Royalton, Vt. - Governor Phil Scott and Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore today visited the Royalton Water Treatment Facility project and highlighted the substantial investments secured this year in water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure, and climate resiliency.
More details can be found in the below transcript of Governor Scott and Secretary Moore’s remarks.
Governor Scott: Good afternoon and thank you for the introduction, Theron.
Thank you for being here today. It’s good to be here in Windsor County to talk about much needed infrastructure investments we’re making this year.
I want to first start by thanking Legislators, some here today, for working with me and my team to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in key areas this year. There’s no doubt this will benefit the state for years to come.
Last year, after we learned how much we’d get through ARPA funding, I laid out my vision where we split over one billion dollars into five buckets where we felt would best serve Vermonters.
About $250 million for Housing. Over $200 million to combat climate change. $200 million for water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure projects. $250 for broadband. And over $170 for economic development.
Understandably, there’s rightfully been a lot of attention this summer on the housing investments we made and the broadband buildout that’s started.
But we’re here today to also talk about the water, sewer, and stormwater infrastructure projects which will give communities across the state more opportunities.
We put forward the package we did because to get the transformative results from the once-in-a-generation opportunity ARPA has given us, we need these initiatives to complement each other.
When communities have better infrastructure, they can support business growth and more housing.
One doesn’t work well without the other.
And after building out and improving traditional infrastructure and connecting more places to broadband, we’ll be able to attract another generation to our state, connecting them to 21st Century jobs.
It’s also critical we provide clean drinking water for Vermonters.
Much of our infrastructure is decades, sometimes over a century old, and the investments we’re making this year will help ensure these commitments are sustainable in the future.
Secretary Moore will go into more detail in a few minutes but updating this infrastructure now will save us in the long term.
We know the climate is changing and will include more extreme weather events, so investing in climate resiliency now, which we’ve done, will help us mitigate the impacts of extreme storms and the flooding that comes with it.
Water, sewer, and stormwater infrastructure projects can also inject new life into the rural parts of our state and my Administration is committed to making sure these projects, as well as other investments we’re making, benefit all of Vermont’s 14 counties, not just the Northwest part of the state.
I know Legislators share that commitment, so I once again want to thank them for their work and also thank our federal partners at the EPA for their continued collaboration and commitment to Vermont.
With that, I’ll turn it over to Secretary Moore.
Secretary Moore: Water infrastructure is the backbone of our lives and livelihoods. From turning on the tap in the morning to take a shower, to preparing the food we eat, to the proper drainage of our roads and parking lots on rainy days, and to having sufficient clean water and wastewater treatment capacity to support local businesses and institutions.
It is all water infrastructure!
And in many Vermont communities, water infrastructure is the most valuable asset the community owns – more than the local school and often more than the network of town roads.
The challenge is that water infrastructure is generally out of sight and therefore out of mind and, as a result, the pace of investment in these assets has not kept pace with the need.
We have estimated that across Vermont there is more than $2 billion of investment needed in drinking water, wastewater and stormwater systems over the next 10 years, to both refurbish existing systems and to prepare this essential infrastructure for increasingly disruptive and potentially devastating effects of climate change.
We also know that Vermont’s aging and rural populations are especially challenged by the costs associated with maintaining, upgrading and replacing aging water infrastructure while keeping user rates affordable.
Fortunately, we are at a unique point in time where unprecedented financial resources are available to invest in water infrastructure. These include:
- Clean Water State Revolving Fund program is an EPA partnership that provides communities low-cost financing for a wide range of water quality infrastructure projects; and
- Vermont’s commitment to invest nearly a quarter of the discretionary funding it received in federal American Rescue Plan – or ARPA – funds in drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure projects.
All told, over the next five years, working with community partners and homeowners, Vermont is on track to invest nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars in water infrastructure projects.
The Royalton Water Treatment Facility Project is a great example of both the type of investment needed and the opportunities infrastructure investment offer.
The overall purpose of this project is to upgrade the Royalton water treatment plant which is quickly approaching the end of its useful life and is increasingly becoming more difficult to operate.
The project will ensure that the Royalton water system can adequately and reliably supply its customers with safe drinking water in the face of a changing climate while providing additional capacity need to support future growth.
The Royalton water systems is one of the few in Vermont that uses a river – the White River – as its main source of supply.
The investments that are underway will ensure that the water system is able to provide consistent, high quality drinking water for users and respond to a wider range of conditions in the river, such as lower flow during drought conditions, or the conditions being experienced in much of the northeast right now from major rain events that can negatively impact water quality.
This is an exciting, important and impactful investment, that combines federal, state and local resources to maximum effect.
I want to thank the Royalton Fire District 1 Prudential Committee, Dufresne Group, Kingsbury Construction and the team in DEC’s Drinking Water & Groundwater Protection Division and Water Investment Division, including Cindy Parks who is joining me here today, for the hard work that has brought the project this far and acknowledge and honor the effort yet-to-come to finish construction.
I look forward to seeing the completion of this project, and many others, as we invest in our communities, in Vermont’s core infrastructure and in enhancing our resiliency to climate change.