January 2007, Vol. 19, No.1

State of the Industry

Construction Outlook

To Build or Not to Build?

Jeff Gunderson

Facing higher costs and labor shortages, wastewater utilities are considering alternative projects

Globalization, tightening labor markets, and a costly disaster were some of the factors influencing U.S. water and wastewater construction in 2006. A continuing global construction boom created demand for raw materials, pushing commodities prices higher. At home, skilled labor has been in short supply as senior-level personnel have been retiring, while a large amount of construction — mostly residential — drained the labor pool previously available for water and wastewater projects. And certain sectors of the industry remain hard hit from the aftereffects of Hurricane Katrina. All in all, there are several key drivers and emerging trends that water quality professionals should keep an eye on in the coming year.  

On a global scale, construction is brisk. As foreign countries develop at a fast pace, the demand for raw materials has driven prices skyward. India currently is in an aggressive development phase while it is estimated that 15% of the world’s cranes are located in Dubai. However, most wastewater professionals attribute the upward pricing pressures in raw materials to the rapid rise of construction in China.

“China’s use of the world’s raw materials has risen from 10% to 20% over the past 10 years,” said Myron Olstein, a former Black & Veatch (Overland Park, Kan.) director who has consulted to most of the large wastewater utilities in the United States. “[Use of] materials such as aluminum, copper, and nickel have climbed dramatically.”

Heather Stephens, a senior project engineer with Kennedy/Jenks Consultants (San Francisco) said that China is developing its infrastructure so quickly that it currently is consuming 30% of the world’s steel supply. “For perspective, they are essentially building a new city the size of Houston each month,” she said.

Commodity inflation had a particularly profound effect on large construction projects. For example, to adjust for rising materials prices, King County, Wash., had to revise cost trends up 9.3% for its $1.6 billion Brightwater Wastewater Treatment plant. Phased construction for the project began in 2006, and development of the treatment plant facility is expected to start at the end of this year. The project, which is being designed by CH2M Hill (Englewood, Colo.) and constructed by Hoffman Construction Co. (Portland, Ore.), includes a 21-km (13-mi) conveyance tunnel with an outfall in Puget Sound. A significant portion of the project’s budget — nearly $65 million — is allocated for odor control technology.
Another factor influencing materials prices was Hurricane Katrina. The shutdown of several Gulf Coast factories and ports led to diminished supply and increased demand for construction products, especially polyvinylchloride (PVC) pipe. According to Bill Latrone, a senior engineer–construction manager with Kennedy/Jenks, “Supplies [of PVC pipe] were limited, and some contractors were forced to look for alternative products in order to meet critical deadlines. One pipe manufacturer mentioned that they had requests for steel pipe to replace nonavailable PVC.”

Several water quality professionals also voiced their concerns about the skilled labor shortage — a trend that shows no signs of staling. In 2006, the residential construction boom absorbed much of the labor pool, reducing the available work force for water and wastewater projects. Heather Stephens of Kennedy/Jenks said this boom led many contractors to shift their focus to housing, as it is relatively simple construction and carries lower risks than public works projects.

The home construction market has begun to slow down, but it is offset by a nationwide surge in commercial construction.

“With commercial construction booming, several industries are vying for the same resources,” said Bruce Allender, North American director of business development, engineering–procurement construction, for the water business of Black & Veatch. “For us, this year is shaping up to be about the same as 2006, in that we entered both years with a strong backlog of work. In order to cope with the shortage, we have been putting more emphasis on work force management — making sure we put the right people on the right projects.”

Adding to this national labor pinch are the graying and retirements of many skilled wastewater treatment plant personnel.

Greg Chung, an associate wastewater engineer with Kennedy/Jenks Consultants, said the mass retirements of senior facility operators who entered the field during the Clean Water Act grant days is one of the more troubling issues utilities are facing. “Many agencies are constantly struggling to find suitable replacements or even new hires to train,” he said.  “Consequently, more emphasis on new wastewater plants has focused on automation to reduce the amount of staff required to operate the facility.”

Many water quality professionals agree that community growth and development will be the main drivers for new wastewater construction in the coming year. Lynn Orphan, watershed–wastewater leader for Kennedy/Jenks, said a large part of her company’s projects for 2007 include the planning and design of smaller wastewater treatment plants in rapidly developing communities in the West. Two examples include an 11,355-m3/d (3-mgd) plant in Battle Ground, Wash., just northeast of Portland, Ore.; and an 18,925-m3/d (5-mgd) plant for the Linda community, outside of Sacramento, Calif.

