The Agency of Natural Resources announced today that Suzanne Reider of Goshen was fined $9,750 for making alterations to Stewart Pond Dam before obtaining necessary authorization from the State.
Dams, even small dams for backyard ponds, are significant structures that can have major public safety and environmental implications. As a result, dams are regulated by a variety of federal, state and local laws. The Agency’s Department of Environmental Conservation Dam Safety Program regulates non-hydroelectric dams capable of impounding more than 500,000 cubic feet of water by inspecting and issuing permits for dam construction and alteration. Beyond regulatory measures, the program provides information to help current and prospective dam owners understand the implications of owning, maintaining and operating a dam. The program also administers the Unsafe Dam State Revolving Fund, a special fund that provides money to municipalities, nonprofits, and individuals for the reconstruction, repair, removal, draining, or other action necessary to reduce the threat of a dam determined to be unsafe.
“Storing a large volume of water in a reservoir is an activity with inherent public safety and environmental risks, so owning a dam is a significant responsibility,” says Emily Boedecker, Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation. “That is why the Agency has considerable interest in working with dam owners to see that dams are safe by being well maintained and responsibly operated.”
Ms. Reider owns property in Goshen that contains the Stewart Pond Dam, which is registered in the Vermont Dam Inventory and thus is subject to Dam Safety Program permits and regulation. In the summer of 2014, Agency personnel met with the Ms. Reider’s project engineer to assess the work necessary to improve the condition of the Stewart Pond Dam. That autumn, Ms. Reider’s project engineer applied for a permit to implement the previously discussed work.
After the permit was approved and issued in March 2015, the Agency requested a project status update. It became apparent that the alterations to the Stewart Pond Dam had been completed prior to the approval of the Dam Safety Program. Agency personnel visited the site and confirmed that, in addition to being completed before the issuance of a permit, the work was inconsistent with both the construction plans submitted with the application and the eventual dam order that was issued for those construction plans. By altering the Stewart Pond Dam prior to the issuance of and out of compliance with the Dam Safety Program’s Order, Ms. Reider violated state environmental law. In the fall of 2016, a second project engineer removed the work inconsistent with the permit and implemented the missing pieces to bring the Dam into compliance.
Based upon these efforts to bring the project back into compliance with the dam order, and as the result of negotiations, Ms. Reider and the Agency have agreed to settle this matter with an Assurance of Discontinuance. The Assurance was incorporated into a Final Judicial Order on June 26, 2017 and requires a penalty of $9,750.
For more information about DEC’s Dam Safety Program, including information about owning and maintaining a dam, visit http://dec.vermont.gov/facilities-engineering/dam-safety.