Organizations are Gearing Up for the 2018 Farm Bill

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It’s that time again to get ready for the reauthorization of the next Farm Bill in 2018. ASDWA is engaging in discussions with a variety of partner organizations as well as the Association of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA), to help emphasize the connections to drinking water quality and protection in the Farm Bill’s conservation title. Here is what some of them are doing with regard to their Farm Bill priorities.

AWWA:  The American Water Works Association (AWWA) issued a press release emphasizing the opportunity to encourage partnerships in the Farm Bill. This includes working with water utilities and all stakeholders interested in productive farming practices and safe water to form innovative collaborations that can achieve mutual goals. The AWWA press release notes that they would like to see Congress make an explicit connection between conservation measures and drinking water quality in the Farm Bill’s conservation title. AWWA wants to see that change by:

  • Providing strong funding for conservation programs.
  • Adding a specific goal of protecting sources of drinking water as a priority for all Natural Resources Conservation Service(NRCS) conservation programs.
  • Encouraging NRCS state conservationists, state technical committees, and working groups to work with water utilities in identifying priority areas in each state.
  • Increasing the NRCS cost-share for measures that provide considerable downstream water quality benefits.
  • Dedicating ten percent of conservation funding to protecting sources of drinking water through existing programs.

Visit AWWA’s web site to view the full press release.

NASDA:  The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) established priorities for the next Farm Bill that call for enhanced investment in American agriculture that provides producers the tools they need to succeed. NASDA also emphasized that the Farm Bill is vital to providing consumers access to the safest, highest quality and most affordable food supply, which is essential for our nation’s economy and security. Some of NASDA’s priorities for the 2018 Farm Bill include trade promotion; voluntary conservation programs; specialty crop block grants; research, education and economics; and food safety. While the NASDA press release does not specifically mention water, the NASDA staff have expressed their support for conservation measures that protect water quality, and are planning to have further discussions with ASDWA and ACWA as efforts move forward on the Farm Bill.

FIFBC:  The Forests in the Farm Bill Coalition (FIFBC) released its 2018 Farm Bill recommendations that focus on the need to continue to support rural communities, rural jobs, private forest owners, and the economic and environmental benefits forests provide. The National Association of Conservation Districts, the Nature Conservancy, and the Trust for Public Land are among the 42 members of the Coalition that represents forest owners, conservationists, hunters, anglers, forest industry, and natural resource professionals. Three of the five priorities outlined by the Coalition that are particularly relevant to water and drinking water include:

  • Increasing the long-term protection and conservation of forest resources from threats such as wildfire, insects and diseases, and promote the use of fire as an important forest management tool.
  • Encouraging the retention and perpetuation of forestland and associated values, goods, and services.
  • Streamlining and otherwise improving forest and conservation programs to better enable use by private landowners and land managers to address the above issues.

The FIFBC press release about the Farm Bill acknowledges clean water among the benefits that the nation’s forests provide, though it is not specifically mentioned in the priorities for the Farm Bill.

 

 

 

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Urban Waters Federal Partnership Wins Sammie Award

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Last Week, Surabhi Shah of EPA, and the Urban Waters Federal Partnership team won a 2017 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal. The medals, known as the “Sammies,” are awarded annually by the Partnership for Public Service. They are designed to highlight excellence in the federal workforce and inspire other talented and dedicated individuals to go into public service. This year, the Urban Waters Federal Partnership got the most votes from the public in the People’s Choice category for their work with local, state and federal agencies, businesses, nonprofits and philanthropies to with local, state and federal agencies, businesses, nonprofits and philanthropies to clean up urban waterways and surrounding lands that help spur redevelopment of abandoned properties, promote new businesses, and provide parks and access for boating, swimming, fishing and community gatherings.

The partnership is led by EPA, along with the Departments of Agriculture, Interior, Housing and Urban Development, and 10 other federal agencies. The program has been successful in leveraging resources for more than 250 locations throughout the US to improve more than 22,000 acres of land and engage approximately 100,000 community members.

For more information about the program, visit the Urban Waters Federal Partnership website. For more information about the award, go HERE.

GWPC Annual Forum and Source Water Protection Workshop Held Last Week

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The Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) held its Annual Forum last week in Boston, Massachusetts, that included a source water protection workshop and multiple sessions on ground water connections to drinking water, private wells, stormwater, brownfields, Underground Injection Control and state oil and gas programs, and more. Forum attendees included representatives from state and EPA ground water and source water programs, state oil and gas programs, the Department of Energy, energy companies, associations (including ASDWA), and consulting firms.

The Source Water Protection Workshop was held the day before the Forum to highlight effective collaborations and discuss opportunities at the national, state, and local levels to protect drinking water. Opening remarks were provided by Peter Grevatt, Director of EPA’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, and Jane Downing of EPA Region 1 who spoke about the importance of source water protection as well as continuing challenges with emerging contaminants (e.g., PFAS and 1-4 Dioxane), extreme weather, chemical spills, and emergency response. Presentations during the workshop included information about the Source Water Collaborative tools; Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act coordination; working with USDA NRCS State Conservationists; the Iowa Source Water Agricultural Collaborative; working with state geologists; and a new source water protection scorecard tool being used for the Hudson River in New York. Key takeaways from the workshop included the need to:

  • Use visible “science” and accurate data as a catalyst to motivate action and engage partners, as shown by the attention drawn to drilling trucks arriving on farms for groundwater investigations in Iowa.
  • Use state geologists as a resource, as highlighted by the valued added in sharing and understanding ground water connections by use of geologic maps during the recent Vermont State Workshops.
  • Get more information and tips on navigating opportunities to work with NRCS and agricultural partners on the ground, as discussed in relation to current nation-wide funding initiatives and projects that are underway in Connecticut.

After the workshop, the GWPC Annual Forum kicked off with opening session that included remarks by GWPC’s President Marty Link of Nebraska and by the Ground Water Research and Education Foundation President Stan Belieu, also of Nebraska. Bethany Card, the Deputy Commissioner of Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection also shared information about her state’s efforts to address lead in schools, climate change, drought and water withdrawals, and clean water act coordination. In addition, Nancy Johnson of the Department of Energy highlighted their activities to address energy, water, and seismicity; and Peter Grevatt of EPA provided perspective on the Agency’s efforts to work with states on source water protection and UIC activities. Other highlights from the Forum’s concurrent sessions included:

  • Information about GWPC’s efforts to develop a produced water report on using flowback water from oil and gas wells for beneficial uses.
  • Presentations about efforts to assess and address PFAS in New Hampshire, and by the National Ground Water Association to develop a report on the State of Knowledge and Practice that will be published this fall.
  • Presentations from the University of New Hampshire and EPA Region 1 on potential impacts to ground water from stormwater infiltration, and from SCS Engineers on connecting human health with brownfields remediation and revitalization.

Other interesting presentations included information about Connecticut’s first state water plan, land use and source water protection planning in Vermont, and New Hampshire’s efforts to inspect above ground storage tanks and conduct emergency response exercises. For more information, visit the GWPC website.