FRANKLIN — Locals here traveled to the State House in Montpelier Thursday morning to speak in favor of a new House bill that would allow emergency procedures for “lakes in crisis,” like Lake Carmi.

The bill, H.730, is before the House Committee on Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife. The committee’s chair, Rep. David L. Deen of Westminster, introduced the bill.

H.730 would authorize the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) to declare lakes “in crisis if the condition of the water poses a potential harm to the public health, poses a risk of damage to the environment or natural resources, or is likely to cause significant devaluation of property value or other significant economic effects.”

When that determination is made, ANR would have sole authority to regulate water quality in the lake’s watershed, and the State would appropriate financial resources for the ANR “sufficient to improve the quality of the lake in crisis.”

The bill gives ANR much of the power currently held by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (AAFM), a shift in favor of which Franklin locals have spoken at multiple meetings since last summer. When Franklin resident Judith McLaughlin raised the issue at a lakeside September meeting with ANR Secretary Julie Moore, Moore said she felt the ANR and AAFM collaborated well, despite AAFM’s jurisdiction over regulating water quality on agricultural land.

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