Maricopa County, Ariz. — which added more people than any other county in the nation for the year ending July 1, 2005, according to the U.S. Census Bureau — is scheduled to begin delivery of water for its Lake Pleasant Water Treatment Plant project this spring. When completed, this $336 million, City of Phoenix project will provide service for 400,000 households. American Water (Voorhees, N.J.) is the prime contractor for the project, and Black & Veatch and McCarthy Building Companies (St. Louis) form the joint-venture design–build team.

The Lake Pleasant Water Treatment Plant is also the largest design–build–operate project in North America. Black & Veatch’s Bruce Allender sees the most opportunity in alternative delivery projects. “More U.S. cities are beginning to question traditional design–bid–build project delivery as they recognize that alternative delivery can be less expensive with higher quality as a result of integrating design with construction,” he said. “We’re talking much more with clients about alternative delivery now than we were a year ago as a result of increased interest by utilities.”

While alternative delivery is well-established in countries such as the United Kingdom, it is still relatively new in the United States, Allender said. For example, in Texas it is not yet legal to construct design–build projects. However, Florida and California are especially active design–build market areas. Nationally, several large cities currently are using a mix of traditional and alternative delivery, Allender said. “However, the more complex the project, the more readily it will fit into alternative delivery.”

This year Allender also sees engineering-led, design–build projects growing in popularity for both water and wastewater treatment, as this method facilitates design while allowing parallel construction activities to occur — which results in shorter schedules and lower costs. “With this approach the client has more quality control, especially in equipment and contractor selection. This also allows a greater transparency of costs through the process,” he said.

As opposed to new facility construction in the West and Southwest to support population growth and development, wastewater construction in Northeast regions, such as Boston and New York, is being driven primarily by the need to fix or replace aging infrastructure or because many treatment plants are nearing the end of their useful life cycles. Doug Reed, a senior vice president with Woodard & Curran (Portland, Maine), said that new regulatory requirements and a more environmentally aware population also are influencing construction in the Northeast. “State and federal standards are much more stringent, especially in relation to nutrient and metal levels,” he said. “For example, facilities are required to treat nitrogen and phosphorous to lower levels to improve conditions for impacted ecosystems.”

Woodard & Curran currently is working with the Town of Billerica, Mass., on an upgrade to the 60,560-m3/d (16-mgd) Billerica Wastewater Treatment Facility. For this project, Woodard & Curran is specifying a magnetically enhanced coagulation technology by Cambridge Water Technology (Cambridge, Mass.) for phosphorus removal.

Some wastewater professionals said that funding, or the lack thereof, will play a much larger role in 2007. Joseph Husband, vice president and national wastewater treatment technology leader for Malcolm Pirnie (White Plains, N.Y.), foresees potential changes in the way municipalities plan for growth.  

“Municipalities are stretched in terms of funding,” he said. This is especially the case in high-growth markets. So there seems to be a greater acceptance in the industry towards investing more in current plant operations and treatment systems instead of accruing major debt costs for new projects.”
Myron Olstein agreed, stating that wastewater utilities have a very high ratio of capital dollars to revenue dollars. “As costs move up, nonconstruction alternatives will need to be explored. The industry should focus on solutions that don’t involve building so much,” he said.

Wastewater professionals also say that energy considerations will play a larger role in the coming year. Greg Chung of Kennedy/Jenks said that energy costs have shifted clients’ priorities to projects that will help them reduce their power consumption, either through energy savings, energy production or by waste reduction and recovery. “Projects that may not have been considered worthwhile in the past are now being re-investigated,” he said. “The awareness of energy costs is probably one of the most profound impacts.”

Lynn Orphan of Kennedy/Jenks points to energy recovery projects for older plants in established markets as a key growth area for her company. One such project is a digester rehabilitation and cogeneration system in West Lafayette, Ind. This project involves recovering energy from biosolids and grease trap waste, similar to a system that Kennedy/Jenks installed last year in Millbrae, Calif., outside of San Francisco. 

Jeff Gunderson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

Jeff Gunderson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

Infrastructure

Growing Pains: The U.S. population has hit the 300-million mark. Can wastewater infrastructure keep up?

