Bolton hopes to solve case of mystery poop dumper

Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 5:14 PM EDT
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BOLTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Someone is dumping human waste in the woods in Bolton. Now, the town and state officials are looking for whoever is responsible -- not to punish them, but to get them help.

Back in May, Green Up Day volunteers with the Green Mountain Club discovered trash bags that had been discarded in the woods next to the Winooski River. After taking a closer look, they discovered that the bags were filled with human waste -- upwards of 400 pounds of feces and toilet paper tossed over a guard rail next to Duxbury Road.

According to Bolton officials, some of the bags had been ripped open by animals and their contents spread onto nearby properties. Ten volunteers spent hours cleaning up the mess. But throughout the summer, the dumping has continued.

“This should be everyone’s space,” said Mark Stater of Burlington, who enjoys recreating in the area. “It’s not too complicated to come out fish and hike or camp and then leave without leaving stuff in the bushes and in the trees.”

Town officials say they are not looking to prosecute whoever left the bags, they just want the dumping to stop, and for whoever’s responsible to receive help

“Our goal is to help get the system fixed and make sure that people have a safe clean environment to live in,” said Megan Cousino with the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.

Town officials suspect whoever is doing the dumping has a failed septic system. The state has a program to help low and middle-income Vermonters replace failed septic systems. “The regulatory landscape can be difficult to navigate sometimes. Access to resources aren’t always equal and then the cost can be pretty costly depending on what’s needed,” Cousino said.

A new system can run as high as $40,000. The program has two income brackets which determine how much is covered -- up to $20,000 for people making under $65,000 annually and up to $10,000 for those making more than $65,000.

When the application opened last fall, 1,200 people applied for help. The state is now doling out $3 million to 250 Vermonters and a new round of funding is opening in November.

Officials hope that it will make an impact and prevent messes like those in Bolton from happening anywhere else.