USDA Announces New Water Conservation Funding for Ogallala Aquifer Region

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has just announced that it is investing $6.5 million in FY ’15 funding through the Ogallala Aquifer Initiative (OAI) to help farmers and ranchers conserve billions of gallons of water and improve water quality over the next four years. Funding will be targeted to seven focus areas in five states (Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas) to support their primary water source and strengthen rural economies.  The Ogallala supports nearly one-fifth of the wheat, corn, cotton and cattle produced in the US. It has long been the main water supply for the High Plains’ region and is being depleted at an unsustainable rate.  This conservation investment builds on $66 million that NRCS has invested through OAI since 2011, which helped farmers and ranchers conserve water on more than 325,000 acres.   View the NRCS news release HERE.

USDA Now Accepting FY ’16 Proposals for Regional Conservation Partnership Program

USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) is now accepting proposals for FY ’16 projects.  ASDWA encourages states to consider partnering with your water utilities and their local producers to submit a project proposal aimed at improving or protecting drinking water quality.  RCPP efforts are intended to increase the restoration and sustainable use of soil, water, wildlife and related natural resources on regional or watershed scales.  Eligible partners include:  state, local, and tribal governments; water utilities; private companies; universities; non-profit organizations; and others joining with agricultural and conservation organizations and producers to invest money, manpower and materials to their proposed initiatives.  Last year, the RCPP funded 115 projects across all 50 states and Puerto Rico for a total of more than $370 million, and were estimated to leverage an additional $400 million in partner contributions.  This coming year, the RCPP will again provide $225 million for projects (at up to $10 million per project) through three funding pools:

Iowa serves as a great example for other states who are considering partnering on RCPP projects.  In Iowa, the state drinking water program partnered with the City of Cedar Rapids on the RCPP funded Middle Cedar Partnership Project to work with local conservation partners, farmers and landowners to install best management practices such as cover crops, nutrient management, wetlands and saturated buffers to help improve water quality, water quantity, and soil health in the Cedar River Watershed.

Pre-proposals for the RCPP are due July 8, 2015. For more information and to apply, read the announcement for program funding and visit the NRCS web page.

April 28th CWA-SDWA Toolkit Webinar Video Now Available

Thanks to everyone who was able to join us for the April 28th CWA-SDWA Toolkit Webinar on Using Water Quality Standards, Monitoring, Assessment, and Impaired Waters Listings to Protect and Preserve Drinking Water Quality.   Approximately 195 people participated from across the nation representing multiple state water programs, EPA Headquarters and Regions, and other agencies and organizations.  The audio/video recording of this webinar and the presentations highlighting more detailed information about Sections 1 – 2 of the toolkit, as well as three state examples from New York, Oregon, and Colorado are now available on ASDWA’s web site at www.asdwa.org/sourcewaterprotection.  You may also view the video HERE.

USGS Publishes Water-Energy Nexus Report

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has published a report entitled, “The Water-Energy Nexus:  An Earth Science Perspective.”  The intent of this report is to provide scientific insight to resource managers and the general public on the complex ways in which water and energy are interconnected and to highlight the important issues that affect availability and sustainability of water and energy resources in the US.  Issues analyzed and discussed in the report include freshwater availability; water use; ecosystems health; assessment of fossil-fuel, uranium, and geothermal resources; subsurface injection of wastewater and carbon dioxide and related induced seismicity; climate change and its effect on water availability and energy production; byproducts and waste streams of energy development; energy for water treatment and delivery, and more.  To read the report, visit the USGS web site.

AWWA and WaterRF Free Cyanotoxins Guide Now Available

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) and the Water Research Foundation (WaterRF) have released a new guide to help water utility managers detect and control cyanotoxins from harmful algal blooms entitled, “A Water Utility Manager’s Guide to Cyanotoxins.” The guide addresses cyanotoxin occurrence, source water management, and treatment strategies. It is presented in a simple Q&A format, and is available for free download from both the AWWA and WRF web sites. A more technical companion document is also in development to be published this summer, after EPA releases its new health advisory levels and analytical metthods for microcystin and cylindrospermopsin next month.

