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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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.

Register Now for ASDWA Webinar on Leveraging CWA 319 and SDWA Programs for Surface and Ground Water Quality Planning

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ASDWA CWA-SDWA Webinar:  Leveraging CWA 319 and SDWA Programs for Surface and Ground Water Quality Planning

Date:  Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Time:  1:00pm – 2:30pm (eastern), 10:00am – 11:30am (pacific)

REGISTER HERE

On November 7, ASDWA will host a free Clean Water Act – Safe Drinking Water Act (CWA-SDWA) webinar entitled, “Leveraging CWA 319 and SDWA Programs for Surface and Ground Water Quality Planning.” The purpose of the webinar is to build on the efforts of ASDWA, ACWA, GWPC, and EPA to share and promote CWA-SDWA coordination activities across state and EPA water programs. State, interstate, tribal, and federal water programs, water utilities, technical assistance providers, and anyone else who would like to participate is encouraged to attend. During the webinar, presenters from the Nebraska and Nevada state water programs will share how they coordinated with EPA and local communities to leverage the CWA 319 nonpoint source (NPS) program for surface and ground water quality protection planning in drinking water supply areas.

We hope you will attend!

NALMS Publishes Source Water Protection Position Statement and White Paper

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The North American Lake Management Society (NALMS) has posted its “Position on Source Water Protection” and associated white paper on its website. NALMS is a member of the Source Water Collaborative (along with 26 other organizations including ASDWA) and its mission is to forge partnerships among citizens, scientists, and professionals to foster the management and protection of lakes and reservoirs for today and tomorrow. The new position statement and white paper provide information about the importance of source water protection; the six components of a successful source water protection program (as outlined in the ANSI/AWWA Standard G300); and more. To read the position statement and white paper, go to the NALMS website.

September Promotional Events:  Protect Your Groundwater Day and SepticSmart Week

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Protect Your Groundwater Day is September 5th:  The National Ground Water Association (NGWA) is encouraging the protection of public health and the health of the environment by celebrating “Protect Your Groundwater Day.” This year’s celebration will take place on September 5th. State drinking water programs should consider sharing information about “Protect Your Groundwater Day” with their water utilities and residents, as a means to create greater awareness about protecting this valuable resource.  For more information, visit the NGWA website and WellOwner.orgwebsite. To ask questions, please contact Cliff Tryens of NGWA at ctreyens@ngwa.org.

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SepticSmart Week is September 18-22:  Each year, EPA holds SepticSmart Week with outreach activities to encourage homeowners and communities to care for and maintain their septic systems. This year, SepticSmart Week will be held from September 18-22. State drinking water programs and communities will want to use this opportunity to inform homeowners on proper septic system care and maintenance, promote homeowner education and awareness, and educate local decision makers about infrastructure options available to improve and sustain communities. Visit EPA’s website to download SepticSmart materials and a proclamation template, read about suggested events and activities, view highlights and case studies of community efforts across the nation, and participate in the conversation on social media #SepticSmartWeek.

HABHRCA Report Submitted to Congress

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On August 24th, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) submitted the “Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research Plan and Action Strategy: An Interagency Report” to Congress.  The report focuses on the relationships between federal partners and their stakeholders, and the challenges, concerns, and needs related to HABs and hypoxia, and their impact on Great Lakes regional interests and communities.  The report broadly recommends the following:

  • Improving comprehensive conservation planning;
  • Expanding ecological forecasting and modeling for HABs and hypoxia across the Great Lakes;
  • Refining and developing methods for detecting HAB-related toxins found in the Great Lakes;
  • Developing unified messages on the causes, risks, and mitigation efforts on HABs and hypoxia; and
  • Expanding and integrating information on current and potential future social and environmental impacts of HABs and hypoxia in the Great Lakes.

This report is the second step for fulfilling the requirements of the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act (HABHRCA) legislation after the publication of the February 2016 assessment report.  This new report is attached to this article and will be posted on NOAA’s HABHRCA page in the near future.

