ASDWA Signs on to Letter Asking FDA to Change Pharmaceutical Flushing Policy

On January 26th, ASDWA signed on to the Product Stewardship Institute’s (PSI) letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Acting Commissioner, urging the FDA “to work with the EPA, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to:  develop clear and consistent guidance to consumers on safe disposal of leftover household medications; end its recommendation that certain medications be disposed by flushing; and clarify that secure medicine take-back programs provide the best disposal method for leftover household medications.”  The letter was signed by over 100 environmental and health organizations (including ASDWA and other national water associations), agencies, and a few state legislators to protect water quality from pharmaceutical pollution.  In addition, PSI has developed a subsequent letter (not signed by ASDWA) to Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY),  in support of the Federal Pharmaceutical Stewardship Act to establish producer financed and managed collection programs and provide proper disposal options for unwanted and expired pharmaceuticals. Note, the Act was originally introduced on September 15, 2011, but was not enacted.

EPA Launches DWMAPS

On February 19, EPA released DWMAPS — the Drinking Water Mapping Application to Protect Source Waters. This new online mapping tool provides the public, water system operators, state programs, and Federal agencies with critical information to help them protect drinking water sources throughout the US.

The mapping system will not display the locations of Public Water System facility intakes, but it does contain a wide variety of data useful to the protection of drinking water sources. EPA developed DWMAPS in consultation with EPA regional drinking water programs, state drinking water regulators (including ASDWA representatives), and public water systems.  DWMAPS allows users to learn about their watershed; understand more about their water supplier; see if sources of their drinking water are polluted and if there are possible sources of pollution that could affect their communities’ water supply.

Utilities and state drinking water program managers can also use DWMAPS with their own state and local data. It allows them to identify potential sources of contamination in their locations, find data to support source water assessments and plans to manage potential sources of contamination and evaluate accidental spills and releases.  DWMAPS also integrates drinking water protection activities with other environmental programs at the federal, state, and local levels.

For more information and to use the tool, go to:  www.epa.gov/sourcewaterprotection/dwmaps

USGS Study Detects Algal Toxins in Southeastern US Streams

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has published the findings from a study that detected microcystins (algal toxins) in 39 percent of the small streams assessed throughout the southeastern United States. The study looked at 75 streams in portions of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.  Although the maximum microcystin concentration measured in this study (3.2 µg/L) did not exceed World Health Organization moderate risk thresholds (10 µg/L), further research is needed to understand the potential effects on water quality and related environmental health concerns in downstream aquatic ecosystems, lakes, and drinking water reservoirs.

This is the first of several regional assessments of algal toxins, which will provide context for the design of future environmental health studies. These studies will investigate land-use and other factors that may influence or create new environmental pathways of exposures to cyanobacteria and associated toxins.  Ongoing work by the USGS in the Pacific Northwest and planned work in the northeastern United States and California will expand the understanding of cyanobacteria and toxins in a wider variety of aquatic ecosystems.

More information about this study can be found here. For questions, please contact Keith Loftin of USGS at kloftin@usgs.gov or 785-832-3543.

USDA Announces FY 2016 Conservation Projects and Funding

USDA and Local Partners to Fund up to $720 Million for RCPP Projects

On February 12th, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that for FY ’16, USDA and local partners from across the nation will direct up to $720 million in pooled funds for 84 projects under the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.  Water quality and drought are dominant themes in this year’s RCPP project list, with 45 of the 84 projects focusing on water resource concerns.  The RCPP was created by the 2014 Farm Bill to help communities improve water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat, and protect agricultural viability.  The combined total of funding for the 2015 and 2016 rounds of projects will provide up to $1.5 billion for 199 strategic conservation projects. Projects are selected on a competitive basis, and local private partners must be able to at least match the USDA commitment.  Visit the USDA web site to see the full list of 2016 projects. And download the 2016 RCPP fact sheet.

2016 Projects Announced for USDA Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership

The U.S. Forest Service and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service are working together through the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership, to restore landscapes, reduce wildfire threats to communities and landowners, protect water quality, and enhance wildlife habitat.  The Partnership is making a Federal investment of over $40 million in FY ’16 for 11 new projects and 28 continuing projects (launched in 2014 and 2015). Local partners also plan to invest up to an additional $11 million in financial, technical, and in-kind assistance for the 11 new projects.  For more information, read the press release, see the list of all 2016 projects and see summaries of the new 2016 projects.

RFP and Webinar for Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Program

The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) is seeking proposals from lead organizations situated in disadvantaged rural communities with histories of African American land loss to join the Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention program.  This program is a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Forest Service (USFS), and the Endowment.  From 2016 to 2019, the partners will invest more than $4 million to stabilize African American forestland ownership across generations and enhance family wealth by increasing income and land asset value through sustainable forestry.  While continued support will be provided to existing projects in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Alabama, the Endowment is looking for new proposals that support forest owners in multi-county regions with significant African American populations in rural Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, western Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.  The due date for submitting new proposals is April 4, 2016.

February 29th Webinar:  For more information, view the request for proposals and register for the webinar being held on Monday, February 29th from 11:00am – 12:30pm (eastern) — to discuss the application process and answer questions from potential applicants.

EPA Launches New Online Training Module on Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources

EPA has released a new online training module, “Understanding Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources.” This training module is intended to increase water resource professionals’ understanding of the causes of climate change, its potential impacts on water resources, and the challenges that water resource professionals face. The module also describes how federal, state, tribal, and local governments and communities are working to make the United States more resilient to the impacts of climate. The 45-minute training is part of the EPA Watershed Academy Web certificate program. Click this link to learn more: http://www.epa.gov/watershedacademy/understanding-climate-change-impacts-water-resources.