Citizens to Protect Berlin Pond rally in Montpelier - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Citizens to Protect Berlin Pond rally in Montpelier

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MONTPELIER, Vt. - Protestors gathered on the steps of the statehouse Saturday calling for change.

The rally was in support of preserving Berlin Pond and keeping recreational activities out.

Spanning hundreds of acres, Berlin Pond is one of the largest lakes in the state. It's also the sole source of public water supply for the city of Montpelier making it the center of controversy.

"Our rally now is to say that we are going to insist that people address the issue of clean drinking water." said Melissa Perley, President of Citizens to Protect Berlin Pond.

This year, the Agency of Natural Resources banned all gas powered engines, including cars and snowmobiles in the winter, because of concerns over gas leaks. But this crowd says that's not good enough.

Citizens to Protect Berlin Pond submitted a petition to restrict all recreational use on the pond, including fishing and canoeing. But that petition was denied by the Agency. Now, protestors are trying to send a clear message outside the statehouse.

"There's invasive species, as we know, the milfoil that's already in the pond and there's the human coliform bacteria that comes in with humans swimming," Perley said.

"We have an opportunity to save it so why not? I don't understand. Just for a few boaters to get out there when they could go elsewhere? It just doesn't make sense to me," said water activist Dot Helling.

But others in the community, who appreciate the lake as a resource, disagree. They say instead of blanket policies, specific concerns should be targeted.

"They could take measures and fight against that if they were to put a boat launch in and a wash station. I just think it would be a waste not to let people fish here," said Barre resident Robert Poor.

ANR officials says current activities on the pond pose no threat to Montpelier's drinking water. Officials say education and existing laws are plenty to address concerns.

But for some Montpelier residents, it's all about public safety.

"We're going to be ingesting that water and unless we know that it's clean, none of us are safe drinking it," said Anne Buttimer.

State Representative Warren Kitzmiller says he has no plans to stop his push to save Berlin Pond.

"We're going to fight the good fight legislatively, we're going to appeal this decision, we're going to fight on, but we need to let the administration know that we are righteously angry," Kitzmiller said.
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