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2018 RAP Rule Amendment for Subsurface Tile Drainage


VAAFM Files Adopted Subsurface Tile Drainage Water Quality Rule

Effective November 23, 2018, Required Agricultural Practices amended to include language addressing nutrient contributions from subsurface tile drainage.

November 14, 2018 / Montpelier, VT - On Thursday, November 8, 2018, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) filed the adopted rule amendment to the Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) with the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (LCAR) and the Secretary of State (SOS).  The amendment includes requirements for reducing nutrient contribution to waters of the State from subsurface tile drainage on agricultural fields. 


Subsurface tile drainage removes excess water from agricultural soils below the surface, usually through a system of plastic piping.  For more information on agricultural subsurface tile drainage, please see the Vermont Subsurface Agricultural Tile Drain Report prepared by VAAFM and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.

 Vermont Subsurface Agricultural Tile Drain Report

The formal rule amendment process began in January 2018 when the Agency pre-filed the proposed amendment with the Interagency Committee on Administrative Rules (ICAR). ICAR reviewed an amended pre-filing set on February 12, 2018. VAAFM made several recommended changes and formally filed the proposed rule on February 28, 2018. Prior to initiating the formal rule amendment process, the Agency was engaged in various discussions and nine meetings to gather feedback pertaining to the content of the amendment, involving 190 attendees that provided insight as the rule amendment process began.

Following the filing of the proposed rule, the Agency held a public comment period which ran from February 28, 2018 through April 20, 2018. During this time frame, the Agency held three public hearings in St. Albans, Montpelier, and Middlebury to gather additional feedback on the proposed rule, in which 33 interested individuals attended. Overall, the Agency received over 50 written and emailed comments on the proposed rule amendment. The final proposed rule was filed with LCAR on August 21, 2018. The Agency attended three LCAR review hearings on September 6, 2018, September 20, 2018, and October 18, 2018. On October 18, 2018, the LCAR voted 8-1 to approve the subsurface tile drainage rule amendment.

The rule amendment was adopted on November 8, 2018 and will take effect on November 23, 2018. The requirements of the rule amendment include the required installation of rodent guards on subsurface tile drainage outlets installed or modified after January 1, 2019, the prohibition of new installation of surface inlets located within or next to cropland following the effective date of the amendment, and other provisions focused on reducing nutrient losses from subsurface tile drainage.

Informational Webinar

This Webinar was hosted by the University of Vermont Extension Northwest Crops and Soils Program, as part of their Drainage and Doughnuts Webinar Series. 

Subsurface Tile Drainage Webinar


For more information about the RAPs and the Agency’s efforts to implement Act 64 of 2015, please e-mail: or contact the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets at (802) 272-0323

Enabling Legislation

6 V.S.A. § 4810a (b)
Required Agricultural Practices Revision

On or before January 15, 2018, the Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets shall amend by rule the required agricultural practices in order to include requirements for reducing nutrient contribution to waters of the State from subsurface tile drainage. Upon adoption of requirements for subsurface tile drainage, the Secretary may require an existing subsurface tile drain to comply with the requirements of the RAPs for subsurface tile drainage upon a determination that compliance is necessary to reduce adverse impacts to water quality from the subsurface tile drain. (Added 2015, No. 64, § 4; amended 2015, No. 105 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. May 12, 2016.)

Rulemaking Process Documents