New EPA HABs Incident Action Checklist

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EPA’s Water Security Division has published its newest Incident Action Checklist on Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs). This checklist provides information on preparedness and response actions water utilities can take during a HAB incident. For on-the-go convenience, the actions in the checklist are divided up into three “rip and run” sections with examples of activities for surface water utilities. Utilities can also populate the “My Contacts” sections with critical information for coordinating response actions. View and download the checklist HERE. For more information and to see the other EPA Incident Action Checklists for water utilities, visit the EPA website.

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SWC Webinar on Engaging Drinking Water Utilities in USDA RCPP Funding Projects

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On Thursday, January 11th, 2018, from 1:30 to 3:00 pm (eastern) the Source Water Collaborative (SWC) will host a webinar as part of its Learning Exchange Webinar Series entitled, “Conservation Grant Funding & Drinking Water Utilities: Partnering for Success.” During the webinar, participants will learn about the efforts of drinking water utilities and conservation groups to partner with farming operations and landowners to protect their water supplies through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The webinar will be moderated by Adam Carpenter of AWWA and speakers will include:

  • Jimmy Bramblett, Deputy Chief of Programs, USDA NRCS
  • Tariq Baloch, Water Utility Plant Manager, Cedar Rapids. Iowa
  • Sandi Formica, Executive Director, Watershed Conservation Resource Center

Save your spot today by registering here.

Decentralized Wastewater MOU Partnership Signing Ceremony and Meeting Held This Week

 

The Decentralized Wastewater MOU Partnership Signing Ceremony and Meeting were held this week at EPA Headquarters in Washington, DC. The Partnership was initiated in 2005 and now includes EPA and 19 partner organizations (including ASDWA) that work collaboratively at the national level to improve decentralized performance and protect the nation’s public health and water resources. During the signing ceremony, Mike Shapiro, Acting Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Water and Andrew Sawyers, Director of EPA’s Office of Wastewater Management provided opening remarks; and Partners introduced themselves and shared a few highlights from the 2017 Accomplishments Report. The Partnership also welcomed the Environmental Council of States (ECOS) as a new member this year. The purpose of the meeting was for members to discuss the MOU Partnership goals and begin to develop a 2017–2020 Priorities and Actions Workplan. Some of the discussed actions included:

  • Conducting a logic model exercise to determine other audiences (such as local governments and planners) for promoting decentralized systems and Septic Smart Week to achieve public health and environmental outcomes, including protecting drinking water sources.
  • Spearheading additional research opportunities for working with members of the Water Environment and Reuse Foundation (WE&RF) and the Water Environment Federation (WEF), that are both members of the Partnership.
  • Connecting with state Clean Water SRF programs to consider prioritization options for funding decentralized system projects.
  • Starting a workforce development effort to create and promote educational awareness and opportunities for students.

For more information about the Decentralized Wastewater MOU Partnership and septic system resources, visit EPA’s website.

EPA Tools and Resources Webinar: Monitoring Cyanobacteria with Satellites

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On Wednesday, November 15th from 3:00pm to 4:00pm (eastern), EPA will host a webinar to share information about how the use of satellite technology is now advancing to be used for water quality monitoring in lakes and reservoirs. During the webinar, EPA scientist Blake Schaeffer will highlight how federal agencies (EPA, NASA, NOAA and USGS) are collaborating to use real-world satellite applications that support environmental management of US lakes by quantifying cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (CyanoHABs) and related water quality parameters. This webinar will also discuss how provisional satellite derived cyanobacteria data and three different software tools are available to state environmental and health agencies for review and testing as part of the Cyanobacteria Assessment Network (CyAN). State environmental and health agencies, tribes, communities, researchers and others interested in learning about ways to monitor cyanobacterial blooms are encouraged to attend. REGISTER HERE

Hypoxia Task Force 2017 Report to Congress Highlights Nutrient Reduction Progress

hypoxiaThe Hypoxia Task Force has released its 2017 Report to Congress on the actions the federal, state, and tribal members have taken toward the goal of reducing nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin (MARB) and shrinking the size of the Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone. This is the second biennial Report to Congress, after the first one in 2015. It was developed and released in accordance with the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments (HABHRCA) Act of 2014. The Reports to Congress describe the progress made through activities directed by the Hypoxia Task Force toward attainment of the goals of the Gulf Hypoxia Action Plan 2008 to:

  • Target vulnerable lands and quantify nutrient load reductions achieved through federal programs, subject to future appropriations.
  • Implement state nutrient reduction strategies, including targeting vulnerable lands and quantifying nutrient reductions.
  • Expand and build new partnerships and alliances with universities, the agricultural community, cities, and others.
  • Track progress towards the interim target and long-term goal, with intent to understand whether the current actions are appropriate to meet the goal.

