The State of Dairy: Moving Toward Effective Regulation of Agricultural Nonpoint Source Nitrogen Pollution in Vermont
Posted: 5 Nov 2018
Date Written: October 15, 2018
Phosphorus and nitrogen are both important nutrients in healthy water systems. However, when freshwater bodies receive a much higher input of phosphorus and nitrogen than the ecosystem can support, the effects can cause severe consequences for human and environmental health. Vermont has identified agricultural nonpoint source pollution as a significant contributor to nutrient pollution in freshwater lakes. Unfortunately, excessive nutrient pollution remains a prominent environmental and agricultural issue in the state. In particular, Lake Carmi in Franklin County, Vermont, has maintained problematically high levels of nutrient pollution. Vermont has taken great strides to mitigate phosphorus pollution in its lakes and streams. Still, the state has few similarly mandated controls for reducing nitrogen pollution. Emerging research from around the globe suggests that excess nitrogen in freshwater, with or without excess phosphorus, can cause detrimental effects to water quality and safety. This note argues that the Federal Clean Water Act and its associated EPA regulations require Vermont to set more stringent and concrete standards for nonpoint source nitrogen pollution. Further, federal law requires the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources to maintain a more direct involvement in regulating nonpoint source agriculture pollution rather than delegating its authority exclusively to the Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets.
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