July 2nd ASDWA Webinar with USGS on Cyanotoxins in Drinking Water

usgsOn Monday, July 2nd from 1:00 – 2:30 pm (eastern), ASDWA will host its second free webinar in our series with USGS scientists entitled, “Cyanotoxins – Advancing Drinking Water Science to Protect Human Health.” This webinar will focus on cyanotoxin occurrence and potential exposures in the Nation’s surface water resources. Tools that are being developed and used to quantify changing water quality conditions that may affect drinking water treatment processes and potential for cyanotoxin exposure also will be described. Information will be presented from the perspective of USGS scientists and the Ohio EPA to demonstrate how converging lines of evidence can be used to better understand and be prepared for cyanobacteria-related events. State drinking water program personnel are encouraged to attend, along with anyone else who is interested and would like to participate. For more information and to register, GO HERE.

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Kansas Water Office Partners in Milford Lake Watershed RCPP Project

milford lake algae bloomGuest article by Matt Unruh, Chief of Planning for the Kansas Water Office

Throughout the United States, harmful algal blooms (HABs) impact operations for many raw water sources utilized by public water supplies.  When HABs are present toxins and taste-and-odor compounds can be produced which can lead to increased treatment costs for water suppliers as well as public health concerns. Milford Lake, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir in north-central Kansas near Junction City and Fort Riley, is a prime Kansas example of the impacts HABs can have on drinking water sources as well as collective efforts which are in progress to reduce the magnitude and frequency of HABs occurring.

Phosphorus loading from the Lower Republican River Watershed is one of the contributing factors leading to the formation of HABs in Milford Lake. In an effort to reduce the phosphorus loading entering Milford Lake from the Republican River, the Kansas Water Office (KWO) engaged with a number of partners including the state drinking water program and the Section 319 Nonpoint Source program in the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), other state agencies including the Kansas Department of Agriculture – Division of Conservation (KDA-DOC) and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism (KDWPT),  four public water suppliers including the cities of Topeka, Lawrence, Olathe and Water District No. 1 of Johnson County (WaterOne) which are impacted by releases as they travel downstream of Milford Lake along the Kansas River, as well as agricultural commodity groups and organizations, county conservation districts, and non-profit organizations. milford lake map

This partnership team and their direct and/or in-kind contributions were included within a proposal submitted to the US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to establish a Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) project within the Lower Republican Watershed in Kansas with the objective of reducing phosphorus loading entering Milford Lake by providing additional technical and financial assistance to agricultural producers within the project area. With the project involvement of American Water Works Association (AWWA) member WaterOne, KWO was able to utilize technical assistance provided by the 9b Group through the AWWA Farm Bill Initiative to receive technical support for the development of the pre-proposal and final proposal for the project during 2017. In December 2017, KWO received word from NRCS that the Milford Lake Watershed RCPP Project had been successful in receiving a commitment from NRCS of $2.88 million to be utilized in conjunction with partner team contributions to provide financial and technical assistance within the watershed to increase the adoption of conservation practices through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

A number of sources of funding will be utilized to provide financial assistance to producers within the Milford Lake watershed through this project. These include Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Section 319 Nonpoint Source funds administered by KDHE, KDWPT funding, KDA-DOC funding, and State Water Plan funding through the Kansas Water Office. Funding from these sources will be utilized along with NRCS funds to provide sign-up incentive payments for certain practices as well as up to 90% cost share on identified core phosphorus-reducing practices for cropland and livestock-related land use. It is estimated that the first producer sign-up period for this project will take place during the Fall of 2018.

In Kansas as well as nationwide there is a growing trend from public water suppliers in recognizing the value in source water protection-related activities leading to the investment of technical and financial resources to work with agricultural producers to reduce nutrient and sediment runoff. Partnerships such as those in place for the Milford Lake Watershed RCPP Project will play an important role in the successful development and implementation of programs such as the KDHE Drinking Water Protection Program and related programs in other states. Knowing the details of programs available to leverage technical and financial resources such as NRCS RCPP can help to provide vital resources towards source water protection-related activities as well as build partnerships necessary for long-term success.

