Dam safety bill approved by Vt. Legislature

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) The Vermont House gave its final approval Thursday on a bill addressing dam safety and drinking water protection.

The bill would require the Department of Environmental Conservation to inventory all known dams in Vermont and inspect them on a regular basis. Proponents say there are 1,200 dams in Vermont but only about 400 of them are inspected.

Rep. David Deen, D-Putney, says unchecked dams pose a safety concern and that some landowners may not know they could be liable for those dams. Deen also says the dams may not be healthy for the state's waterways. The bill could lead to dams being removed in the future.

"This deals with the 800 that we have no records of. We have an inventory at the agency but we have no idea how accurate it is. This bill will require owners to register their dams with the state," Deen said.

The legislation also includes a new requirement that new wells be tested for some toxic pollutants. The governor has not said if he will sign the bill.