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UPDATE: Barlow to speak in Vermont tomorrow

Tomorrow, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow will be speaking at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont. Barlow has a years-long history of involvement in protecting groundwater in Vermont.

In July 2006, Barlow was in Vermont “urging citizens to act quickly to protect (their) public water supplies from pollution, depletion and corporate exploitation,” according to the Vermont Natural Resources Defense Council. As they noted at that time, her visit coincided “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.”

By April 2008, the Associated Press reported, “Lawmakers studying legislation that would protect Vermont’s groundwater heard dire warnings 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 Barlow… ‘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.”

And in March 2011, the Burlington Free Press reported, “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.”

That article highlights, “Judge Merideth Wright 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.”

And significantly, “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’…”

An earlier campaign blog on Barlow’s work in relation to groundwater protection in Vermont can be read at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=5774.

Download event poster