March 24, 2013
FY2013 Appropriations Saga Over (more) – the legislation would cut fiscal 2013 funding and rescind previously appropriated funding for the clean water and drinking water state revolving funds – cutting $17 million from the clean water state revolving fund and $10 million from the drinking water fund. The water infrastructure revolving funds would each see $10 million in unobligated money that was appropriated in past fiscal years rescinded.
Iowa 1926(b) Controversy Continues – a state
bill to limit 1926(b) protection and rural water districts’ access to
service area could be considered in
the Iowa House on Monday.
“This bill is a solution in search of a problem – rural water has worked cooperatively with cities for years under the framework of existing law. Rural water has either provided an adequate level of water service, including fire flows if necessary, or transferred territory to cities. There are no “dead zones” where reasonable water service solutions have not been negotiated by cities and rural water.”
CIWA provides more details on the facts related to their
situation with the City of Ames (CIWA, page 3), and
documents that there is nothing unfair occurring and the current process is
resulting in the best resolution for drinking water for all the people in the
House Committee Passes REINS Act – the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act, which would require all Federal Agencies to submit any Federal rule that has an economic consequence $100 million or more to Congress for review before taking effect (more).
House Committee Unanimously Passes Cybersecurity Legislation (H.R. 1163) – on March 20th, the bill would modify statutory federal cybersecurity program requirements including making the Office of Management and Budget the primary oversight authority of agency information security policies and practices. OMB in 2010 shifted much of that responsibility to the Homeland Security Department (more).
World Water Day, March 23 – 1/3 of worlds lives without adequate water, 115 Africans die every hour from poor sanitation, see video feature from Al Jazeera.
EPA’s Fifth Annual Fix a Leak Week – one in every 10 homes has a leak that is wasting at least 90 gallons of water per day (more).
Stockton (CA) Water Supply Forced to Tell Public Their Water Exceeds EPA Standards, And The Water is Safe (more).
Senate EPW Committee Passes Water Resource Act, Including WIFIA Style Pilot – on March 20th, Senate EPW passed HR 601, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). The bill includes an “Innovative Financing Pilot Projects” title (page 262) that creates a five-year WIFIA-like pilot program to assess the effectiveness of a direct funding scheme between either the Secretary of the Army or EPA’s Administrator and large water and/wastewater entities for infrastructure improvements. AWWA, and AMWA are supporting the WIFIA approach (more).
EPA Delays Action on Major Drinking Water Rules – EPA is temporarily stepping back from revising the lead and copper rule, said Peter Grevatt, director of the Office of Groundwater and Drinking Water on March 18. The issue of partial line replacement is causing difficultly for the agency. However, the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act of 2011 must meet its statutory compliance date of Jan. 4, 2014 and EPA expects to have guidance on the definition of “lead-free” by the end of 2013, Grevatt said. That guidance should address when a fixture (like a meter) must be replaced during repair, testing, calibration, etc. However it seems clear from previous comments from EPA that testing of a meter will not require it be to scrapped under the new law if it is not compliant with the new standards. This assertion is based on this comment from EPA last year:
"you are suggesting that, that [testing] should not be considered a new installation and should not be subject to the lead-free requirements. Am I interpreting what you are asking correctly? It is the interpretation of reinstallation not installation, and it is not the initial sale, so you are not entering into commerce. So I’m just putting it out there, because it is separate than repairing or replacing a component. It is just pulling something up that is required by state law to test, and then are you able to put that same meter in, because you didn’t do anything to it. You just put it back into service." [August 16, 2012 Stakeholder Meeting Minutes (bottom page 24)]
EPA is also delaying action on perchlorate and hexavalent chromium rules until the agency can resolve questions regarding the health effects of the proposed contaminants. Before EPA can release its draft MCLG, the EPA Science Advisory Board must complete its report and submit it to the agency. The SAB is scheduled to review the latest draft of its perchlorate panel's report on March 29. Dr. Grevatt also said the agency was also grappling with resolving scientific issues related to its novel plan to regulate up to 16 carcinogenic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as a group. He also indicated that the agency is awaiting additional science before moving ahead with a determination on whether to regulate Cr6.
Congress Unlikely to Remove Tax-Exempt Status of Municipal Bonds – on Feb. 27, mayors and other municipal officials released a report saying municipal bonds are the country's most important source of financing for vital infrastructure projects such as transportation, water and sewer systems, schools, and hospitals. Also Congressman John Shimkus (IL), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Economy, indicated last week at the AMWA conference he did not think the tax exemption for municipal bonds would be cut.
March 18, 2013
Texas State Legislation Calls for $2 Billion Water Infrastructure Bank (more).
KsRWA Engineer, Pat McCool Responds on the Appropriateness of Regulating TOC – discussing the use of surrogates as enforceable drinking water standards in light of the recent Virginia case prohibiting the use of surrogates under the Clean Water Act – and the lack of correlation between TOC and DBPs (McCool).
March 16, 2013
Relief Is On the Way – NRWA has long advocated for modification of the current Total Coliform Rule (TCR) because the current MCL and Public Notice requirements for total coliforms result in a misleading narrative for the public and are not good indicators of contamination (more). In 2008, after eighteen months of deliberations, NRWA negotiators David Baird (DE) and Paul Whittemore (NH) signed an agreement with the U.S. EPA (and other stakeholders) to modify the current TCR with a Revised Total Coliform Rule (RTCR) – the subject of the documentary, FACA. On February 13, 2013, the new rule was finalized after securing White House approval. State primacy agencies must comply with the revised requirements by April 2016. However, we learned this week that some states are not waiting until 2016, and are using the primacy process to implement the new rule immediately to begin to realize the revised rule’s authorities to improve public health protection now. According to state agency sources, states may modify their current rules in a manner that is different from EPA if the state's rule is more protective of public health. EPA has made the following determination, "EPA anticipates greater public health protection under the Revised Total Coliform Rule (RTCR)." Therefore, a state may modify its current TCR rule to reflect the new provisions in the RTCR and submit those changes to EPA for primacy review immediately (EPA primacy regulations including “interim” primacy requirements). The relief included in the RTCR reflects the “Power of an Association;” by having thousands of small communities organize together with a common message and all advocating for new national polices, we can be heard and successful. Part of the Power of an Association campaign is to calculate and explain the benefits of NRWA’s policy advocacy agenda, including identifying the monetary savings to small communities. For example, the newly adopted Consumer Confidence Reports e-delivery policy will save community water systems approximately $126,000,000.00 (Sasur 2011). The NRWA Regulatory Committee is currently analyzing the cost savings for small communities of the new RTCR. EPA Webinar on RTCR – February 13, to discuss the requirements of the RTCR for operators, states and EPA personnel (more).
Senate Races to Pass Final FY2013 Funding Bill – before March 27 (more).
House Appropriations Committee Announces Deadlines – for Making Funding Requests (more).
GAO Reviews New Ideas on Water Financing (more) – testifies before House water funding Subcommittee on water bank, trust fund, and privatization. Corporate water testifies at hearing, commenting the Congress needs to make more taxpayer subsides available for corporate water (more).
New York Times Calls Private Water Industry’s Main Legislative Agenda “a Stealth Subsidy for Private Enterprise” (NYTimes).
PA Break-in Results in Don’t Drink Order (more).
DC Environmental Film Fest Features "Lost Rivers" – documentary about hidden river networks that exist beneath major cities. Showing us the subterranean river networks of London, Brescia, Montreal and Toronto (more).
Dead Pigs in Shanghai River Climbs to Over 8,000 (HuffPo).
EPA Inspector General Has Concern Over Region 9 States SRF Efficiency (more).
Cherrapunji, India Gets Nearly 40 Feet of Rain Every Year And Has Some of the Most Severe Water Shortages in the World – this week’s NYTimes features follows a young mother forced to walk long distances to fill jugs in springs or streams multiple times a day. Every year, about 600,000 Indian children die because of diarrhea or pneumonia, often caused by toxic water and poor hygiene. Half of the water supply in rural areas, where 70 percent of India’s population lives, is routinely contaminated with toxic bacteria. In New Delhi taps in the city operate on average just three hours a day because 30 percent to 70 percent of the water is lost to leaky pipes and theft.
March 13, 2013
Cybersecurity – top officials testified in Congress this week (NYTimes): “Cyberattack on the United States could cripple the country’s infrastructure and economy, and suggested that such attacks now pose the most dangerous immediate threat to the United States, even more pressing than an attack by global terrorist networks… the world is applying digital technologies faster than our ability to understand the security implications and mitigate potential risks.”
Fairfield's New Computerized Sewer System Shuts Down, Discharges into Creek (more).
Water Loan Payments Theft – a USDA employee guilty of stealing $800k from West Dallas Water Authority $6.2 million dollars from approximately 18 government agencies sentenced (more).
March 9, 2013
House Passes Full Year Continuing Resolution - the Senate is expected to release their version of the final appropriations bill this week (more). The current continuing resolution expires on March 27, 2013. The House passed bill (HR 933) extends FY2013 funding levels for all federal agencies (other then Defense/Veterans), however it retains the sequestration cuts.
House Continuing Resolution (CR) Cuts SRFs – the House passed CR measure would decrease an additional $10 million in unobligated funds from the DWSRF and the CWSRF. The bill also proposes decreases to the state grants (the PWSS grant, etc).
Three New Cosponsors on EPA Technical Assistance Bill (H.R. 654) - Representatives Christopher (NY), Smith (NE), and Loebsack (IA). If enacted, H.R. 654 would allow the EPA to continue to fund technical assistance under Continuing Resolutions appropriations bills (like fiscal year 2011).
Focus on State Legislative Advocacy – the “Power of an Association.” David versus Goliath, or Kirby vs. City Hall; Miss. Rural Water vs. MS Public Utility Commission – state PUC attempts to expand coverage over locally governed water districts and MsRWA clarifies rights in state law (more). WiscRWA is closely following a “Landlord Bill,” and meeting with state legislators to discuss legislation that may “reduce the amounts that unpaid balances can accrue to, through enhanced notification of the property owner when a tenant is in arrears, and allowing the utilities to allow different classes of customers whether they own the property or rent, and allowing for deposits, etc” (more). KyRWA is urging all members to call legislators to oppose House Bill 1, "the Special District" bill that could require fiscal court and/or city council approval for all rates and fees (more).
Iowa State Legislator Writes Bill to Weaken 1926(b) Protection (more).
Central Iowa Water Association’s (CIWA) 1926(b) Response – to Congressman King (IA), who claimed 1926(b) is used to unfairly demand unreasonable financial settlements. CIWA provides a timely, substantive, thorough, and fact-rich response to misleading information the Congressman had received on the situation (CIWA). CIWA has been one of the leading water association for decades in the rural water grand enterprise in Iowa and nationally. Their response shows the importance of proactive planning and effective management/governance to avoid territorial disputes and for appropriate territorial protection. This Iowa example reflects a common occurrence under the 1926(b) rubric; the provision is challenged for an situation/claim that is not happening – or providing an authority it does not provide. CIWA’s attorney provides an exegesis (p. 10) on how disputes may happen, including:
“I know that sometimes there is a misunderstanding regarding the legal status and relationship of municipal and regional rural public water supply systems which causes municipal water systems [a] to adopt the cavalier attitude that they are superior and [b] to adopt the imperialistic (and most certainly wrongheaded) notion that they have ‘right’ to usurp the territory and interests of regional rural water systems… Both types of public water supply systems desire reliable income streams and need economies of scale to keep user rates low. Neither is unilaterally entitled to seize the territory of the other. Both best serve their customers when they do what needs to be done to achieve their overarching purpose – to meet the public water supply needs of the public they serve as cost effectively as possible. That sometimes means collaboration, cooperation and compromise with competing public water supply systems. CIWA prefers this approach and submits it is certainly far better than wasting limited resources on lawyers and litigation. I know that my client truly wants to work with the City and would just as soon avoid senseless turf wars, litigation and acrimony… Sometimes changes in political leadership bring in players who allow their egos and misconceptions to guide public policy. That’s not good for anyone…”
New York Times Calls Private Water Industry’s Main Legislative Agenda “a Stealth Subsidy for Private Enterprise” – corporate water has long advocated for eliminating the cap on private activity bonds for water projects (more). Tuesday’s Times features the issue and identifies the amount of taxpayer subsidies going to private companies (NYTimes).
Cybersecurity Update – prospect for new federal legislation (more). In a Senate hearing Thursday, Secretary Napolitano told Congress that sequestration cuts are increasing the risks from cyber-attacks (more). NRWA has urged DHS to partner in cybersecurity protection (more), and NRWA is currently crafting comments for the Administration’s cybersecurity initiative (text) and pending Congressional legislation. Please tell us if you have any thoughts or comments on these issues (send comments).
900 Dead Pigs in the Drinking Water Source for the World’s Largest City (more).
New EPA Chief and Impact on Climate Change Policy (NYTimes).
Novel Sourcewater Protection Agreement – in rural Washington state (EPA). Diaries agree to enforceable plan to provide drinking water, reduce nitrates, and monitor to protect groundwater.
Television Coverage of Utah’s Drinking Water Taste Competition (watch).
February 29, 2013
Sequestration – in effect, cuts USDA water programs by 5% (p. 8), and EPA water & management programs by 5% (p. 51). Because the cuts must be achieved over only seven months instead of 12, the effective percentage reduction will be approximately 9 percent for these programs. Congress must still pass (a) final spending bills for FY2013, which could impact the current sequester (more).
FY2014 Appropriations – it appears the House Subcommittees are identifying request deadlines. The House EPA subcommittee’s deadline is likely in mid-April (last week it was reported to have been March 29). Both the House and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairs have made it a priority to avoid continuing resolutions for FY2014 spending bills (more).
KRWA Engineer, Pat McCool Made the Case Why TOC is Unnecessary (more, p.3) – however now, after a recent federal court case that said EPA can’t regulate flow as a surrogate for sediment, we ask Mr. McCook if EPA can regulate TOC because it is a used as a surrogate for DBPs. We will post Mr. McCool’s response and appreciate his assistance and expertise.
REINS Act in Senate – Senator Paul introduces legislation to require Congressional approval of federal regulations that cost of $100 million. The legislation passed the House last year (more).
Drought to Increase Food Prices (more).
Rural Water Entrepreneurs in KY, MA & FL – the new TCR rule rewrite will replace the current TC MCL/public notice requirement with self-assessments for TC detections (more). NRWA supported this flexibility in the new rule for design and content of the self-assessment (more). Some innovative state associations are already planning and designing self-assessments to make them the most beneficial for small and rural communities (see innovations happening in KY, MA, & FL).
New Research Says EPA Does Not Need New Cr6 MCL – research funded by the American Chemistry Council says EPA's current drinking water limit for hexavalent chromium (Cr6) is adequately protective. The research is intended to provide the agency additional information about how the metal causes cancer when ingested, information which can change EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) assessments because of agency policy on how the cancer portions of the assessments are conducted (research).
Village of Lena, WI and Radium – a small community stressed over how to remove a naturally occurring element from their drinking water. Exceedance is very close to MCL (more). EPA can’t say at what level over the MCL radium becomes dangerous (more, p. G-14). Community not provided access to exemptions, variances, etc. that have been provided to other communities in similar situations (New York City, Andrews TX, Columbus OH, all NTNCs in Michigan, etc).
Implementing the Cybersecurity Executive Order – on Tuesday, the National Institute of Standards and Technology requested comments on cybersecurity policies in preparation for the Cybersecurity Framework required under the new Executive Order on cybersecurity, which will include a set of standards, methodologies, procedures, and processes that align policy, business, and technological approaches to address cyber risks (more).
Tampa, City-wide Boil Order – a rodent, most likely a squirrel, chewing on an electric line at Tampa's water treatment plant Friday morning caused a power failure that led to an unprecedented 48-hour citywide boil-water notice for 560,000 people (more).
February 24, 2013
Country Braces for Sequestration – in four days, White House reports on state-by-state impacts (more).
All National Water/Wastewater Supply Associations Collaborate – to learn lessons form Storm Sandy relief effort. If your system was impacted by the storm, you are welcome to complete the survey (more).
Senator Tester Addresses Montana Rural Water Conference (more).
New Arsenic Study Suggests Threshold Level (study).
Radiation in the Water Shuts Down NJ Well – Willingboro NJ, shuts down well for 15.52 pC/L of gross alph (MCL is 15 pC/L). New well could cost over 2 million dollars. EPA says exposure to radionuclides in drinking water may cause cancer and and toxic effects to the kidney (more). Fear of the Water in NJ: Hammonton's (NJ) radium issue, "residents... dread turning on their faucets... mother of three said she uses city water for cooking, but often drinks bottled water..." Residents say, "Public notices... scared them." "I’m not drinking the water," says resident. Radium in the water occurs naturally in rocks and dissolves easily some waters (more).
AWWA’S New Source Water Initiative (more).
February 21, 2013
Iowa State Legislator Seeks to Limit 1926(b) Protection (more).
Chinese Military Hacking Force Now After U.S. Water Supplies (NYTimes).
Water Dangerous for Babies – in Logan and Kingfisher counties, OK. Health officials issue a warning after nitrate detected (more).
Appalachia Resistance Movement Shuts Down Fracking Water Storage Facility in Ohio (photos), including pregnant protesters.
Report: Contaminated Water from Medicines Threatens Fish – small amounts of medicine in streams and rivers can alter the biology and behavior of fish and other marine animals (HuffPost).
Copper Thieves Strike San Antonio Water Utility – which led to the loss of water for thousands of residents (more).
Syria: 2,500 Cases of Typhoid – due to lack of access to clean water and after power cuts hit water supplies and forced the population to turn to the Euphrates River (more).
Body Found in Los Angeles Hotel Water Tank (NBCnews).
EPA Releases Reports from Fracking Technical Roundtables (more). EPA accepting nominations for the final four technical workshops: (1) Well Construction/Operation and Subsurface Modeling – April 16-17 in RTP, NC, (2) Wastewater Treatment and Related Modeling – April 18 in RTP, NC, (3) Water Acquisition Modeling: Assessing Impacts Through Modeling and Other Means – June 4 in Arlington, VA, and (4) Hydraulic Fracturing Case Studies – June 5 in Arlington, VA.
Climate Ready Water Utilities Workshop Planner – to help utilities plan for extreme events. The workshop planner provides all of the materials needed to plan, conduct, and facilitate an adaptation planning workshop on extreme event scenarios (EPA Planner).
February 17, 2013
Congressmen Harper (MS) and Matheson (UT) Introduce Rural Water Technical Assistance Bill – H.R. 654 introduced in the House on Wednesday. The bill would amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to reauthorize on-site technical assistance – and require prioritization of technical assistance initiatives that small communities find most beneficial (more). If enacted it would allow the EPA to fund technical under continuing resolution appropriations bills (FY2011 and likely this year). Joining Congressmen Harper and Matheson, as original cosponsors, were: Representatives Fortenberry (NE), Gibson (NY), Jones NC), McKinley (WV), Nunnelee (MS), Thompson (MS) and Westmoreland (GA).
Rural Water Grassroots Rally – attended by hundreds of state rural water association members, leaders, and advocates this week on Capitol Hill. Local rural water representatives told Congress what is working back home to enhance water quality, help with compliance, protect source water, ensure security, and train water officials. Make sure your Congressmen and Senators support rural water (more).
Celebrities, Green Activists, Civil Rights Leaders, and Others Arrested – this week at the White House in a demonstration to protect water and the climate from the Keystone pipeline (video).
White Releases Cybersecurity Executive Order – that will increase cyber threat information sharing and pushing critical
infrastructure operators, such as water and wastewater utilities, to adopt
government-crafted cybersecurity best practices. The President signed the executive order
before his State of the Union address on February 12 (more).