Mary Bufe

 Not long ago, Valerie Going was working on an engineering study for Pasco County, Fla., when she went to review the county’s population growth estimates. “I was looking at a 20-year projection for the year 2020,” recalled Going, a project manager for CDM (Cambridge, Massachusetts). “The problem was, the county had already surpassed it.”

Pasco County, which grew by nearly 25% between 2000 and 2005 to a population of more than 429,000, is not alone. Over the same period, the city of Phoenix’s population surged nearly 20%. Las Vegas and Atlanta, as well as parts of California, Texas, the Northeast, and Midwest have seen similar explosive growth.

With the U.S. population now surpassing 300 million — and growing by one person every 11 seconds — utilities all over the country are grappling with how to keep up. It’s not simply a matter of adding more capacity. It’s also dealing with aging infrastructure that is literally busting at the seams — and finding ways to pay for its repair.

And it’s not just communities growing at double-digit rates that are feeling stretched to the limits. Consider the Los Angeles–Long Beach area of California, where the population grew a relatively modest 7.4% between 1990 and 2000.

“Like a lot of big cities, our boundaries are fixed, and our wastewater system is completely built out,” said Tim Haug, deputy city engineer for Los Angeles Department of Public Works. “What we’re dealing with now is densification. Abandoned buildings are being converted to lofts and attracting new residents. So we have more people relying on a wastewater system that was already in great need of repair.”

To keep pace, the city of Los Angeles has been spending between $200 million and $250 million a year (adjusted for inflation) for the past 20 years to upgrade its treatment and collection system.

But will that be enough? Haug, for one, isn’t so sure.

The most recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency survey estimated it will take more than half a trillion dollars ($151 billion for drinking water and $390 billion for wastewater) over the next 20 years to repair, replace, or upgrade all the systems nationwide that have already outlived their useful life. The problem is, the nation’s schools, roads, transit systems, and other infrastructure are also in similar states of decline. And municipalities are finding there are only so many dollars to go around to make the necessary repairs and expansions.
 
Conservation First
According to Going, many fast-growing municipalities are doing everything they can to reduce consumption first before undertaking major expansion programs. 

“In Florida, for example, you’ll find many municipalities with programs that encourage residents to use low-flow toilets,” she explained. “It’s also common here to find mandatory time-of-day water restrictions and escalating water rates that penalize high-volume users.”

“The more these municipalities can reduce consumer demand, the less need they have to increase capacity,” Going said. 

Reclaimed water systems for irrigation and landscaping have also grown in popularity in recent years, particularly in areas that face seasonal water shortages, according to David Payne, president of ASR Systems (Gainesville, Fla.).

In Florida and Arizona, some municipalities are going even a step further, Payne said. They’re storing treated wastewater deep underground during rainy months, and then pumping it back up to the surface for irrigation purposes during dry ones. Such underground water banks are “one of the hottest new applications” of aquifer storage and recovery technology, he said.

They’re also a sign of a new mindset now taking hold at many utilities.

“In the old days, when you had new growth, you almost automatically added capacity to the treatment plant,” said John Hattle, director of business development for new initiatives at Insituform Technologies Inc. (Chesterfield, Mo.). “But many municipalities today have shifted their thinking to focus on sustainability. They are beginning to recognize the value of being good stewards of their existing supplies and infrastructure.”

 

Rehab Next  
Today, some utilities are finding they can accommodate at least some of their new growth simply by taking better care of their existing systems, Hattle said. 

As proof, Hattle points to Conway, Ark., which saw its population grow more than 21% between 2000 and 2005, making it the second-fastest growing city in the state.

“In 2004, the city made the decision to rehabilitate its entire wastewater collection system,” Hattle said. “In doing so, they reduced infiltration and inflow systemwide by about 19%, which pretty much took care of the need for additional treatment capacity.”

By rebuilding its pipeline infrastructure as a first step, Conway city officials addressed its population growth the “smart way,” Hattle said. “Once a municipality gets its pipes reconditioned and more predictable in their performance, then it can start to look at what additional capacity might be necessary to manage additional growth in a more sustainable manner.”

However, proactive cities such as Conway may still be more the exception than the rule. “Unfortunately, it often takes a catastrophe like the one that took place in Hawaii this past summer before a city will make its infrastructure a priority,” Hattle said.

Hattle was referring to the 180,000 m3 (48 million gal) of wastewater that spilled into Honolulu waters in March 2006. It was the largest release of untreated wastewater in the tourist mecca in at least two decades and closed Hawaii’s famous Waikiki beach for days.

“Until a municipality can put numbers on the impact of sewer spills, the infrastructure doesn’t get the attention it needs,” Hattle said. “Sometimes finding the money to do this work isn’t as difficult as finding the fortitude to invest proactively in these kinds of repairs.”

Not that finding the money is ever easy.

“Small cities tend to struggle the most,” Hattle said. “The more successful ones are those that establish systems that require new developments to pay their own way.”

Creative Funding Approaches
Given the shortage of substantial government funding, a growing number of municipalities throughout the country are relying on tapping fees, also known as impact, hookup, or connection fees, to fund upgrades and expansions. “These fees acknowledge that new real estate development impacts a community’s infrastructure, and newcomers must pay a portion of that cost,” Going said.

“In an older neighborhood, a new resident might have expected to pay $75 to tap into a water line,” Hattle said.  “Now it’s not unusual for a new home to be assessed $4000 to $5000 for the same privilege.” 

In fast-growing Reno, Nev., for example, the City Council last year raised sewer hookup fees by nearly 40% — from $3125 to $4321 — with additional small increases each year over the next decade, according to Gene Jones, the city’s senior civil engineer.

Such fees are helping to fund infrastructure repairs after a 2002 study showed that it would cost the city $116 million to rehabilitate its entire backlog of pipes that had reached the end of their useful life.

In addition to its aggressive approach to pipeline repair, the city also is nearing completion of a $42 million expansion at the Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility, which it shares with neighboring Sparks, Nev. When completed, the plant’s capacity will increase from 151,400 m3/d (40 mgd) to 176,000 m3/d (46.5 mgd), according to Al Minor, plant maintenance superintendent. “We’re currently experiencing an average of 32 mgd [121,120 m3/d] flow rates,” Minor said. “But we’re working hard to stay ahead of the curve.”

The Bigger Questions
Water conservation, supply and storage, rehabs and expansion — they’re all helping municipalities stay ahead of the growth curve — for now. “But there comes a point when that is not going to be enough,” Going said.

In high-growth areas such as Florida, where the population is fast outstripping the available water supply, there is already talk of developing desalination plants to provide alternative water sources, she said. But such moves come at a high cost.

“These technologies may give us the water supply we need,” Haug said, “but they also require lots of energy to operate. Do we want to live in a nation where not only our transportation depends on foreign energy sources, but our water supply does as well?”

Haug foresees even bigger problems ahead.

“It’s politically incorrect to talk about, but none of the solutions currently being discussed will achieve its purpose, long-term, if we don’t also slow the rate of population growth in this country,” he said.

At current growth rates, Haug said, the U.S. population could conceivably reach 1 billion by the 2100. “The world cannot afford a United States with a billion people,” Haug said. “We have the highest per capita consumption of resources in the world. And with demand increasing in China and other parts of the world, the cost of supplying infrastructure is only going up.”  

“Besides, how can we possibly expect our current situation to improve over the next 100 years with the direction our population is headed? It will dictate and govern everything.”

Haug admits he paints a gloomy picture. “But it doesn’t have to be,” he said. “Sustainability is a great concept that must be preached from preschool on up. Children need to understand that there are limits to things. But population stabilization is the heart of sustainability. Without it, everything else is window dressing.”

“We just need to get the conversation started,” he said.

 

Mary Bufe is a freelance writer based in St. Louis.

Mary Bufe is a freelance writer based in St. Louis.

Election 2006

Policy Watch: While the Democrats now control Congress, their ability to change water quality policy is still unclear

Patricia Sinicropi

 After 12 years of single-party rule in the U.S. Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate now are controlled by the Democratic Party.

While the full impact of the midterm elections will play out in the next several months, observers expect the majority to move on some high-profile Democratic priorities while maintaining a degree of caution as the country heads into the 2008 presidential election cycle. Based on statements already made by Democratic Party leaders, the new House majority party is expected to move on issues such as increasing the minimum wage, reforming the Medicare prescription drug program, passing ethics legislation, and reinstating oversight hearings on administration policies, especially on its policies in Iraq and the war on terrorism. However, on matters concerning the environment, including issues such as water, energy independence, and climate change, it’s unclear how much a Democratic-controlled Congress will accomplish. And on fiscal matters, the Democrats will continue to operate in a restrained fiscal environment.

Key Leadership and Committee Assignments
While formal committee assignments will not be made until the new Congress is sworn in later this month, there is already a high degree of certainty as to who will assume key committee leadership posts with jurisdiction over key environmental matters.

House
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) ran unopposed and became the first woman speaker of the House. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D–Md.) edged out Rep. John Murtha (D–Pa.) to be House majority leader.

In the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, it is expected that James Oberstar (D–Minn.), current ranking member, will become chair, and John Mica (R–Fla.) will become its ranking member. The current Democratic ranking member of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment, which has subcommittee jurisdiction over the Clean Water Act and the Water Resources Development Act, is Eddie Bernice Johnson (D–Texas). Johnson is in line to become chair of this subcommittee, unless she is bumped by a more senior member. Other House Democrats who could assume the chair include Earl Blumenauer (D–Ore.), Ellen Tauscher (D–Calif.), and Bill Pascrell (D–N.J). John Duncan (R–Tenn.), current Republican chair of this subcommittee, likely would become the subcommittee’s ranking member unless he moves to another subcommittee.

The chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will be John Dingell (D–Mich.), and the chair of the subcommittee on the Environment and Hazardous Waste, with jurisdiction over the Safe Drinking Water Act, most likely will be Hilda Solis (D–Calif.), who has been its ranking member for the last two Congresses. The Republican ranking member of the full committee could be Joe Barton (R–Texas), and Paul Gilmor (R–Ohio) would become the ranking Republican for the subcommittee.

Collin Peterson (D–Minn.) is in line to chair the House Agriculture Committee, with Bob Goodlatte (R–Va.) becoming the ranking Republican. In line to become chair of the Conservation, Credit, and Rural Development and Research Subcommittee is Tim Holden (D–Pa.), with Frank Lucas (R–Okla.) becoming its ranking Republican. These assignments are particularly interesting since Congress is expected to take up reauthorization of the Farm Bill.

David Obey (D–Wis.) is in line to chair the House Appropriations Committee, with Jerry Lewis (R–Calif.) becoming its ranking Republican. On the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees the budget for the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Interior, Norm Dicks (D–Wash.), who is currently its ranking member, is in line to become chair. Since the subcommittee’s current chair, Charles Taylor (R–N.C.), lost his re-election bid, it is unknown who will be Republican ranking member. A possible replacement could be Zach Wamp (R–Tenn.), who currently has seniority in the subcommittee.

Senate
Harry Reid (D–Nev.) will move from his current job as Senate minority leader to majority leader, and Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.) assumed the post of minority leader.
Chairmanship of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will go to Barbara Boxer (D–Calif.), with James Inhofe (R–Okla.) possibly becoming ranking member, unless John Warner (R–Va.) successfully asserts his seniority to take over as ranking member. Boxer has announced a new subcommittee structure and named Frank Launtenberg (D–N.J.) chair of the Subcommittee on Transportation Safety, Infrastructure Security, and Water Quality, with oversight over the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Tom Harkin (D–Iowa) is likely to chair the Senate Agriculture Committee, with Saxby Chambliss (R–Ga.) becoming the ranking Republican. Chair of the Subcommittee on Forestry, Conservation, and Rural Revitalization would be Blanche Lincoln (D–Ark.), and the ranking Republican would be Mike Crapo (R–Idaho).

Leadership on the Senate Appropriations Committee under the Democrats will go to Robert Byrd (D–W.V.), the longest serving senator currently in Congress. He would replace Thad Cochran (R–Miss.), who now will be the committee’s ranking Republican. The chair of the Subcommittee for Interior and Related Agencies may be Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and the ranking member may be Robert Bennett (R–Utah), since the current Subcommittee chair, Conrad Burns (R–Mont.), lost his re-election bid.

Implications for Water Quality Policy
Under Republican control, little meaningful water quality legislation of national importance was enacted. Whether a Democratic-controlled Congress will take action on water quality matters is unclear at this point; however, it is likely that some water-related legislation will advance. For example, Rep. James Oberstar (D–Minn.) has introduced legislation for several Congresses that would reaffirm the authority of the Clean Water Act (CWA). This legislation would establish that the CWA was intended to cover all waters of the United States, not just navigable waters — an interpretation that has caused considerable confusion and led to recent Supreme Court rulings curtailing the reach of the CWA in wetlands disputes. Similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate. It is likely that Rep. Oberstar will make passage of this legislation a priority.

Sen. Barbara Boxer has been a strong advocate for regulations controlling the use of perchlorate, which has been found to contaminate many drinking water wells throughout California. She can be expected to try to advance legislation addressing this issue.

Water Infrastructure Funding
For several Congresses, attempts have been made to reauthorize state revolving fund programs for wastewater and drinking water infrastructure projects. Last year, bipartisan consensus was reached by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to pass legislation addressing this issue, and though the House did not take similar action last Congress, it has in previous Congresses. Two key issues that have prevented water infrastructure state revolving fund legislation from moving forward — state allocation formulas and requirements over Davis–Bacon prevailing wage provisions — both could be resolved by the Democrats in order to clear way for passage for this legislation. Whether Democrats would consider establishing a trust fund for water infrastructure projects is unclear. To enlist their party’s support, Democrats would have to identify a willing (or unwilling) revenue source — or sources — and essentially tax that source(s) in order to establish a dedicated funding source. Democrats may be leery of doing this in their first time in the majority in more than 12 years, since they will be cautious of being labeled “tax-and-spend” liberals heading into a presidential election cycle.

Security
Security issues likely will continue to dominate the legislative agenda under this new Congress. Therefore, we can expect to see action on legislation that addresses security issues at water treatment facilities. Last Congress, Sen. James Inhofe was able to pass security legislation in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and had Democratic support for doing so. While the House did not take similar action last Congress, it had done so in previous Congresses.   

Water Supply and Western Issues
We also could see Congress take action on water supply issues, many of which fall under the jurisdiction of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, likely chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has led efforts to pass legislation that makes it easier for western rural towns to obtain funding through the Bureau of Reclamation to construct large water infrastructure projects. This legislation had bipartisan support in both chambers, and it likely will continue as a priority for the New Mexico senator. There also has been interest in both parties to advance legislation supporting the development of desalination technology in order to expand the sources of drinking water, so Congress could see activity in this area as well.

Budget and Appropriations
Democrats have made it clear that they will reinstitute “pay-as-you-go” budget rules requiring that any increases in program spending be offset by either cuts in spending elsewhere or increases in revenue. Given this, it is unlikely we will see any large increases in federal spending under a Democratic Congress, including large spending increases for environmental and natural resources programs administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Interior. However, Democrats have been highly critical of the Bush administration’s targeting programs within these two departments for spending cuts, especially cuts to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF). While Democrats may not be able to restore cuts to the CWSRF and other water quality programs, they can be expected to hold the line on additional cuts and perhaps offer slight increases that offset inflation. 

 

 

Farm Bill
Congress is scheduled to take up Farm Bill legislation because the current farm bill expires in 2007. The Farm Bill authorizes programs administered by the Department of Agriculture (USDA), including programs that support conservation efforts by farmers. Because of their significant impact on water quality, USDA conservation programs will be the subject of much debate. Sen. Tom Harkin is a big fan of conservation programs and championed passage of the Conservation Security Program that targets conservation funding to critical watersheds. It is expected that this Congress will be very friendly toward efforts to increase the resources available for greater conservation stewardship by farmers, but as is the case with EPA and water programs, the overall fiscal environment will make this a challenge.

Climate Change
Congress also may take up legislation to address climate change. Several prominent Democrats and Republicans have voiced their concern that Congress begin to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Several members, including Sens. Joe Lieberman (I–Conn.), Tom Carper (D–Del.), John McCain (R–Ariz.), and Lindsay Graham (R–S.C.), and Rep. Ed Markey (D–Mass.), have sponsored legislation addressing this issue. Barbara Boxer, incoming chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has made it clear that climate legislation will be her top priority. And incoming chairman of the House Energy Committee, John Dingell, already has indicated that he intends to hold hearings on the issue. Whether Democrats can overcome strong opposition among conservative Republicans and the White House is yet to be seen.

While none of these issues will change national water policy dramatically, Democrats may attempt to move significant water quality legislation nonetheless.

Patricia Sinicropi is legislative counsel for the Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, Va.).

Patricia Sinicropi is legislative counsel for the Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, Va.).