Mark Your Calendars – Four Webinars in February 2015

February 3:  CWA-SDWA Toolkit Introductory Webinar

On February 3, from 1:00pm – 2:30pm (eastern time), ASDWA, GWPC, and ACWA will host the first of four free webinars in a series to introduce participants to 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.”  During this webinar, speakers from the three convening associations, each of EPA’s Office of Water Programs (the Office of Science and Technology (OST), the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water (OGWDW), the Office of Wastewater Management (OWM), and the Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds (OWOW)), EPA Region 5, and the State of Oregon, will provide a brief overview of each section of the toolkit.  During subsequent webinars, speakers will provide more detailed information about each section of the toolkit and share case examples from a variety of states.  WEBINAR LOG IN:  https://acwa.adobeconnect.com/cwa-sdwa_toolkit_intro/ (There is no need to register in advance, just log in as a guest at the time of the webinar.)

 

February 5:  Webcast on Lessons Learned from Ten Years of Watershed Assessment in USDA’s Conservation Effects Assessment Project

Join EPA for a Watershed Academy webcast on February 5, from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm (eastern time) to learn about lessons from the past 10 years of USDA’s Watershed Assessments in the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP).  Renown agricultural research experts will share some of the key findings from the CEAP Watershed Assessments on how the suite, timing and spatial distribution of conservation practices influence and impact local water quality outcomes.  Topics covered will include nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment loss reduction and various approaches to targeting, as well as overall lessons learned from the CEAP Watershed Assessments.  Register HERE:  www.epa.gov/watershedwebcasts.

 

February 13:  How to Implement and Fund a State Water Loss Control Program: A Georgia Case Study

ASDWA invites you to join us on February 13, from 1:30pm to 3:00pm (eastern time) for a free webinar about Georgia’s state water loss management program, that serves as an example to be replicated by other states.  State and EPA drinking water and SRF financing program personnel are encouraged to attend. Register HERE:  https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2817501109176570114.

Attendees of this webinar will learn about Georgia’s Water Loss Management Program that stemmed from a 2010 law establishing a statewide requirement for water systems (with populations above 3,300) to conduct and submit an annual AWWA Water Audit. To support this requirement, the State used SRF set-aside funds to implement a comprehensive training and technical assistance program for the utilities; conduct quality assurance before the audit submittals; and develop a validation program to provide quality control after the submittals. Attendees of this webinar will gain an understanding of the overall program, why the validation step is so critical in the process, and why posting of results must be done very carefully. During the webinar, attendees will hear from the following speakers:

  • Lebone Moeti of the Georgia Drinking Water Program – will share the regulatory perspective on how the auditing mandate has been implemented, including key lessons learned, and how the audit data is being utilized.
  • Will Jernigan, the Georgia Water Loss Control Committee Chair – will share how the Committee was established; how they are serving as an ongoing resource to reinforce the business behaviors and keep the annual audits relevant; and how they are guiding efficiency improvements.
  • Jason Bodwell, Georgia’s SRF Program Manager – will share how they have leveraged this training and technical assistance to enhance their SRF Loan Program.

  

February 23:  New Sustainability Webinar Coming Soon!

On February 23, from 1:00pm – 2:30pm (eastern time) EPA will hold the second webinar in its four part Sustainability series.  This event will include two discussion topics – the first on “Sustainable and Effective Practices for Creating Your Water Utility Roadmap” by Jim Horne from EPA’s Office of Water – and, secondly, “Operational Resiliency,” by Austin Water Utility Deputy Director Daryl Slusher and City of Phoenix Director of Water Services Kathryn Sorenson.  Register HERE:  Moving Toward Sustainability

EPA Releases Connectivity Report to Inform its Waters of the U.S. Rule

On January 15th, EPA’s Office of Research and Development released the final science report, Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters.  The report summarizes current scientific understanding about the connectivity of streams and wetlands to downstream waters. The report is based on an EPA review of the literature on the scientific evidence regarding the effects that streams, non-tidal wetlands, and open-waters have on larger downstream waters such as rivers, lakes, estuaries, and oceans. The report concludes that streams, wetlands, and other open-waters influence the integrity of downstream waters through both structural and functional connections. EPA, along with other federal agencies and states, can use this scientific report to inform policy and regulatory decisions, including the Clean Water Rule being developed jointly by EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  That rule would clarify what constitutes a “water of the U.S.” and should thus be afforded the protections under the Clean Water Act.

