Letter to the editor: City should act on sewer overflow problems

Angelo Lynn’s math in his Monday, Jan. 29, 2018, editorial leaves much to be desired. His subject is an important one, however, the impact of the sewage overflows into Otter Creek, then Lake Champlain, is minimized when he states that 10 percent of the 2017 total of 8,657,890 gallons is actual raw sewage, amounting to 86,570 gallons. Clearly 10 percent of 8,657,890 is the far more significant total of 865,789 gallons of raw sewage (86,570 being only 1 percent).
As is pointed out almost daily in matters of national importance, facts do matter, so proper proofing is necessary at all levels of discussion. Unfortunately, I have noticed a decline in the general standard of proofreading accuracy in the Independent over the past several years. Every issue now seems to have dropped words and other oddities that I don’t recall as often over the previous 35 years I have been reading the paper.
I digress. Back to the main issue of sewage overflows into the Lake Champlain basin, which the state of Vermont seems unable to curtail.
I feel that Mr. Lynn lets Vergennes off the hook too easily. It is good that the city is finally starting to take some concrete steps to address the issue there, however, it is decades too late. I recall an article in the Independent in the past year or two that covered a Vergennes city council meeting in which an increase in the sewer fee was discussed. I believe it was stated that the sewer fee had not been increased in at least ten years and that it was now time to raise it modestly.
Given the knowledge that combined sewage overflows have been a problem for the city almost since the sewage treatment plant was built a long time ago, I wonder why the sewer rate wasn’t gradually raised over those more recent 10 years in order to create a fund to cushion the blow when the eventual fix is decided on. This would have also reminded the city residents that the problem could not be ignored.
Vermonters used to pride themselves on saving up to pay for things that they needed, but for decades now we have fallen into the trap of wanting someone else to pay for everything, thus putting more and more power into the hands of those “someone else’s.”
Craig Allen

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