by Martha Sylvester
Vermont’s nickname is the Green Mountain State, and all of our beautiful state—from our wildlife to our economy—needs clean water for survival.
It has been over two years since I’ve been able to consume the water that comes out of my home’s faucets in Coventry. I started questioning the safety of my water at Town Meeting Day in March of 2016 after learning of arsenic and manganese contaminations in my municipal water. Then, I started attending select board and fire district meetings. After nearly a year of researching Vermont’s water and meeting laws things grew worse—despite trying to work with local and state officials.
Like many Vermonters I am taking care of aging parents, and the lack of access to safe drinking water has caused significant strain on our health and finances. All I want is to be part of the solution. Ultimately, I took our municipal water district to court this April for failing to adhere to Vermont’s election process.
This summer Representative Peter Welch secured nearly $1 million, a portion of what is needed, to bring our municipal drinking water system up to current water standards. While this is a start, I am still struggling with many issues pertaining to accountability and transparency in our local government. The municipal water district has finally started allowing me access to agendas just three short months ago.
After two years of trying, I fail to understand how Vermont’s most precious resource has been so severely neglected. Vermont communities are riddled with water infrastructure problems: our lakes, rivers, streams, and drinking water systems need better oversight and accountability to ensure a better quality for future generations. How many times have there been warnings of contamination in your community’s water?
As a member of Rights & Democracy I am committed to holding elected officials accountable and pressing candidates on where they stand when it comes to protecting our drinking water and environment.
It is of the utmost importance for all Vermonters to hold our elected and appointed officials accountable and we must demand change. Ask candidates running for office where they stand on protecting our drinking water. If they were in the legislature, did they support S. 197 or did they uphold Gov. Scott’s veto? If they supported allowing polluters to get away with poisoning waters and not pay their fair share to monitor and clean up the mess, and ask them why?
We need to elect people who will listen and who are ready and willing to fix the important issues plaguing our state – especially when it comes to holding accountable those who pollute our waters and environment.
Vermonters your vote is literally your voice! Do your part and participate in Vermont’s democracy by voting on Tuesday, November 6th.
Martha Sylvester is a Rights & Democracy member. She lives in Coventry.