USGS Finds Unconventional Oil and Gas Production Not Currently Affecting Drinking Water Quality in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas

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A new study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) shows that unconventional oil and gas production in some areas of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas is not currently a significant source of methane or benzene to drinking water wells. These production areas include the Eagle Ford, Fayetteville, and Haynesville shale formations, which are some of the largest sources of natural gas in the country and have trillions of cubic feet of gas.

This is the first study in these areas to systematically determine the presence of benzene and methane in drinking water wells near unconventional oil and gas production areas in relation to the age of the groundwater.  Age-dating indicates groundwater in wells is often several thousand years old suggesting decades or longer may be needed to fully assess the effects of unconventional oil and gas production on the quality of groundwater used for drinking water.  For more information, see the USGS Technical Announcement.

USGS Publishes National Brackish Groundwater Assessment

Brackish Groundwater in the United States

USGS has published a new study that suggests brackish groundwater could help stretch limited freshwater supplies. This study found that the amount of brackish groundwater underlying the country is more than 800 times the amount currently used each year. With issues like drought, groundwater depletion, dwindling freshwater supplies, and demand for groundwater expected to continue to rise, understanding brackish groundwater supplies can help determine whether they can supplement or replace taxed freshwater sources in water-stressed areas. Although this assessment can’t answer all of the questions related to sustainable use, it represents a starting point for identifying the gaps in our knowledge and for directing research to locations where further study would be most beneficial. View the report and press release HERE.

EPA Webinar on How State and Local Governments Can Promote SepticSmart Week in September

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EPA’s Decentralized MOU Partnership is hosting a webinar on May 16th from 2:00pm to 3:30pm (eastern).  This webinar will share information from presenters in two states (Washington and Alaska) and one city (Ogden Dunes, Indiana) whose governors and mayors have made SepticSmart Week Proclamations.  Learn more about these proclamations and other activities by joining this webinar and hearing from individuals who led the efforts at the state, county, or local level.

SPACE IS LIMITED. RESERVE YOUR WEBINAR SEAT NOW AT: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6651424505486693378

For additional information on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Decentralized Wastewater MOU Partnership and past recorded webinars, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/septic

 

 

 

 

Submit Your Abstracts Now for ASDWA’s 2017 Annual Conference

 

Please submit your abstract for ASDWA’s 2017 Annual Conference.  This year’s conference will be held October 17-20, 2017 at the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel in Norfolk, VA. Approximately 250 participants from state and territorial drinking water programs, EPA and other Federal agencies, drinking water associations, consulting firms, and industry groups are expected to attend.  Presentation themes may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Source water protection and sustainability of water supplies
  • Clean Water Act/SDWA connections, nutrient pollution, and Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs)
  • Extreme weather, water and energy efficiency, and conservation
  • Drinking water emergency preparedness and resiliency strategies and tools
  • Small systems: TMF, sustainability strategies, technologies, and compliance
  • Emerging drinking water treatment technologies and optimization of current technology
  • Workforce, operator certification, and/or technical assistance initiatives
  • SDWA implementation approaches and strategies including collaborations and partnerships
  • State revolving loan fund tools and techniques/green infrastructure strategies
  • Data management and electronic reporting
  • Distribution system issues
  • Emerging contaminants in drinking water
  • Drinking water research
  • Risk assessment, risk communication and consumer outreach

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, 2017.

For More Information, please view the ASDWA 2017 Annual Conference Call for Papers on the ASDWA website.

State CWA-SDWA Workshop Held this Week Identifies Next Steps for Continued Coordination

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On March 21, ASDWA, the Association of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA), and the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) held a half-day Clean Water Act – Safe Drinking Water Act (CWA-SDWA) Workshop in Washington, DC.  Approximately 50 participants attended from state clean water, drinking water, and ground water programs from across the country, as well as all the EPA Water Offices, two EPA Regions, and USGS.  Thanks especially to the New Hampshire, Utah, New York, Minnesota, Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania Drinking Water Programs for participating on behalf of ASDWA.

The purpose of the workshop was to discuss CWA-SDWA coordination opportunities and challenges and identify next steps to better protect sources of drinking water (both groundwater and surface water) and improve water quality.  The first part of the workshop included:

  • Welcoming remarks from Jennifer McLain of EPA’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water and Sheila Frace of EPA’s Office of Wastewater Management;
  • A presentation from Wendy Drake and Amie Howell of EPA Regions 5 and Region 3 who shared information about their CWA-SDWA Integration Checklist for working within their offices and with their states;
  • A presentation from Deirdre Mason of ASDWA who provided information about the National Source Water Collaboratives tools and resources that can be used to help support CWA-SDWA efforts and local level stakeholder engagement; and
  • Presentations from Ryan Chapman of Nebraska, Jennifer Wigal of Oregon, John Barndt of Delaware, and Peter Goodmann of Kentucky about their efforts to coordinate across clean water, drinking water, and ground water programs to protect drinking water sources.