Register Now for the ASDWA CWA-SDWA Webinar: Creative Uses of Clean Water Funding for Drinking Water Benefits

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Date:  Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Time:  1:00 to 2:30pm (eastern), 10:00 to 11:30am (pacific)

REGISTER HERE

On August 29, ASDWA will host a Clean Water Act – Safe Drinking Water Act (CWA-SDWA) webinar entitled, “Creative Uses of Clean Water Funding for Drinking Water Benefits.”  The purpose of the webinar is to build on the efforts of ASDWA, ACWA, GWPC, and EPA to share and promote CWA-SDWA coordination activities across state and EPA water programs.  State, interstate, tribal, and federal water programs, water utilities, technical assistance providers, and anyone else who would like to participate is encouraged to attend.  During the webinar, presenters from the Virginia and Washington Drinking Water Programs and the Skagit Public Utilities District (in WA) will share how they collaborated with their state Clean Water Programs and other partners to creatively use some non-traditional funding routes to benefit their drinking water utilities, including one very small and disadvantaged water system.

June 22 AWRA Webinar on Online Source Water Quality Monitoring for Drinking Water Applications

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This Thursday, the American Water Resources Association (AWRA) is hosting a free webinar about EPA’s guidance document entitled, “Online Source Water Quality Monitoring For Water Quality Surveillance and Response Systems.”  During the webinar, Steve Allgeier of EPA will discuss the systematic process for designing an effective online source water monitoring system to help detect water quality incidents (e.g. spills and harmful algal blooms), optimize treatment processes, and characterize long-term trends.

Date:  Thursday, June 22, 2017
Time:  1:00pm (eastern)

Webinar participants will learn best practices on how to:

  • Identify source water threats and assess risks
  • Select water quality parameters and monitoring locations
  • Design water quality monitoring stations
  • Design information management systems to support data analysis
  • Develop procedures to respond to unusual source water quality conditions

Seating is limited – Register here!

 

WRF New Cyanotoxin Webcast Series to Start this Month

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The Water Research Foundation will kick off a new series of three webcasts this month to share the latest information and resources about cyanotoxins in drinking water.  All of these webcasts are being offered free of charge and are open to the public.  Following are the webinar topics, descriptions, and registration information.

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Development of a Risk Communication Tool Kit for Cyanotoxins

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

3:00pm – 4:00pm (eastern)

Register Online

This Webcast is designed to provide listeners with the necessary knowledge to develop and deliver effective cyanotoxin risk communications (WRF project #4697). Listeners will learn about specific attributes of the cyanotoxin risk management framework that can create potential communication barriers, for example the complexity of the EPA health guidance and the uncertainty inherent in monitoring and testing timing and protocol. Listeners will also be introduced to the linguistic research carried out during the project, which was used to develop recommended health advisory/alert language.

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Evaluation and Optimization of Cyanotoxin Analytical Methods

Thursday, July 13th, 2017

3:00pm – 4:00pm (eastern)

Register Online

This webcast will explore the results of Performance Evaluation of Methods for the Analysis of Cyanotoxins (project #4647). The goal of this project is to compare the Ohio EPA and U.S. EPA (Method 546) ADDA-ELISA methods and EPA Method 544, “Determination of Microcystins and Nodularin in Drinking Water by Solid Phase Extraction (SPE) and Liquid Chromatography/Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC/MS/MS)” and investigate the inconsistencies between the methodologies as well as the precision and accuracies within each method. The findings for this project will be published in 2018; however, valuable preliminary findings will be shared during this webcast.

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Treatment Approaches for Managing Dissolved and Intracellular Cyanotoxins

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

3:00pm – 4:00pm (eastern)

Register Online

This webcast will highlight the effectiveness of conventional and advanced treatment processes for managing intracellular and extracellular cyanotoxins while minimizing unintended consequences. In addition, a summary of the Hazen-Adams CyanoTOX model v.2.0 will be presented. Case studies will be used to illustrate how the model worked at various utilities and will be used to provide a basis for evaluating treatment options.