EPA, NASA, NOAA and USGS Creating Early Warning System to Detect Harmful Algal Blooms

EPA has announced that it’s developing an early warning indicator system using historical and current satellite data to detect algal blooms.  EPA researchers will develop a mobile app to inform water quality managers of changes in water quality using satellite data on cyanobacteria algal blooms from three partnering agencies:  NASA, NOAA, and the U.S. Geological Survey.  The multi-agency project will create a reliable, standard method for identifying cyanobacteria blooms in U.S. freshwater lakes and reservoirs using ocean color satellite data.  Several satellite data sets will be evaluated against environmental data collected from these water bodies, which allows for more frequent observations over broader areas than can be achieved by taking traditional water samples.  To read EPA’s news release, visit the web site HERE.

From Texas to Maine, NOAA’s Expanded Flood Information Tool Promotes Resilience

A NOAA flood exposure risk mapping tool that was developed in New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania has now been expanded to cover coastal areas along the entire U.S. East Coast and Gulf of Mexico. The Coastal Flood Exposure Mapper, a deliverable of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, provides users with maps, data, and information to assess risks and vulnerabilities related to coastal flooding and hazards. According to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau population count, 39 percent of the U.S. population lives in counties subject to significant coastal flooding.  This mapping tool visualizes anticipated flood effects, thereby aiding preparation for coastal storms.

With this NOAA tool, users select their location and the flood scenario of their choosing: Federal Emergency Management Agency flood designations, shallow coastal flooding associated with high tides, or flooding associated with sea level rise or storm surge. Flood maps are then overlaid with any of three exposure maps to show how floodwaters might impact area assets. All maps can be saved, printed, and shared.

  • The societal exposure map provides information on population density, poverty, the elderly, employees, and projected population growth. Communities can use this information for community planning and to determine how floodwaters might affect vulnerable or concentrated populations.
  • Roads, bridges, water, and sewer systems can be damaged by coastal flooding. Communities can use the mapper to assess infrastructure vulnerabilities and associated environmental and economic issues to determine what steps are needed to protect these assets.
  • The ecosystem exposure map provides data and information about natural areas and open spaces—including their proximity to development — to help communities identify which areas can be conserved for future flood protection benefits. Pollution sources are also identified to show where natural resources could be affected during a flood.

This map tool was developed by the NOAA Office for Coastal Management.

Register Now for the 2nd CWA-SDWA Toolkit Webinar

ASDWA, the Association of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA), and the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) are pleased to announce that the Second CWA-SDWA Toolkit Webinar will be held on April 28th from 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. (eastern).  This webinar is entitled, “Using Water Quality Standards, Monitoring, Assessment, and Impaired Waters Listings to Protect and Preserve Drinking Water Quality.”

It is the second of four webinars in a series to provide more detailed information about the CWA-SDWA Toolkit entitled, “Opportunities to Protect Drinking Water Sources and Advance Watershed Goals through the Clean Water Act:  A Toolkit for State, Interstate, Tribal, and Federal Water Program Managers.”  The toolkit was developed by a workgroup that included many state, EPA Headquarters, and EPA Regional representatives from clean water, drinking water, and ground water programs.  During subsequent webinars, speakers will share information and state examples from Sections 3–5 of the toolkit on Total Maximum Daily Loads, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permits, Nonpoint Source, and Clean Water Act 319 Programs.

State and EPA water managers are encouraged to attend, and registration is open to anyone else who would like to participate.  Please view the attached flyer for the complete agenda and use the following link to register:  https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3949215235341082113.