Ken Kopocis, EPA’s Acting Assistant Administrator, has written a blog for additional perspective on using this science to inform our work on the Clean Water Rule. http://1.usa.gov/1we6FDw

A blog about the science has also been written by Lek Kadeli, the Acting Assistant Administrator of the Office of Research and Development. http://1.usa.gov/1wdP6Di

Find the report at: http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/cfm/recordisplay.cfm?deid=296414

USDA Announces 2014-2015 RCPP Projects

USDA has announced the first projects to be funded under the new USDA Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).  These 115 projects, across all 50 states and Puerto Rico, will receive more than $370 million in Federal funding and are estimated to leverage an additional $400 million in partner contributions.  The projects focus on improving the nation’s water quality, supporting wildlife habitat, and enhancing the environment.  Six of the listed project descriptions specifically mention drinking water.  These six projects are located in Kansas, the Chesapeake Bay, Arkansas, Maine, Ohio, and West Virginia.  For more information, visit the USDA web site.

USGS Receives Funds for Groundwater Monitoring Network

As part of the FY 15 CROmnibus funding package, ASDWA has learned that funding has also been made available for a US Geological Survey initiative to sustain data collection efforts.  The National Groundwater Monitoring Network (NGWMN) is funded at $2,600,000.  Appropriations language calls on the Survey to provide cost-share grants to states in the form of cooperative agreements to upgrade monitoring networks to national standards and to incorporate wells into the network.  To learn more about the NGWMN, please visit http://cida.usgs.gov/ngwmn/

Source Water Collaborative Publishes Call to Action

The Source Water Collaborative (SWC) has just published a “Call to Action” that ASDWA helped to develop.  This document includes a future vision in which “All drinking water sources are adequately protected,” along with key actions for state, federal, and local partners to:  update and improve source water assessments and protection plans; protect drinking water sources and work with key partners; and implement rapid emergency notification and response procedures.  Please note that this was a “soft launch” of the Call to Action paper, to coincide with the 40th Anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act Celebratory Event that was held last week.  The SWC’s full promotion of the Call to Action  is planned for early 2015. To accompany the attached 4-pager, the full promotion will also feature a companion document that includes informational resources and tools for SWC organizations and their members to facilitate the proposed actions.  To view and download the Call to Action, visit the SWC home page at www.sourcewatercollaborative.org.

USDA Seeks Public Comment on New EQIP Rule

Today, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a Federal Register Notice asking for public comment on a new rule that outlines how it will improve the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).  EQIP is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers and forest landowners to address soil, water, and air concerns on their lands for improved environmental benefits, including water quality.  This new interim rule includes EQIP program changes authorized by Congress in the 2014 Farm Bill, and is intended to streamline the program and simplify the regulation r for farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.  Comments are due by February 10, 2015, based on a 60-day comment period.  View the USDA news release HERE.  View the Federal Register Notice HERE.

This rule follows the publication of the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) interim final rule in the Federal Register on November 5. USDA is also seeking comments for the CSP rule.  For more information about interim final rules for USDA NRCS’s Farm Bill conservation programs, visit EQIP Rule Page.

Celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act!

December 16, 2014 will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act.  In anticipation of that important milestone, ASDWA has developed and gathered some information to help you join in the celebration.  We have created a special portion of our web site dedicated to this anniversary where you will find the following materials: 

  • A narrative history of our collective progress under the SDWA, from a state drinking water program perspective
  • A customizable press release and Governor’s proclamation
  • Information about a December 9th celebration of the 40th anniversary
  • Testimonials from four state drinking water program administrators
  • Other resources and links (including a link to EPA’s 40th anniversary web page and a special video developed by the Minnesota drinking water program)

Visit the ASDWA web site at:  http://www.asdwa.org/40thanniversary.

