Washington News

April 2, 2018

Senate Panel Backs EPA on Water Security

Determination of spending levels for major water programs was among the backlog of business facing Congress as members sought to wind up the legislative year and head for the campaign trails.

Appropriations measures to be dealt with included the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) budget. As cleared by the Senate Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on the budget for the EPA, it called for $1.45 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and $875 million for the Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. Those figures are $238 million and $25 million, respectively, more than President Bush requested in his budget for the 2003 fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

The measure would extend for another year existing authority for jurisdictions to transfer funds been the Clean Water and Drinking Water funds.

After Senate approval, the measure still required clearance by the House Appropriations Committee and the full House.

Agriculture Dept. Announces Water Project Funds

The U.S. Agriculture Department has announced that it is making more than $700 million available in loans and grants for 377 water projects being funded under its rural development program.

The projects involve building and rebuilding of wastewater and drinking water facilities in 47 states and Puerto Rico.

Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman said in announcing the projects that they "will go a long way in improving water quality and the environment."

A listing of the recipients of the funding appears at www.rurdev.usda.gov.

Whitman Appeals for Water Conservation

The drought that affected major parts of the country this past summer has made Americans more aware that clean water is an invaluable resource, Administrator Whitman said in urging conservation measures that halt water waste.

She noted that 14 percent of the water purchased by the average household is lost daily through leakage.

"Many people do not realize how much money they can save by taking simple steps to save water, and they don't know the cumulative effects such small changes can have on water resources and environmental quality."

The agency is offering a compilation of case histories on how some communities have cut overall water use up to 20 percent and is also providing conservation information via its web site.

The report, "Cases In Water Conservation," can be ordered by calling 513-489-8190 and asking for publication number EPA832-B-02-003. It also is available online along with additional information at www.epa.gov/owm/water-efficiency/index.htm.

Nominations Sought for Watershed Program

EPA is seeking nominations for the Watershed Initiative.

To implement the program, President Bush is asking Congress to appropriate $21 million for grants that would encourage community-based approaches to protect and restore watersheds.

EPA is asking governors and leaders of Indian tribes to submit nominations for projects in up to 20 watersheds. Awards would range from $300,000 to $1.3 million.

Database Continues to Expand

EPA reports additional state input for its two-phase plan designed to "improve public access to information on how the waters [that consumers] care about are being protected."

The most recent report adds 11 submissions from nine states, a U.S. territory and an Indian tribe to the National Water Quality Standards Database. This is a compilation of designated uses describing the functions that each water body is intended to support (e.g., drinking water, fishing and swimming). The second phase will add to the database "water quality criteria" related to each of the specific uses.

When completed, EPA said, the database will provide access to maps and tables for all of the 2.7 million surface water bodies in the nation.

Sprawl Seen as Drought Factor

Suburban sprawl aggravates drought, three environmental agencies say in a recent joint report.

As forests, farmlands and other open spaces give way to the impervious paved surfaces of residential and commercial development, the organizations contend, rain that previously refreshed aquifiers runs off into rivers, lakes, streams and the ocean, carrying pollutants into those waters.

The report was drafted by the National Resources Defense Council, American Rivers and Smart Growth America. Their study covered 20 metropolitan areas that led the nation in land development over the past 20 years, 11 in the south east.

Using a "range of imperviousness," the researchers estimated that losses to groundwater supplies ranged from a potential 14.4 billion gallons a year in Dallas to 132.8 billion gallons in Atlanta.

The report proposed a massive shift in development policy—-directing growth to established communities and said that step would "limit the number of new paved and other impervious surfaces, make existing communities more attractive and discourage new infrastructure that alters hydrologic functions and increases taxpayer burdens."                

More Washington News is available at our website: www.waterinfocenter.com.

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Robert Gray

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