is to protect, regulate, and where necessary, control the water resources of the state in the public interest and for the general welfare. 10 V.S.A § 901. The state is the trustee of its navigable waters, lakes, ponds, and groundwater. See 10 V.S.A. § 1421; 29 V.S.A. § 401; 10 V.S.A. § 1390.

Vermont holds groundwater in public trust. 10 V.S.A. § 1390; 10 V.S.A § 901. Groundwater is defined by statute as “water below the land surface, including springs.” 10 V.S.A. § 1416(2). A spring is “a place where water by natural forces usually issues from the ground.” Magoon v. Harris, 46 Vt. 264, 269 (1863). The Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) manages groundwater pursuant to Groundwater Protection Act, 10 V.S.A. §§ 1390-1410. ANR has granted permitting authority to the Drinking Water and Groundwater Protection Division (DWGPD) of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), a department of ANR. The DWGPD regulates groundwater pursuant to the Groundwater Protection Act, 10 V.S.A. §§ 1390-1410 and the Groundwater Withdrawal Reporting and Permitting Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-101-513.


Groundwater Considerations Process

19-VT-c.1 to 19-VT-c.2 — Will the Project Withdraw More than 20,000 Gallons of Groundwater a Day?

The developer must submit a Groundwater Withdrawal Report to the Drinking Water and Groundwater Protection Division (DWGPD) if the project “withdrawals more than 20,000 gallons of groundwater a day.” Groundwater Reporting, 10 V.S.A. § 1417(a). The 20,000 gallons per day calculation is averaged over a calendar month on a single tract of land. The developer must submit the Groundwater Withdrawal Report to DWGPD “on or before September 1 of the preceding calendar year.” Groundwater Reporting, 10 V.S.A. § 1417(a).

19-VT-c.3 — Groundwater Withdrawal Report

The Groundwater Withdrawal Report must, at minimum, include:

  • The location, capacity, frequency, and rate of withdrawal;
  • A description of the use of the water withdrawn; and
  • Where feasible, the distance of each withdrawal from the nearest surface water and wetland;
  • Whether the groundwater source is a spring, a free flowing artesian well, or a pumped well;
  • Any other additional information the Secretary of ANR deems appropriate as part of this reporting requirement.

Groundwater Reporting, 10 V.S.A. § 1417(a); Groundwater Withdrawal Reporting Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-301(b).


19-VT-c.4 to 19-VT.5 — Is a Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Required?

The developer must obtain a Groundwater Withdrawal Permit if the “new development or increased groundwater withdrawal of more than 57,600 gallons a day [occurs from] a well or spring on a single tract of land or…place of business [on and after July 1, 2010].” Groundwater Withdrawal Permit, 10 V.S.A. § 1418(a); Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-401(a)-(b). A “new or increased withdrawal is an “expansion of any existing withdrawal through additional withdrawal from one or more new wells or springs or an increase in rate of withdrawal from a well or spring above the maximum rate set forth in any existing Groundwater Withdrawal Permit.” 10 V.S.A. § 1418(a)(1)(A)-(B); Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-401(a).

For previously unpermitted withdrawals, an increase in the rate of withdrawal after July 1, 2010 from a well or spring on a single tract of land or place of business 25 percent of the baseline withdrawal or an increase of 57,600 gallons of groundwater withdrawn, whichever is smaller requires a Groundwater Withdrawal Permit. 10 V.S.A. § 1418(a)(1)(A)-(B); Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-401(b).

The Secretary of ANR has the discretion to require a developer withdrawing groundwater in the state to obtain a Groundwater Withdrawal Permit if the Secretary determines the withdrawal violates the Vermont Water Quality Standards, CVR 12-030-025 or has an undue adverse effect on an existing use of groundwater, a public water system permitted by ANR, wetlands, or water resources hydrologically interconnected with the well or spring from which the withdrawal occurs. 10 V.S.A. § 1418(g).

19-VT-c.6 — Publish Notice of Pre-Application Public Informational Meeting

If the project requires a Groundwater Withdrawal Permit, the developer must publish notice of the required pre-application public informational meeting at least ten (10) days before the meeting. 10 V.S.A. § 1418(c)(1); Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-403(b).

The developer must post the meeting notice in the municipal offices of the town in which the withdrawal is proposed and in a local newspaper. In addition, the developer must notify the Secretary of ANR, adjoining landowners, the municipal legislative body in the municipality where the facility is located, and any person on a list of interested persons maintained by the Secretary of ANR. 10 V.S.A. § 1418(c)(1); Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-403(b).

