Oct 01, 2002

Washington News

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

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

A listing of the recipients of the funding appears at

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

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

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."                


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