EPA Water Utility Climate Resilience Pilots Announced

EPA has announced that it will provide up to $600,000 in training and technical assistance to help drinking water, wastewater and stormwater utilities in more than 20 communities bolster their climate change resilience and readiness  These communities will participate in a multi-year pilot program using EPA’s Climate Resilience Evaluation and Awareness Tool (CREAT) software that helps users identify assets, threats and adaptation options to help reduce risk from climate change such as droughts, more intense and frequent storms, flooding, sea-level rise and changes to water quality.

The communities receiving assistance from EPA include:  ​Auburn, AL; ​Austin and Houston, TX; ​Blair, NE; ​Bozeman and Helena, MT; Faribault, MN; ​Fredericktown, MO; ​Haworth, NJ; ​Henryville, IN; ​Hillsboro, KS; ​Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA; ​Nome, AR; ​Norfolk, VA; ​Portsmouth, NH; ​Redwood Valley, CA; ​Sandpoint, Idaho; and the Seminole Tribe, FL.

For more information, visit EPA’s Climate Ready Water Utilities (CRWU) web site.

EPA Awards Great Lakes HABs Grants to Ohio, Michigan and Indiana

EPA has awarded four Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grants totaling over $8.6 million to Ohio, Michigan and Indiana state agencies to protect public health by targeting harmful algal blooms in western Lake Erie.  These Great Lake Restoration Initiative grants to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (approximately $5.9 million), the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (over $1.5 million), the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (approximately $807,000) and the Indiana Department of Agriculture (approximately $360,000) will fund eight projects.  The grants will be used to provide technical assistance and incentives to farmers in western Lake Erie watersheds to reduce phosphorus runoff that contributes to harmful algal blooms, and to improve measurement of phosphorus loads in Lake Erie tributaries.  The recently released GLRI Action Plan lays out a strategy for increased federal efforts to reduce agricultural and urban runoff in these priority watersheds during 2015-19.

For more information about the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and to view the Action Plan:  visit the web site at http://www.epa.gov/greatlakes/glri/.

Now Available – CWA-SDWA Toolkit to Protect Sources of Drinking Water

We are very pleased to announce the availability of the Opportunities to Protect Drinking Water and Advance Watershed Goals Through the Clean Water Act: A Toolkit for State, Interstate, Tribal and Federal Water Program Managers.  This Toolkit is designed to enable state and EPA water quality practitioners to better protect drinking water supplies using regulatory and non-regulatory provisions of the Clean Water Act and achieve mutual goals – better protected sources of drinking water and improved water quality. A one page fact sheet about the Toolkit is also provided, for your reference.

The Toolkit is the result of a multi-year effort by state and EPA water quality managers across clean water and safe drinking water programs. The group drew on expertise and examples of success from many states to provide the most promising opportunities to address complex water quality challenges that could benefit from a coordinated and collaborative approach, leveraging all available tools and resources.  This Toolkit:

  • identifies opportunities to reduce pollution in drinking water sources by using CWA tools;
  • provides examples of on-the-ground implementation;
  • demonstrates how program managers can align their efforts to protect source water through a combination of actions and institutional relationships that facilitate cross-program coordination at the national, regional, state, and watershed scales to achieve common objectives; and
  • shows how state clean water programs can leverage the high value that consumers place on public health protection and safe drinking water to increase public support for addressing surface and ground water quality challenges more effectively.

We plan to hold webinars, in the near future, to delve into the Toolkit in detail and provide some case examples of how it can be used.  But, please don’t wait for those webinars.  The Toolkit is “good to go” and can be used now to support coordination and collaboration between safe drinking water and clean water managers. FYI, the Toolkit is also being disseminated by state and EPA clean water managers to their respective networks.

Please let us know if you have any questions about the Toolkit.