Brandon celebrates state’s cleanest water
By Lucia Suarez
STAFF WRITER | May 09,2012
Albert J. Marro / Staff Photo
Gov. Peter Shumlin, left, and Tom Whittaker toast Brandon’s elevation to a Class II water designation. Brandon water superintendant Ray Counter, second from left, holds the proclamation from the governor. In back is state Rep. Joseph Acinapura.
BRANDON — The groundwater in the town of Brandon is the best in the state of Vermont, according to a designation recently awarded to the town’s water district.
Brandon’s Fire District #1 is now classified as a Class II water system by the state Agency of Natural Resources, the first and highest water-quality protection designation given to a water district in the state.
“They tell me it’s a big deal,” said Ray Counter, the fire district’s superintendent, who pushed to upgrade the quality and classification of the system. “I am trying to look at ways to conserve water so that my grandchildren will be able to experience what we have now.”
The state of Vermont classifies drinkable groundwater under four classes ranging from Class IV (the lowest) to Class I (the highest), under the Groundwater Protection Rule and Strategies.
With the improved designation, the district, which serves approximately 3,865 people and does not apply any chemicals or other purification process to the water, further agreed to not engage in activities that could be detrimental to the purity of the water.
Gov. Peter Shumlin along with other state, legislative and local officials recognized Counter and the Brandon Fire District #1 Prudential Committee for their work in obtaining the designation during a small celebration held at the Brandon Town Hall on Tuesday. They presented a proclamation for the state and a resolution passed in the recent legislative session.
“The last time you visited Brandon it was after (Tropical Storm) Irene where we saw the devastation of water,” said Rep. Joe Acinapura to the governor. “Now we are here to celebrate water, the best water in Vermont.”
Shumlin said job growth is a top priority not just in the area but across the state and projects similar to the one successfully tackled by the water district will help attract industries to the area that need good, clean water.
“Projects like this will continue to ensure the prosperity in the area,” Shumlin said. “This is the cleanest water in the state of Vermont”
According to ANR Secretary Deborah Markowitz, only a handful groundwater systems in the state are classified in the lowest category, while the majority water systems are in Class III.
“By enlarge, we have pretty good water,” she said at the celebration. “What Ray Counter did was he said, we can do better (and asked) why are we going to be like everyone else?”
She commended Counter for “taking this extra step that you didn’t have to take.”
It was not easy to receive the Class II designation, according to Counter, who said the state had to create the criteria to upgrade water systems. He partnered with the Vermont Geological Survey to map the surface geology and create maps for groundwater resources in the area.
“(Protecting water sources) became a passion of mine,” Counter said. “You can’t put a dollar value that.”
Lawrence Miller, secretary of the state Agency of Commerce and Community Development, said they are always looking at the resources available for economic development and the new designation will be a great anchor for the town.
“This gives (Brandon) a point of differentiation to get people here,” he said.