WIFIA Bill Introduced in Senate – this week by Senator Merkley (OR), the “Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2013.” The bill would allow EPA would operate the new water funding program with a minimum loan amount of $20 million focused on large-scale projects. See comments to NRWA Regulatory Committee on this legislation (more).
Good News: Senator Boozman (AR) To Lead Republicans Water Subcommittee – Senator Boozman has been appointed to ranking Republican on the Senate Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, of the Environment and Public Works Committee. The Subcommittee has jurisdiction over both the SDWA and the CWA.
House Fracking Hearing – state agency heads tell Congress that they can handle (and are handling) regulation of hydraulic fracturing (more).
Rural Water Entrepreneurs – Jimmy (GA) and Gary (FL) are planning a “thank you” campaign of letters from their members to the EPA official who signed the new EPA policy allowing for internet distribution of CCRs (more). Rick (NJ) was just praised by EPA for the association’s accomplishments (EPA).
Drinking Water Operators Arrested for Falsifying Monitoring Reports – in NJ, water officials accused of falsifying samples to hide elevated levels of contaminants (more).
Kwethluk (AK) Water Supply Contaminated – by petroleum leaks from a nearby sunken barge (more).
Youngstown Drilling Waste Dumped in Stormwater – 40,000 gallons of drilling waste intentionally dumped into the storm-sewer system included drilling mud, brine, and between 1,000 to 1,500 gallons of oil (more).
Arsenic Rule Can Only be Enforced for Water Over 10.5 ppb – according to EPA memorandum uncovered by MD Rural Water’s George Hanson who is relying on the memo to allow the local families in his community to adopt their preferred public health policy (more). Further, state agency claims water with arsenic concentration over 10.0 ppb is a “risk to public health and safety.” However, EPA has indicated they do not know at what level arsenic in drinking water becomes a public health risk (more, p.13).
DC Rally Against Climate Change Draws 30K (NPR).
Perchlorate Update – EPA misses the SDWA Feb. 11 deadline for proposing a perchlorate rule. EPA is waiting the completion of a peer review of science supporting the rule and is expected to propose a rule by the end of the year. NRWA legal intern publishes review of EPA’s actions in selecting perchlorate for regulation (paper). Legal analysis finds no clear principle used to determine that a drinking water rule is needed for perchlorate.
February 10, 2013
NRWA Priorities for 2013 – the NRWA Regulatory Committee met yesterday for the first time in 2013. The committee adopted the following initiatives to advance the rural water grand enterprise:
Continue the “The Power of an Association” Campaign to explain the benefits of NRWA’s policy advocacy agenda, including identifying the monetary savings to small communities. For example, the newly adopted Consumer Confidence Reports e-delivery policy will save community water systems approximately $126,000,000.00 (Sasur 2011).
Identify Top Regulatory Priorities: (drinking water priority) Revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule/ Lead Reduction in Drinking Water Act, and (clean water priority) Reform of EPA’s Nutrient Programs: Numeric Nutrient Criteria and Total Maximum Daily Loads.
Identify Tier One Priorities: Cybersecurity Legislation, Stage II Rule & Total Organic Carbon standard, Perchlorate Rule, and Water Infrastructure Legislation.
Identify Tier Two Priorities: includes all policy issues currently active (plus recently identified UCMR3 issues).
EPA’s New Direction on State Nutrient Programs: Deference (WI RWA).
“NH State Gov’t. Reneges on Promise to Pay for Water Treatment Projects” (more). “In 2008, due to a budget crunch, the state stopped paying its share of projects by cities, towns and water districts.”
Wichita Falls, TX to Reuse Wastewater for Drinking Water (NYTimes).
Congressman Visits Wisconsin Rural Water’s New Technology Center (pic).
Congressional Security Leader Warns of Cyber-attack on U.S. Infrastructure – introduces legislation, tells utility commissioners to oppose mandates for cybersecurity. New White House executive order to protect water supplies expected soon (Politico).
EPA & ASDWA Report on Coordinating Primacy & Emergency Agencies (report).
Energy Company Dumps Wastewater in Storm Drain – in Youngstown, OH. Employees of an energy company were instructed to dump 40,000 – 50,000 gallons of wastewater down a storm drain which empties into the Mahoning River (more).
Wastewater Chemical Spill – in Knoxville. Two cylinders of sulfur dioxide leaked through a faulty valve at the Oliver Springs wastewater treatment plant (more).
Farmer Fined $20K for Soil Runoff Into Steam in WA (more). Article does not indicate under what law this was prosecuted, but looks like Clean Water Act?
Cali’s 1PBB Perchlorate Standard – CA's justification, "inconsistent with 60 years of scientific investigation... [the state] cannot rely on the analysis contained in the draft document to produce a scientifically reliable [standard] and we find no legitimate scientific basis for [the state] to justify its proposed change in the [standard] from 6 ppb to 1 ppb” (more).
February 5, 2013
Environmental Activism to Protect Water – Oklahoma protesters shut down work on Keystone pipeline, claiming, “we all live down stream.” One protester chained her neck to an excavator (more). Hundreds rally in Albany, NY against opening up the state to hydraulic fracturing (more), saying, “we know that once the gas industry ruins our water, food and environment, we will be left with an enormous mess after the fracking industry is gone.”
Source Water Protection – in Ohio a tanker lost diesel fuel threatening a northeast Ohio reservoir with 7,700 gallons of spilled diesel fuel into a nearby stream (more). Long Beach, CA, a leak in a 4,000 gallon diffuser tank filled with ammonia led to emergency officials working to protect a storm drain from the spill (more).
EPA’s DBP Rule is Unnecessary – KY scientist reviews EPA’s rule and rejects it (more).
EPA Stormwater Pollution Prevention Webinar – on Feb. 12, for municipalities, etc. to provide an overview of the program (register).
February 2, 2013
Nutrient Plans and EPA Oversight – in a memorandum
(1/18/13), EPA says the Clean Water Act gives it discretionary authority to
decide when to mandate standards for state nutrient reduction programs.
This was in response to a petition from environmental groups for EPA to
regulate state programs covering runoff draining into the Mississippi River and
the Gulf of Mexico. While choosing not
to intervene in this case, EPA did make a determination to intervene in
Florida (more) and
appears to intervene in Wisconsin (more), not
sure about Iowa (more). Our legal research staff is analyzing EPA’s
policies to determine what is the principle (or standard) EPA replies on to
make a determination to intervene in states including the vague principle of
“inadequate to serve the purposes of the Act.”
Lead and Copper Rule Rewrite Update – revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule are expected later this fall. EPA is considering revisions covering sampling, monitoring, flushing, public education, replacement of lead service lines, OCCT programs, the definition of control of the distribution system by the utility, etc. EPA is also likely to propose its interpretation of the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act of 2011 (PL 111-380), such as when replacement of certain lead containing fixtures, meters, etc. is required (more).
“We Are Definitely Looking Forward to Rural Water” – says rural families and communities in rural North Dakota (more). This particular rural system is embroiled in a 1926(b) dispute with a neighboring city (more). What the syllogism of this particular situation exemplifies about 1926(b) purposes is: the expansion of this system will allow for more rural families without water access to water, the rural water system was initially created for this purpose, without the rural water system this objective was not being advanced, even with the expansion – some still can’t afford rural water service, additional growth of the rural water system allows for the system to extend service to more people AND to reduce the cost of providing service by realizing greater economies of scale (cite: Hon. Edith Jones, 1987).
AWWA Fracking Study – “AWWA’s findings suggest that risks associated with fracking can be managed through prudent regulation and responsible industry practices” (Report).
USDA Water Quality Program Now Focused on Drinking Water Source Protection – the Natural Resources Conservation Service released their National Bulletin on its FY2013 National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) report that now includes specific consideration of conservation projects that protect sources of drinking water. Submissions for watershed programs for FY2013 funding are due by March 15, 2013 (more). EPA is working on a parallel track to develop an approach to NWQI monitoring as part of the Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 319 grant guidelines that are now being finalized.
Davos 2013: Water Scarcity is “Second Most Important World Risk” – UN general secretary Ban Ki-moon tells Davos that we must appreciate water more as World Economic Forum recognizes the scale of the problem – but what is being done (more)?
Change: Congressional Appropriations Committee Assignment Not So Popular Now (more).
“Congress hasn’t passed real appropriations bills for three years.”
FL and MO
Rural Water Lead on Getting Drugs Out of the Water – EPA has
signed an agreement with three other federal agencies
to improve collaboration and coordination on the impacts of pharmaceuticals in
drinking water (agreement). The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is taking
comments on a proposed
rule to govern the secure disposal of controlled substances by both DEA
registrants and ultimate users by expanding the options available to collect
controlled substances from ultimate users for purposes of disposal. Florida Rural Water is drafting comments to
DEA (draft comments),
and is in the process of modifying their CCR template to encourage the water
system customers to not flush. Missouri Rural Water is collaborating with
long-term care organizations to deal with the problem of disposal of unused
medications and chain of custody issues. The federal government currently
does not regulate such compounds. However, at a recent meeting, an EPA official
said EPA might one day regulate such compounds.
Sierra Leone Cholera Water Photojournalism (video report) including circuit rider initiative to prevent cholera and advance safe water and hygiene. Journalist’s next project is rural water in east Africa.
New Fracking Study - by a group of universities that will study the health effects of oil and gas development in the Marcellus Shale. The University of Pennsylvania is spearheading a research initiative in collaboration with Columbia, Harvard, and seven other centers affiliated with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The scientists would first have to find out if there are pollutants that communities are exposed to, and then explore the effects of those chemicals in the human body. The scientists are currently putting together a survey in Pennsylvania on people's health effects and the perceived relationship to gas drilling (more).
January 28, 2103
Mercury in the Water – Williamsport (PA) cautioned residents using tap water after elevated levels of mercury were discovered January 24 (more).
Molybenum in the Water – in southeastern Wisconsin in an estimated 11,000 private wells (more).
January 26, 2013
Service Area Dispute in ND – 1926(b) feud leads state legislators to introduce legislation to give state agency control over service area. Mayor testifies in opposition of state funds for neighboring rural water district. ND Rural Water responds with the facts (more).
CCR Psychoanalysis, Resistance to Change – some states resisting the new EPA flexibility on CCR delivery and want to retain postal mailing requirement (EPA policy). Rural Water's two top psychoanalysts (Gary FL and Elmer KS) suggest proposing the idea directly to your primacy what you think would be best and workable for water systems. Suggest how your state association will help with training to compliance with primacy's need, and possible CCR posting on associations' web site (with direct URL for systems), making it easy for primacy agencies. KS RWA has 200 systems signed up so far and they are not soliciting, just offering to format their CCRs on Internet.
Washington Resigned for Sequestration on March 1 – could be temporary (WashPost). Likely to be reconciled with termination of current Continuing Resolution on March 27th. Worst-case scenario could be %5 cut in federal non-defense programs.
E. Coli in Drinking Water in Mississippi – The city of Kingston found E. coli in a drinking well last week. Resident says, "we've always had problems." Another says, “that’s why we've all been sick since way before Christmas." Another resident says, “I'll probably never drink the water again." Mayor says the city can't afford to connect with county system (more).
Senate Bill That Could Prohibit Chlorine Gas Introduced – by NJ Senator Lautenberg (more). NRWA and the other national water association have long opposed this idea and have (so far) been successful in keeping disinfection decision a local authority (more).
Going Thoreau – environmentalists promote rebellion over federal environmental policy. Sierra Club board endorses civil disobedience (MoJo).
Mexico City To Tap Aquifer One-Mike Deep for Drinking Water – same depth the U.S. permits for injection (Nation of Change).
Public Private “Un”partnership – “Au Revoir Eau de Veolia.” The giant private water supply, Veolia, is set to lose historic water services contracts in the French municipalities after two voted to set up their own public service companies. The decision to “re-municipalise” is part of a growing trend in France. In 2011, Brest became the first city to set up a PSC – also at Veolia’s expense (more). “Vive la difference.”
New Federal Water Infrastructure Agency – state FEMA agency provides $1.8 million grant to water utility to new pipe (more from IL).
World Economic Forum in Davos – this week. For the few of you that did not make the event, please see moving water presentation from Pilipino-American teacher explaining the need for local social structure to ensure access to clean water (presentation).
Drought in Oz – KS Gov. tells all water systems to reduce usage (more).
Source Water Protection – a CO crash involving a tanker spills 6,000 gallons of oil into the river (more).
Sludge Is Good for Farming – New research by USDA provides new information about how long plant nutrients remain after biosolids have been applied to the soil (more).
Tax-Exempt Municipal Financing Could End? – NRWA Legislative Committee Chairman (David Baird DE) notes the potential impacts on cites and rural water members if this idea comes to fruition (Forbes).
January 20, 2013
What Will The Pres. Say About the Environment – in tomorrow’s inauguration speech (climate change)?
E. Coli in the Water in Miss. – state issues five-day boil order, suggests bathing and washing hands is safe (more). E. coli outbreak in Canada sickens 30, traced to lettuce.
EPA Considers Clean Water Affordability – last week the agency released its plan to clarify how a community’s ability to pay for water projects will be considered in CWA compliance (EPA announcement).
Water & Cholera in Sierra Leone – in Freetown, people share the contaminated open water with animals, sewage, and cholera. Circuit rider-like health workers go door to door to educate people on cholera prevention, skin disease, gardening, sanitation, water disinfection – talk soccer to establish peer-to-peer relationships. Elderly woman describes her cholera ordeal. Wash-net creates grassroots movement to bring drinking water to community. “Water is everybody’s concern,” (video report, France24).
Sec. 1926(b) Dispute in ND – complicates state funding to rural water district as city takes disputes to state legislators considering funding bill (more).
January 17, 2013
Cyber Attack in Rural New York – a small water supply was cyber-hacked this month by hacker in Russia. Changes where made to the system. The FBI advised the operator to go “off line,” and operate the system manually.
Computer Virus Shutters Power Plant – by attacking a turbine control system last fall after a technician unknowingly inserted an infected USB computer drive into the network, according to a recent DHS report. DHS responded to 198 cyber incidents reported by energy companies, public water districts and other infrastructure facilities in the fiscal year ending Oct., 2012. The water sector had the second highest number of incidents, representing 15 percent (Reuters).
Drugs in the Water – a new study indicates the vast majority of prescription and over-the-counter drugs in Wisconsin are not being disposed of properly. In 2010, 4.4 million pounds of drugs went unused and only 2 percent of those were collected for safe disposal. The remaining 98 percent were discarded in the trash, flushed down the drain, abused, or are still in our medicine cabinets (WI DNR).
G_d Takes a Position in Environmental Policy – Religious leaders gathered at the White House in support of government action on climate change following a “pray-in.” “People say, well, it’s just a bunch of Birkenstock-wearing, environmentalist, tree-hugging rich white folk, but that’s really not the case,” says an attending Reverend (NYTimes).
January 15, 2013
“NRWA Praises EPA” – for new CCR mailing policy (more). What is the next rule needing modification: TCR, LCR, DBPs, UCMR, Variances, TMDLs, NPDES, etc?
Cholera in Cuba – 51 confirmed cases in the new outbreak appears to be caused by a unsanitary food (CNN).
House Passes Sandy Relief Funding Bill – includes $600 million for SRFs ($100 million for DWSRF & $500 million for CWSRF) for states in EPA Region 2 for utilities impacted by Sandy. Up to 30% for grants (more).
Secretary of Ag on Rural America – rural America does not have the political clout it once had, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at Farm Bureau Convention. “We have to acknowledge that the political clout that rural America once had, it doesn’t have as much today,” he said. As for boosting the “political clout” of rural America, he said AFBF and other key agricultural groups should look for ways to convey agriculture’s message in a “non-conventional way” (more).
Climate Change Causing Utilities to Change Their Planning (NPR).
Shanghai Chemical Spill Contaminates Drinking Water – in at least 8 villages and over 400 factories. Source: an illegal chemical waste dump. Fire fighting engines to supply water to local residents. Water service stopped (news).
January 12, 2013
PA Rural Water’s Compelling 2013 Federal Funding Agenda (requests, Congressional reports, Rally activity).
EPA and Arsenic Science – EPA is "restarting" its controversial Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) assessment of arsenic that has been underway in various forms for nearly a decade, with the new effort expanding to consider inhalation risks for the first time, EPA said this week at workshop in Research Triangle Park, NC. EPA will not build on the 2010 assessment. Congress has ordered EPA assessment to be subject to National Research Council (NRC) review. NRC will host its own public meetings on January 24 and April 4. It is unclear if EPA will include recently published science that challenges EPA current risk assessment (Lamm et al.). Lamm’s study concludes, “Cancer rates are higher among the low-dose Taiwan villages in the Blackfoot-disease (BFD) area than in the southwest Taiwan region. However, among the low-dose villages in the BFD area, cancer risks suggest a negative association with well water arsenic levels. Positive differences from regional data seem attributable to non-arsenic ecological factors.” EPA references the Taiwan data 111 times in EPA’s arsenic rule.
South Dakota Senate Address State Rural Water Conference – U.S. Senator Tim Johnson, speaking at the South Dakota Rural Water Annual Technical Conference in Pierre Thursday, said “ongoing federal debt issues in Washington, D.C., are having a real impact on rural water projects… Johnson said the size of rural water project budgets in fiscal 2013 will depend largely on how talks about spending cuts and the debt ceiling in Washington go, but “it’s hard to believe anything will go up” (more).
Ongoing Territorial Conflict in Growth Region of North Dakota Remains – caused by energy boom in ND (local coverage). Lead attorney from seminal Bear Creek, MS case, says about 1926(b) conflicts, “a water association's exclusive franchise rights are in fact valuable property rights and should not be given up without valuable consideration being received. That being said, my experience is that there is no problem that cannot be worked out between a municipality and a water association if neither side becomes greedy and respects the other party's property rights,” says attorney Jim Herring (Canton, MS).
Flammable Tap Water – Ohio, turn on the faucet in your kitchen or bathroom, and the water ignites, creating a fireball right in your house. Gas drilling implicated. (Today Show video).
News, Outstanding NH Operator:
Scientific America Covers New Total Coliform Rule (Sci. America).
January 10, 2013
Pete Seeger Plays Woody to Protest Fracking in New York (Democracy Now).
New EPA Administrator Could be WA Gov. Gregoire (WashPo).
January 9, 2013
USDA Water Funding: $1.4 Billion in 2012 (USDA Report).
Hot Planet – 2012 was the warmest year ever recorded in U.S. says federal government (NOAA). Australia burning up (Reuters). U.S. drought threatens Mississippi river (USA Today). “Climate change is a simple scientific fact” (EPA). Seventy environmental organizations urged President Obama in a Jan. 7 to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, reject a permit for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, and put climate change in the “top tier” of his domestic and global agenda (letter). Climate change is already affecting how Americans live and work, and evidence is mounting that the burning of fossil fuels has roughly doubled the probability of extreme heat waves, the Obama administration said Friday (USA Today). EPA's announces new Climate Ready Water Utilities webinars beginning January 23rd. Learn about climate change adaptation planning, change impacts (EPA).
Cyber Hacking Increasing – the number of reported cyberattacks on computers used to run power plants, natural gas pipelines and the electric grid more than doubled last year (DHS), citing 198 cybersecurity incidents across the energy, chemical, nuclear, and water sectors.
January 5, 2013
New Year’s Resolution – Stop Mailing Those CCRs and Appreciate the Power of an Association – EPA revises interpretation of CCR delivery to allow for electronic delivery (EPA Memo, NRWA Statement). A rural water study shows the change in policy could save communities over a hundred million dollars annually. EPA’s decision obviates the need for the Congressional effort to change the law to allow for similar electronic delivery of the CCRs led by Congressman Young (FL) and Senator Toomey (PA). NRWA Regulatory Committee Chairman John Sasur (MA) said, “Water supplies are grateful for Congressman Young and Senator Toomey’s leadership and support.” NRWA has advocating for this change in federal policy for 15 years.
