- Associated Press - Thursday, August 14, 2014

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation has decided that boating, swimming and fishing will continue to be allowed on Berlin Pond, Montpelier’s water source.

The department on Thursday denied a citizens’ group petition to ban those activities but granted the city’s request to prohibit all internal combustion motors on the pond because of the risks to the drinking water. The city had asked that all motorized vehicles, petroleum products and ice shanties be prohibited from use on the pond.

The department said ice shanties and petroleum products were not included in its decision because the risks associated with their uses are covered under existing law.

The department, however, denied the citizens’ group request to ban boating, swimming and fishing because it said those activities would not threaten Montpelier’s drinking water.

The group Citizens to Protect Berlin Pond had filed the petition to change the surface water rules, two years after a Vermont Supreme Court ruling opened Berlin Pond to fishing, swimming and kayaking.

The group’s president, Melissa Perley, who lives near the pond, has said it’s the sole source of drinking water for Montpelier as well as being a 100-year-old ecological system. The City Council had endorsed the group’s petition.

She said Thursday that she was disappointed in the decision, which she called shortsighted considering the recent contamination of drinking water in Toledo, Ohio, possibly by toxic algae blooms that are also found on Lake Champlain.

The group is exploring ways to continue its fight to protect the pond and is holding a rally for clean water at the Statehouse on Saturday.

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