4-28-2015 CWA-SDWA Toolkit Webinar No 2 – Flyer

ASDWA’s 2015 Annual Conference Call for Papers

Please submit your abstract for ASDWA’s 2015 Annual Conference.  This year’s conference will be held October 20-23, 2015 at the Hilton Fort Worth in Fort Worth, Texas.  Approximately 250 participants are expected to attend.  Presentation themes may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Source water protection and sustainability of water supplies
  • Climate change, water and energy efficiency, and conservation
  • Clean Water Act/SDWA connections, nutrient pollution, and Harmful Algal Blooms
  • State revolving loan fund tools and techniques/green infrastructure strategies
  • Emerging contaminants in drinking water, both chemical (Cr+6, perchlorate, etc.) and microbial (Legionella, Naegleria fowleri, etc.)
  • Emerging drinking water treatment technologies and optimization of current technologies
  • SDWA implementation approaches and strategies including collaborations and partnerships
  • Drinking water security strategies and tools
  • Small systems: TMF, sustainability strategies, technologies, and compliance
  • Workforce, operator certification, and/or technical assistance initiatives
  • Data management
  • Distribution system issues
  • Drinking water research
  • Risk assessment, risk communication and consumer outreach
  • Implementation of regulations – challenges and successes

When reviewing proposals, ASDWA will give priority to those received from state drinking water program administrators and their staff.  If you would like to make a presentation, please submit a one-page abstract with the proposed presentation title, and the name, title, affiliation, and contact information for the speaker to Deirdre Mason of ASDWA at dmason@asdwa.org by June 1, 2015. For more information, please view and download the Call for Papers and Exhibitors.

For more information about the 2015 ASDWA Annual Conference, visit us at www.asdwa.org/Conferences.

Three Upcoming Webinars

March 18th Watershed Academy Webcast on ELI/TNC Watershed Approach Handbook  

On Wednesday, March 18 from 1:00pm to 3:00pm (eastern), EPA’s Watershed Academy on a recently released handbook by the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) entitled, “Watershed Approach Handbook: Improving Benefits Associated with Wetland and Stream Restoration and Protection Projects.”  The webcast will give listeners a broad overview of the handbook, which was developed to advance the use of a “watershed approach” in the selection, design, and siting of wetland and stream restoration and protection projects, including projects required by compensatory mitigation. The handbook was funded by EPA and provides a framework for how to carry out the watershed approach, defines a range of different approaches, and offers examples of how these approaches have been applied across the country.  The webcast will also feature a case study from Wisconsin. Register for the Webcast at: www.epa.gov/watershedwebcasts.

March 31st Webinar for States on Flood Resilience: A Basic Guide for Water and Wastewater Utilities

On Tuesday, March 31 from 1:00 to 2:00pm (eastern), ASDWA and EPA will host a one hour training webinar on EPA’s new document titled Flood Resilience: A Basic Guide for Water and Wastewater Utilities. The session is intended to engage state staff about how to use the Guide as well as to train others (e.g., utilities).  Note: EPA is hosting separate web events to engage other audiences.  Join us and learn how to work with your small and medium water systems and your assistance providers to learn about a helpful, straightforward approach to flood resilience.  As part of this webinar, train-the-trainer materials will be distributed so that participants can give the training presentation to others. The Guide is designed to help small- and medium-size water and wastewater utilities understand their flooding threat and identify ways to mitigate against flood damage and disruptions.  The Guide is easy to use and includes interactive worksheets, instructional videos, and flood maps.  Register for the Webinar at:  https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/653976686857482753

April 10th DHS Webinar on Changing Precipitation, Drought, and the Impacts to Infrastructure

On Friday, April 10 from 1:00-2:30pm (eastern), the DHS Office of Infrastructure will host a webinar entitled, “Changing Precipitation, Drought, and the Impacts to Critical Infrastructure,” as part of its ongoing webinar series.  This webinar will feature speakers from across the Agency who will discuss national changes in patterns of precipitation – causes, how much, when, where, and how they contribute to drought conditions; as well as the cascading impacts of drought on critical infrastructure sectors.  DHS will send read-ahead materials to registered participants as the web event date draws closer.  Register for the Webinar HERE.  Note:  You will have to either register as a user for Govevents or log in with your Facebook or LinkedIn account.