Au Revoir CCR – What Regulation Should Be Next for Reform – TOC, DBP, TCR, TMDL, LCR, ETC? Send us your thoughts.
Entrepreneurial KS RWA Offers Net-Publishing to KS Small Communities (KS RWA). Saves about $1 million annually.
Fiscal Cliff Deal Progeny; Three More Cliffs for 2013 – 1st, March 1, 2013 – the approximately 8.2% reduction in domestic discretionary spending (the sequester) is only postponed until March, 2013. 2nd progeny, the end of February – Congress and the White House will have to decide to allow another increase in the debt ceiling and potentially off-setting cuts. And 3rd, March 27 - the current appropriations Continuing Resolution (CR) expires on March 27. Congress and the White House will have to pass another CR, pass FY2013 appropriations bills, or risk a government shutdown.
Potential Sequestration on March 1, 2103 – would impact USDA and EPA budgets. Agencies are likely to apply the 8.2% reductions equally across all program accounts and include federal personnel furloughs. At current funding levels, it would mean a reduction of $75 million for the DWSRF, a reduction of $8.6 million to EPA primacy agency funding, a reduction of $120 million to CWASRF funding, a reduction of $135 million to section 319 funding, a $220 million decrease in the Agency’s Environmental Programs account (source: ASDWA)
EPA Can't Regulate Surrogates – a VA. federal judge accepted arguments from the Virginia AG, ruling that U.S. EPA overstepped its authority in trying to regulate stormwater runoff in an effort to reduce sediment pollution. "Stormwater runoff is not a pollutant, so EPA is not authorized to regulate it," the district judge wrote in his opinion. EPA decided to set the TMDL for stormwater, a surrogate for sediment because EPA claimed that the pollutant load was a function of the amount and timing of stormwater into the creek. EPA called this a "surrogate" approach.
EPA's Semiannual Regulatory Agenda Released - the “Fall 2012” agenda was just released (EPA agenda www.regulations.gov using EPA-HQOA-2012-0987). The agenda includes: Lead & Copper Rule (LCR) revisions to be completed in the 2013/2014 time frame, regulation of up to 16 carcinogenic volatile organic compounds including PCE and TCE, the scope of "waters of the US" protected under all CWA programs rule, revisions to the total coliform rule, regulation of perchlorate, revisions to the unregulated contaminant monitoring regulation, taking action on climate change, etc.
98 New Members of Congress (WashPost)
Congress Passes Superstorm Sandy Relief Bill – to increase the borrowing power of the national flood insurance program. Last week's vote on funding for flood insurance is the first step in a two-step process for Sandy aid now planned by the House. The next step would be a Jan. 15 vote on a bill that could bring an additional $51 billion in aid and potentially millions in new SRF funding.
Earmarks Are Needed to Make Congress Work (NPR).
Pa. Chlorine Leak – Glassport, PA sewage plant evacuated after chlorine leak (news).
Mo. Chlorine Leak – at a Chesterfield water plant closes roads and results in evacuation (news).
Sewer Worker Electrocuted – at the Kuwahee (TN) Wastewater Treatment Plant (news).
U.S. Cyber Security Program for the Electric Grid Exposed (CSMonitor).
December 30, 2012
CSPAN New Year’s Drama – House and Senate called into Sunday-Monday session as fiscal cliff approaches. House Speaker up for vote for new Congress on Thursday.
December 28, 2012
NRWA’s 2012 Grassroots Policy Advocacy – comments from NRWA Regulatory Committee Chair and enumeration of current regulatory/policy activities (NRWA Washington Report).
Water UN-development – in PA, drought causing water supplies to turn away growth and economic development. New commercial development in service area forced to drill private wells for restaurants, etc. (more).
Fracking Webinar Jan. 4th – now that EPA has released their report on the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing, EPA will host a webinar on next steps (register). If you are planning on attending the webinar, we would be interested in your comments.
EPA’s Chief to Retire – (WSJ), Administrator Jackson’s water legacy includes advancement to regulate perchlorate and hexavalent chromium. President says that Ms. Jackson has protected the “water we drink." Her administration hinted at revising the SDWA variance program, but has not produced a new policy. Some dear friends of rural water and strong environmentalists are being discussed for replacement including Senator Lincoln (AR), Congressman Etheridge (NC), Congressman Pomeroy (ND), EPA Asst. Admin. Bob Perciasepe, etc. All of the aforementioned have been recent keynote speakers at the Rural Water Washington Rally.
The Zeitgeist, HI’s New Senator Makes Climate Change the Priority National Concern (more).
Arts & Culture – NYTimes’ Revkin on the Fracking Movie with Matt Damon that explains America’s natural gas drilling boom and what happens when real people and real money collide (NYTimes). Movie makers says story is about America’s natural gas drilling boom as a case study in what happens when real people and real money collide.
GaRWA Executive Dirtector Recommends CBS’ Comprehensive Reportage on Fracking – CBS advanced the Josh Fox-conclusion that inadequate wells (i.e. casing) are resulting in groundwater contamination. Also advances the finding that livestock are suffering from fracking (CBS Sunday Morning Show).
Man Bites Dog – a cheese plant fined $79,000 for wastewater disposal violations is not in Wisconsin (more).
Small WA System with E. Coli – news story seems to indicate the system is a non-disinfecting system. The water system has 4 wells and serves 176 homes, an elementary school, and a country store (more).
1926(b) Controversies in the Midwest – economic growth, in large part from energy production, in the Midwest is resulting in more service-area controversies. To advert local conflicts and policy confusion, NRWA is offering assistance, education, and explanation of the federal protection provided to water supplies’ service area to any impacted organizations.
Texas Trend: Private Companies Building Water Infrastructure – "Private water groups have long occupied another niche in Texas: selling water to rural communities. Recently, those companies have come under scrutiny from the Legislature for their rates. David Burghard, a Hays County resident, told a legislative committee last month that his water rates rose more than 200 percent in February and that he was concerned there would be no limits” (New York Times).
December 21, 2012
Arsenic Science – Is the main health effects database used by EPA to derive their arsenic standard confounded? “Cancer rates are higher among the low-dose Taiwan villages in the Blackfoot-disease (BFD) area than in the southwest Taiwan region. However, among the low-dose villages in the BFD area, cancer risks suggest a negative association with well water arsenic levels. Positive differences from regional data seem attributable to non-arsenic ecological factors.” Dr. Lamm et al., recently published study. EPA references the Taiwan data 111 times in EPA’s arsenic rule. Additional new science shows EPA’s rule disproportionately impacts disadvantaged communities (i.e. environmental injustice). “Communities with greater proportions of low income residents not only face disproportionate arsenic exposures, but unequal MCL compliance challenges (study).” NRWA has been urging EPA to consider environmental justice issues from the earliest developments of the arsenic rule (more).
Inhofe’s Exegesis on the Problems in EPA’s Crafting of the New Perchlorate Rule (Inhofe/Vitter analysis).
Consensus; White House, EPA, Environmentalists, and NRWA Agree – reform the total coliform rule (joint press release). EPA announces final changes to the current rule this week (EPA). NRWA’s negotiators: David Board (DE RWA) and Paul Whittemore (NH RWA) worked over the course of two years to craft this new rule (more).
House Speaker’s Lack of Control (WashPost).
Fiscal Cliff and Interest Rates – reports from the field include interest rates on water financing trending up and one municipal tax exempt deal needing to include a protective clause in the agreement in the case of any change in tax law for municipal financing.
MD’s Senator Mikulski to Ascend the Senate Appropriations Committee (more).
Is CCR Relief on the Way? – EPA to Host CCR Electronic Delivery Framework – in anticipation of the issuance of new guidelines “relatively soon” for CCR electronic distribution options, EPA's is holding January 17th webinar to explain the intent and content of the expected new approach (registration). NRWA is pressing EPA and Congress to allow for web-publishing of the CCRs to replace the mailing requirement (NRWA).
Does Fracking Harm Groundwater? Last week, EPA released a report highlighting the progress it has made on its national study to understand the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources. The progress report on the closely watched study, released late this morning, offered no conclusions about the safety of fracturing (EPA report). The progress report said EPA is deferring to the Department of Energy, a more popular agency with industry, on key questions about how fracturing fluid interacts with underground formations. EPA will be hosting webinars on Thursday, January 3rd and Friday, January 4th to provide project-specific updates that include research approach, status, and next steps (webinars).
State Survey on Nutrient Reduction Programs – from the Association of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA). Surveys all 50 states for each state’s current approach to nutrient reduction (ACWA).
Gas Pipeline, Sewer System Cross Connection – circa Newark, NJ, pipeline caused approximately 23,000 gallons of fuel to leak on to the highway and soil and into the sewer system (more).
December 18, 2012
Gas Station, Sewer System Cross Connection – Barre, VT, failure in underground hose allowed 3,000 gallons of fuel to leak into the ground and sewer system. Residents detected gasoline fumes in their homes after the fuel migrated into the sewer system (more).
Rural Water Development in Ghana – “This place has changed since the water came and new homeowners were allowed to run pipes from the mains, directly into their houses, for a fee. Before we had snakes, reptiles, scorpions all along here. Cheetahs used to be here… We used to have bilharzia and guinea worm rampant here - we also had cholera. We never thought of having water, we never expected it" (BBC).
December 16, 2012
House Minority Whip Threatens Full Year Continuing Resolution (The Navy).
Why TMDLs & NNCs Happen – Report by environmental groups use EPA reporting data to say Iowa is not reducing nutrients to waters (more). Drinking water representative joins compliant against the current state nutrient reduction plan. Claims voluntary agriculture nutrient reduction programs don’t work.
December 14, 2012
Senate Sandy Relief Bill Includes $810 Million for SRFs (more).
Is EPA’s New UMCR Necessary for Consecutive Systems (concerns)? This week, NRWA will petition EPA to inquire if there is any possible relief. NRWA is also pressing for regulatory reform on the CCR mailing requirement, TOC violations/mandatory notification, and TCR violations/mandatory mailings. TCR notification relief is expected to be announced in early 2013 – and potential for CCR mailing relief could come as early as Jan. 2013.
EPA Releases 2012 Water Program Climate Change Strategy – specific EPA actions to prepare for, and build resilience to, the impacts of a changing climate on water resources, including protecting water infrastructure (EPA report).
Fooled Again, Bottled Water Comes from the Tap (USAToday). “Ice Mountain five-gallon bottles do not contain 100% natural spring water but instead contain resold municipal tap water."
CWA Calls for Complicated TMDLs, But Doesn’t Include Directions – agency tells the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Dec. 5) that the CWA “does not specify or dictate a specific methodology for how the TMDL must be measured or expressed, so long as it establishes a total daily maximum that addresses the pollutant at issue” (EPA Court Brief).
New Hampshire Town TMDL Compliance to Cost $36 Million – other towns looking to fight the EPA mandate. Exeter (NH) received its final nitrogen discharge permit, the new limit was the most stringent possible issued by EPA. The town now has to decide if it wants to remain in the Great Bay Municipal Coalition with Portsmouth, Dover, and Rochester and possibly fight the permit. It is estimated to cost $36 million to build a new plant to meet the new limit (more).
EPA Allows Energy and Mining Companies to Pollute Aquifers in More Than 1,500 Places – “EPA records show that portions of at least 100 drinking water aquifers have been written off because exemptions have allowed them to be used as dumping grounds” (forwarded by Elmer, Propublica).
December 12, 2012
Dems Add Three New Senators to Appropriations Committee – Senators Shaheen (NH), Tom Udall (NM) & Merkley (OR). New Democratic Senate Committee Assignments (SenDems).
December 11, 2012
ND 1926(b) Controversy – new growth from energy production contributes to territorial acrimony – Steve Harris and Eric Volk quoted (more). Municipal system urge no more funding to rural water district during disputes.
Lab Error Results in TCR Public Notice – should there be an exemption from federally mandated mailings when contamination is a lab error? Media quotes Will Rogers on town’s water quality (more).
Rural Texas Private Water Rates Raise 200 Percent – private companies defend and oppose PUC regulation (more).
December 9, 2012
Cybersecurity Executive Order – Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano on Wednesday said the cybersecurity executive order that the White House is drafting is close to completion (more). The plan calls for “risked based standards,” but also says participation is voluntary – gives DHS 150 days to identify all critical infrastructure vulnerable to cyber attack. See latest draft of White House’s Executive Order (here) and NRWA’s interest and proposed initiatives in protecting water supplies’ cyber infrastructure.
TV News Coverage of Maine Rural Water's 26th Annual Drinking Water Taste Test (MaineTV).
State Assessment of Primacy and State EOC Relationships – also analysis on the reporting of situational/operational status of drinking water systems (ASDWA).
Will Maryland Allow Fracking? – (WashPost).
USDA Secretary: Rural America Becoming Less relevant (more).
The Rural Water Grand Enterprise Continues in 2013 in Rural Ohio – “I won't have to haul water anymore and it will be good water" (Washington County Ohio).
EPA Perchlorate Rule Update – EPA has been working on the development of a proposal for a National Primary Drinking Water Standard for perchlorate in drinking water (more). As part of this process, EPA is planning an Executive Order 13132 (Federalism) consultation for this action in early 2013. NRWA will participate in this consultation and plans to raise important federalism issues including the use of variances and exemptions in the rule – similar to the comments addressed in these letters from Senators and Congressmen.
UMCR Problems – we are hearing from a number of communities about the cost and burden from the 2012 Third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR3) published in May. For the first time, consecutive systems are now required to conduct the monitoring. We are assessing the comments and will be seeking relief. Please contact us if your community sees any part of this monitoring as unnecessarily costly.
NRWA Executive Committee Reviews Regulatory Agenda – as part of their winter meeting agenda. NRWA’s policy agenda for 2013 includes: cybersecurity, TMDL relief, the new TCR rule implementation, lead & copper rule revisions, and CCR reporting relief, hydraulic fracturing issues, etc. (summary report to NRWA Executive Committee).
From OZ – see NASA animation of drought spreading in Midwest (KSrwa).
Webinar “How State Source Water Programs can Work with their USDA Partners to Protect Drinking Water Sources” - Jan. 9th (register).
December 6, 2012
Legionella Bacteria in the Water Supply, One Death – Legionnaire’s probe at Pittsburgh Veterans hospitals has widened to include claims that some workers have gotten sick there, and the death of a man in October. Officials found Legionella bacteria in the water supply (more).
National Water Associations Scoping an Assessment of the Lessons of Storm Sandy – topics are being considered for analysis to be included in a report are: EMAC, EPA assessment efforts, WARNs, ESF structure, WaterISAC coordination, local EOCs, the role of DHS IP office, the role of FEMA NICC, and the role of state rural water associations.
New Changes in Congress - House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rogers (KY) will continue as the chairman, the Committee’s Ranking Member is Rep. Lowey (NY). The Senate Majority Leader will remain Sen. Reid (NV) and the Minority Leader will remain Sen. McConnell (KY). Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Inouye (HI) is expected to remain as chairman. It is likely that Senator Shelby (AL) will become the Committee’s Ranking Member. Although each party's caucus decides which members are seated on each committee, the House and Senate committee rosters will be finalized in early January when each House passes its own organizing resolution setting committee ratios and assignments.
December 4, 2012
Chlorine in the Water is Bad, New Study (U.K. Daily Mail)
U.S. Faces “The Cyber Equivalent of the World Trade Center Attack” – says former director of the National Security Agency. "We have had our 9/11 warning. Are we going to wait for the cyber equivalent of the collapse of the World Trade Centers?" (CNET).
December 1, 2012
NRWA Leading on Cybersecurity Protection of Water Facilities – on Friday, the Executive Directors of New Jersey (Rick Howlett) and Kentucky Rural Water Associations (Gary Larimore) made a presentation before senior officials in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity agency regarding rural water’s interest and proposed initiatives in protecting water supplies’ cyber infrastructure. The agency warmly welcomed rural water’s effort and agreed to collaborate on protecting cybersecurity in water supplies. DHS has a number of cybersecurity initiatives which we will begin to incorporated in conferences, training, education materials, table-top exercises, surveys, etc.
Florida Declares Victory – EPA adopts Florida’s nutrient reduction plan after long battle in the courts, Congress, and the public (more). FRWA’s Gary Williams says, “late last night EPA conceded to Florida and accepted Florida's NNC rules which are better than EPA proposed rules. This victory for Florida will surely help other states in NNC discussions. It cost us a bloody mint to get here and I doubt the legal challenges from the Environmental Groups have ended. But, it is one win in a war.”
President Proposes $50 Billion Infrastructure Bank – as part of his legislative package to avoid the fiscal cliff (more).
WIFIA – Senator Merkley (OR) introduced S. 3626, the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovations Act of 2012 last week. The bill would address the funding gap for large, regional, and nationally significant projects by making funds directly available. NRWA has consistently supported water funding policies and legislation that prioritize federal funding subsidies to the communities most in need (economic & environmental). NRWA has testified in Congress on a number of occasions: House Commerce, Senate (2011, 2007, 2004, 2002), etc. We have consistently advocated for our membership’s four priority priorities: 1) Target funding to the most needy communities, 2) Provide a portion of funding for grants, 3) Require a minimum set-aides for small communities, and 4) Include technical assistance to allow communities to access the funds. Additionally, NRWA has urged Congress to make the CWASRF more like the newer SDWA SRF. Water infrastructure legislation (HR 5320) supported by NRWA has made the most progress in Congress since the passage of the SDWA in 1996. This legislation included all NRWA priorities. The WIFIA proposal includes none of the NRWA priorities and allows for federal subsidies to be available for less needy communities, more affluent communities, private water systems, and communities that have access to commercial sources of funding.
Nominated: Maine Rural Water Video – “I am rural water.”
EPA Webcast on the Importance of Water to the U.S. Economy – NRWA will attend the symposium this week (Tuesday 1:00 pm). EPA will release a draft report on the importance of water to the U.S. economy (to watch webcast).
Sewer Accidentally Connected to Drinking Water in Alabama – Nov. 28, Baldwin County accidentally connected a sewer line from a newly constructed residence to a freshwater line. Schools closed and boil water notice issued (more).
Ocean Turns Blood Red on Ozzie Beaches – numerous beaches closed for red algae blooms in Australia (more).
House and Senate Release 2102 Calendar (calendars).
Six New House Republicans Named – Reps. Herrera Beutler (WA), Fleischmann (TN), Fortenberry (NE), Joyce (OH), Rooney (FL), and Valadao (CA) (more).
November 29, 2012
Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act – will be effective on January 4, 2014. The Act prohibits the use of certain plumbing products that are not “lead free.” EPA held a public meeting on August 16, 2012, to discuss and solicit input (see meeting minutes).
Sec. 1926(b) Protection and Energy Production – reports from North Dakota indicate that the corollary economic growth from the state’s rapid expansion of energy production is resulting in more conflicts between water supplies for the new growth. According some locals, the municipalities are demanding to serve the new growth, in a number of areas – and becoming disgruntled when advised that 1926(b) protection requires that, in some cases, new economic growth is to be reserved to expand water service to the most citizens in that state versus reserved for the benefit of a particular community. NRWA will assist in the education of the various stakeholders and policymakers to ensure that they understand the meritorious public purpose of 1926(b). According to 1926(b) expert attorney, Steve Harris, “the oil and gas industry in North Dakota has created a significant demand for raw and treated water. In some areas, the price of industrial water has reached $20.00 per 1000 gallons. This source of revenue has piqued the interest of municipalities and private water sellers to invade rural water district territory.” The issue of sales of raw water is a significant issue in a case currently being litigated in Mississippi by Bear Creek attorney Jim Herring (Adams County Water v. Natchez, MS).
Alarm Fails, Drains Water Million-gallon Tower – in Western Springs, IL (more).
Fracking Harms Farms and Food – “farmer Jacki Schilke and her sixty cattle live in the top left corner of North Dakota, a windswept, golden-hued landscape in the heart of the Bakken Shale. Schilke’s neighbors love her black Angus beef, but she’s no longer sharing or eating it—not since fracking began on thirty-two oil and gas wells within three miles of her 160-acre ranch and five of her cows dropped dead. Schilke herself is in poor health. A handsome 53-year-old with a faded blond ponytail and direct blue eyes, she often feels lightheaded when she ventures outside. She limps and has chronic pain in her lungs, as well as rashes that have lingered for a year. Once, a visit to the barn ended with respiratory distress and a trip to the emergency room. Schilke also has back pain linked with overworked kidneys, and on some mornings she urinates a stream of blood. Ambient air testing by a certified environmental consultant detected elevated levels of benzene, methane, chloroform, butane, propane, toluene and xylene—compounds associated with drilling and fracking, and also with cancers, birth defects and organ damage. Her well tested high for sulfates, chromium, chloride and strontium; her blood tested positive for acetone, plus the heavy metals arsenic (linked with skin lesions, cancers and cardiovascular disease) and germanium (linked with muscle weakness and skin rashes). Both she and her husband, who works in oilfield services, have recently lost crowns and fillings from their teeth; tooth loss is associated with radiation poisoning and high selenium levels, also found in the Schilkes’ water. State health and agriculture officials acknowledged Schilke’s air and water tests but told her she had nothing to worry about. Her doctors, however, diagnosed her with neurotoxic damage and constricted airways. “I realized that this place is killing me and my cattle.” (Nation of Change from Elmer in KS)
November 26, 2012
Rural Sanitation in Indian in 2012 – unthinkable, “with both hands holding the basket of human excrement on her head, widowed grandmother Kela walks through a stream of sewage, up a mound of waste and then dumps the filth… The toilet -- a brick wall around a hole above a pit containing ash and dirt -- is emptied from an access point outside on the street, where Kela scoops out the “night soil’ into her wicker basket” (France24).
November 24, 2012
Lame Duck Priorities & Necessities – in addition to attempting to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” Congress returns to consider: all appropriations bills, cybersecurity, farm bill, defense legislation, Sandy recovery spending bill, etc. (more).
Survey: Significant Consolidation of Smaller Utilities by Larger Investor Owned Utilities Expected (more).
GA Major Sewage Spill Caused by Vandalism – 60k gallons of raw sewage spilled as a result of boulders thrown into the pipe (more).
CyberConspiracy – “Secret Obama Directive On Cybersecurity May Allow Military Takeover of Internet” (more).
EPA Requests Information on the Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Water Resources (more).
EPA Wants 319 Funds Dedicated to Watershed Impairments – in Nov. 8 draft guidelines EPA is proposing to require states to earmark half of their 319 nonpoint source management grants for projects that address watershed impairments (EPA draft guidance).
Iowa Nutrient Reduction Water Plan Released – wastewater treatment plants mandated to make costly upgrades, while farmers asked to take voluntarily actions in response to EPA’s order in 2008 for 12 States along the Mississippi River to develop strategies to prevent nitrates and phosphorous from reaching the Gulf of Mexico (more).
EPA Sustainability Webcast – how utilities can build sustainability into investments in infrastructure (more).
Line Mapping Error: Mismarked Gas Line at Fault in Mass. Explosion (more).
November 21, 2012
Fracking Exposé, Fracking is Dangerous (in depth documentary from Aljazeera) – low income families can’t drink their water, families sick, contamination, poorly constructed wells, lack of studies on impacts, exemptions from safety laws, no mandatory public disclosure of chemicals, “the contamination is real,” hauling water to homes, “regulators side with industry,” lack of reliable testing, “industry wants money – they don’t care,” frequent well failures, frequent chemical spills, poor drilling procedures, drug use by drilling workers, kids sick, skin disease, legislators not defending citizens, politicians taking industry money, Josh Fox cameo, “takeover of our government,” Dems and Repubs to blame, shale gas has more GHG than coal, what will happen in New York, some green groups on the take, “toxic process,” “killing the plant.”
Environmentalists Oppose Most Environmentally Progressive Solution to Nutrients in the Waterways (in DE, WV, and MD).
Worst U.S. Drought in Decades – has deepened again as scientists struggled for an explanation other than a simple lack of rain (more).
Privatization Hubris – in June, a
November 17, 2012
Cybersecurity Legislation in the Lame Duck Session? – this week, Senator McConnell (KY) expressed hope to reach an agreement that would allow cybersecurity legislation to be brought back to the floor in December. Earlier this week, Republican Senators filibustered S. 3414, a bill to develop standards for computer systems operating critical infrastructure, such as the electric grid or water systems because there was no opportunity for amendment (more). Defense Secretary Panetta warned in September that the United States faces a potential "cyber-Pearl Harbor."
NRWA Weighs In On National Cybersecurity Policy (statement to DHS).
WIFIA – Senator Merkley (OR) introduces S. 3626, the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovations Act of 2012 designed to: address the funding gap for large, regional, and nationally significant projects by making funds directly available; enhance the capacity of SRF programs to assist other projects; and to promote clean and safe water through compliance with the FWPCA and SDWA. Only projects of at least $20 million are eligible under the program.
TMDLs 2013 – in what is becoming the paramount regulatory issue for NRWA in 2013; the impact of EPA’s nutrient reduction programs (TMDLs, NNCs, NPDES, etc.), www.ruralwater.org reporters toured three communities in New York (Cortland, Hamilton, and Marcellus) to witness the impacts of TMDL implementation. Initial findings:
TMDL compliance costs will be excessive (e.g. $2 million for Marcellus with pop. 2,000 and $6 million in Hamilton).
Small communities were not involved in determining TMDLs (e.g. Marcellus was given the TMDL plan after it had been drafted (including their permitted allocation) with 30 days to comment on a complicated document. After that, their comments were not substantively addressed.
Small communities are not provided an opportunity to utilize the pollution trading option that EPA promotes as the way to archive cost-effective compliance.
It is questionable if the proposed new limits on small communities will make any appreciable positive environmental impact on the designated water body, however, they is no practicable process for small communities to clarify these concerns.
The CWA grants Congress provided to the states to make compliance affordable are not available in these small communities.
Review of questionable TMDL models is not occurring in New York like it is in other states (e.g. Illinois).
The TMDL designers are choosing to not include empirical in-stream sampling data when available.
TMDLs in various watersheds can include various safety factors in their modeling.
State financial laws prohibit communities from issuing additional debt needed for compliance.
The proposed precipitous compliance cost is dissuading economic growth in depressed economies.
In the Chesapeake Bay proposed TMDL for NY, each small community is planning on individual compliance, while reduction of the total contribution to the Chesapeake is the objective. Meaning; focusing treatment on the largest contributors to make further reduction could be the most economical option for all the communities and result in the most phosphorous reduction, however, that is not occurring.
EPA’s New Source Water Protection Initiative (EPA presentation on their new direction).
Miss Rural Water Presses for EPA Technical Assistance This Week in DC – representatives from MS RWA met with the Senate and House sponsors of legislation that would require the EPA to use technical assistance funding in the most effective manner (HR. 1427 & S. 2166). We will be pressing for passage of the legislation in the lame duck Congress and plan to see introduction of the legislation again next Congress.
Rep. Paul’s Retirement Speech and the Future – bidding farewell to Congress and has a call-to-arms for his legions of tech-savvy followers: The Internet is the savior of liberty. “The internet will provide the alternative to the government/media complex that controls the news and most political propaganda.” EPA and Congress proposed internet publishing of CCRs this year. What is next? Can citizens decide for themselves if they want to pay extreme costs for reducing naturally occurring elements in their drinking water by a few parts per billion? How can the interent help?
Frack Water in River in PA – pollution persists in Allegheny River in Western Pennsylvania. An ultra-salty compound that could be linked to oil and gas drilling. Bromide levels soared during a surge of Marcellus Shale gas drilling in 2009 and 2010. Bromide levels rose in rivers below where some coal-fired power plants discharge wastewater (more).
Fracking Fluid Migrations – just completed: the Geological Society of American annual conference in Charlotte. Of the millions of gallons of chemical-laden water drillers pump into the ground will, will it over time, migrate into aquifers and contaminate groundwater supplies. About 11 percent of the injected water returns to the surface after drilling, according to industry data – and about 90 percent remains underground. Some residents near wells worry the wastewater may move through fractures created during hydraulic fracturing to contaminant their water supply. But within academia, a consensus is slowly emerging that the injected fluids will remain sequestered in the formations for what geologists would call a "long" period of time, and what the layperson would call "forever."
Webinar on Training Veterans for Careers in the Water Sector – Wed, Nov. 28, learn how to access Veterans Affairs programs to hire and train veterans for your water or wastewater utility (more).November 12, 2012
Rutland VT – city to spend $5.5 million to reduce disinfection byproducts by less than one part per billion (compliance history). Is 6 parts per billion of HAAs safe and 6.1 parts per billion unsafe? EPA doesn’t know (cite, p. 13), however, enforcement progresses. What could the community buy for public for the $5.5 million?
Special Focus: Is Fluoride Toxic?
Pulasky NY – population votes to stop adding fluoride (more).
Wichita – advocates who led the successful fight against adding fluoride to Wichita’s water say they will work to get their message out across the state and the nation (more).
Utica NY – a lifelong resident wants to try and get it removed because numerous studies on the internet, along with a number of organizations say it’s known to cause health problems (more).
Milwaukee – Alderman wants to stop water fluoridation because there’s already enough fluoride in toothpaste. Milwaukee spends $540,000 a year fluoridating the water. Alderman would rather spend the money on dental care for low-income children (more).
Pinellas County Fla. – voters unseated two Republican incumbents who had voted against fluoridation (more).
The Devil’s Poison
– dentist’s book on how fluoride is killing you (more).
November 11, 2012
Leading Environmentalist Says Watch White House Decision Keystone (WashPost).
EPA Statement on Water Issues and Storm Sandy – “EPA is assessing the condition of drinking water and wastewater facilities, helping to get several damaged wastewater treatment plants in New Jersey up and running” (more).
NRWA Research Chief Responds to the New Attention on Climate Change Legislation – John Regnier Ph.D. provided comments, citing a recent Fred Pontius study, in response to Senator Reid and the President’s attention to climate change policy (comments).
Former EPA Administrator and Obama Energy Adviser Urging National Hydraulic Fracturing Standards – Carol Browner is calling on the administration to take further regulatory steps to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (NYTimes). “Pollution doesn't recognize state boundaries -- a weak requirement in one state could have an impact on drinking water in another.”
Funding for Water National Disasters (Fed FUNDS) – New Web-Tool for FEMA, USDA, EPA, HUD, & SBA Funds.
Sewage Backups, Water Leaks Threaten Municipal Budgets – sewage breakdowns highlight leaky systems in cash-strapped U.S. Cities. EPA estimated that 240,000 water-main breaks occur in the U.S. each year. As many as 75,000 yearly sewer overflows discharge up to 10 billion gallons of untreated wastewater, the EPA says. Municipal pipes lose as much as 40 percent of the water flowing through them, according to Sandia (Business Week).
EPA’s Guidance on Disposal of Large Amounts of Contaminated Water – reference document for the preparation and response to a contamination event when rapid decision making is needed (EPA).
November 8, 2012
Lame-Duck-Gordian Knot – today, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released detailed costs of not dealing with the so-called fiscal cliff. On the one hand: going over the cliff would spark a recession and unemployment would rise from 7.9 to 9.1 percent by the end of 2013. On the other hand: voiding the tax increases and spending cuts would add trillions to the debt. The analysis comes as the Pres., Democrats and Republicans prepare for an epic negotiation (more).
EPA Symposium on the Importance of Water (more & Dec. 4 forum).
Attention on Climate Change Legislation – Majority Leader Reid (NV) says the Senate could consider climate change legislation next session because storm Sandy helped make a case for action. "Climate change is an extremely important issue for me, and I hope we can address it, reasonably," Senator Reid said. "It's something, as we've seen with these storms, overwhelming our country and the world. We need to do something about it." Environmentalists argue that Sandy's impact on the New York and New Jersey coastlines has revived the climate debate (more).
NJ Middlesex Water Company Misery – the system warned customers they may face a complete loss of water service after a power failure Nov. 5 at its intake stations. Treatment plant and intake station were on emergency power from Oct. 29 to Nov. 3, then lost power again Nov. 5, then backup generator malfunctioned (more).
November 7, 2012
Election & Rural Water – retains status quo in Pres. Obama Administration, Republican House, and Democratic Senate with closer ratios in the House and Senate (more). The result increases the likelihood that the lame duck Congress will confront the unfinished FY2012 appropriations bills, expiring tax cuts, and the automatic sequestration schedule for Jan. 2013 (CNN), because there will be no change in party in the House, Senate or White House next year. Also, this week, Senate Majority Leader Reid (NV) announced an ambitious Senate timetable for the post-election session set to being Nov. 13, identifying a six-week agenda aimed at keeping pressure on lawmakers to reach a bipartisan debt deal by Dec. 21, the expected start of the Christmas recess. Sen. Reid said Tuesday he wants to work out a broad debt agreement that will avoid triggering automatic spending cuts and also deal with the expiring 2001 and 2003 tax cuts.
Congressional Changes: House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Dicks (WA) is retiring and both Rep. Kaptur (OH) and Lowey (NY) are potentials to succeed him. Agriculture Subcommittee Chairman, Rep. Kingston (GA) is term limited. Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Senator Cochran (MS) is expected to step down due to term limits. Senator Shelby (AL) is likely to succeed him if Senator Minority Leader McConnell, who has seniority, chooses not to excise it. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee: Chairman Mica (FL) is term-limited and Rep. Shuster (PA) is next in line to serve as committee chair. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Chairwoman Boxer (CA) is expected to stay. However, Sen. Inhofe (OK and The Green Key winner) is term limited and the next ranking Senator is likely Sen. Vitter (LA). Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee leadership will change in both parties. Senior committee member Tom Carper (DE) is expected to take over as chairman after Senator Lieberman (CN) retires. Sen. Collins (ME) is term limited, keeping her from maintaining her role as ranking member on the committee. Sen. Coburn (OK) is next in seniority. This committee has been the focus of new cybersecurity legislation.
EPA: their current agenda will be retained including: new perchlorate rule development (more), new drinking water rules (Chrome6, CCL, VOCs, UMCR, NDMA, etc (more), Consumer Confidence Report Review (more), Lead and Copper Rule revision (more), Clean Water Act nutrient reduction efforts (more), etc. Will the attention to storm Sandy and climate change move this EPA guidance for climate ready water utilities into some more? Also, EPA is now free to complete regulations that have been sitting on hold throughout the election season like ozone, coal ash, and sulfur from fuels. If Administrator Jackson chooses to move on from EPA, potential new EPA chiefs include Deputy Administrator Perciasepe, California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Nichols, EPA Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation McCarthy and Heather Zichal, top White House aide.
Environmental Community: says the win of the President is a rejection of Republican efforts to block stricter environmental rules and a shift away from fossil fuels, though energy industry groups say little has changed politically and are continuing to oppose “overregulation” by EPA. With the election over, environmentalists are calling on Congress to address climate change concerns that were highlighted by the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. We actually think that the Senate is going to be slightly greener this Congress than it was last Congress said the Sierra Club. Leading environmental policymaker, Congressman Waxman had to wait until today to win his Los Angeles district for his narrowest victory against an independent challenger.
November 5, 2012
NRWA Urges U.S. DHS to Collaborate to Protect Water Cybersecurity (letter to DHS).
S.C. Cyberattack – Overseas hackers who stole S.C. tax information belonging to 3.6 million people used state-approved computer credentials to access the state Department of Revenue database (more).
Senators Plan to Approve Additional Spending to Pay for Hurricane Sandy in Lame Duck Session – and 44 House Members sign letter urging a supplemental funding bill to pass during the post-election lame-duck session that kicks off next week (more).
November 3, 2012
Sandy in CT: “82 Small Public Water Systems Affected; Large Public Water Systems Safe” (CT).
NJ Communities Under Boil Orders – grew to 12 on Thursday (more).
“New York's Neglected Infrastructure Fails – when given a choice between investing in schools, health and housing or investing in sewers, tunnels or roads, the latter will always lose out” (CNN).
New York Buildings’ Unique Water Supplies – In NYC, most buildings supply water to their tenants from a water tower on the top of the building. A few pump the water directly to each apartment. While the image of Manhattan is that of sleek, modern, extremely high-priced apartments, many poor and working people live in the city’s public housing on either the western or eastern edges of the island. Now they have to try to get by without water (more).
Sandy in Haiti – Cholera (BBC video report).
State WARNs Report on Sandy Recover (AWWA).
Numerous Boil Orders in NY and NJ (NYDailyNews)
“Disasters Like Sandy Create Bigger, Not Better, Government” – Amity Shlaes’ commentary (IBD). Special note: Prof Shlaes published an op-ed for the WSJ on the SDWA a few decades ago, and called rural water for the article. Unfortunately, it was before the internet and Google couldn’t find the article. Maybe ME RWA director Steve Levy has a copy – he was assisting the community at the time. The article features a small community in Maine complying with the SDWA. Is the title of this recent article a metaphor for the enterprise of the modern domestic environmental academy? (Love Canal/Superfund & RCRA, Santa Barbara Oil Spill/NEPA, Mississippi River Water Quality/SDWA, Cuyahoga Fire/CWA, etc).
Mobile Home Park in VT: Positive for E. coli and Not Chlorinating – appears local town is responsible for enforcement (more).
Drinking Water ATMs in Rural India (FastCompany) – “the single greatest intervention you could make was actually clean water, and nothing else,” says entrepreneur.
November 1, 2012
Toxic Flood Waters – what is in the flood waters. NPR interview with NJ state epidemiologists (NPR).
Circuit Riders to the Rescue – “the National Rural Water Association (through their state associations) and 38 Circuit Riders funded through an existing USDA contract, to help rural communities assess water system outages and damages. Also, RD has given approval for Circuit Riders in states that were not affected to travel to the affected area to assist in recovery efforts (USDA).”
Climate Change Caused Sandy’s Potency (MSN) – and more and stronger storms predicted (CNN). NY Gov. said, this "is the recognition that climate change is a reality; extreme weather is a reality; it is a reality that we are vulnerable," said Gov. Cuomo. The governor called for a "fundamental rethinking of our built environment" to ensure the city is more prepared to deal with extreme weather events like Sandy in the future. Additionally, Greens advocate for military spending cuts and increased spending on climate change adaption. The U.S. should invest $200 billion over 10 years to take on the national security threat posed by climate change, according to the Center for American Progress, arguing that spending on climate and clean energy would advance goals of national security, domestic nation building and job creation.
October 30, 2012
NYCity Without Power and Flooded (WashPost).
Mayor Twitters Public Notice that Water is Safe – East Brunswick, NJ, Mayor said this morning via Twitter that the township’s drinking supply is OK. "Water supply is fine. All equipment is functioning. Water is drinkable (more).”
Sandy and NYCity’s Treatment – “With 11 feet of water set to crash onto the shore-hemmed city of New York, what assurances do we have that New York City will not become Milwaukee-by-the-sea or, more disturbing, something like Port-au-Gotham? (Daily Beast).” “A two-thousand-square-mile group of watersheds north of New York City provides 8 million city residents with clean, delicious drinking water. Although this water is treated with chlorine, most of it is unfiltered (more).”
New Laws Needed to Stop Home Treatment Companies from Lying About Water Quality – Larry with TN rural water thinks something more needs to be done on a national level to stop companies from “creating a very false and misleading attitude among all water customers.” Last week we reported that someone in Lehigh Valley, PA, posted a bulletin telling residents to beware of cancer-causing drinking water and urged residents to buy water filters (more). It looks like Larry is on to something. Here is what the U.S. Federal Trade Commission Act has to say: "Advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive; Advertisers must have evidence to back up their claims... an ad or business practice is unfair if: it causes or is likely to cause substantial consumer injury which a consumer could not reasonably avoid... The Federal Trade Commission pays closest attention to: Ads that make claims about health or safety, such as: 'ABC Water Filters remove harmful chemicals from tap water.'" Should rural water do more about this like typical commercial companies? For example this week, one cosmetic company won’t let a Natalie Portman mascara advertisement for Dior air in Britain because Portman’s photo was unjustifiably retouched to promote false effects and the advertisement’s claim of being an “unrivaled lash creator effect” exceeds its actual results (more).
October 29, 2012
Mayor Calls for Boil Order After One TCR Positive (more). Article does indicate if the system chlorinates.
New EPA Fact Sheets:
Key Features of an Active and Effective Protective Program (doc)
CyberSecurity for Water Utilities (doc)
Water Security Partnerships with Food and Agriculture (doc)
All EPA Water Utility Tools/Resources page
Wastewater Response Protocol Toolbox page
October 28, 2012
West Coast Tsunami Scare (more).
WIFIA to be Introduced in Senate – Sen. Merkley (OR) is preparing to introduce “Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act” (WIFIA) legislation during the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress. WEF, AWWA, and AMWA have been advocating for WIFIA legislation. The draft Senate legislation is similar to a draft bill that Rep. Bob Gibbs (OH) is preparing for House introduction. The proposal allows drinking water and wastewater projects costing over $20 million for which SRF funding is not available to have access to direct loans and loan guarantees through the U.S. Treasury.
Portlandia Fluoride Wars – Portland City Council accused of poisoning the water and meeting for fluoride representatives (more).
TCE in Wake Forest NC – cleaning operation in a shed leads to spreading TCE contamination in water wells. Public not notified. State says they had other priorities (more).
U.S. Chamber Says EPA Using Flawed Date for Perchlorate Rule (more).
Competing Philosophies and Analysis – one news source (Care 2 Make a Difference) thinks EPA’s Waters of the U.S. guidance is necessary to protect the environment, and it is under attack by those who prefer flammable rivers. Another news source (Tucson Citizen) thinks the new guidelines would allow EPA “to expand federal control over virtually every body of water in the country, no matter how small, and they will hit American families, the poor, and those on fixed incomes especially hard, as Americans struggle more than ever in this economy.”
EPA Guidance to Expedite SRF Spending – Oct. 1 effective date. Policy is in part a response to Congressional scrutiny of EPA's grant unobligated balances and grantee unexpended appropriations, and State concerns over delays in receiving grant awards. Estimates have put unspent SRF funds at more than a billion dollars, and many are concerned that Congress could rescind unspent grant funds. The guidance outlines several steps EPA will take to speed up SRF disbursement (EPA guidance).
Energy Water Nexus – a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report is calling for better inter-agency planning and coordination of energy development and water resources. The report analyzes DOE's progress on implementing a 2005 energy law mandate to develop a research and development program on linkages between energy and water issues and to assess the effectiveness of current programs within DOE and other federal agencies. GAO warns the federal government to keep better tabs on the nation's water supply as expanded domestic energy production threatens to further strain the nation's water resources. The report adds that climate change, population growth, increased competition for energy resources and demographic changes will exacerbate the challenges associated with water and energy supply and demand, and shifts in any of these areas are expected to increase demand for both of these resources. This would force higher water prices and competition with energy companies outbidding farmers who traditionally had little problem securing water through that avenue (GAO Report).
Jailed for Water Monitoring Fraud in NC – a North Carolina woman has been sentenced to 33 months in federal prison for water sampling fraud for water sampling services company (more).
October 25, 2012
EPA in a Second Term – Senator James Inhofe (OK), ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee last week released a report that details all the EPA regulations that have been delayed until after the election or won’t take effect until after the election. A Look Ahead to EPA Regulations for 2013 lists thirteen major regulations that “will strangle economic growth, destroy millions of jobs, and dramatically raise the price of goods, the cost of electricity, and the price of gas.” A number of readers forwarded this report to us. We were reminded that Senator Inhofe was the recipient of the largest community-based environmental group’s environmental award (The Green Key) in 2007 (photo op).
Fatuous Water Warning to Sell Home Treatment – Lehigh Valley, PA, a post office bulletin telling residents to beware of cancer-causing drinking water in Carbon, Schuylkill, and Luzerne counties in Pennsylvania is a hoax. The bulletin urged residents to buy water filters (more).
Pennsylvania Water Contamination Hoax – a post office bulletin tells residents to beware of cancer-causing drinking water in Carbon, Schuylkill and Luzerne counties is called a hoax. The bulletin urged residents to buy water filters (more).
Fecal Matter in the Water – (Florida) Officials in Margate and Coconut Creek, Florida warned their residents to boil their drinking water after well water tests came back positive for traces of fecal matter (more).
October 20, 2012
NRWA Regulatory Committee Chairman’s Study Cited – “In a departure from other estimates of savings, an NRWA study found the annual savings of electronic delivery of reports could total over $100 million, according to an NRWA press release accompanying their comments” (article & NRWA press release).
NRWA MD Director George Hanson Nominated to EPA Drinking Water Advisory Panel – EPA announced openings on their NDWAC panel. NRWA’s nomination: George Hanson with Chesapeake Ranch Water in southern Maryland. Read George’s excellent summary of domestic drinking water’s modern history in his letter of interest to EPA (more). George has served on more EPA advisory panels than any other rural water member (arsenic, security, total coliform rule, lead & copper, etc).
Cybersecurity Update – The policy would direct U.S. spy agencies to share the latest intelligence about cyberthreats with companies operating electric grids, water plants, and other vital industries to help protect them from cyberattacks. The draft order would put DHS in charge of organizing an information-sharing network. The plan requires DHS to identify the vital systems that, if hit by cyberattack, could "reasonably result in a debilitating impact" on national and economic security. Also the plan encourages companies to adopt voluntary security standards and direct federal agencies to determine whether existing cyber security regulations are adequate. Cyber experts warn of potential scenarios that include high-speed trains being put on collision courses, blackouts or or chemical plants that inadvertently release deadly gases.
Groundwater Removal Triggered Spain Quake – the unusually shallow and deadly earthquake that hit Lorca, Spain, in 2011, according to a new study. Scientists have known for decades that pumping water into the Earth can set off small earthquakes. But this is the first time that removing water has been identified as an earthquake trigger, researchers said. Both the size and the location of the quake were influenced by groundwater pumping, the study found (more).
Chesapeake Bay and Clean Water Act – environmentalists take chicken farmer to court for polluting bay. Farmer says there is not proof. Farmer says his cows produce between 500 and 600 tons of manure a year, much of which falls around the drainage ditch but federal law does not regulate runoff from pastures (Balt. Sun).
The Clean Water Act Turns 40 – and environmentalists are not happy (more). Too much fracking and too much pollution into rivers and streams – compounded by lack of EPA regulation.
Comprehensive Lame Duck Deal in the Making? (more).
State Drinking Water Administrator’s Hold Annual Conference – including a thorough agenda and attendance from many state rural water associations.
Big Labor and Big Green Groups’ Water Report – on the need and benefits of water infrastructure investment. Says every $1 billion invested in water infrastructure creates between 20,000 and 26,700 jobs (report).
Warren Buffet’s Son Says Farmers Need to More Regulation – to protect the environment (more).
NYTimes Photo Exhibit on the Consequences of Fracking (see photos): burning water, families fleeing their farms, activists at drilling sites, etc.
New Study Finds Health Impacts from Fracking – including headaches, fatigue, sinus problems, bad odor and pets falling ill. Study of of people living near oil and gas sites, found that 88 percent of those surveyed experienced sinus and respiratory issues since extraction began. About 80 percent reported a change in mood or energy. And 74 percent reported neurological problems. The tests found VOCs, which can be carcinogenic beyond safe limits, are present in at least some sites (study).
EPA Webinar on Vet Water Programs – how to hire and train veterans for your water or wastewater utility (more).
October 12, 2012
Cyber Security Warning from Sec. of Defense – the United States is facing the possibility of a “cyber-Pearl Harbor” and is increasingly vulnerable to foreign computer hackers who “could contaminate the water supply” (NYTimes). Three Republican Senators are now urging President Obama to refrain from issuing an executive order aimed at protecting the computer systems operating critical infrastructure, saying such a move could hamper efforts to find a legislative solution. Senators Collins (ME), Lugar (IN) and Snowe (ME) said in a letter to Obama yesterday that issuing the executive order being considered by the administration would be a mistake. They instead urged him to "redouble" his efforts to work with Congress to pass a cybersecurity bill. The administration has been circulating a draft executive order that would create a voluntary cybersecurity program in which companies that operate critical infrastructure such as the electric grid and water systems could choose to meet a set of security standards developed by DHS in partnership with the private sector.
Fracking Fluids in the Water in Pavillion WY – in what environmentalists are touting as confirmation that fracking fluids can find their way to groundwater, EPA releases new tests showing frack fluid in drinking water wells (Business Week).
Federal Sequestration Will Cut SRFs – House Appropriations Committee leader, Rep. Dicks (WA) warns that the deficit reduction act's sequestration would result in $196 million in cuts to wastewater and drinking water infrastructure funds in fiscal year 2013. Rep. Dicks cited these figures in a letter to all members of Congress to illustrate the impact of an 8.2 percent cut to the EPA (Dick's letter). A group of eight senators met this week to try to find an alternative to the sequester and tax increase that are scheduled for January. The three-day meeting included four Republicans: Saxby Chambliss (GA), Mike Crapo (ID), Tom Coburn (OK), Mike Johanns (NE) and four Democrats: Michael Bennet (CO), Kent Conrad (ND), Dick Durbin (IL), Mark Warner (VA).
E. Coli. Outbreak at NC State Fair Kills Child, Sickens 20 – source of contamination unidentified (more).
EPA Releases New Data for Surface Water Monitoring (LT2 SWTR)
Congress Comments to EPA on Net Publishing of CCRs (comments).
Broken Main Shuts Down Water for Entire Town – Wingate, NC, shuts off water service due to a water main break (more).
Environmentalists Say Crypto Treatment Not Necessary (Passaic NJ). However, when it comes to naturally occurring elements in nature – they are certain of the necessity to remediate (Salon on arsenic).
NRWA and the Perchlorate Rule – NRWA will be participating on the EPA Small Entities Review panel as the agency crafts their new perchlorate rule. If your community may be impacted by the EPA rule and you would like to participate on this panel, please contact us.
Private vs. Public Water from the WSJ (more WSJ).
October 5, 2012
CCR Mailing Relief – Congressional sponsors of net-publishing of CCRs to comment on EPA’s proposal. Members of Congress are urged to cosign the letter to EPA supporting net-publishing of CCRs. Materials you can use to encourage your Members of Congress to consign: (House letter to EPA and invitation letter from Congressman Young and NRWA press release). We will update the cosigners on the letter here. Bonus: call to action from Gary Williams: Fla.RWA Executive Director, NRWA Reg. Committee Member, home state of CCR legislation sponsor, and rural water regulatory reform revolutionary (note).
EPA NDWAC Meeting in Chicago – this week. The National Drinking Water Advisory Council’s agenda was very dense and substantive. The following are the power points from the following agenda items. Each agenda item was thoroughly reviewed and analyzed by the NDWAC members.
New Perchlorate Rule development (ppt).
EPA Region 5 small systems research, outreach, program, and findings (ppt).
EPA Initiative on Source Water Protection (ppt).
New Drinking Water Rules (Chrome6, CCL, VOCs, UMCR, NDMA, etc (ppt).
Consumer Confidence Report Review (ppt).
American Chemistry Council report on problems with the proposed perchlorate rule (ppt).
October 1, 2012
EPA Holds Forum on CCR Mailing Reform – today EPA held a multi-stakeholders session on proposals to reform the mailing requirements of the CCR rule. NRWA testifies in favor of net-publishing, along with AWWA, AWWA, ASDWA, NY City, etc. OMB Watch testifies against net-publishing. EPA is accepting comments, until Oct. 11, 2012, on their Draft Options for e-delivery of CCRs. State associations can encourage their members to provide comments to the EPA to urge for the “notification that CCR is available on website” option (instructions).
Local Ohio Town Votes to Ban Fracking (Yellow Springs, OH) – according to the community, risks associated with fracking include: earthquakes, water contamination through surface spills, wastewater leaking into aquifers through porous rock, lost property value, ingestion of toxics by residents, wildlife and domesticated animals, drying up of mortgage loans for prospective home buyers, and threatened loss of organic certification for farmers. The ordinance recognizes the legally enforceable Rights of Nature to exist and flourish. Residents of the village shall possess legal standing to enforce those rights on behalf of natural communities and ecosystems.
EPA Webinar on Solar Energy in Water Utilities – to focus on solar energy and will assist utilities in understanding how solar energy can be used effectively at water and wastewater utilities (more).
NRWA Participating in Development of EPA’s Perchlorate Rule – NRWA Regulatory Committee Chairman John Sasur (MA) is likely to be selected by the agency to participate on the EPA’s Small Entities consultation panel for rule development. Do you want to get involved? EPA is assembling the Small Entities advisory panel to consult with agency on the new perchlorate rule. If you have something to say and want to say it, please contact us.
September 30, 2012
Large Rural Water Project (Lewis and Clark, SD) Raising Rates – lack of planned federal funding is slowing rural water project expansion and ability to deliver water to new users as planned. Remaining users must maintain infrastructure built for more ratepayers (more).
Arsenic in Pakistan – of all the development and poverty alleviation needs in Pakistan, is it wise to pay to reduce arsenic in drinking water from 12ppb to 10ppb (more)? What would result in more public health benefit (saved lives): using public funding to reduce arsenic levels to 10ppb or extending access to public water supplies (in Pakistan).
September 30, 2012
NRWA WaterPro Annual Conference in Nashville Highlights:
Banquet Features World Class Rural Water Talent (see video).
USDA Announces over 90% of USDA funded water/sewer supplies exceed sustainability metric (USDA). USDA’s sustainability metric is significant because it is the only federal sustainability metric that is measurable – making it the most successful water sustainability program in the federal government. The Agency has funded over $18 billion in rural water infrastructure in last 10 years. Last year, 82% of projects were granted to communities with less than 5,000 persons.
EPA received applause for their recent proposal to consider internet publishing for Consumer Confidence Reports (more). Concerns voiced over EPA’s proposal to consider mandating that water systems supply water-filter pitchers to customers (in particular construction areas) in the revisions to the Lead & Copper Rule (proposal, p. 16).
The Regulatory Committee (in addition to many in the membership) expressed interest in advocating for greater regulatory reform, increasing our attention to wastewater issues, and enhancing our communications with the membership on the regulatory agenda. This year has seen the most active regulatory & policy agenda ever (current policy agenda).
Section 1926 (b) Update – Attorneys Steve Harris, Dennis O’Toole, and Matt Dooley provided their usual excellent and in-depth review of 1926(b) at the annual conference (Steve Harris handout, Dennis O’Toole’s Ross County case the will test the appropriateness of LeAx). While there is not any current credible opposition to 1926(b) in Congress, we continue be open to discussions with any organizations that have questions concerning the law. The purpose of 1926(b) is to provide more and less expensive water service to all consumers, allow for repayment of federal funds, and advance the general public welfare of all citizens.
Water Board Meeting Results in Acrimony (video) – “You are so not intelligent.”
Water Rates Surged in the Past Dozen Years – (USA TODAY), study of 100 municipalities, prices at least doubled in more than a quarter of the locations and even tripled in a few.
FedFUNDS for National Disaster Funding – is EPA tool designed to help utilities identify funding sources: FEMA, USDA, and EPA funding programs (more).
Coordination Between State Primacy Agencies & State Emergency Management Agencies (EPA initiative).
DC Water Dept. Conducts Public Taste Contest – to compare tap water versus bottle water (local TV feature).
E Coli. In the Well – Globe, AZ issues boil order after a city well tested positive for E. coli. City says results could be caused by many factors including bacteria on of the testing agent’s hands or contaminated testing material. Secondary test results will be available Sep. 25 and if they come back negative for E. coli the city will lift its boil-water alert (more).
Chi-town Selling Off Water Infrastructure – new report warns of higher costs, degraded service, and diminished accountability if Chicago sells its water supply private interests. Chi-Mayor Emanuel has said he opposes the sale of Chicago’s water system, but the infrastructure trust is set up specifically to foster public-private partnerships, which many consider a form of privatization. For example, Atlanta canceled a contract with a private corporation for water system operation in 2002 after huge problems with repairs, including emergency responses, and inflated charges for work done. When only half the promised savings were realized and revenues fell short, the city requested the company’s billing records and was refused (more).
September 23, 2012
CCR Mailing Relief in Sight – NRWA Continues to Press Congress and EPA for Net-Publishing of CCRs – For the past year EPA has been considering a number of options for utilizing e-delivery of CCRs (more). This has been occurring concomitantly with the Congressional effort to change the law to allow of the net-publishing of CCRs. EPA is holding another public forum on the issue on Oct. 1 and accepting comments until Oct. 11, 2012. NRWA will be commenting in support of the “notification that CCR is available on website” option included in EPA’s Draft Options for e-delivery because it would result in additional, more accessibility and enhanced consumer information – and greatly reduce the cost of distributing the reports. State associations can encourage their members to provide comments to the EPA to urge for the “notification that CCR is available on website” option (instructions).
Congress Passes Extension of Current Fiscal Budget until March 2013 (more).
EPA Under a Potential Sequester – Under the Budget Control Act (BCA), EPA and other agencies must make $1.2 trillion in sequestration cuts effective Jan. 2, 2013. If Congress does not act to repeal, stay, or modify the automatic cuts – the sequestration budget cuts for EPA could trim more than $700 million from the agency's budget and could lead to delays in EPA rulemakings. The sequestration is expected to reduce the agency's existing funding level of roughly $8.4 billion down to about $7.7 billion, according to a recent White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) report. The sequestration would cut $293 million from the state and tribal assistance grants, which include the state revolving loan funds.
EPA Public Meeting on Long-Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule on Nov. 15th - will discuss and solicit public input on data and information related to several topics, including results of the first round of LT2 Cryptosporidium monitoring (more).
EPA Initiative on Study Hydraulic Fracturing – last week EPA announced their plans to hold five roundtables focused on each stage of the water cycle and its relationship to fracking, to be followed in Spring, 2013 by a series of technical workshops on topics identified during the roundtables. EPA’s analysis is divided into the following study categories: water acquisition, chemical mixing, flowback, water treatment and disposal, and well injection (see EPA announcement and explanatory documents). NRWA will likely be nominating members to the various panels, please contact us if you would like to participate.
Arsenic Scare from Rice – U.S. House Members quickly proposed new legislation to regulate arsenic in rice (more).
Albany’s Sewers Explode – an underground utility explosion rocked downtown Albany, NY, this week sending manhole covers flying with a fireball in the air. The mayor said the city needs to look into the infrastructure under the ground to determine if there are widespread problems (more).
Wisc.’s and Penn.’s Monthly Report to Congress (reports). If your state publishes a report, please forward it.
U.S. “Failing” on Cybersecurity Protection – says FBI’s top cyber lawyer. Says administration’s effort to set standard for cybersecurity protection is not the answer – and more collaboration needed between government and private sector (Wash. Post).
September 18, 2012
Cedar Hills, Utah Cross Connection Results in Giardia Outbreak – in early July, residents kept getting sick, with symptoms worsening by September. Several residents were diagnosed with giardia. The only common factor among the 13 affected houses was dirty yellow water. A contractor had recently moved the water line to another water supply. A cross-connection was found from culinary irrigation (more).
September 14, 2012
NRWA Regulatory Committee’s Ambitious Agenda – on behalf of the over 27,000 small and rural community members of NRWA. When the Committee meets at the annual conference in Nashville, the following issues will be part of the agenda: TCR Rule implementation, CCR mailing relief legislation, Lead/Copper Rule revisions and the related Lead Free Act, perchlorate rule development, Long Term 2 SWTR, the Congressionally mandated Arsenic Report, TMDL issues, Inherently Safe Technology, cyber-security legislation, etc. For more information on these issues and the full compendium of all active NRWA policy issues, please see our policies report. The committee will be entertaining a new and aggressive advocacy effort to respond to the expanding implementation of EPA nutrient reduction plans. Florida has been battling an effort to mandate unnecessarily stringent nutrient standards on all the state’s wastewater systems as a result of an environmental organization’s lawsuit to enforce the CWA (more). More and more states appear to be burdened by similar application of the CWA, like Wisc.
September 9, 2012
White House Plan to Address Cybersecurity – as Congress fails to pass new federal authorities to address protection of cybersecurity (including water supplies), the White House drafts plan to initiate a new federal program without any new authorizing legislation (more).
New Federal Water Funding Idea Called “WIFIA” – modeled after the current transportation funding law (TIFIA), a number of water associations are supporting legislation to create similar federal program for water systems (WIFIA). We were asked for a comment on this idea, this week. NRWA has consistently supported water funding policies and legislation that prioritize federal funding subsidies to the communities most in need (economic and environmental). NRWA has testified in Congress on a number of occasions: House Commerce Subcommittee, Senate Environmental and Public Works (2011, 2007, 2004, 2002), etc. – and we have consistently advocated for our membership’s four priority priorities:
Target funding to the most needy communities,
Provide a portion of funding for grants,
Require a minimum set-aides for small communities, and
Include technical assistance to allow communities to access the funds.
Additionally, NRWA has urged Congress to make the CWASRF more like the newer SDWA SRF. Water infrastructure legislation (HR 5320) supported by NRWA has made the most progress in Congress since the passage of the SDWA in 1996. This legislation included all NRWA priorities. The WIFIA proposal includes none of the NRWA priorities and allows for federal subsidies to be available for less needy communities, more affluent communities, private water systems, and communities that have access to commercial sources of funding.
CDC Reports on Giardiasis and Cryptosporidiosis in the US – In 2009, 7,656 confirmed and probable cases of cryptosporidiosis reported, with 8,951 cases reported for 2010. Mostly in children aged 1–9 years and often associated with increased use of treated recreational water venues (pools, etc.). CDC notes that, since the adoption and implementation of stricter EPA regulations for surface water treatment at community water systems, this source of Cryptosporidium has essentially been eliminated as a source of cryptosporidiosis. During 2009–2010, the total number of reported cases of giardiasis increased slightly from 19,403 for 2009 to 19,888 for 2010. G. intestinalis was the single most frequently identified pathogen in all drinking water outbreaks reported in the U.S. during 1971–2006, responsible for 28% of outbreaks with an identified etiology (CDC report).
EPA Awards $15 Million for Technical Assistance – to small drinking and wastewater systems. Nearly $7 million to NRWA, $3 million to the TX Extension Service, $2.5 million to NM Environmental Finance Center and $2.5 million to RCAP (more).
Frackers Pay Water Utilities Millions for Water – “oil and gas companies in parts of Colorado are paying as much as $1,000 to $2,000 for an equal amount of treated water from city pipes. That money can be a blessing for strained local utilities and water departments (NYTimes).”
“Frackenlooper” – CO Gov. Hickenlooper gets new appellation for opposing local ordinances that prohibit fracking in CO cities. Colorado controversy could be the start of a national debate on who decides what is or is not fracked: cities, stats, or EPA (more)?
EPA NDWAC Oct. Meeting – announced by EPA this week (more).
EPA Administrator Jackson Addresses Religious Gathering at Democratic Convention – Administrator said that her work to protect the environment stems from her faith, which drives her in an attempt to build "our country as a community that takes care of each other (Catholic News Agency)."
Cholera in West Africa – animals, sewage, children, and communities all share the same water with calamitous consequences (Fance24 video).
The White House to Report on Spending Cuts Required if Congress Fails to Reach Deficit Reduction Deal by Year End (Reuters).
EPA Emergency Financial Assistance Documents – (1) Public Assistance for Water and Wastewater Utilities in Emergencies and Disasters, explains the FEMA Public Assistance Grant Program and provide guidance on eligibility and the application process and (2) Reimbursement Tips for Water Sector Emergency Response and Recovery, highlight the actions utilities should take to maximize their ability to recieve reimbursement for emergency management response and recovery costs.
August 31, 2012
New Federal Authorities to Expand EPA Regulation Over Chlorine Gas – this week in the NYTimes, former EPA Administrator advocated for the need for more EPA regulation of chemicals (i.e. chlorine) in water supplies – and explores a new interpretation of the Clean Air Act to provide the federal authority.
Perchlorate Update – EPA public meeting and webcast on treatment technologies, analytical methods and other information regarding the development of a proposed National Primary Drinking Water Regulation for Perchlorate (Sept. 20, 2012). In Feb. 2011, EPA made a final decision to regulate perchlorate (participate in the webcast).
EPA Moves Forward on State Nutrient Reduction Programs in MN and WI – EPA’s program to be voluntary for MN farmers and mandatory for WI POTWs. The majority of pollution is coming from the farmers (more), however this is not impacting implementation distinctions.
EPA Announces Lead and Copper Rule Rewrite Committee – names 3 rural water representatives to panel. First meeting on September 12th.
EPA announcement (doc.)
Meeting agenda (doc.)
Panel Members (doc.)
EPA presentations on LCR (doc.)
EPA responses to initial committee questions (doc.)
Security Breach Prompts, “Don’t Drink the Water” Notice – at the Shoemakersville PA water plant. Later tests show the water was safe (more).
Issac Results in Boil Water Advisories – for nine water districts in south Louisiana (more).
Fracking Causes Gas in Drinking Water Wells Response – WY RWA Executive Director, Mark Pepper provided the following comment regarding potential Marcellus Shale contamination from fracking. “…methane may travel through natural pathways whether there is drilling or not. Recently a member of an environmental group suggested that the drilling companies had ‘caused the methane gas in the area.” No, mother nature put it there, the drilling companies are just recovering it… I fear that the sheer number of undocumented water wells may pose a greater threat to creating pathways for contamination than the ‘natural’ pathways and certainly, any poor drilling practices from energy recovery may also provide for pathways… in Wyoming, we have quite a few municipal wells that are over 4,000 ft deep.”
Manchester PA Chlorine Leak Send Employees to Hospital and Evacuation – the system was trying to make their wastewater treatment plant safer by removing a chlorine gas tank when chlorine was accidentally released into the air from a 100 pound tank (more).
Chlorine Leak in Peoria AZ Threatened Peoria Water Supply – from a chlorine tank with a faulty valve. The fire department sent reverse 9-1-1 calls asking people to stay inside their home while they investigated (more).
August 29, 2012
Issac Hits Gulf Coast (Google news)
International Water Week - Documentary “Taste the waste of water” launched to highlight the issue of water and food waste (video).
Waterweek (Stockholm) – Water journalism awards:
Tossounon (Benin): "Access to safe water in the town of Ava-Sô."
Chimtom (Cameroon): "The Taps Have Run Dry"
Tilmantaite (Lithuania): "The River Runs Back"
Odupute (Nigeria): "The Strategists"
de Châtel (Belgium): "Water Around the Mediterranean"
Trivedi (India): " Earning Money through Wastes and Making a Village Clean"
Where Are Your Priorities – after reading the NYTimes feature on the water crises in west Africa, Ken with Wisc.RWA commented, “The older I get the more confused I find myself… Americans spend billions to comply with more changes to the Safe Drinking Water Act standards… I bet the West Africans would gladly drink (our) water…”
DC Spends over $400,000,000.00 on lead pipe replacement to questionable effect (more).
Waukesha WI to spend $164,000,000.00 to reduce naturally occurring radium in their wells (more) to a level below the naturally occurring radon level in outdoor air.
Toronto to spend $250,000,000 on questionable lead pipe replacement (more).
Feds spend $6,300,000.00 to reduce Albuquerque’s water to 1/10 of 1 part per billion under the federal standard.
Hammonton NJ to spend over $2,000,000.00 to reduce radium in their water that is as risky as eating chocolate (more).
At Oxfam, you can purchase a well for an entire community without water for $175.00 (more).
Rural Water Manager George in MD (and MD RWA board member) replied to Ken with the following, “I have stated this same philosophy differently in a variety of stakeholder type meetings. I maintain that we are risking the loss of the most advanced, competent, and safe water supply infrastructure in history by diverting precious limited financial resources toward the pursuit of perfection beyond reason or need. We cannot afford to maintain and improve our systems that have real and present dangerous potential defects AND satisfy the piling on of regulatory burden at the same time. In the end, the SDWA and all the good it intends will be all for naught if we end up with cascading fails of plants and distribution systems resulting in deaths from disease because we spent our dollars on trying to satisfy the incremental costs of incremental regulatory burden that creates a moving target for capital expenditures that simply cannot be reasonably predicted and will never be satisfied. The present system prescribed by the SDWA is designed to fail under its own weight of regulatory burden and lack of affordability.”
August 26, 2012
Economic Warning from Congressional Budget Office (CBO) – GRWA Jimmy is following the foreboding news from the CBO warning of economic damage if Congress can’t find a solution to the pending automatic tax hikes, spending cuts, and appropriations gridlock (more) this year. House and Senate leaders have agreed to extend the fiscal year for 6-months when they return from the August break (more). However, any such extension must still pass the House and Senate (and be signed into law).
USDA Guarantee of Tax Exempt Financing – and a New Water Infrastructure Trust Fund – two legislative proposals that NRWA may focus more attention toward, in the final months of Congress. Congress is considering extending a number of expiring tax provisions at the end of this year. NRWA is considering urging Congress to include that proposal to allow for USDA to extend their loan guarantee to tax-exempt funding instruments (legislation & NRWA support) to help finance needed water projects. Secondly, we are considering are more direct communication with the House water infrastructure committee to urge them to direct more attention to small and rural community water funding priorities as they consider water infrastructure legislation that is more beneficial for large, affluent, and for-profit water systems.
Fracking, If Conducted Properly, Can be Safe and Beneficial – the conclusion of Mayor Michael Bloomberg this week in a Washington Post feature (WashPost).
West Africa Water Horror - fierce cholera epidemic is spreading through the coastal slums of West Africa, killing hundreds and sickening many more in one of the worst regional outbreaks in years, two-thirds of the population lack toilets, houses of cholera patients are being sprayed with chlorine to stem the spread of the disease, children swim in the polluted waters, piles of garbage everywhere, flooded with rainwater and people defecating in the open, sanitation is never given the priority it deserves… (NYTimes).
Costly Federal CWA Mandates Burdening Local Communities (Circle of Blue Magazine feature).
What Does Lead Free in Fixtures Mean – last week EPA held a stakeholders meeting regarding new changes in the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to lower the amount of lead allowed in pipes, plumbing, and fixtures (agenda & PPT) by 2014. According to AWWA’s lead rule expert Steve Via, “EPA was not clear on exactly what changes to current regulations and guidance it saw as necessary to assure implementation… [however] water systems are to comply with the law’s requirements as of January 2014, whether or not EPA has issued additional regulation or guidance. The SDWA definition of “lead-free” applies to “pipes and plumbing fittings and fixtures” from source-to-tap. There is broad technical agreement that NSF-372 is a sound independent standard for determining if a plumbing product meets the new definition of lead-free.” It is our understanding that the current requirements for when to replace meters during calibration and routine maintenance will not change (only the lead content of the new components), however we are working on having this confirmed as part of this process.
EPA Webinar for Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Regulation (EPA Sept. 10).
CCR Update – The Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) regulation was published in August 1998.
In August 2011, EPA released their plan for periodic retrospective review of existing regulations under the Executive Order (EO) 13563. EPA is considering expanding the ability to use e-mail, web postings, and other forms of electronic communication/delivery of CCRs and other issues as part of this review. However, given the detailed statutory language in the SDWA for CCRs, EPA does not plan to revise the CCR regulatory language. The Agency intends to develop a report and/or guidance to address electronic delivery. Legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate (S. 1578, NRWA comments) to explicitly allow electronic delivery, and a potential amendment to the Farm Bill to allow electronic notification of CCR availability was narrowly defeated in late June (58 U.S. Senators voted in favor of the legislation). EPA held a webinar on February 23rd to present its plan for reviewing the CCR regulation and to solicit input from stakeholders. EPA is planning to release draft guidance and hold a stakeholder meeting in fall 2012 to discuss the draft guidance. Agency staff anticipates finalizing the guidance by early 2013.
CDC Releases Guidance on Water for Neti Pots – after two deaths from the Naegleria fowleri microorganism, the CDC and FDA are reminding consumers to use boiled, distilled or filtered water when using neti pots or other nasal-rinsing devices. “Some tap water contains low levels of organisms, such as bacteria and protozoa, including amoebas, which may be safe to swallow because stomach acid kills them,” the FDA said in a released statement. “But these ‘bugs’ can stay alive in nasal passages and cause potentially serious infections (more).”
Birmingham AL Water Makes News for Buying Board Ipads (more). Water system IT department attempts to help board member try and email a PDF file without success.
EPA to Extend TMDLs to Healthy Waters – in new TMDL plans starting in 2016 - a new concept that has not been part of the program before. State agencies may be able to assess and develop plans to protect healthy waters alongside those to restore impaired ones. The option to protect healthy waters is one of the six elements in a new draft EPA plan. EPA intends to make the plan publicly available by mid-September.
August 19, 2012
EPA Lead Reduction Act Forum – this week EPA held a stakeholders meeting regarding new changes in the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to lower the amount of lead allowed in pipes, plumbing, and fixtures. The changes are a result of the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act. Many water supplies are concerned that the new law (effective 2014) will result in a mandate to replace meters that are inspected during mandated calibration or maintenance schedules. EPA expects to include the requirements related to the new lead free definition in the Lead and Copper Rule Long-Term Revisions (LCR-LTR), which will only be proposed in 2013. EPA would like comments from stakeholders by the end of August so they can produce a guidance as soon as possible (see EPA agenda & PPT from the form).
DHS to Host "Virtual Roundtable" on Insider Threats – DHS to host virtual roundtable designed to increase awareness and the ability to respond to insider threats. This free, online interactive session will include video, commentary by security experts, a question-and-answer session, and additional resources (Sept. 18, 2012 - register).
OH, KY, & IN Set-Up Program for Cities to Buy Pollution Credit from Farmers – in a first-of-its-kind trading plan involving three states of the Ohio River Basin, an interstate water quality pilot trading program has been initiated. Under the trading plan, farmers in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky reducing their nutrient run-off using conservation best practices can be credited for nutrient run-off reduction and emitters of similar nutrients such as sewage treatment plants can purchase the nutrient reduction credits and not have to invest in hugely expensive changes to their operations in order to meet lower pollution standards/environmental permit requirements (more).
Indiana Environmental Agency Says EPA NPDES Data "Inaccurate" – (more).
Affordability Definition in Federal Law – this ambiguous term has been the most controversial portion (i.e. word) in the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). And now, Rep. Waxman, who opposes a reasonable interpretation of the word in the SDWA, adopts a different position on interpreting the same word in the Affordable Health Care Act (NYTimes). Historical Note: Rep. Waxman is largely credited with crafting of both the drinking water law and the health care law. NRWA has been the lead organization pressing the EPA to reform their current affordability definition (more).
Trial Lawyers’ Atrazine Settlement – earlier this year, Syngenta agreed to settle a class action lawsuit, on behalf of water systems potentially impacted from atrazine, for over $100 million. Recently Kansas Rural Water Association has received many phone calls from cities and RWDs in Kansas asking for advice on whether to complete a claim in the Atrazine Class Action Settlement. KRWA notes that there is no obligation to treat for atrazine in the future based on receiving a share of this settlement – and that the attorneys in the case will take approximately $35 million of the settlement (KRWA.net).
on Atrazine Settlement – “While corn and
grain sorghum growers slept last night, trial attorneys from Texas and Illinois
were likely popping corks on bottles of champagne, celebrating a non-science
based settlement with Syngenta, the maker of the herbicide atrazine… We are disappointed that water systems,
including a few systems in rural Kansas communities, were willing to join a
lawsuit that challenged regulatory standards that are critical for American
agriculture, and in fact to those same water systems… It’s ironic that the trial attorneys’ bounty
will ultimately be paid by the farmers who support the economies of the
communities that joined the lawsuit (more).”
EPA Report on Coordination of the Water Sector and Emergency Services Sectors (EPA report).
Two New WARN Videos From EPA (Background on the WARN Initiative & WARN Tabletop Exercises).
Unnecessary Boil Water Orders and Public Notice from Total Coliform Detections – this week, in Hightstown NJ (more) and Brattleboro VT (more). A new TCR rule is in the process that will replace the current public notice and boil water provisions in the current rule because they are unnecessary. However until this proposed change in the rule is final, towns like these continue to unnecessarily alarm the public and pay for mailings.
Enviros to Sue CA Over Rampant Chrom-6 in Drinking Water – the cancer-causing chemical chromium-6 is found in drinking water throughout the Golden State, according to two national environmental groups who found "unsafe levels" in one-third of the more than 7,000 sources of drinking water around the state (more).
ASDWA's Source Water Protection Webinars (register and more info) - highlighting the work with eight state partners over a three-year period on projects to improve drinking water source protection.
Louisiana Calls State of Emergency for Drinking Water Contamination from Saltwater Intrusion (more). State delivered 30,000 bottles of water to impacted parish.
EPA Wants Your Feedback on New Water Resiliency Action Plan (WRAP) Kit – step-by-step process for planning a water emergency roundtable. It includes everything from sample agendas and invitations, to suggested planning committee members and participants, logistical templates and scripts for recruiting participants (review it).
Hauling Water Due to Drought – in rural Kansas (more).
August 10, 2012
EPA Lead Rule Rewrite – EPA continues its process to rewrite the Lean and Copper. EPA’s rewrite agenda includes monitoring locations, public education, flushing protocols, and possibly expanding the portion of the distribution system that water systems are responsible for maintaining. These proposed changes lead to NRWA Regulatory Committee Chairman John Sasur (MA) to comment that, “my feeling is still that we are being driven to make just minor changes to an inherently flawed rule predicated on a sampling technique that results in inconclusive or unreliable data.” NRWA representatives submitted comments two weeks to EPA attempting to expand the conversation of possible changes. NBC news published this in-depth report this week on the putative flaws in the current rule including inadequate public education to the public affected by partial service line replacements.
Lead Free Meters in 2014 – EPA announced a stakeholders meeting on Aug. 16, to assist in implementation of the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act (Jan. 2011). The Act reduces the permissible lead content in plumbing fittings and fixtures by further modifying the SDWA definition of lead-free to “not more than a weighted average of 0.25% (lead) when used with respect to the wetted surfaces of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, and fixtures.” The provisions of the federal Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act go into effect in January 2014. NRWA will be pressing for maximum flexibility in implementation.
President Obama in Colorado – “they want to get rid of regulations that help keep our air and water clean… (more).”
August 7, 2012
Water Security – Alert Truck Driver, Not Additional Regulations Prove Most Valuable – in Zimbabwe, truck driver raises concern as mix-up leads to cyanide confused with aluminum sulphate in city water treatment (Herald). NRWA continues to tell policy-makers that local competency is the most elemental factor in safe water, cybersecurity, chemical security, and system security (more). Federal agencies continue to press for more regulatory control – preempting local authority (more).
Former House Speaker Says Protecting Drinking Water is Federal Government’s Number One Job – calls Republicans the “E. coli club” (Politico).
Privatization – consumers happy to pay more profits to corporate water and higher rates; Pennsylvania boasts friendly polices for private water including some of the highest allowable profit rates (return on equity), over 10 percent – and no collalary consumer complaints to PUC (more). Five communities in IL to use eminent domain to take-over private water system to lower rates (Chi-Trib). “When has the government operated better than private industry?” says citizen. Yermo, CA – state to put private water company into receivership for poor service (more). Long Island, NY – County authority wants to take over American Water subsidiary to boost school tax revenue (more).
Sewage for Sale – Aurora CO, sells wastewater for $9.5 million to fracking company (more).
Chlorine Gas Leak in Baltimore Water – sent two employees to the hospital. Between 15 and 20 employees were in the plant at the time and were evacuated while the leak was capped by firefighters. Initial reports indicated a cap on a cylinder of chlorine gas may have failed (Fox).
August 5, 2012
Congress Break for Summer – No Appropriations Bills This Year – Congress and the White House agree to postpone final appropriations bills for six months (CNN). Fiscal hawks believe victories in Nov. could allow them more votes for more austerity when the next Congress attempts to complete the appropriations bills in the spring.
No Cybersecurity Legislation – Senators vote down cybersecurity proposals for being to regulatory (more). Fate of legislation uncertain. Water systems continue to be the focus of new legislation. NRWA has been pressing for passage of a non-regulatory version of the bill.
No Farm Bill – the House adjourned for August without passing a version of the Farm Bill. The Agriculture Committee passed version of the bill (H.R. 6083) has divided the House Republican majority over the amount of social spending in the bill. As an alternative to a comprehensive Farm Bill, the House passed a $383 million drought aide bill last week, which, the Senate will have to deal with after the August recess (CNN). Some in the House prefer extending the Farm Bill for one-year instead of passing the Committee passed five-year bill.
USDA Forecloses on IL RWDistrict – court puts state association in charge of delinquent district (more).
NRWA Engages EPA in Reform of Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) – in the first opportunity to comment on EPA’s process for revising the LCR, NRWA representatives John Sasur (MA) and George Hanson (MD) submitted comments this week to EPA. NRWA Regulatory Committee member Paul Brayton (Fla. RWA) recently commented on the LCR that, “Originally my system had to test 40 homes, our initial pool of tier one sites was 60 homes. I had to beg and plead to get 40. We tested and everything was ok, so we got reduced monitoring to 20 sites. I still had to beg to get 20 volunteers. Over the years my pool to pick from was shrinking due to homes destroyed in Charlie, homeowner deaths, homeowners incompetence and homeowner indifference. This time I sent out 38 letters for volunteers and got 12 willing to do it. I went thru public records and our records and came up with another 20 tier ones that had changed hands. I sent letters to them and got 8 more so I could have enough sites. The day of the sample collection came and three did not put their samples out. One put the sample out but not the paperwork. I had ordered 2 extra bottles so we found two alternates at the last minute to sample. One volunteer called 3 hours after the bottles were to be collected to say hers was ready. So we got our 20. The people that wrote the rule do not understand the word volunteer. No one has to participate and I can't make them, but EPA makes me do it. Some sites have done this every time without any readings that exceed the standards, so they never will. Systems, like mine that do not have lead service lines and have never had any hits should be exempt. This rule is a waste of time, money and goodwill.”
EPA Approves Wisc. $1-4 Billion Phosphorous Reduction Plan (more).
USDA & EPA New Tool Assesses Pathogen Risk in Water (more).
EPA & USDA Webinar on “Partnership” Approaches for All Types of Consolidation – Aug. 8 (more).
July 30, 2012
Is SDWA Public Notice Working? – Humboldt, AZ: tells customers of 1 ppm nitrate violation after follow up tests showed the nitrate levels had dropped under MCL. Subsequent public notice posted at local market and post office says the water could lead to death of babies. Consumers wonder if water is safe to drink or not (local news).
“Stop the Frack Attack” Rally in Washington This Weekend – featuring Josh Fox (YouTube).
July 27, 2012
Appropriations Update: passing a continuing resolution until spring 2013 has support from House and Senate leaders. Senior Democrats are emerging as surprising allies to House conservatives who want to push fiscal 2013 spending decisions into the next Congress that would allow Congress and President Obama to avoid a confrontation on spending levels before Election Day and during the anticipated post-election session.
Drought – Hottest Year Ever in U.S. Worst drought in half-century (Democracy Now).
Water Loss and Water Infrastructure Needs in New Jersey – from the expert, NJRWA’s Rick Howlett (interview).
Cybersecurity to Senate Floor – competing versions of cybersecurity legislation will be debated on the Senate floor next week, but senators will also continue to try to craft a compromise agreement behind closed doors. Protection of water supplies a main focus (Politico). Researchers are finding numerous cybersecurity vulnerabilities – unprotected facilities exposed on the internet (Reuters). President weighs in on issue, focusing on water supplies (WSJ). NRWA continues to urge DHS to collaborate with state rural water associations to implement cybersecurity plans in water supplies (more). Rural Water Associations are the main source of security education and advancement in U.S. water supplies (survey).
Gasland Fracking Claim Underminded by EPA: No Contamination in Dimock – said EPA. July 25 tests on drinking water in the village of Dimock, PA determined it is safe to drink, despite the claims of some residents who say it has been polluted by fracking. The EPA will not conduct further tests, and said there is no need to provide residents with alternative drinking water. Some Dimock residents and anti-drilling groups claimed Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. polluted the local aquifer with methane and toxic chemicals (news).
Chloramines Not Safe in Virginia – Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and Rivanna reject chloramines because it may cause rashes, digestive problems, corrode pipes and health studies on the chemical aren't complete (NBC news).
EPA Arts Contest Focuses on Water – “The purpose is to create artistic expressions through photography, poetry, essays and dance that capture the sense and appreciation of the environment. This year’s contest focused on water in recognition of the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act (EPA).”
USDA Change to Water Grant Program – announced this week, to benefit low-income rural areas in the way USDA funds water and wastewater projects. The change assigns priority points for projects in colonias (p. 43149 in Federal Register).
Unpaid Water Bill Results in Home Foreclosure in NJ (MSNBC).
Power is Dependent on Water and Water Is Scarce – What Next? (NYTimes).
July 23, 2012
MI Chlorine Leak Caused by Faulty Heater – the leak in June led to the evacuation of 75 households was due to a faulty thermostat/heater in the water plant (more).
Vinyl Chloride in Illinois Water Confusion – regulators initially say don’t drink the water, then say drink the water, locals say it is contaminated, and mayor says it’s kind of safe. The MCL is 1 part per billion (ppb), detected 1.68 ppb in the village (more).
Global Warming, Drought, & Food Crises Nexus (Democracy Now). “Media ignoring climate change impact in the drought.”
July 22, 2012
NRWA Advocating for Reform of Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) – two NRWA Board Members (Reg. Committee Chair John Sasur – MA, and George Hanson – MD) were selected by EPA to participate in the LCR rule revision process. The first meeting was held on Tues., July 17th (agenda). EPA is planning on releasing a draft new rule later this year. NRWA will continue to urge EPA to provide additional monitoring relief, better testing options, more appropriate pubic notice, reasonable service line replacement requirements, limiting water systems obligations to their distribution system, flexibility in implementation of the lead-free law in plumbing fixtures (meters), etc. If you have any thoughts on LCR, please contact us with your comments.
Senate Hearing on Reclamation’s Rural Water Program – July hearing to focus on a proposed new $80,000,000 a year rural water infrastructure program (more).
Appropriations Update – some in Congress are calling for a continuing funding resolution (CR) for the next fiscal year (Oct. 1) that would extent current funding and delay final decisions on fiscal 2013 spending until the next Congress. Congress must clear a CR by Oct. 1 to avert a government shutdown
Cybersecurity Update: the Senate must pass cybersecurity legislation before turning its attention to the must-pass annual defense authorization measure says Senate Leader Reid (NV), suggesting that a cyber bill could come to the Senate this week. To date, Senators have been unable to resolve debates over whether to impose new security regulatory standards or provide for an information sharing & resource focused bill (more).
EPA and USDA's Webinar on Water System Partnerships – including operator mentoring, sharing equipment, third-party billing, contract management, and even ownership
The Corn-Water Nexus – U.S. coverage from the NYTimes and the . KS Elmer reports, “that it's 104 degrees in OZ, crops are cooking and turning brown, corn is up 16 cents in electronic trading, cannot be sustained, dairies and hog units are shutting down, and no one can pay $8/bu for corn and make things work financially.”
Farm Bill Impediments in House – House leaders are reluctant to bring the Farm Bill to the House Floor because some Members oppose the proposed two percent funding reduction in the food stamp program and want more reductions (more).
Penn. & Wisc. Rural Water Recent Reports to Congress (more).
E. coli in Portland (more).
Chamber Advertizes the Safety of Fracking – The "Shale Works for US" campaign is a national effort designed to build support for the vast economic and energy security benefits of natural gas and oil produced from shale (more).
Leading Senators Protest Eliminating Chlorine to EPA – in a letter urging EPA to not use the Clean Air Act to regulate chemical safety and implement IST (more).
AWWA & WEF New Joint Venture (more).
Waukesha Rates Up 27% for Compliance – the WI PSC approves 27% rate increase effective immediately (more). The rate boost will cover about $3.32 million in expenses.
Vinyl Chloride in Illinois Water - EPA says Sauk Village drinking water contaminated with vinyl chloride. The MCL is 1 part per billion (ppb), detected 1.68 ppb in the village (more).
MS River Basin States Oppose NNCs for River – nine attorneys general in the MS river basin have filed a motion to intervene in the federal lawsuit by environmentalists to force the EPA to institute specific, numeric criteria for total nitrogen and total phosphorus discharges in the entire Mississippi River watershed (more).
USDA’s Guide to Assist Rural Communities – USDA recently announced the publication of a guide outlining programs the federal government has available to support rural communities as they promote economic development and enhance the quality of life for rural residents (more).
July 15, 2012
Appropriations Update – House and Senate leaders blame each other for collapse of appropriations process (more).
NRWA Regulatory Committee Chairman Urges New Initiative to Pass Legislation to Allow for Internet Publishing of CCRs – Chairman John Sasur, Three Rivers Water Department, MA, has identified a number of new activities to promote passage of S. 1578, which would eliminate the mailing requirement for CCRs. Last month, 58 U.S. Senators voted in favor of the legislation, which increased the notoriety and momentum of the legislation in Congress. Details on the new campaign to be announced this week.
UK Bottled Water Contains Arsenic (more).
TN Community to Sue Town Over Brown, Smelly Water (more).
Wisc. Town Tries to Limit Farmer’s Operations to Reduce Nitrate Contamination – state courts says no (more).
Nearly Two-thirds of the USA in Drought (more).
Galveston, TX Finds E. coli in Water (more).
House Agriculture Committee Passes Farm Bill – the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2012 (H.R. 6083). Retains rural water priorities: circuit riders, loans/grants, 1926(b), source water, includes additional source water funding (p. 246), and includes new provision for USDA to simplify applications to one-page (p. 344). Also, the bill consolidates four conservation programs into the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) that leverages USDA funding and resources by partnering with private organizations or working directly with farmers and ranchers to address source water concerns. Funding for the RCPP included at $100 million per year.
EPA’s Importance of Water Workshop – in September. EPA is evaluating the importance of water to the US economy, including on the production of goods and services. The workshop will be held in Washington, DC (more). Please contact us if you would like to be part of this panel.
July 10, 2012
CCR Reform Update – Rep. Martha Roby (AL) is planning to offer and withdraw an electronic CCR amendment during the House Ag Committee's markup of the Farm Bill this week (withdrawn because it does not fall under the Ag Committee's jurisdiction). The hope is that it will continue to draw attention to the issue and maybe help generate some more cosponsors for H.R. 1340. House bill sponsor, Rep. Young's (FL) office is planning to circulate another Dear Colleague on the bill within the next couple weeks, and will share it with us when it goes out.
BOR Rural Water Report – construction of eight rural water supply projects could drag on another 50 years and double in cost to more than $4 billion combined because of low funding levels from Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation warned in a report released this week (report). From 1980 to 2007, Congress directed Reclamation to undertake 11 water supply projects in rural areas. Of those, four have been completed. The remaining are in various stages of completion and are now estimated to cost $2.6 billion to finish -- up from their original, authorized total cost of $2 billion. Reclamation will be accepting public comment on the report for 60 days.
Fracking Groundwater Contamination – there is a high risk of contamination of groundwater by methane from the Marcellus Shale in parts of northeastern Penn., a new study suggests (more). Methane could flow through natural pathways that link the Marcellus deep underground to aquifers near the surface.
Cybersecurity Update –Congress is running out of time to pass cybersecurity legislation before a catastrophic attack happens, the chief of U.S. Cyber Command said Monday, and the political season isn’t helping. Army Gen. Alexander, head of both the Cyber Command and the National Security Agency (NSA), said Congress needs to enact cyber legislation that ensures threat information sharing between the federal government and businesses and that sets up security standards for companies that own the most vital computer networks. “While we have the time, we should think about and enact those things we need to ensure our security, and do it now before a crisis,” Alexander said.
NY Homeland Security Reviewing Water Systems’ Cyber Systems – to make them less vulnerable to potential hacking of the computer system (more).
July 7, 2012
Fracking Concert – coming documentary on anti-fracking concert featuring Natalie Merchant, Mark Ruffalo, covers of Sly and Family Stone, etc. (NYTimes). Also in the Times, Andrew Revkin on fracking – check out point #3, “we don’t know” (more).
EPA to Release New Class of Drinking Water Contaminants – with potential endocrine-disrupting effects under its Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EPA plan). Some pesticides must undergo a costly second round of testing. Congress in 1996 mandated that EPA create a program to screen chemicals for their abilities to interact with and disrupt human hormones.
Florida NNC Controversy Continues – with a defensive provision included in Florida’s plan to limit EPA modification. Florida included language in their landmark numeric nutrient criteria that seeks to block the rule from being implemented if EPA revises or amends it during its ongoing review, providing what many say is a "poison pill" that could complicate the agency's response, though most observers say that the final outcome will be decided in court. If approved, Florida's rule would be one of the first numeric state criteria for nutrient pollution and a model for how the agency plans to address other states’ plans to limit low dissolved oxygen levels and other water impairments. Florida’s DEP sent its final water quality criteria revisions to EPA Region IV for review on June 13. Environmentalists have already vowed to challenge any EPA approval of the state's rule, saying it violates the Clean Water Act because it requires a biological determination that nutrients are impairing water quality before it can be implemented.
Warhol Happens – OZ town (pop. 200) to build baseball museum in old water tank (more).
Boil Water – is this week a record for boil water orders – there is not index (more).
Radon Rule Resurrection – in the long overdue Radon Rule, EPA proposes three potential standards: 4,000 pCi/L, 1,000 pCi/L or 300 pCi/L (EPA Report to Congress). Radon rule conundrum: setting a standard for radon in water that is comprable to the risk of breathing ambient outdoor air would make it many orders of magnitude more dangerous than all other EPA standards, however; it is one of the most widely occurring “regulated” chemicals under the SDWA.
July 3, 2012
Cyber Attacks Increase – more regulation needed for water supplies’ cyber systems (more).
EPA Revisions to Lead and Copper – EPA announces small community review of revisions to the L & C rule. Many rural water leaders are candidates for review panel (John MA RWA, Pat KS RWA, Rusty LA RWA, George MD RWA, etc.).
Operator Facing Prison – for falsifying sewer records (more).
USDA’s National Water Quality Initiative –
$33 million to farmers and NRCS actions for priority watersheds (more).
July 4, 2012 – numerous boil water orders in the east (more).
June 29, 2012
Appropriations Update (more).
Florida Rural Water’s Emergency Response (FRWA Press Release). U.S. Corps’ Emergency Power Facility Assessment Tool (EPFAT) – and EPA’s Fact Sheet on what water/wastewater supplies need to know about generators (EPA).
Peter Gleick's New Book, Bottled and Sold – shows how water went from being a free natural resource to one of the most successful commercial products of the last hundred years—and why we are poorer for it. More than thirty billion bottles a year and tens of billions of dollars of sales. Gleick investigates whether industry claims about the relative safety, convenience, and taste of bottled versus tap hold water.
Private Water Systems are Better Than Public Systems – this month New Jersey American Water is urging its customers in Monmouth County to discontinue all nonessential water use and outdoor water use after three water mains collapsed at the company’s Swimming River Water Treatment Plant in Tinton Falls (announcement).
Sky is Pink – new Josh Fox movie showing the fracking industry is: hiding damaging information that gas wells commonly leak, causing beast cancer, contaminating ground water, etc. (movie).
House Refunds Unspent SRF Funding in EPA Appropriations Bill – EPA could be forced to rescind up to $130 million in unspent grants and other funding for states under the House's pending fiscal year 2013 funding bill. According to EPA, states face pressure from EPA and Congress to speed up the use of SRF funds and other grants or risk having the funds rescinded. States argued that if localities cannot hold on to money for more than two or three years, they will not be able to undertake large projects that take that amount of time or longer.
EPA Operator Training Tool – compilation of training materials for new operators (EPA report).
Water Security - vandalism sends 300,000 gallons of raw sewage into dry creek bed in Jurupa Valley, California, June 25, after a vandal or vandals removed a manhole cover and stuffed debris into a sewer line, causing it to overflow (more).
Cyber Security Update – Eight Republican senators yesterday introduced a revamped cybersecurity bill, setting the stage for a showdown over whether to regulate the computer systems of critical infrastructure including water supplies. The measure, an updated version of the "SECURE IT Act" (S. 3342), would make it easier for companies to share information about cyberthreats with each other and with the government, strengthen criminal statutes for cybercrimes and boost existing research for cybersecurity. The key issue of contention remains, since the bill still does not give the government the power to set mandatory standards for critical infrastructure. "The key to successfully fighting this threat is not adding more bureaucrats or forcing industries to comply with government red-tape," McCain said in a statement. But the Administration and some leading Senate Democrats say that regulations are essential. They have lined up behind the "Cybersecurity Act" (S. 2105).
June 27, 2012
State of the Environment: Rio Earth Summit 2012 – earth reaching the tipping point of no return. The science is in; planet is in terrible shape. David Suzuki: air making us sick, leaders committing “crimes,” etc. President Obama held hostage by corporations – captive of the oil industry. Economic forces destroying environment. We are in a crisis. Human beings facing extinction. Need to change the economy (Democracy Now).
Chlorine Leak Cause Evacuation – Summit Twp, Mich. residents evacuated after a chlorine leak in three of the five containers at a water treatment plant (more).
June 23, 2012
Senate Passes Farm Bill – Senator Brown’s (OH) amendment passes, provides nearly $142 million for rural water loans and grants and helps reduce the current $3.2 billion rural development backlog of projects (amendment). Senate bill retains circuit rider, loan & grant program, grassroots source water, and wastewater technical assistance authorizations. House ready to begin crafting their bill after July 4th (more).
June 21, 2012
Senatorial Arm-twisting to Keep CCRs in the Mail (more).
A Majority of U.S. Senate Votes to Allow for Net Publishing of CCRs – instead of mailing (Roll Call). Today, 58 Senators voted in favor of the Toomey amendment to stop the mailing of CCRs for water systems that publish the report on the internet. However, a super majority of 60 votes was required to allow for this amendment to pass with the underlying bill (Farm Bill). This precedent will advance the stand-alone bill (S. 1578) in the Senate. The next steps are to the persuade Senators who voted against the bill to revaluated their opposition considering many of arguments against the bill be not accurate (more), and to press for a simply majority vote on the bill.
Fecal Coliform in Old Bridge, NJ Water – maybe the result of construction. The system is chlorinating and flushing the water system (more).
