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Goshen landowner fined for altering private dam without permit

GOSHEN—A Goshen resident was fined $9,750 for altering a dam on her property.

According to the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, Suzanne Reider of Goshen received the fine for making alterations to the Stewart Pond dam on her property before receiving the necessary authorization from the state.

Reider owns property in Goshen that contains the Stewart Pond dam, which is registered in the Vermont Dam Inventory and, thus, is subject to dam safety program permits and regulation. In the summer of 2014, agency personnel met with Reider’s project engineer to assess the work necessary to improve the condition of the Stewart Pond dam. That autumn, Reider’s project engineer applied for a permit to implement the previously discussed work.

After the permit for the work was approved and issued in March 2015, agency personnel visited the site and observed that, in addition to being completed before the permit was issued, the work was inconsistent with both the construction plans submitted with the application and the eventual dam order that was issued for those construction plans.

In the fall of 2016, a second project engineer removed the work inconsistent with the permit and brought the dam into compliance.

“Storing a large volume of water in a reservoir is an activity with inherent public safety and environmental risks, so owning a dam is a significant responsibility,” Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Emily Boedecker said in a statement. “That is why the Agency has considerable interest in working with dam owners to see that dams are safe by being well maintained and responsibly operated.”

The agency’s Department of Environmental Conservation dam safety program regulates non-hydroelectric dams capable of impounding more than 500,000 cubic feet of water by inspecting and issuing permits for dam construction and alteration. Beyond regulatory measures, the program provides information to help current and prospective dam owners understand the implications of owning, maintaining and operating a dam. The program also administers the Unsafe Dam State Revolving Fund, that provides money for actions necessary to reduce the threat of a dam determined to be unsafe.

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