EPA’s Healthy Watershed Consortium Awards First Grants

EPA and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities are funding the first grants awarded under EPA’s Healthy Watershed Consortium Grant Program.  The nine awards total more than $1.4 million and will protect and improve land management of hundreds of thousands of acres of watersheds in seven states, including drinking water supply watersheds. The grants were awarded to help build the capacity of local organizations for sustainable, long-term watershed protection, as well as new techniques and approaches that advance the state of practice for watershed protection. EPA and the Endowment are each providing $625,000 annually for grants, and the program is planned to run for at least six years. In this inaugural year, the program received 169 applications requesting more than $37 million.  For more information and to view the list of awardees, view the June 14th press release.

USGS Publishes Groundwater Corrosivity Study

A recent U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) assessment of more than 20,000 wells nationwide indicates that groundwater found in 25 states in the northeast, southeast, and northwest, and the District of Columbia has a high potential for being naturally corrosive. The findings have the greatest implications for homeowners with private drinking water systems, though some of the data in the study are for samples collected from public supply wells. Naturally corrosive water is not dangerous to consume by itself. Nevertheless, it can cause health-related problems by reacting with pipes and plumbing fixtures in homes. If plumbing materials contain lead or copper, these metals may be leached into the water supply by corrosive water. Signs of corrosive water causing leaching of metals may include bluish-green stains in sinks, metallic taste to water, and small leaks in plumbing fixtures.

Two indicators were used to assess the potential corrosivity of groundwater. The first index is the Langelier Saturation Index, an indicator of whether mineral scale may form on the inside of pipes and prevent the release of lead to drinking water. The second indicator, the chloride-to-sulfate ratio, measures the potential of source water to promote the release of lead in pipes through galvanic corrosion. These two indicators were combined into one indicator to assess the prevalence of potentially corrosive groundwater nationwide.  View maps, download the data, and learn more about this national assessment of groundwater corrosivity online.  For more information, contact Ken Belitz of USGS at kbelitz@usgs.gov.

 

Corrosivity map

 

July and August US Water Alliance Webinars

The US Water Alliance will host two free webinars in July and August that should be of interest to state source water contacts.  See details following.

 

Date/Time:  Thursday, July 28 from 1:00pm – 2:15pm (eastern)

Title:  Know Your Water: Deciphering and Communicating Drinking Water Quality and Consumer Confidence Reports

Description:  Communities from New York to Flint, Michigan and beyond have recently experienced tragic lapses in water quality. Consumer confidence in drinking water is understandably shaken, even though the overwhelming majority of water providers are doing an excellent job of providing high quality drinking water. How can we demystify what goes into water quality testing and so communities can be assured of access to safe drinking water? With the July 1st deadline for water providers to post their 2016 consumer confidence reports, now is the time to discuss how communities can better know their water. Hear from top experts about national trends in water quality testing, monitoring and reporting, challenges faced by utilities with different water sources, common myths about water quality, and best practices in communicating consumer confidence results and community outreach.

Speakers:  Radhika Fox, CEO of the US Water Alliance (moderator), Diane VanDe Hei, CEO of the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, Wally Wilson, Chief Hydrologist for Tucson Water, and

Kelley Dearing-Smith, Strategic Communications Director for Louisville Water

Register for the webinar here.

 

Date/Time:  Thursday, August 18 1:00pm – 2:00pm (eastern)

Title:  Advancing Partnerships for Healthy Watersheds

Description: 

Watersheds don’t fall into clear-cut city or county boundaries. To manage these systems, it can take more than one municipality or organization to design a holistic approach.  Tackling multi-jurisdictional challenges requires defined goals, responsibilities and funding sources which can be difficult to handle without strong partnerships.  What’s the ideal recipe for a successful watershed partnership? Ingredients include pinpointing specific geographic areas, targeting stressors and including grassroots organizations, all while steadily evaluating and communicating achievements.  Hear from experts who have successfully advanced watershed partnerships through strategic collaboration and goal-setting.

Speakers:  To be announced.

Register for the webinar here.

