Investing in a Clean Water Economy
VBSR Policy Paper approved by the VBSR Board of Directors on November 30, 2018.
Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility:
CLEAN WATER ECONOMY
Clean water is essential for life. Vermont’s abundant fresh water resources support the human, animal and plant populations that make this state unique. No economy can thrive without clean water; it is vital for the state’s tourism and local food sectors. Vermont’s businesses, government and citizens are responsible for protecting our water resources, repairing the damage that has already been done, and securing water resources for future prosperity.
Clean Water Economy Principles
- Protect Drinking Water
Access to clean drinking water is at serious risk; more than 63 million people in the United States drank contaminated water in the last decade. Outdated federal laws have led to industrial poisons in public drinking water supplies, causing major public health crises, from Flint, Mi. to Bennington, Vt. Our state should lead in the absence of federal action and adopt stricter regulation of toxic chemicals to ensure that Vermont’s drinking water is safe and accessible to all.
- Green Designs for New Development
Green design and construction standards should be required for all new development in Vermont. Our economy thrives when it is in balanced co-existence with our natural environment. Rainwater harvesting, rain gardens, bioswales, and permeable pavements are simple and cost-effective methods of containing and processing storm water. Future development in Vermont should strive for habitat protection, flood management and prevention, and maintaining and protecting clean water.
- Polluters Pay
Paying for pollution remediation is both an individual and collective responsibility. Companies or individuals that pollute Vermont’s lakes and rivers should be responsible for paying for the clean-up and associated health problems. Additionally, our everyday actions as individuals have negative environmental consequences. and we are also personally responsible for addressing these, both through lifestyle changes, business adjustments, and progressive taxation and spending policies.
- Support Local and Sustainable Agriculture
Farming is an economically, culturally, and historically vital industry for Vermont. Growth in the Farm to Plate sector has provided expanded opportunities for local agriculture. But the current business model still has major flaws, including low wages, misaligned regional and federal policies, and unintended environmental damage, including considerable water pollution. VBSR believes we need to support our local farmers by providing pathways and assistance to test and perfect new economic models and technologies that support well-paying jobs, the growth of our farm and food economies, and benefit our natural environment.
- Invest in Municipal Infrastructure
Vermont suffers from outdated and inefficient wastewater and storm water systems, and global warming is only exacerbating this problem. Vermont receives a “D” grade from civil engineers for the quality of its wastewater systems, and the poor infrastructure is hampering new economic development in some parts of the state. For years, governments have underfunded these vital systems. Investments in green wastewater systems that focus on conservation and resiliency will deliver economic, social, and environmental benefits.
Conclusion: The Time for Action is Now
It’s time to change the conversation in Vermont around clean water. The risk of failure by too little action is too great. The business community, government, and advocacy organizations need to work together to bring societal and legislative focus to growing a Clean Water Economy. Clean water, supported by fair and common sense environmental regulations, is essential to creating a vibrant and sustainable economy that highlights and respects the benefits of our precious waterways.