19-VT-c.7 to 19-VT-c.8 — Hold Pre-Application Public Informational Meeting

The developer must hold a pre-application public informational meeting (informational meeting) at least thirty (30) days before filing for a Groundwater Withdrawal Permit with the DWGPD. 10 V.S.A. § 1418(c)(1); Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-403(a).

At the informational meeting, the developer must describe the proposed project and provide attendees with an opportunity to comment. 10 V.S.A. § 1418(c)(1); Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-403(a).

19-VT-c.9 — Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Application

The developer must file a complete Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Application with the DWGPD. The DWGPD prefers that the developer submit the application materials through their File Transfer Protocol (FTP) document upload website pursuant to the Application Process Guidance and the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Site Instructions.

The application must, at minimum, contain the following information:

  • The name, mailing address, and daytime telephone number of the applicant (developer). If the developer is not the property owner of the property where the proposed source is located, the property owner must be a co-applicant on the permit;
  • The purpose of the withdrawal;
  • The GPS location and source of the withdrawal;
  • The amount of the proposed withdrawal, including estimates of the projected mean and peak daily, monthly, and annual withdrawals;
  • If applicable, the previously assigned permitted production rates, established safe yields, or the known rates of the developer’s other existing sources on the same tract of land or at the same place of business;
  • The place of the proposed return flow of withdrawn water, if applicable;
  • The estimated amount of water that will not be returned to the watershed where the proposed withdrawal is located;
  • The location, demand on, and yield of existing sources of groundwater and surface water utilized by the applicant (developer);
  • A brief description of the alternative means considered for satisfying the applicant’s (developer) stated use for water;
  • A certification that the applicant (developer) has met the pre-application public informational meeting requirements;
  • Relevant portions of the municipal plan and regional plan, if any, that addresses the use of groundwater;
  • A map that shows that the location of the proposed source complies with siting criteria pursuant to Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-403;
  • A source construction plan that provides the information required by Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-502;
  • A initial conceptual hydrogeologic model of the source prepared in accordance with Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-503;
  • The estimated area of influence and a description of how it was estimated using the initial conceptual hydrogeologic model.
  • A preliminary inventory of existing sources and uses in the estimated area of influence completed in accordance with Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-504;
  • A preliminary inventory of surface water and significant wetlands in the estimated area of influence, completed in accordance with Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-505;
  • A preliminary inventory of contamination sources completed in accordance with Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-506;
  • An estimation of withdrawal effects prepared in accordance with Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-507; and
  • A description of the source testing program design prepared in accordance with Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-508.

10 V.S.A. § 1418(d); Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-404(a).

The developer must also submit the permit fee to the DWGPD either by check or electronically (if available). Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Application; Permit Fees.

19-VT-c.10 to 19-VT-c.11 — Publish Public Notice of Application

The developer must publish notice of the application before or on the date of filing the Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Application with the DWGPD. The developer must notify:

  • The clerk, legislative body, and any conservation commission in the municipality in which the proposed withdrawal is located;
  • Adjoining municipalities;
  • The regional planning commission in the region where the proposed withdrawal is located;
  • All landowners and mobile home park residents within the zone of influence of a groundwater withdrawal or within one-quarter mile downstream from a withdrawal from a spring. Notice to the officers of a condominium association is sufficient for notice to residents of a condominium; and
  • Any public water systems permitted by ANR in the municipality where the proposed withdrawal is located.

10 V.S.A. § 1418(c)(2)(A)-(E); Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-404(b)(2)-(3).

The developer must also publish notice of the application in a newspaper of general circulation in the area in which the withdrawal is proposed. In addition, the developer must post a copy of the notice in the municipal clerk’s office in the municipality in which the withdrawal is located. 10 V.S.A. § 1418(c)(2)(A)-(E); Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-404(b)(2)-(3).

Notice of the application must include, at minimum:

  • The address of the proposed withdrawal;
  • The proposed withdrawal rate;
  • The use of the proposed withdrawal;
  • A map of the estimated area of influence;
  • Where full copies of the application may be reviewed;
  • That the public comment period is open for thirty (30) days from the submittal date of the application and that comments should be directed to the DWGPD of ANR; and
  • How to submit comment on the application to DWGPD.

Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-404(b)(2)-(3).

The Secretary of ANR may, dependent upon the level of public interest associated with the project, post application materials, meeting notices, regulatory determinations, and other information relevant to the proposed withdrawal’s application on the ANR website. Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-404(c).

Any interested party may submit written comments regarding the application to DWGPD in writing for thirty (30) days from the submittal date of the application. Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-404(b)(2)-(3).

