The Vermont House gave its final approval to H.554 (link is external), a bill addressing dam safety and drinking water protection. H.554 requires the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to maintain an inventory of all known dams in Vermont and inspect them under DEC jurisdiction on a regular, risk-based schedule. There are 820 known dams in the state. Of those, 696 are under DEC jurisdiction. H.554 now heads to Governor Scott’s desk.
The bill will benefit public safety by requiring inspection, and if needed, maintenance or removal of dams that have been largely ignored. Until recently, DEC has had a longstanding policy to not inspect or maintain good records for hundreds of smaller dams.
“Simply because these dams are smaller and may pose a lower risk to the public does not mean that they pose no risk. Currently, the condition of these dams and the threats they pose to public safety are unknown. H.554 corrects this problem,” said Brian Fitzgerald, Dam Project Coordinator at the Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC).