August 2007, Vol. 19, No.8

Briefs

U.S. EPA, USDA Sign Chesapeake Bay Partnership Agreement

In early May, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced additional measures for coordination and cooperation between the two agencies in prioritizing and implementing nutrient reduction activities in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The Chesapeake Bay watershed is home to nearly 17 million residents and covers more than 165,760 km2 (64,000 mi2) extending through the District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Crop and pasture use account for 25% of the watershed, according to EPA.

USDA and EPA will focus nutrient reduction activities on septic systems, municipal wastewater, stormwater runoff from growing urban and suburban areas, and agricultural contributions from livestock, cropping, and forestry operations.

To read the partnership agreement, see www.epa.gov/water.

Nitrogen Reduction Standard Focuses on Onsite Systems

In an effort to decrease excess nitrogen from any source that flows into surface waters, NSF International (Ann Arbor, Mich.) published a new national standard to reduce nitrogen from residential wastewater.

NSF/ANSI Standard 245, Wastewater Treatment Systems — Nitrogen Reduction, was developed to address regulatory agencies’ concerns about onsite wastewater systems’ environmental impact, according to an NSF news release. Specifically, the standard addresses the impact these systems have on groundwater used as a drinking water source and on surface waters receiving discharge from the systems, the release notes.

The standard establishes performance measures and material, design, and construction requirements for residential wastewater treatment systems. Individual residential wastewater treatment systems that meet NSF/ANSI Standard 245 requirements could reduce the amount of nitrogen discharged into surface waters by at least 50% in some watersheds, according to Mike Hoover, a professor at North Carolina State University (Raleigh) who also serves as chair of the NSF Wastewater Technology Joint Committee.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that onsite wastewater systems are used by 25% of all homes in the United States and by nearly 35% of new land development. Onsite systems are also used by almost 50% of all people in some states.

NSF/ANSI Standard 245 was developed based on a protocol developed at the EPA Environmental Technology Verification Program’s Water Quality Protection Center, according to the news release. The protocol for nitrogen reduction for residential wastewater treatment systems served as a guide to evaluate six different nitrogen reduction technologies. The new standard incorporates pass–fail criteria for system performance and additional requirements for alarm systems, tank requirements, noise levels, and manuals.

For more information, contact Adriana Mastronardi, business unit manager, NSF Wastewater Treatment Units Program, at (734) 913-5754 or amastronardi@nsf.org.

U.S. EPA Office of Water Releases Nonpoint Source Outreach Toolbox

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Water has released the Nonpoint Source Outreach Toolbox, a set of Web-based resources designed to help communities across the United States conduct watershed education and outreach activities.

The toolbox includes a searchable catalog of nearly 800 print, radio, and TV ads and outreach materials in lawn and garden care, motor vehicle care, pet care, septic system care, household chemicals and waste, and general stormwater and storm drain awareness.

EPA states that the toolbox has been designed to meet the needs of stormwater professionals planning to develop messages and products for their own communities. It also provides EPA’s publication, Getting in Step — A Guide to Conducting Watershed Outreach Campaigns, as well as a comprehensive collection of surveys and evaluations of outreach programs from around the country.

The toolbox is available at www.epa.gov/nps/toolbox.

‘Challenges Remain’ in Improving Beach Conditions, U.S. EPA Says

Approximately 5% of U.S. “beach days” were restricted due to contaminant-related closings in 2006, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The agency’s recently released Annual Beach Report says that during the 2005 and 2004 beach seasons, 4% of beach days were lost to contamination-related closings.

To calculate beach days, EPA multiplies the number of beaches monitored by the number of days in the swimming season. As swimming seasons are regional, beach days may be counted for most or all of a calendar year in warmer climates, according to EPA. There were more than 676,000 beach days in 2006.

Beach contamination often results from stormwater running off streets, fields, forests, and other sources, according to an EPA news release. More than 3700 beaches were monitored by 35 states and territories under EPA’s Beach Program.

EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles said more work is needed to prevent pollution, monitor water quality, and provide the public appropriate information on beach closings and advisories.

EPA said it is improving data collection and reporting, as are state partners, to provide a more complete picture of the nation’s beaches.

EPA’s beach research focuses on new and ongoing activities meant to establish benchmarks, explore emerging technologies, and refine methodology. Each of these actions is focused on preventing the pollution that can make the beaches and waters unsafe. Actions include

  • development of a new test for waterborne pathogens that will provide results within 2 hours;
  • research to determine the incidence of health effects associated with beach water;
  • uncovering and correcting sources of disease-causing microorganisms;
  • working with communities to help build and properly operate their wastewater treatment plants and end overflows from outdated systems;
  • implementing a national stormwater program to reduce urban runoff; and
  • working with the U.S. Coast Guard to improve wastewater and other waste disposal from recreational boats and other vessels.

     

For more information, see www.epa.gov/waterscience/beaches/seasons/2006.