MONTPELIER — Vermont farmers who withdraw any surface waters ( definition:10 V.S.A. § 1002(20) ) for farming are advised to begin keeping records of irrigation events this summer if a farm does not already do so. A new state law goes into effect July 1, 2022 which requires annual reporting of surface water withdrawals used for farming to the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM). The first such annual report for farmers who qualify (**see below) will be due to the VAAFM on January 15th, 2023.
Vermont agriculture is the first new sector of surface water handlers to report usage of waters to the State of Vermont based on Act 135 of 2022. VAAFM is committed to deploying the education, outreach, and technical assistance resources needed to help answer farmer questions about the new law and their responsibilities. The goal of this law is to better understand the current demand for surface waters in the state and to take any necessary steps to ensure resilience and future availability of surface waters in the face of a changing climate.
“At this time, the most simple and straightforward recommendation the agency can give farmers is: ‘Keep daily records of your surface water usage’; accurate event-by-event irrigation records will ensure easy and accurate reporting when the growing season is finished. Agency staff are available to help answer questions,” said Secretary of Agriculture Anson Tebbetts. Farms which utilize groundwater or off-stream farm ponds for agriculture are not subject to the reporting requirements of Act 135.
**Act 135 of 2022 establishes that any farmer who:
- withdraws surface water for farming and uses more than 10,000 gallons of surface water within a 24-hour period, or
- 150,000 gallons or more over any 30-day period during a calendar year,
- shall file their first annual report with VAAFM on January 15, 2023.
The new law establishes the following minimum pieces of information to be reported to VAAFM on an annual basis:
- an estimate of the total amount of water withdrawn in the preceding calendar year;
- the location of the withdrawals;
- the daily maximum withdrawal for each month;
- the date of each daily maximum withdrawal.
Farmers with questions about this new surface water usage reporting requirement are encouraged to reach out to the VAAFM for more information. Farmers can access an example of a record keeping form that will enable efficient tracking and reporting of surface water usage at: https://agriculture.vermont.gov/irrigation-reporting .
To download and print the reporting form, visit: https://agriculture.vermont.gov/irrigation-reporting
A paper copy of the form can be requested by mail at:
Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets
Irrigation Reporting Form
c/o Ryan Patch
116 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05610
–Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets