Washington News

Report Details Infrastructure Funding

The federal and state governments made approximately $70
billion available to finance water infrastructure in the decade ending in 2000,
a new report shows. Of that amount, some $44 billion came from the federal
government and $26 billion from the states, all through a wide range of
individual programs.

The figures were compiled by the General Accounting Office,
a congressional agency, for Sen. Robert Smith of New Hampshire, senior GOP
member of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, and Sen.
Michael Crapo of Idaho,  senior
Republican member of that committee’s subcommittee on water policy. The
two members sought the information in connection with a broad review the
committee is making of water infrastructure needs.

While citing the results of its survey, GAO also noted that
the Water Infrastructure Network, a consortium of industry, municipalities and
associations, has estimated the costs of water supply and wastewater capital
needs at up to $1 trillion over the next 20 years. That total includes
financing costs.

“The actual future needs will likely be met by some
combination of local, state, and federal funding sources,” the GAO said.

 

Administration Announces New Watershed Plan

President Bush has asked Congress to approve a $21-million
initiative to protect and restore up to 20 of the nation’s “most
highly valued watersheds.”

In announcing the proposed new grant program, Administrator
Christie Whitman of the Environmental Protection Agency said it would involve
cooperative efforts between EPA and state governors and other interested
groups.

“This program will also support local communities in
their efforts to expand and improve existing protection measures with tools,
training and technical assistance,” she said.

Resolving watershed problems is a complex challenge that
requires local assessment, involvement and commitment, the administrator
commented. The new grants program “will capitalize on the lessons learned
from existing community-based preservation efforts,” Whitman said.

(The watershed program was announced prior to the release of
the full administration budget for the 2002–03 fiscal year.  Details of the new budget’s
proposals for major water programs will be reported in the next issue.)

 

New Regulation Affects Smaller Systems

Cryptosporidium regulations that have applied to larger
water supply systems have been extended to smaller suppliers. New standards set
by EPA affect 11,000 small systems serving 18 million people.

The new final rule requires 99 percent removal of
Cryptosporidium through enhanced filtration. The agency said the
Cryptosporidium spores, found in animal wastes, can cause intestinal problems
and possibly death among some vulnerable groups within the population.

Among the numerous outbreaks of sickness traced to
Cryptosporidium, the most severe occurred in 1993 in Milwaukee, Wis., where
more than 400,000 residents became ill and 50 died.

The spores, EPA noted, cannot be eliminated by commonly used
disinfectants such as chlorine. The small systems have three years to reach
full compliance with the new rules. 
EPA estimated the average annual cost per household at $6.24.

 

Website Offers New Model on TMDL Allocations

EPA has released a new water quality model designed to aid
the development of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for impaired waters.

Allocations for a specific TMDL or watershed are likely to
be based on competing priorities such as cost effectiveness and equality of
load reductions, the announcement of the new model said.

 “Final
allocation determinations are policy decisions and should reflect public
perceptions about acceptable tradeoffs,” the agency said. It described
watershed-modeling frameworks as “tools that can be used to help evaluate
the tradeoffs associated with different allocations.” 

Those frameworks can identify cost-minimizing allocations
and compare cost distributions under different allocation scenarios.

The new model is available at www.epa.gov/waterscience/models/allocations.

 

New Rules Set on Coal Mine Effluents

EPA has amended regulations designed to prevent water
quality  and other environmental
damage from abandoned coal mines in the western and Appalachian states.

Under the new rules, remining operations will be required to
implement strategies that control pollutant releases and ensure that the
pollutant discharges during the remining are less than the pollutant levels
released from the abandoned site prior to the remining.

The agency said the guidelines for western alkaline coal
mines will allow miners to install control technologies better suited to
reclaiming mining lands in arid and semi-arid regions,.

Additional information on the new rules is available at
www.epa.gov/guide/coal/index.htm.             

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