December 2007, Vol. 19, No.12

Briefs

Water Quality Trading Toolkit for Permit Writers

A new publication from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was designed to help the regulated community design and implement voluntary water quality trading programs consistent with EPA’s 2003 National Water Quality Trading Policy, according to the agency.

The Water Quality Trading Toolkit for Permit Writers provides guidance on the fundamental concepts of trading, which, according to EPA, can accelerate water quality improvement and reduce compliance costs. The document focuses on trading nitrogen and phosphorus, but other pollutants may be considered for trading on a case-by-case basis. It also includes a set of appendices featuring detailed case studies based on actual trading programs. The document is available at www.epa.gov/npdes/tradingtoolkit.
 

U.S. EPA Releases List of High-Volume Chemicals

In September, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the first set of hazard characterizations on 101 High Production Volume (HPV) chemicals. These characterizations are based on EPA’s scientific review of the screening-level hazard — or toxicity — data that were submitted by the U.S. chemical industry through EPA’s HPV Challenge Program or other information previously collected by the agency.

The HPV Challenge Program challenges companies to provide the public with basic health and safety data on chemicals that are manufactured in excess of 453,600 kg/yr (1 million lb/yr). The hazard characterizations include a summary of the data submitted, EPA’s evaluation of the quality and completeness of the data, and an assessment of the potential hazards that a chemical or chemical category may pose. EPA said it will combine this information with human and environmental exposure information collected from the agency’s Inventory Update Reporting to develop a risk characterization and, based on that review, determine if additional action is needed to ensure the safety of the HPV chemicals’ manufacture and use.

The agency reports that it intends to use this approach to assess risks and identify and take needed action on 3000 HPV chemicals by 2012. This was one of the elements of the North American chemical cooperation commitment announced by the United States, Canada, and Mexico at the Security and Prosperity Partnership North American Leaders’ Summit in Canada in August.

To review the first set of hazard characterizations, see iaspub.epa.gov/oppthpv/hpv_hc_characterization.get_report. For more information on EPA’s plans for reviewing HPV chemical data, see www.epa.gov/hpv.
 

U.S. EPA Strengthens Lead in Drinking Water Rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a final rule that will improve requirements in the areas of monitoring, customer awareness, and lead service line replacement — all to aid in reducing lead in drinking water. Specifically, the agency will require water suppliers to provide consumers with information to help them make decisions about how to limit their exposure to lead in drinking water, according to an EPA news release.

The final rule, announced in September, is one outcome of EPA’s March 2005 Drinking Water Lead Reduction Plan that arose from the agency’s analysis of the current regulation and state and local implementation. Since release of the plan, the agency has released guidance to help public water systems better understand the potential impacts of treatment changes on their ability to control lead and asked the National Drinking Water Advisory Council to provide recommendations on public education requirements. The agency also has provided new or updated guidance and tools to help schools and child-care facilities to monitor for lead in drinking water, according to the news release.

The primary source of lead exposure for most children is lead-based paint in older homes, EPA notes. Lead in drinking water can add to that exposure.

The rule is accessible at www.epa.gov/safewater/lcrmr/index.html.
 

U.S. EPA Launches Wastewater Web Site for Small Communities

In September, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a new Web site to help small communities achieve and maintain sustainable wastewater services.

The new site, according to an EPA news release, provides information about grants, funding resources, technical assistance, and training. Various tools also are available on the site to help small communities plan, design, build, and maintain their wastewater infrastructure.

See the Wastewater in Small Communities Web site at www.epa.gov/owm/mab/smcomm/index.htm.
 

U.S. Forest Service, U.S. EPA Increase Coordination To Improve Water Quality

The U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently agreed on new steps designed to improve water quality in national forests and grasslands. On Sept. 28, Forest Service Chief Abigail Kimbell and EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles signed a memorandum of agreement that enables both agencies to increase coordinated efforts to manage, protect, and restore the health of U.S. water resources, according to an EPA news release.

More than 60 million Americans get their water from sources in the national forests, in addition to municipal water supplies, according to EPA. Data show that approximately 8% of all water quality impairments nationally are located on National Forest System lands, EPA notes. Leading causes of these impairments include elevated temperatures, excess sediment, and habitat modification.
For more information, see www.fs.fed.us/biology and www.epa.gov/owow/tmdl.
 

White House Releases Strategy on Water Availability and Quality

In September, the George W. Bush Administration released a report that identifies challenges facing the United States in obtaining adequate freshwater supplies, lays out federal research and development priorities associated with those challenges, and recommends a federal science and technology strategy to address U.S. water quality and supply.

According to the report, prepared by a subcommittee of the President’s National Science and Technology Council, the competition for water supplies in the United States is greater than ever before due to added stress from the impacts of population growth, development, and climate change.

“Even small changes in water quality, quantity, or the time when water resources are available can render water supplies useless for their intended applications or hazardous to life and property,” the report states.

The subcommittee identified the following scientific and technical challenges facing the United States in order to ensure adequate water supply: to measure and account for the nation’s water, to develop methods that will allow expansion of freshwater supplies while using existing supplies more efficiently, and to develop and improve predictive water management tools.

In the report, the Subcommittee on Water Availability and Quality outlined federal activities intended to address those challenges, including the implementation of a National Water Census; development of a new generation of water monitoring techniques; development and expansion of technologies for enhancing reliable water supply; developing innovative water-use technologies; improving understanding of the water-related ecosystem services and ecosystem needs for water; and improving hydrologic prediction models and their applications.

The subcommittee is made up of representatives of 25 federal agencies and is chaired by Robert M. Hirsch, associate director for Water at the U.S. Geological Survey; and Rochelle Araujo, associate director of the National Exposure Research Laboratory in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Research and Development. The report, A Strategy for Federal Science and Technology To Support Water Availability and Quality in the United States, is available at www.ostp.gov/nstc/html/_reports.html.
 

U.S. EPA Awards Grants To Further Source Water Protection

Together in partnership, the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators (Arlington, Va.), the River Network (Portland, Ore.), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently awarded $600,000 in grants to the Trust for Public Land (San Francisco) and the Smart Growth Leadership Institute (Washington, D.C.). According to an EPA news release, the grants were awarded to enhance source water protection at the local and watershed levels by encouraging more effective collaboration and better harmony between various state policies and programs. Working together, EPA says, can maximize the effectiveness of initiatives taken by land-use planners, water utilities, watershed associations, government officials, conservationists, farmers, and foresters in protecting drinking water resources.

During the 4-year grant period, the awardees will select seven states as partners for a program called Enabling Source Water Protection: Aligning State Land Use and Water Protection Programs. More information on the program is available at www.landuseandwater.org.