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.

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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

SWC 11-1-17 MeetingSWC Field Trip 11-1-17

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

SWC 2016 Accomps Cover

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

NACWA

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.

NASCA Webinar on Conservation Program Success Stories

NASCA

On May 16th, from 10:00am to 12:00pm (eastern), the National Association of State Conservation Agencies (NASCA) will host a webinar entitled, “Success Stories of Voluntary, Incentive-Based Conservation Programs.”  The webinar will showcase success stories of work led by conservation districts, state conservation agencies, and their partners to address natural resource issues. REGISTER HERE

Today at 2pm! USDA NRCS Webinar on NWQI Watershed Planning

USDA NWQI

NRCS will host a webinar today, April 25th, at 2:00pm (eastern) with presentations on “Watershed Planning from a National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) Perspective”. Participants will learn about the watershed assessment process and the importance of partnerships for NWQI watershed efforts.

How to join the webinar? You may join the webinar by clicking the ‘Join’ button HERE within 15 minutes before the scheduled start time.

AWWA is Accepting Abstracts for 2018 Sustainable Water Management Conference

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AWWA wishes to invite authors and experts in the field to submit abstracts on a variety of sustainability topics for its Sustainable Water Management Conference being held March 25-28, 2018 in Seattle, Washington.  Abstract topics may include:

  • Water Resources Planning & Management
  • Water & Energy Efficiency
  • Sustainable Utilities & Infrastructure Resiliency
  • Water Conservation Programs
  • Climate Change Mitigation & Adaption

The abstract submission deadline is Friday, July 14, 2017.  For a detailed list of abstract topics and more information, visit the website HERE.

 

April 20th EPA Water Quality Modeling Webinar

 

EPA’s Water Quality Modeling Workgroup will host a webinar, entitled “Introduction to SWAT” on Thursday, April 20th at 1:00pm to 3:00pm (eastern) as part of its webinar series. This webinar will introduce the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) water quality model developed by USDA Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) and Texas A&M AgriLife Research. SWAT is a small watershed to river basin-scale model to simulate the quality and quantity of surface and ground water and predict the environmental impact of land use, land management practices, and climate change. SWAT is widely used in assessing soil erosion prevention and control, non-point source pollution control and regional management in watersheds. The webinar will also present several examples where SWAT has been applied in real world settings.  Register HERE.  Previous webinars are also available at: http://www.epa.gov/tmdl/tmdl-modeling.