1-27-15 – Shouldn’t Clean Water Be Transparent?

posted by Rob Roper

Cleaning up Lake Champlain is a priority for the Governor and the legislature, at least according to the latest sound-bites. So, here’s a bit of a head scratcher….

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in an article titled, USDA Unites with Partners to Improve Water Quality in Lake Champlain, that TWENTY PARNTERS have come together in New York and Vermont to finally get it done. They even held a press conference in the Cedar Creek Room of the State House with Governor Shumlin and his team. Finally we’re going to get something done!

The USDA announcement read, “Through a new partnership with USDA, nearly 20 organizations in the area will work together with farmers and ranchers to help improve water quality of the lake and reduce algae blooms.”

Great, right!

Logical question: who are these twenty partners?

James Ehlers of Lake Champlain International asked the USDA for a list of who they are, and this is the reply he got:

Good afternoon, James,

Thanks for your interest in RCPP.  I’ve been advised by our national office that the list of partners should be requested through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) process.  Carol Vartuli is our FOIA officer here in Vermont, so please submit your request to Carol (cc’d)….

Vicky M. Drew
State Conservationist 
USDA NRCS
356 Mountain View Drive, Suite 105
Colchester, VT 05446
(802)951-6796, Ext. 242

Really? If you’re publicly bragging about bringing twenty groups together to work on what everyone says is a political priority, why should anyone need a Freedom of Information Request to find out who these people are?

It makes you wonder which is more detrimental to Lake health — bovine manure from cows, or from bureaucrats?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jonathan Falby January 27, 2015 at 4:53 pm

How long have we had the BMP and cost share programs? A long time right? And in that time the water in the lake has gotten worse. It isn’t the amount of money in the programs, it is the fact that the programs don’t work. You cannot go and ask a farmer who is operating on slim margins to front money for a water quality initiative project on the farm, with the promise that the state will pay them back!!! The fundamental structure of how the monies are allocated and used needs to be restructured in such a way that the farmer is going to truly benefit from the program in the short and long term. So Shumlin’s approach to throw more money at a program that has been in place for decades isn’t going to clean the water!!! The program needs to be restructured to ensure the best result for the money spent.

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