The rest and majority of the workshop was spent in breakout groups discussing where states are making progress at CWA-SDWA and related program coordination and collaboration, identifying challenges and barriers that impede progress on these activities, and brainstorming on next steps and action items to continue to work on these types of efforts after the meeting.  Some key discussion points and needs identified during the breakouts included:

  • Using an integrated water resources management approach to protect source water quantity and quality, address infrastructure needs, and identify opportunities for water reuse;
  • Getting buy-in from senior management to work across programs;
  • Working with other programs and partners to address and communicate risk on emerging contaminants;
  • Making it easier to share data and conduct real time water monitoring for both surface and ground waters;
  • Working with agricultural programs and developing numeric nutrient criteria to address nonpoint source pollution; and
  • Using the Source Water Collaborative Learning Exchange as a platform to share information.

At the end of the workshop, participants identified a number of next steps and action items including:

  • Conducting more workshops like this at both the national and regional levels on specific CWA program areas;
  • Hosting discussions on a true definition of safe drinking water and developing talking points on the cost vs. risk of addressing drinking water contaminants;
  • Continuing to share state program coordination examples and encouraging state to state peer mentoring;
  • Expanding the use of the Region 5/3 integration checklist in other regions and states;
  • Developing a one-stop shop clearinghouse for source water protection funding sources; and
  • Using EPA’s Recovery Potential Screening Tool and the soon to be released Healthy Watershed Assessment for furthering source water protection efforts.

ASDWA, ACWA , GWPC, and EPA plan to continue working together on these action items to help states and stakeholders move forward with their coordination efforts, so stay tuned for more information in the near future.  If you have any questions, please contact Deirdre Mason of ASDWA at dmason@asdwa.org or 703-812-4775.

 

Next Week is National Groundwater Awareness Week

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National Groundwater Awareness Week is taking place next week, from March 5-11.  Please consider helping the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) promote this special week with your water utilities and the public by sharing some information and resources about the importance of ground water on your websites, and through social media and other communication channels.  Following are some resources that NGWA has created about groundwater and water well stewardship (including information for private well maintenance). Some can be used as is; others can be adapted, modified, or customized as necessary.

For more information and to become a “Groundwater Advocate,” please contact Cliff Treyens of NGWA at ctreyens@ngwa.org.

USGS Webinar on PFASs in New Hampshire’s Drinking Water

The USGS National Water Quality Monitoring Council will hold a webinar on Tuesday, March 28 from 1:00pm – 2:00pm (eastern).  During the webinar, Brandon Kernen from the New Hampshire Drinking Water Program will present “The Assessment and Regulation of PFASs in New Hampshire’s Drinking Water.”  He will discuss the detection of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) at multiple sites that have contaminated hundreds of private drinking water wells and several public water supply sources serving tens of thousands of people.  He will also share recommendations to address the associated regulatory, environmental, technical, and social challenges.  Click HERE for more information and to register.

EPA Announces Video Challenge for National Ground Water Awareness Week

EPA has announced a video challenge in support of the National Ground Water Association’s Ground Water Awareness Week. From February 1-24, EPA is inviting budding filmmakers, citizen scientists, or anyone interested to create and submit a compelling and innovative video that informs individuals and communities about the importance of groundwater, and inspires them to do more to protect and conserve it. The winning videos will be posted on EPA’s website and recognized throughout its online outlets during National Groundwater Awareness Week, taking place from March 5-11, 2017. Details about the video challenge and instructions for entering can be found on EPA’s website.

Three New Water Story Map and Visualization Tools

SWC Nutrient Story Map:  The Source Water Collaborative (SWC) has launched a new interactive highly-visual Nutrient Story Map as part of its Learning Exchange.  This Story Map includes a variety of information about nutrient pollution problems and harmful algal blooms, as well as source water protection challenges and nutrient reduction success projects taking place across the country (see related article).

USGS Water Use Visualization:  The USGS Water Availability and Use Science Program has developed a new “How Much Water Do We Use?” data visualization tool  that highlights USGS data from 1950 to 2010. The visualization highlights how water is used differently in the east versus west half of the country, and shows water use trends for thermoelectric power, public supply, irrigation, and industrial withdrawals. An accompanying press release can be found HERE.

EPA Water Progress Story Map:   EPA has launched a new “Protecting America’s Waters” interactive, multimedia story map to highlight the progress made to protect America’s waters since 2009. This story map features the most prominent accomplishments within the following areas: clean water protection; drinking water safety; water infrastructure; community assistance; climate change resilience; and science and innovation. The story map is a snapshot of EPA’s ongoing efforts toward clean and reliable water.

 

December 6th SWC Learning Exchange Webinar on Agricultural Messaging

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Please join us for the next webinar in the Source Water Collaborative’s (SWC) Learning Exchange Webinar Series about successful messaging in agricultural communities. While the impacts of nutrient pollution are often seen in surface water, many forget that nitrates affect vital ground water sources as well. Speakers from the Missouri Rural Water Association, EPA Region 3, and Lancaster Farmland Trust in Pennsylvania will share successful strategies on how they were able to overcome barriers that led to more effective outreach while maintaining and supporting the local economy and unique cultures.

Date:  Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Time:  1:00pm – 2:00pm (eastern time)

Title:  Messaging Source Water Protection in Agricultural Communities

Register here