Plan Now to Nominate Your Water Systems for AWWA’s Source Water Protection Award

Please take a few moments to consider nominating your state’s water systems for the 2016 AWWA Exemplary Source Water Protection Award, that will be awarded at the 2017 AWWA Annual Conference & Exposition.  This award recognizes up to three water systems every year for their outstanding source water protection programs, with consideration for their size and resources.  This year’s two award winners were the Central Utah Provo Watershed Council and the Regional Municipality of York, Ontario.

This year, the AWWA Source Water Protection Committee that administers the award program is strongly encouraging nomination submissions for the smallest water systems serving populations of 10,000 or fewer, using either ground water or surface water supply sources.  Because many of these systems may not have the gumption, resources, or ability to complete the application process themselves, the Committee is hopeful that state drinking water programs, AWWA Sections, and State Rural Water Associations will be willing to help.

While the nominations for this year are not due until January 15, 2017, it is helpful to get an early start on the application process.  Nominations are judged on how well a water system meets the six components of AWWA’s (G300) Source Water Protection Standard:  1) program vision; 2) source water characterization; 3) source water protection goals; 4) development of an Action Plan; 5) implementation of the Action Plan; and 6) periodic evaluation and revision of the entire program. In addition to how well a source water protection program satisfies each of the six program components for the AWWA Standard, nominees will also be evaluated on the following three criteria:

  1. Effectiveness of the program,
  2. Innovative approaches, and
  3. Difficulties overcome.

More information about the award, including previous award recipients, eligibility and submission criteria, and the entry form, may be accessed via the AWWA Source Water Protection Resource Community page.  You will need to sign in using your AWWA member information, or sign up for a free username and password if you are not a member.  You may also view the criteria and download the entry form at www.awwa.org/eswpa.

CDC Launches New Reporting System and Website for HABs and Associated Illnesses

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched a reporting system for harmful algal blooms (HABs), as well as a new website with important information for both health officials and the public. The One Health Harmful Algal Bloom System (OHHABS) collects data on HABs and associated human and animal illness. OHHABS is an example of One Health surveillance. One Health is an approach that recognizes that human, animal, and environmental health are interconnected, and that human health, animal health, and environmental health communities can more effectively address many linked health challenges by working together. Public Health Departments and their designated environmental health and animal health partners are encouraged to report relevant information through their state’s National Outbreak Reporting System (NORS) Reporting Site Administrator.  To identify your state’s NORS Reporting Site Administrator, please contact NORSAdmin@cdc.gov. For more information about HABs and associated illnesses for the general public, including ways that people can protect themselves, their families and their pets, visit CDC’s new Harmful Algal Bloom website.

Michigan DEQ Office of Great Lakes Publishes First Part of State Water Strategy

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Office of the Great Lakes has published the first part of Michigan’s Water Strategy, a 30-year plan to protect, manage and enhance state’s water resources.  The Strategy is focused on wise use of Michigan’s waters to ensure healthy citizens, vibrant communities, sustainable economies and stewardship of the state’s water heritage.  It was developed through a collaborative stakeholder process and highlights key actions for government, tribal governments, nongovernmental organizations, industry, academia, local communities and individuals. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s five top priorities for the Strategy are:

  • Ensuring safe drinking water for all Michiganders;
  • Achieving a 40 percent phosphorous reduction in the Western Lake Erie basin;
  • Preventing the introduction of new invasive species;
  • Supporting investments in commercial and recreational harbors; and
  • Developing and implementing Michigan’s water trails system.

 

This first part of the Strategy was released during a celebration of the annual Great Lakes and Freshwater Week that promotes water education, stewardship and water recreation.  Other parts of the Strategy will be released over the course of the next few months at additional events around the state.  Read Part I of the Strategy and follow its implementation and progress at www.michigan.gov/waterstrategy.  Information about Great Lakes and Freshwater Week events can be found at http://semcog.org/What-You-Can-Do/To-Protect-Our-Waterways/Water-Week.