Six PPBs of HAAs Causes Liver Damage – Pratt WV residents got this warning about their water. It contains levels of HAAs of nearly 66ppb that can damage the liver, kidneys and nervous system (more). Causing widespread fear in the community. Country officials say the system must be taken-over by large for-profit water system. A similar issue, one state away, (in Kentucky) causes the state to say don’t be concerned over health implications (more). Considering that EPA finds, “that a causal link between adverse reproductive or developmental health effects and exposure to chlorinated drinking water or DBPs has not been established… Despite inconsistent findings across studies… that no dose-response relationship or causal link has been established between exposure to chlorinated drinking water or disinfection byproducts and adverse developmental… EPA's evaluation of the best available studies, is that they do not support a conclusion at this time as to whether exposure to chlorinated drinking water or disinfection byproducts causes adverse developmental and reproductive health effects… (cite),” is the difference of less than 6 ppb the difference between safe and unsafe water as this article implies?
June 20, 2012
Senate to Vote to Stop Mailing of CCRs – if posted on the internet, in an amendment offered by Senator Toomey (PA) - (modeled on S. 1578). National water associations jointly support amendment (letter). Senator Boxer opposes (memo). Vote could come any minute in U.S. Senate. Jacksonville Florida’s CCR is bad for the environment? Printed on non-recycled paper, costly, and lots of paper (local news).
NPR Reports Underground Water Storage Causing More Earthquakes (NPR).
Senate Cybersecurity Floor Debate – next month. Senator Reid said the bill would reach the floor in the work period after the July Fourth recess.
EPA Technical Assistance Grants Awards (announcement) – “Real shame. Rural communities will suffer as a result.” -- Recently retired county water official & state rural water board member with over 30 years of small community water issues experience.
EPA’s “Lessons Learned” from Water Sector Emergency Exercises (report).
New RO Treatment Results in Lead Contamination (Pasquotank, NC).
FEMA’s Web Portal – offer additional ways to connect with great information to help you prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards (sign up).
June 19, 2012
Senate Using Farm Bill for Small Community Water Issues – including:
(1) Eliminating the mailing requirement for CCRs if posted on the internet, in an amendment offered by Senator Toomey (PA) - (modeled on S. 1578), NRWA comments. Senator Toomey indicated it would be helpful to have local communities contact their senators in support of the amendment (draft letter of support for the Toomey amendment).
(2) An amendment reauthorizing Safe Drinking Water Act technical assistance and directing the EPA to prioritize the most beneficial assistance, offered by Senators Wicker (MS) and Conrad (ND) – and cosponsored by Senators Inhofe (OK), Tester (MT), and Landrieu (LA) so far - (modeled on S. 2166, NRWA comments), and
(3) An amendment by Senator Boozman (AR) to extend the current “rent free” status of electric line easements on federal lands to water supplies.
Thank you Senators!
June 17, 2012
Sanitation in a Mega-City – Mumbai India; 1 toilet for every 300 people, extortion used against woman to pee, unthinkable in 2012 (NYTimes).
Perchlorate Update – an aerospace industry group, unhappy with EPA’s management of the forthcoming perchlorate rule, appeals to the White House – explaining their issues (see letter).
June 14, 2012
Cyber Security Update – Senate DHS committee chairman, Senator Leiberman (CT) said Wednesday that he is confident cyber security legislation will be called up in the Senate before the August recess. The Senator is supporting a regulatory approach for cyber security (including water systems) in his bill (S 2105). A competing bill (S 2151) by Senator McCain (AZ) relies on an information-sharing role and would not apply regulations. DHS says they can handle cyber security authority, even considering its questionable history under the chemical security program. A DHS official said, "mistakes that were made with the early days of CFATS are not going to be replicated here... CFATS started with zero people and went to 60 miles an hour in the first year. This is a very different process.”
EPA Decides on Distribution of $14.5 Million in Technical Assistance Funding (announcement).
“Fracking itself does not contaminate drinking water” – former White House Top Environmental Official (more).
Fracking Wastewater Releases in ND – Propublica finds fracking wastewater being released to water and land, and state regulators not enforcing protections on energy producers (more).
EPA Threatens Farmer $16k/Day for Rip Rap Stream Bank Wall (more).
EPA Draft Paper on Water System Resiliency and Mitigation (paper).
June 9, 2012
House EPA Subcommittee to Release FY2013 Bill on June 20 says Chairman Mike Simpson (ID).
June 7, 2012
House Committee Bill to Limit EPA on CWA – on Thursday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed (H.R. 4965), a bill that would prohibit the EPA and Corps from finalizing their Clean Water Act (CWA) federal jurisdictional guidance without it first completing the federal rulemaking procedure under the Administrative Procedures Act. National water associations have joined together to support a rulemaking to finalize this EPA policy (statement).
EPA Fact Sheet on State Emergency Exercises – water sector emergency exercises 2009-2011: lessons learned.
EPA Sec. 319 Webcast – June 14th, a free Watershed Academy Webcast titled “Section 319 Agricultural Nonpoint Source Success Stories (registration).”
Farm Bill Progresses in Senate (more).
Global Water Privatization – $1 trillion next year. Global corporations looking to index water conflicts/opportunities (more).
Wisc. Senator Kohl’s YouTube Rural Water Message (video).
June 6, 2012
Fracking & Pavillion, WY Well Contamination – state's top oil and gas regulatory official yesterday said the people in Pavillion, Wyo., who have complained that drilling polluted their water are motivated by money (more).
Neighbors Turn on Neighbors – to identify septics illegally connected to city wastewater (more).
June 5, 2012
Source Water – $3.741 million (p. 24)
Wastewater Technical Assistance (TA) – $18.62 million (p. 48)
Grants & Loans – $484.499 million (p. 47)
Circuit Riders – $14.7 million (p. 48)
Regional TA for Communities under 3,300 pop. – $5.635
million (p. 48)
NYTimes Covers Impact of Oil and Gas Leases on Small Town Families
May 23, 2012
A Day of Fracking News
WY – Small Community Households to get Cisterns (more).
GaRWA member; fracking can be safely managed (more).
PA Citizens “Occupy” Congressman’s Office in Protest (more).
VT Gov. Signs Fracking Ban to Protect Citizens (more).
Oil & Gas Industry Silences Critics of Fracking – (HuffPo)
Mom Bans Fracking in CO town to Protect Her Children – (more).
May 22, 2012
Act Locally; Source Water Signs are a “Blight,” (more).
May 21, 2012
Hauling Water in 2012 in Rural Texas (NPR).
EPA Region 8 Administrator, “EPA strongly supports the importance of preventing contamination of drinking water sources, and I very much appreciate the role that Wyoming Association of Rural Water Systems and other NRWA affiliates have played in helping our rural communities develop plans to protect their drinking water sources (more).”
May 20, 2012
Private Water Company’s Green Water Caused by Iron in the Wells (more).
EPA’s Draft List of Water Security Accomplishments (more).
EPA to Have National Academy of Sciences Review EPA’s Main Risk Assessment Database – the “IRIS” database which EPA relies on for determining risk assessments for drinking water contaminants (more).
EPA Challenges Florida Environmental Official for Conflict of Interest – challenge draws attack on U.S. EPA officials who formerly worked for organizations that sued EPA for civil settlements (more).
Huffington Post Investigates Consolidation in Rural Water Communities – unincorporated rural community in California with high arsenic gets $425K to study consolidation to obtain safe water (more).
May 15, 2012
Fracking Adverse Impacts – not for groundwater, but for the health of local residents from the air/fumes – causing sickness (NPR). Also on NPR, fracking problems of water use, traffic congestion, toxic wastewater, and potential long-term contamination (NPR). Also from NPR, most health effects on people occur in rural areas (NPR).
GAO Report – environmental groups reimbursed million of dollars for suing federal agencies and wastewater supplies (more).
American Rivers’ Report – Most Endangered Rivers, the annual report released Tuesday: urban development is funneling tons of polluted rainwater to the river, that chemical fertilizer and manure from farms make matters worse, and that wastewater overflowing from sewers, along with pharmaceuticals flushed down toilets, contribute to dead zones (WaPost).
Water Movie – “Watershed,” by Robert Redford, the story of the Colorado River (more).
May 13, 2012
EPA Appropriations Not to Come to House Floor – Too Controversial (more).
Cyber Security Legislation Update – Senate may move legislation to Floor debate by end of May. Competing proposals: S. 2105 which calls for new security regulations, versus S. 2151, which relies on information sharing between government and cyber infrastructure owners.
GaRWA Leads to Ensure Fracking Safety – as hydraulic fracking extends to Georgia, GRWA is holding a forum on the topic with the industry (API) at the GRWA conference this month (agenda). GRWA says it has an obligation to ensure that ground water sources of public drinking remain safe, and to keep their members and the citizens of Georgia informed with factual information.
City & Rural Water District Compete for Hookups in IL – Sam Wade notes this atypical 1926(b) situation in Macomb, IL.
Dimock PA, No Fracking Contamination – on Friday, EPA said drinking water is safe to consume in a small PA town that has attracted national attention after residents complained about hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. The EPA has tested water at 61 homes in Dimock, PA, where residents have complained since 2009 of cloudy, foul-smelling water after Cabot Oil & Gas Corp drilled for gas nearby (Reuters).
May 11, 2012
State SRFs Oppose Buy American Rules – the Council of Infrastructure Financing Agencies (CIFA) and the Assoc. of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA) have urged the Appropriations Committee to not include a “Buy American” provision in SRF FY2013 funding. They say it would delay water infrastructure projects, calling it “a costly and damaging mandate significantly undermining our efforts to help communities address their pressing water quality issues.” A CIFA representative said, there is discussion about applying the provision not just to this year's SRFs but to the whole program - it could apply to any project that uses SRF money even if it is just a small percentage (more).
House Bill Seeks to Permanently Raise Bank-Qualified Limit – Florida Rural Water comments that this legislation would be "good for water utilities and our members." Kansas Rural Water agrees, and recently reached the limit of $10 million for bond issues through the Kansas Rural Water Finance Authority. The “Municipal Bond Market Support Act of 2012,” introduced Thursday, would permanently increase the bank-qualified debt limit to $30 million from $10 million and index it for inflation. It would allow banks to deduct 80% of the cost of buying and carrying the tax-exempt bonds of issuers whose annual issuance does not exceed $30 million. The bill also would apply the higher $30 million limit to individual borrowers – rather than the issuer – in conduit financings, and would allow nonprofits to use bank-qualified bonds (HR 5705).
EPA Finalizing New Report on Impacts & Implementation of the Arsenic Rule (draft report) – NRWA participated on the panel that assembled this report, represented by Maryland Rural Water Association’s George Hanson with Chesapeake Water Association in Lusby, MD.
Maryland’s First-of-its Kind Law Requiring Stormwater Cost Paid By User Fees – the May 2 law sets a deadline of July 1, 2013, for county and municipal authorities holding Phase I Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permits to begin collecting user fees based on "the share of stormwater management services related to the property and provided by the county or municipality (more).” The new source of funding could also help other states meet the demands of TMDLs, according to environmental organizations.
EPA Upcoming Water Webinars (you are invited):
Consecutive Systems (more).
May 31, Water System Energy Use Assessment Tool (more).
June 12, overview of Sustainability: “A Handbook for Water and Wastewater Utilities.” For both drinking water and wastewater utilities (more).
New EPA National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Electronic Reporting Rule – soon to be proposed as part of EPA’s ongoing efforts to advance electronic reporting. The proposal will encompass available IT technologies to improve the availability of NPDES information to EPA and the states through electronic reporting directly from the NPDES permittees. The proposed rule should be published in the next few months. The Agency will host a webinar on the proposed Rule on May 23 (more). NRWA’s suggestion for EPA to work with state associations and rural water members to ensure ease of implementation was accepted by the Agency. NRWA also suggested that EPA consider identifying available resources that could be available to the smallest communities. EPA is considering a waiver for certain communities to delay or assist with implementation.
USDA’s New National Water Quality Initiative – improving impaired watersheds in every U.S. state, 157 selected watersheds were identified to offer financial assistance to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to implement conservation practices to help provide cleaner water for their neighbors and communities (more).
Watershed Trading Can Reduce TMDL Compliance Cost by 80% - says a study released this week by the Chesapeake Bay Commission. Nutrient trading between "significant" point sources ("large" POTW facilities), regulated urban stormwater sources, and agricultural nonpoint sources can result in savings of up to 80% (more).
May 7, 2012
“Major” Cyber Attack on Gas Pipeline (more), “cyber security analysts work in the secretive cyber defense lab, in Idaho Falls, ID, to protect the nation's power grid, water and communications systems.” Spear-phishing has become one of the attack vectors of choice for cyber spies, attacking a specific person in the organization often using social networking sites.
DHS Finds the Nation is Safer – May 3rd, 2012: FEMA and its partners released the 2012 National Preparedness Report (NPR) identifying significant progress the nation has made in areas of prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery. Overall the Report found that the nation has increased its collective preparedness, not only from external threats, but also for natural and technological hazards (more).
May 5, 2012
Fracking Fluids Can Contaminant Groundwater – new Ground Water journal (study). “Simply put, the rock layers are not impermeable," said author and hydrogeologist, Tom Myers. “The Marcellus shale is being fracked into a very high permeability," he said. "Fluids could move from most any injection process." EPA has maintained that there is no evidence of fracking contaminating groundwater (EPA). AWWA has called for federal regulations for fracking; NRWA has not called for federalizing fracking to respect state sovereignty and preference.
Private Water’s State Lobbying Highlighted (more).
Cyber Security Legislation Update (more).
National Security Advisory Panel Encourages DHS & EPA to Assist with Upgrading Vulnerability Assessments (letter).
No Water No Future – NPR’s Interview with Jessica Yu, creator of “Last Call at the Oasis,” (interview).
Public Notice – NJ Towns must tell consumers, “we cannot be sure of the quality of your drinking water...” due to missed quarterly VOC tests (more).
Ban on Lead in Meters Complicates Meter Repair & Testing Planning – AWWA published this notice educating water supplies of the pending ban on lead components/pipes, etc. that takes effect Jan. 4, 2014. It appears that EPA may not be able to develop implementing regulations before the effective date (set in the law) and there is concern that meters pulled for required testing will be required to be replaced with a lead free meter – at a substantial cost. NRWA is working to have these ambiguities (meter testing, repair, calibration, etc.) cleared-up well before the final deadline.
Unregulated Monitoring List – this week, EPA published the list of 28 chemicals and two viruses that approximately 6,000 public water systems will monitor from 2013 to 2015 as part of the Agency’s unregulated contaminant monitoring program (UCMR 3). The list of contaminants includes hexavalent chromium.
USDA Grants for Organizations to Help with Household Water Wells – USDA posted an announcement of availability of $993,000 in grant funds for non-profit organizations to establish lending programs for homeowners to borrow up to $11,000 to construct or repair household water wells for an existing home (more).
New House Bill to Limit EPA on Scope of Clean Water Act – a number of Congressmen introduced HR 4965, a bill to prohibit the Administration from finalizing or implementing the EPA and Corps Clean Water Act “guidance” on the scope of federal jurisdiction under the Act (more). NRWA, AWWA, and AMWA submitted these comments to EPA on the issue in 2011.
Chlorine Smell in Tel Aviv, bin Laden Considered Cl Gas Attacks (more).
Readers’ Digest Top 10 Jobs You Can’t Live Without – number 2, water operators (more, thanks NY RWA).
May 2, 2012
Anarchy in the OH, Attempt to Attack Infrastructure/Bridge – FBI apprehends, and Homeland Security following (DHS).
May 1, 2012
EPA Proposal for New Inspections of Storage Tanks – rural water is planning to urge OMB to implement the proposed revisions to the Total Coliform Rule, which would provide public notice relief for TCR violations (more). EPA has proposed the possible regulation of finished water storage tanks as part of the rule package (more). Rural water will be crafting a position on this issue and your comments are appreciated. We are attempting to collaborate with our friends in the environmental community on this effort. The environmental community also agreed to the changes proposed in the revised TCR.
States Criticized for Pace of NPDES Renewals – Wisconsin not fully enforcing strict phosphorus limits adopted two years ago to reduce algae blooms that make people sick. Only 19 permits with stricter limits had been issued since September 2010 (more).
April 26, 2012
Iran Targeting U.S. Water Systems (more).
CA RWA Security Expert Comments on DHS/EPA Initiatives (comments).
Farm Bill Update – House Agriculture holds Farm Bill hearings this week. IL RWA Frank Dunmire represented Rural Water on Wednesday (thank you Frank!). RCAP also testified at the hearing, explaining how current Section 1926(b) protection is a problem that needs to be addressed in Farm Bill reauthorization (more). The Senate Ag Committee passed its version of the Farm Bill today (more & key provisions).
VT RWA Honored with EPA Environmental Award – recognized yesterday at EPA awards ceremony in Boston as an EPA 2012 Environmental Merit Award for efforts in response to Tropical Storm Irene (more).
“With key and timely assistance from Vermont Rural Water Association, the staff reached out to over a hundred water systems in the impacted areas. In the end, 30 public water supply systems, serving more than 16,000 people, were put on boil water orders and effectively managed throughout the water crisis.”
House vs. Senate & White House on Cyber Security – should federal government assist or regulate cyber security. House to consider legislation this week (more).
PBS Coverage of Water Crises in Liberia (video report). Disinfection 5 gallons at a time.
Private Water Companies Advocating for Fracking (more).
Public Discord Over Chloramines – (Charlottesville, VA), chloramines has gotten the attention of Erin Brockovich. Chloramines is quickly becoming a national issue. Erin Brockovich is “getting involved because these stage 2 EPA regulations are just hitting now.”
April 24, 2012
Right to Pee in India – Woman must pay for restroom, men don’t (BBC).
Envrio Commercial Says Politicians Are Protecting Polluters by Not Enforcing CWA (ad).
EPA O&M Training for Tribal Water and Wastewater – May 2nd (more).
April 20, 2012
Earth Day is Rural Water Day at USDA - 54 water and wastewater projects in 33 states will be funded (more).
EPA Awards NJ RWA with 2012 Environmental Award (more).
Farm Bill Senate Votes Next Week – the legislation that authorizes USDA grants & loans, circuit riders, wastewater techs, source water techs, and 1926(b) is scheduled to be reauthorized this year. The Senate Ag Committee has release their version of the bill (more) – and it is good for rural and small community water supplies. Key Provisions:
Reauthorizes Circuit Riders, Wastewater Techs, and Sourcewater Techs.
Authorizes USDA to guarantee tax-exempt bonds (p. 504), a priority of NRWA.
Set-aside technical assistant to be prioritized to assistance to systems with low-income residents and water supplies that are unhealthful.
Retains current 1926(b) protections
EPA Arsenic Review Closing – EPA is collecting comments from their current review of the arsenic rule (which was mandated by Congress – agenda). George from MD RWA was appointed to the review panel and submitted these comments. Thank you George.
Nitrosamines Regulation – EPA is expected to make a decision whether to regulate nitrosamines disinfection by-products late this year (AWWA). Nitrosamines regulation could impact chloraminated water systems.
EPA's Final Guidance on the Scope of the Clean Water Act (CWA) – appears to make minor changes to previous versions that narrow the law's reach over ditches and other "dry" areas not previously subject to federal regulations. The document may be on hold until after the presidential election. However, some say the guidance will be released any moment. The guidance has been under OMB review since Feb. 21.
Ban Bleach Under Clean Air Act – environmentalists are urging the White House to require companies to adopt "safer" chemical processes in their Clean Air Act-mandated plans for reducing risks from a terrorist attack or accident on a facility. They are calling on EPA to use existing Clean Air Act authority to mandate IST in the risk plans under section 112(r) of the air law. Some are going as far to say presidential nominee Mitt Romney may endorse IST. The coalition pushing IST includes Greenpeace, the Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club, United Auto Workers, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Physicians for Social Responsibility, among others (more).
Cyber Security Legislation Proposals Before House Next Week (more).