The Department of Public Service (Department) and the Public Utility Commission (Commission) regulate only privately owned water companies. The Department advocates for consumers and the public interest while making recommendations on all water company petitions filed with the Commission. The Commission has the formal authority to grant, deny or modify petitions of companies. Many but not all of these companies are also regulated by the Drinking Water & Groundwater Protection Division (DWGWPD).
Small Private Water Companies
Vermont's small private water companies continue their struggle to remain viable and meet the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SWDA) of 1974, the SWDA 1986 amendments and 1996 reauthorization. Some of these companies lack management resources, access to reasonably priced capital or have other problems affecting their overall viability. Many small companies have been taken over by municipalities, fire districts, or other consumer-owned entities that are better able to operate these systems in a sustainable manner. The Department of Public Service generally encourages such transfers, and works with customers to help them evaluate their options.
Private water companies must obtain approval from the Public Utility Commission (Commission) for a variety of actions including: obtaining a Certificate of Public Good to sell water to consumers, changing rates charged for water, changing rules or regulations in the company's tariff, borrowing money, and selling assets or stock. Municipal and nonprofit cooperatives or associations that sell water only to their members are not subject to Commission jurisdiction. The Department of Public Service provides guidance to companies in the process of filing a petition with the Commission. The Drinking Water & Groundwater Protection Division (DWGWPD) provides guidance through the Capacity Development Program and access to the State Drinking Water Revolving Fund (SDWRF).
The Drinking Water and Groundwater Protection Division protects public health by assuring safe, affordable drinking water and by managing the water resources that provide drinking water. The Drinking Water and Groundwater Protection Division is a division of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation in the Agency of Natural Resources.
VRWA is a nonprofit association of water and wastewater systems throughout the state. Its mission is to promote public health and a clean environment by supporting Vermont water and wastewater facilities.
NEWWA is a nonprofit organization incorporated in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Association is the leading authority on education, training opportunities and public outreach to protect and improve drinking water and water utility operations.
AWWA is an international nonprofit scientific and educational society dedicated to the improvement of drinking water quality and supply.
NAWC is the only national trade association that exclusively represents the private and investor-owned water utility industry.
The EPA works to develop and enforce regulations that implement environmental laws enacted by Congress. The EPA is responsible for researching and setting national standards for a variety of environmental programs, and delegates to states and tribes the responsibility for issuing permits and for monitoring and enforcing compliance. Where national standards are not met, the EPA can issue sanctions and take other steps to assist the states and tribes in reaching the desired levels of environmental quality.
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