State of Vermont
Department of Environmental Conservation
The Old Pantry Building
103 South Main Street
Waterbury, VT 056710403
TELEPHONE (802) 2413400
FACSIMILE (802) 2413284

July 16, 2003

Ms. ___________
Danby VT 05739

Re: Concern over dry ponds, Danby, Vermont

Dear Ms. __________:

You recently emailed Secretary Wibs McLain and Commissioner Jeffrey Wennberg regarding your concerns over the drying up of your pond and your concerns about test wells drilled by OMYA in Danby, Vermont. We appreciate you bringing these issues to our attention. As you may be aware, the Water Supply Division is responsible for regulating Public Water Systems, Well Driller licensing and construction standards and providing input on drought related issues among other tasks. I will try to address your comments from a geologic perspective, however, you may need to contact other authorities such as Act 250 District Coordinators, a consulting hydrogeologist or attorney for further advice.

In your email, you stated that your small ponds had gone dry last year due to the drought. The drought of the past two years has impacted many small ponds, streams, springs and wells throughout the state. Shallow aquifers (i.e. sand and gravel, unconsolidated soils, etc.) were greatly affected in certain areas while others areas nearby showed minimal problems due to variation in local geology and groundwater flow. While we have had adequate rainfall recently, there is still a groundwater deficit which may take several years of above normal rainfall to eliminate.

Your second concern was the impact the drilling of the two test wells for OMYA may have on the surrounding groundwater system. My understanding is that the Act 250 District Commission is overseeing review of the OMYA project and possible impacts to wetlands, nearby water supplies, traffic, etc. I agree with your assessment that the most likely cause of your ponds drying up is drought related lowering of the surrounding shallow water table. The drought may also have shifted sediments/soils under or around your ponds which may have altered the recharge into or allowed faster draining of the pond. There may be several other explanations also, for which I suggest contacting a consultant to conduct a detailed site assessment.

If you can determine that OMYA or nearby business or landowner is the more likely cause, Vermont law does provide for a private right of action through the courts for "unreasonable harm" caused by another person withdrawing, diverting, or altering the character or quality of groundwater. This statute is 10 VSA Section 1410. You may wish to contact an attorney for advice in pursuing this course of action.

I hope you find this information helpful and I appreciate your concerns and bringing them to my attention. If you have any questions, or need any further technical assistance please call Rodney Pingree at 2413417 or Scott Stewart at 241 3426.


Jay Rutherford, P.E., Director
Water Supply Division

cc: Jeffrey Wennberg, Commissioner
Rodney Pingree, WSD
Scott Stewart, WSD

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