For more information about this RCPP project, contact Matt Unruh, Chief of Planning, Kansas Water Office, Matt.Unruh@kwo.ks.gov, (785) 296-0861.

NEMWI Report and Briefing on the Cost of Nitrate Treatment for Mississippi River Basin Water Utilities

NEMWIThe Northeast-Midwest Institute (NEMWI) recently published a report and hosted a Congressional briefing on “Source Water Quality and the Cost of Nitrate Treatment in the Mississippi River Basin.” The report shares the findings of a ten-year study showing that levels of nitrate in source water exceeding the SDWA maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 10 mg/L are occurring with increasing frequency. The study focused on three water treatment plants in the Upper Mississippi River Basin:  Des Moines, Iowa; Decatur, Illinois; and Vermilion County, Illinois, and tracked nitrate levels and the contributors to these increasing levels as well as the related treatment costs for the water utilities. For more information and to read the study, go here.

The associated briefing was held on Capitol Hill on May 23rd and was hosted in collaboration with Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). The briefing featured a panel of four science and policy specialists who presented on the importance of conservation initiatives and water quality monitoring to preserve the health of the Mississippi River Basin. For more information and to view a recording of the briefing, go here.

EPA Nonpoint Source Measures Report for Hypoxia Task Force States

HTF MS River statesEPA has published its “Progress Report on Coordination for Nonpoint Source Measures in Hypoxia Task Force States” that provides a summary of nutrient reduction measures among member states. The report was developed by the Hypoxia Task Force Nonpoint Source Workgroup and focuses on the coordinated effort to account for nonpoint source (NPS) changes, primarily agricultural, that influence nutrient loading from a variety of methods. This effort provides additional critical metrics for tracking and informing progress towards reducing nutrients to the Gulf of Mexico that complements other historical aspects of tracking nutrient loading, including Mississippi River and tributary water quality monitoring and tracking point source metrics. For more information and to read the report, visit the website.

ACWA Releases First State Nutrient Reduction Progress Tracker Report

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The Association of State Clean Water Administrators (ACWA) has released its Nutrient Reduction Progress Tracker 1.0. The report summarizes the survey data received from state clean water programs in the fall of 2017 on state progress to reduce nutrient loads beyond the adoption of numeric nutrient criteria for lakes, estuaries, and flowing waters. This is the first in what will be a series of Nutrient Reduction Progress Tracker reports and includes responses from 31 states on state strategies, monitoring, assessment, non-point sources, point sources, and drinking water.

The ACWA Nutrients Working Group (NWG) that developed the Tracker is a partnership between ACWA, EPA, and ASDWA and currently includes two drinking water questions about the number of public water systems (PWSs) in violation of the Nitrate MCL and the estimated number and percent of PWSs operating to meet the Nitrate MCL. ASDWA is providing input on additional drinking water questions for next year’s Tracker survey that would help further explain the impacts of nutrient pollution on PWSs, both in terms of cost avoidance and additional costs for treatment, beyond conventional treatment. To view the report and to learn more about this effort, go here.

New AWWA Video on How Farm Bill Conservation Funding Can Protect Drinking Water

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The American Water Works Association (AWWA) has released a new whiteboard video on how USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) funding can help better protect drinking water sources in the next reauthorization of the Farm Bill. The video explains how farm runoff can carry nutrients, pesticides, and sediment, and cause harmful algal blooms in drinking water supplies, and highlights the benefits of collaboration and cooperation between water utilities and farmers for implementing innovative farm practices. AWWA is asking Congress to provide robust funding the Farm Bill conservation title and to consider designating 10% of these funds for targeted measures that would improve downstream drinking water quality. While ASDWA believes this is a laudable goal, it remains to be seen when and how the Farm Bill will be reauthorized, and whether this component will be included in the final legislation.

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.

EPA Tools and Resources Webinar: Monitoring Cyanobacteria with Satellites

EPA science in action

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.

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.