Draft EPA Urban Resilience to Climate Change Document Available for Public Comment

EPA has published a Federal Register (FR) Notice announcing the availability of a draft document entitled, “Evaluating Urban Resilience to Climate Change: A Multi-Sector Approach,” for a 30-day public comment period ending July 21, 2016.  The document shares results from the use of EPA’s assessment tool that was developed by the National Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) within the Office of Research and Development (ORD) to help cities identify areas of resilience and vulnerability to climate change impacts in eight different municipal sectors (including water, and public health and emergency response). It also demonstrates how the tool’s assessment method provides useful information for future adaptation planning for different types of cities and shares case studies from Washington, DC and Worcester, Massachusetts with specific information about drinking water infrastructure and supply impacts.

The FR Notice also announces that EPA’s contractor will select four independent experts from a pool of eight to conduct an external scientific peer review of the same draft document.  For more information and to download the document, visit EPA’s website HERE. To view the FR Notice and provide comments, go HERE.  For technical information, please contact Susan Julius of EPA’s NCEA at julius.susan@epa.gov or 703-347-8619.

 

EPA Webinar on Contaminants of Emerging Concern

EPA’s Safe and Sustainable Water Resources Research Program will host a webinar on “Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) in Source and Treated Drinking Water,” on June 29 from 2:00pm – 3:00pm (eastern). This presentation will discuss findings from an EPA and USGS study on the occurrences of CECs in both source water and treated drinking water across the US. Register for the webinar HERE.

HABs State of the Science Webinar

The Great Lakes HABs Collaboratory, in collaboration with Ohio Sea Grant and LimnoTech, will host a Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) State of the Science webinar June 23rd from 1:00-2:00 pm (eastern) as part of their series focused on the latest research related to HABs in the Great Lakes.  The topic of this webinar is “HABs Blooms Sources & Movements,” where presenters will share ongoing research projects about the roles and dynamics of nutrients that affect HABs. Register for the webinar here.

Virginia Water Resources Protection and Emergency Response Seminar Held Last Week

On June 9th, the Virginia Section AWWA held the “2016 Water Resources: Protection, Monitoring, & Emergency Response Seminar,” in Richmond, Virginia.  Representatives from water utilities, consulting firms, and ASDWA staff attended.  Highlights from the seminar included the following.

  • Roy Soto from the Virginia Drinking Water Program provided an overview of the state’s efforts to assist water utilities with emergency management planning and source water protection efforts. These include:  new updates to the state’s GIS system with overlays for land use, 303(d) impairments, geology and soils, and satellite imagery; contractor assistance for source water assessment and protection activities; and grants for emergency management planning.
  • Donald Rice from Newport News Waterworks shared information about: protecting their water sources through historical land ownership; managing forests; implementing best management practices; applying algaecide on reservoirs; conducting monitoring; and working with local fire departments and Colonial Pipeline operators to practice emergency preparedness in the event of a spill or other emergency.
  • Rich Gullick of Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority spoke about the history of source water protection and the challenges associated with implementation and national measures reporting. He also shared information about Rivanna’s efforts to conduct a reservoir management study, manage algae, develop source water protection plans for their smallest water sources with help from Virginia’s contractor, and work with agricultural partners.
  • Melissa Rosenbladt of Corona Environmental Consulting presented their “WaterSuite” GIS tool that they developed for the Washington, DC area regional water utilities that identifies potential sources of contamination that could pose an acute risk to drinking water quality along the Potomac River. The tool combines data from Federal, state, local and private sources, along with analysis and reporting functions.
  • Barry Dunkley of the City of Danville spoke about the 2014 coal ash spill on the Dan River as well as a water quality study and increased Powdered Activated Carbon(PAC) treatment efforts they are conducting to address a current taste and odor problem of an unknown origin.
  • Jamie Morris of the Western Virginia Water Authority presented information about a research project with Virginia Tech to manage eutrophication, and associated algae and nutrients, on one of their small drinking water supply reservoirs using hypolimnetic oxygenation.

For more information about the State of Virginia’s efforts in these areas, visit the source water protection web page and emergency planning tools web page.