Washington News

Oct. 24, 2002

The federal government's top environmental official is urging that a national summit meeting be held early next year on the best ways to meet water infrastructure needs her agency now estimates could exceed a half-trillion dollars.

Administrator Christie Whitman of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said such a meeting would bring together a broad range of experts and other interested parties committed to meeting infrastructure challenges.

In a related move, EPA issued the Clean Water and Drinking Water Infrastructure Gap Analysis of estimated funding needs for all supply, treatment and distribution systems. Without revenue growth, the gap between income and costs for capital and operation/maintenance spending could reach $271 billion for clean water and $263 billion for drinking water over the 20 years ending in 2019. However, assuming annual revenue growth of 3 percent brings the gap down to $31 billion for clean water and $45 billion for drinking water.

The report said it was important to recognize that the estimated funding gap would occur only if capital and O&M spending do not increase from present levels. It noted that other measures to reduce the gap could include asset management to reduce capital and O&M costs and "rate structures that better reflect the cost of service."

EPA said the analysis provides "an indication of the funding gap that will result if we ignore the challenges posed by an aging infrastructure network, a significant portion of which is beginning to reach the end of its useful design life."

Percentage of Impaired Waters Up Slightly

EPA's latest national summary of water quality shows the percentage of impaired waters "increased somewhat" over the previous biennial report but said the difference is more likely the result of changes in assessment techniques rather than in actual water-quality.

The findings of the latest National Water Quality Inventory, covering conditions in 2000, were based on state assessments of 19 percent of the nation's 3.7 million river and stream miles; 43 percent of its 40.6 million acres of lakes, ponds and reservoirs; and 36 percent of the 87,300 square miles of estuaries. Of the resources assessed, the agency said 39 percent of the river and stream miles, 45 percent of the lake acres and 51 percent of estuary square miles in the nation were found to be impaired for one or more uses.

EPA said the assessment changes that indicated an increase in impaired waters included many states' use of higher quality data and the discarding of previously used, lower-quality data.

However, G. Tracy Mehan, EPA assistant administrator of water, said that this report points out the need for more effective controls to address the nation's water quality problems, especially those originating from diffuse, non-permitted sources such as runoff from agricultural and urban areas.

U.S. Government Approves Cadiz Project

A unique plan under which a private company would help Southern California meet its long-term water supply needs has won critical approval from the U. S. Department of the Interior.

Under the proposed arrangement, water from the Colorado River would be stored in an existing groundwater basin underlying parts of the Cadiz and Fenner Valleys in the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County. The stored and indigenous groundwater would be drawn down as needed during periods in which normal supplies were inadequate.

The principal partners in the plan are the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and Cadiz, Inc., of Santa Monica, Calif., which owns the storage site.

The district's governing body was scheduled to vote in November on the final go-ahead on the project.

The agency's goal is to establish a reserve of up to 1 million acre feet and withdraw up to 150,000 acre feet when needed in dry years.

Federal approval was needed because pipelines would cross public lands.

The proposal has not had unanimous support. Environmental groups and some California officials including Sen. Diane Feinstein (D) are opposing it saying that the project may have a potential impact on the existing aquifer.

Screening Tool Available

The PBT Profiler, an on-line program that screens for potential, persistent bioaccumulative and toxic (PBTs) chemicals is available online from EPA.

The screening tool was developed jointly by EPA, the American Chemistry Council, the Chlorine Chemistry Council and the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association.

EPA says the new program allows companies to screen for PBT chemicals faster than they could with traditional methods, to select safer alternatives to PBTs and to incorporate pollution prevents into the chemical development process.

Additonal information is available at www.epa.gov/oppt/pbtprofiler.

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

USGS Offers Real Time Water Flow Data

Same-day water flow data on a local or nationwide basis can now be accessed on the new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Water Watch site.

Visitors to the site find color-coded national maps from which they can go to their respective states and then to the nearest streams. The USGS said the site is helpful for local water managers to be able to adjust their supply sources and to operate dams and reservoirs to the greatest efficiency.

The site is water.usgs.gov/waterwatch.

EPA Developing Guide on Nonpoint Programs

EPA is seeking public comments on its draft technical guidance and reference document, National Management Measures to Control Nonpoint Source Pollution from Urban Areas. The deadline for the comment is Dec. 9.

The agency said the guide is intended for use by state, local and tribal managers in the implementation of nonpoint source pollution management programs. It will include information on the best available, economically achievable means of reducing pollution of surface and ground water from urban areas, EPA said.

The draft version of the guide is available online at www.epa.gov/owow/nps/urbanmm.      

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

Download: Here

About the Author

Robert Gray

Sponsored Recommendations

Get Utility Project Solutions

June 13, 2024
Lightweight, durable fiberglass conduit provides engineering benefits, performance and drives savings for successful utility project outcomes.

Energy Efficient System Design for WWTPs

May 24, 2024
System splitting with adaptive control reduces electrical, maintenance, and initial investment costs.

Meeting the Demands of Wastewater Treatment Plants

May 24, 2024
KAESER understands the important requirements wastewater treatment plant designers and operators consider when evaluating and selecting blowers and compressed air equipment. In...

Modernize OT Cybersecurity to Mitigate Risk

April 25, 2024
Rockwell Automation supports industry-leading Consumer Packaged Goods company, Church & Dwight, along their industrial cybersecurity journey.