19-VT-c.12 — Publish Notice of Public Meeting

The DWGPD must publish notice of the required public meeting after the developer has submitted the Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Application. The DWGPD must publish the notice at least ten (10) days before the scheduled meeting date. 10 V.S.A. § 1418(c)(4). The DWGPD must post the public notice in the municipal offices of the town in which the withdrawal is proposed as well as publish the notice in a local newspaper. 10 V.S.A. § 1418(c)(4).

19-VT-c.13 to 19-VT-c.15 – Hold Public Meeting

The DWGPD must hold a public meeting in the municipality in which the withdrawal is proposed in order to describe the proposed project and hear comments regarding the application. 10 V.S.A. § 1418(c)(4). The public meeting is held during the thirty (30) day comment period. Any interested party may attend and ask questions or comment on all issues involved regarding the relevant Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Application. The DWGPD must prepare a responsiveness summary at the conclusion of each public meeting. 10 V.S.A. § 1418(c)(4).

19-VT-c.16 to 19-VT-c.17 — Review Application Materials for Completeness

The DWGPD must review the application materials and comments received after the close of the thirty (30) day comment period. Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-405(a). The DWGPD will review the application materials and comments to determine whether:

After reviewing the application and public comments, the DWGPD will notify the developer of any deficiencies in the application materials, the proposed source placement, and/or the source construction plan and whether modifications to the application are necessary. Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-403-405(b)(2).


If the DWGPD approves the developer’s source construction plan, the DWGPD will notify the developer that may start source construction. If the source construction plan is approved, the developer must provide the DWGPD with the dates and times that, the proposed sources will be installed. The developer must also give the DWGPD site access to observe the installation. Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-403-405(b)(1).

19-VT-c.18— Conduct Site Visit

The DWGPD must conduct a site visit following the receipt of a complete application. Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Application. The site visit is intended to give the DWGPD a chance to validate the application information and educate the applicant (developer) on the permitting requirements.

19-VT-c.19—Is the Site Suitable for a Permit?

After conducting a site visit the DWGPD will determine if the site is suitable for a permit. If the developer’s site is not suitable for a permit, the DWGPD will deny the application and notify the developer. Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-403-405(b)(3).

19-VT-c.20 — Proposed Source Testing Plan

Following the construction of the source, approved by the DWGPD, the developer must submit a Proposed Source Testing Plan (Testing Plan) in accordance with Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-508.

19-VT-c.21 to 19-VT-c.22— Review the Proposed Source Testing Plan

The DWGPD reviews the Testing Plan. After review, the DWGPD will notify the developer if there are deficiencies in the program design identified through the source construction or in public comment. If there are deficiencies, the developer must resolve the issues before source withdrawal testing can commence. Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-406(a)(2).

If the DWGPD approves the Testing Plan, they will notify the developer that they may begin source withdrawal testing. Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-406(a)(1).


19-VT-c.23 — Conduct Groundwater Withdrawal Source Testing

The developer must conduct groundwater withdrawal source testing (source testing), after the DWGPD approves the application materials and Testing Plan. Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-406(b)(1). The developer must conduct source testing in accordance with the requirements laid out in Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-509.

After preliminary testing, the developer must:

  • Refine the initial conceptual hydrogeological model and area of influence for the proposed source in accordance with Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-510;
  • Update and revise the contamination source inventory and the inventory of existing sources and surface waters and significant wetlands if the inventory is greater than ninety (90) days old;
  • Describe impacts to existing sources, surface water, and significant wetlands;
  • When an undue adverse effect is predicted to occur as a result of the proposed rate of withdrawal, the developer must amend the application and final resource report to:
  1. Reduce the proposed rate of withdrawal to a level where no adverse effect is anticipated; Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-511 or
  1. Design mitigation measures for review and approval by the Secretary of ANR.

Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-406(b)(2)-(5).

19-VT-c.24 — Draft Source Evaluation Report

The developer must submit the Draft Source Evaluation Report (Draft Evaluation Report) to the DWGPD. The Draft Evaluation Report should reflect the results of the preliminary source testing. Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-407;Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Application.

In addition, the developer must submit a copy of the Draft Evaluation Report to each of the following:

  • The clerk, legislative body, and conservation commission in the municipality in which the project is located;
  • The clerk of adjoining municipalities;
  • The regional planning commission of the area where the project is located; and
  • Any public water system permitted by ANR in the municipality where the proposed withdrawal is located.

Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-407(1)(A)-(D).