The report does include basic information about nutrient impacts on drinking water sources and treatment, as well as specific challenges and actions the MARB affiliated states are taking to address them. To view the report and learn more about the Hypoxia Task Force, visit EPA’s website.

Source Water Collaborative Holds Meeting and Publishes 2016 Accomplishments Report

The National Source Water Collaborative (SWC), for which ASDWA serves as a co-chair with GWPC, held a meeting this week and published its 2016 Accomplishments Report.

SWC Meeting and Field Trip

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The SWC held a meeting and went on a field trip this week in Washington, DC. Participants at the meeting included 35 representatives of the Collaborative’s 27 members and guests. The meeting served to reflect on the accomplishments of the SWC to date and jumpstart a variety of ideas and activities for the members to undertake in 2018. Some of the ideas coming from the discussions included activities related to  innovative funding sources, the upcoming Farm Bill, support for local collaboratives, and outreach to non-traditional partners. The field trip to Arcadia Farm after the meeting also provided a great learning opportunity for some of the participants to learn about the farm’s sustainable farming practices; educational opportunities for school children; training programs for veterans; and mobile market for providing fresh organic produce to disadvantaged communities.

SWC 2016 Accomplishments Report

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The SWC’s 2016 Accomplishments Report explores just a sampling of the various individual and collaborative efforts from the past year and celebrates 10 years of achievement. The SWC started in 2006 with fourteen national organizations, concerned about the implications of shifting landscapes and quickly expanding developments on the safety and sustainability of drinking water supplies. Those 14 members knew that they were faced with a challenge and an opportunity, and by acting together now, they could protect sources of drinking water for generations to come. Over the past ten years, the SWC has experienced tremendous growth and progress—the original 14 members has nearly doubled and is now 27 strong, after welcoming the newest member, American Rivers. The one-stop-shop website boasts a compendium of valuable resources and targeted toolkits, products of member collaborations, while the Twitter feed (@sourcewatercol) has quickly become the place for source water protection news, updates, and member accomplishments. In 2016 the SWC launched the popular Learning Exchange webinars and resources, and participation at high-profile national conferences have greatly expanded its reach and impact.

While the last ten years have been marked by change, the core principle that the SWC was founded on remains— that by working together and combining our strengths, resources, and will to action, this diverse set of member organizations would be able to realize far greater successes than by working alone. This principle still provides the foundation of the Collaborative’s approach and success today. To read the Accomplishments Report, visit the SWC website. We also encourage you to sign up for the email distribution list or follow the SWC on twitter for the latest in source water protection news & events.

Webinar on Addressing Nutrient Pollution in our Nation’s Waters

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On Friday, November 3rd from 1:00pm – 2:30pm (eastern), the US Water Alliance, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, and the Water Environment Federation will host a webinar to discuss their new policy brief entitled, Addressing Nutrient Pollution in Our Nation’s Waters: The Role of a Statewide Utility.  The paper presents options for a collaborative approach with agriculture, utilities, businesses, environmental groups, government, and academia that focuses on cost-effective, results-driven investments and projects for reducing nutrient pollution. For more information and to register, go HERE.

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.

 

 

 

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.

New Pay-For-Performance Conservation Guide Provides Alternative Nonpoint Source Reduction Solution

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Winrock International and Delta Institute have published a “Pay-For-Performance Conservation:  A How-To Guide.” The guide is intended to serve as a handbook for agricultural and conservation organizations, as well as publicly-owned treatment works (POTWs) and municipalities who are interested in planning and implementing a flexible solution to agricultural nonpoint source pollution. The alternative “pay-for-performance” (PfP) conservation approach presented in the guide uses field and farm specific information, combined with nutrient and economic modeling to calculate payments to farmers based on quantified estimates of nutrient reductions. The guide describes the steps for implementing a new PfP program and also provides examples of challenges and successes from existing programs in Iowa, Vermont, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Ontario.  Download the guide HERE.