With the help of Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources, Cabot has been able to successfully re-use their water in a beneficial way. This practice serves as irrigation for the farmland and limits the amount of fertilizer farmers need to apply to their field.The most current documents and permits for Land Spreading can be found below.
Cabot’s land spreading program has been in place for thirty years, dating to 1990, and represents a more regulated version of a successful approach from the Upper Midwest that significantly pre-dates Vermont’s program.
Our land spreading program has always been regulated by the State of Vermont under an Indirect Discharge Permit (IDP) from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR). All team members for our landspreading system are licensed and trained by the state.
Since 2015, Cabot has supported a process of stakeholder engagement meetings. The first meeting took place in November 2015; the meetings have continued for five years and are currently ongoing. Representatives from six environmental interest organizations and local government were invited to participate. All had provided public comments during Cabot’s 2015 IDP renewal process. That process provided a forum for the stakeholders to articulate concerns regarding our land application programs and for the Creamery to share additional information about our operation. In sharing this information, together with the stakeholder group we have been able to identify and evaluate alternatives that address stakeholder concerns and appear feasible to implement for Cabot.
Landowners choose to enroll for the irrigation and soil-enriching nutrient value of the washwater on the fields. All fields in the program are certified by a licensed, independent engineer. Spray rates are based on characteristics of the specific fields. Cabot is required to enroll reserve acres equal to 120% of actual acres needed. Cabot maintains a fleet of six vehicles for spraying washwater. Our state certified drivers have 93 years of collective experience.
No, landowners are not paid.
Cabot is required on an ongoing basis to provide a full regimen of sampling and testing for washwater and groundwater, as well as a scan for toxic chemicals. Cabot is also required to use monitoring wells to protect and maintain the watershed. The testing results are audited for regulatory compliance.
The most recent toxic scan included testing for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as these have been detected in certain regions of the State in recent years. Chemicals containing PFAS are not utilized at the creamery and PFAS were not detected in the washwater.
Our discharge permit allows for spreading washwater in the fall, winter, and spring at one-half the rate we spread in the summer. These cautious volumes ensure no run off from frozen fields.
According to all environmental evaluation and study, including Vermont's Agency of Natural Resources, the upper Winooski River would not ever be able to assimilate treated wastewater from the town and the creamery. This was true in the 1980's and it is still true today. We have investigated a broad array of waste treatment technologies and continue to explore alternatives that are technologically sound and economically feasible. Land spreading remains the most viable option at this time, but we look forward to future options that could allow us to significantly curtail our land spreading.