19-VT-c.25 — Publish Notice of Draft Final Source Evaluation Report

The developer must, at the time the Draft Evaluation Report is submitted, publish notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the area of the proposed withdrawal. The notice of the Draft Evaluation Report must include, at minimum, the following:

  • That a public comment period is open for thirty (30) days from the submittal date of Draft Evaluation Report and that comments must be directed to the DWGPD of the DEC; and
  • The time and location of a public meeting for the Draft Evaluation Report and the proposed withdrawal.

Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-407(3)(A)-(B).

The developer must, also, submit a copy of the notice for general circulation to the municipal clerk’s office of the municipality in which the proposed source is located. Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-407(4).

In addition, the developer must send notice of the Draft Evaluation Report to all landowners and mobile home park residents within the area of influence of the proposed source or within one quarter mile downstream from a proposed source that is a spring. Notice to the officers of a condominium association is sufficient notice for residents of a condominium. Notice must include, at minimum, the following:

  • Information required for notice of general circulation in the local newspaper (addressed above);
  • The address of the proposed withdrawal;
  • The use of proposed withdrawal;
  • A map of the estimated area of influence;
  • Where full copies of the application may be reviewed; and
  • The conclusions reached by the developer in the Final Evaluation Report on whether the proposed withdrawal may cause an undue adverse effect and how the applicant (developer) plans to respond to those conclusions.

Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-407(2).

The developer must submit compliance documentation to DWGPD regarding all the above mentioned notice requirements for the Draft Evaluation Report. Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-407.

19-VT-c.26 — Comment on Draft Final Source Evaluation Report

Any interested party may submit written comments, regarding the Draft Evaluation Report, to the DWGPD during the thirty (30) day comment period. Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-407.

19-VT-c.27 — Final Source Evaluation Report

The developer must submit a Final Source Evaluation Report (Final Evaluation Report) to the DWGPD after source testing pursuant to Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-509 is complete. Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-512(a). The report must include the required information pursuant to Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-512(a)(1)-(6).

19-VT-c.28 — Groundwater Withdrawal Authorization

The DWGPD will issue a Groundwater Withdrawal permit if the information provided in the application and Final Evaluation Report is complete and correct. Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-512(a)(1)-(6). The information provided in the application and Final Evaluation Report must demonstrate that the proposed source satisfies all the following:

  • That the proposed withdrawal is planned in a fashion that provides for efficient use of the water;
  • That the proposed withdrawal, in combination with other existing withdrawals, will meet the standards set by the Secretary of ANR in the rule for establishing a safe yield in the area of the withdrawal;
  • That the proposed withdrawal is consistent with the town or regional plan in which the proposed withdrawal is located, and with any duly adopted state policy to manage groundwater as a shared resource for the benefit of all citizens of the state, including any policies and programs of the state of Vermont regarding long-range planning, management, allocation, and use of groundwater and surface water in effect at the time the application for the withdrawal is filed;
  • That the proposed withdrawal will not have an undue adverse effect on existing uses of water dependent on the same water source;
  • That the proposed withdrawal will not have an undue adverse effect on a public water system permitted by ANR;
  • That the proposed withdrawal will not have an undue adverse effect on significant wetlands under the Vermont wetland rules or on other water resources hydrologically interconnected with the well or spring from which the proposed withdrawal would be made;
  • That the proposed withdrawal will not violate the Vermont water quality standards; and
  • Any other consideration that the Secretary of ANR determines necessary for the conservation of water or protection of groundwater quality.

Groundwater Withdrawal Permit, 10 V.S.A. § 1418(e); Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Requirements, CVR 12-030-020 § 24-408(a)(1)-(2).

The issued Groundwater Withdrawal Permit is valid for ten (10) years. 10 V.S.A. § 1418(f).

The developer may transfer a Groundwater Withdrawal Permit upon change of ownership of the facility or project for which the permit was issued, provided that the new owner applies for an Administrative Amendment to the permit certifying their agreement to comply with all the terms and conditions of the transferred permit and assume all other associated obligations. 10 V.S.A. § 1418(h).

A Groundwater Withdrawal Permit is deemed to comply with the public trust requirements of the state for groundwater management and is entitled presumption that the withdrawal complies with the public trust requirements of the state. 10 V.S.A. § 1418(i).

19-VT-c.29 — Appeal Decision (If Applicable)

Any interested person, including the applicant (developer) may appeal the permit decision within thirty (30) days of the determination by ANR to the Vermont Environmental Court. Appeals to the Environmental Division, 10 V.S.A. § 8504(a).




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