June 2006, Vol. 18, No.6


U.S. Senators Introduce Infrastructure Improvement Bill

U.S. senators George Voinovich (R–Ohio), Thomas Carper (D–Del.), and Hillary Clinton (D–N.Y.) on March 8 introduced the National Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2006 (S. 2388) to address the deteriorating conditions of the nation’s roads, bridges, drinking and wastewater systems, and other public works. If enacted, the bill would establish a National Commission on Infrastructure of the United States, which would be charged with “aiding in the nation’s economic growth and ensuring the ability of the nation’s infrastructure to meet current and future demands,” according to a congressional press release.

“Right now, our infrastructure is collapsing due to insufficient funding,” Voinovich said. “This legislation gets at the heart of the problem by establishing a commission that will provide concrete recommendations for future infrastructure needs. It has gained broad support from many different organizations, such as the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Association of Counties, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. If enacted, this commission will lead the way in providing long-term solutions to the current problems we face today.”

The bill would mandate

  • establishment of the National Commission on the Infrastructure of the United States;
  • completion of a study by February 2009 that would address all matters relating to the state of the nation’s infrastructure, including the capacity of infrastructure improvements to sustain current and anticipated economic development, as well as the age, condition and capacity of public infrastructure, repair and maintenance needs, financing methods, and investment requirements;
  • development of recommendations for a federal plan outlining infrastructure priorities; and
  • completion of a report to the U.S. Congress by February 2009 that would detail infrastructure legislation deemed necessary for the next 5, 15, 30, and 50 years, according to the press release.

At press time, the bill had been referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The full text of the bill is available on the U.S. Library of Congress Web site at thomas.loc.gov.

U.S. EPA Publishes Final Water Quality Criteria for Diazinon and Nonylphenol

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Feb. 23 issued its final recommended aquatic-life ambient water quality criteria for the pesticide diazinon and the organic chemical nonylphenol, according to an EPA news brief.

The criteria for the chemicals, which are both toxic to aquatic life, are set to “protect watersheds, fish, and wildlife,” said Benjamin H. Grumbles, EPA assistant administrator for Water.

The final criteria are intended to be used as guidance for states and tribes, but they may form the basis for state water quality standards and become enforceable through National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits or other environmental programs, the news brief says.

Diazinon, the brief notes, is a pesticide traditionally used throughout the United States to control insects in agricultural areas, households, and urban settings. After Dec. 31, 2004, it became unlawful to sell diazinon for outdoor nonagricultural uses in the United States. However, it is lawful to use diazinon for nonresidential or agricultural uses that are consistent with product labeling and precautions approved by EPA under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.

Nonylphenol is produced in large quantities in the United States and is often found in wastewater treatment plant effluent as a breakdown product from surfactants and detergents, EPA notes.

For more information on diazinon and the final criteria, see www.epa.gov/waterscience/criteria/diazinon. Read about nonylphenol and the final criteria at www.epa.gov/waterscience/criteria/nonylphenol.

Cross-Flow Membrane Market To Reach $10 Billion by 2010

The cost-effectiveness of combining biological treatment and membrane filtration has resulted in steady market growth for cross-flow membrane modules. According to a report by the market research firm McIlvaine Co. (Northfield, Ill.), the market for these membrane modules and equipment to purify water and other liquids will grow from $7.6 billion in 2006 to more than $10 billion in 2010.

Because of the purity of the water discharge from cross-flow membrane treatment, the effluent can be discharged directly, a McIlvaine news release notes. For a new housing development, this eliminates the expense of lengthy sewage transport to a central facility, the release says.

The cross-flow membrane market is divided into three major segments: reverse osmosis (the largest segment), and ultrafiltration and microfiltration, the news release states. Reverse osmosis accounts for 50% of total cross-flow membrane sales and is used for desalination and the creation of ultrapure water for electronics, power, and pharmaceutical applications.

The other 50% of the market is almost evenly split between ultrafiltration, which provides medium efficiency and is used as prefiltration for reverse osmosis, and microfiltration, which requires the lowest amount of energy.

The McIlvaine report predicts that the leading segment for cross-flow membranes in 2009 will be desalination, with sales of equipment and membranes in excess of $2.2 billion worldwide.

To purchase a copy of the report, see www.mcilvainecompany.com/water.html#no20.

U.S. EPA Offers Aid To Improve Quality of Agricultural Watersheds

In an effort to improve water quality and promote innovative farming practices, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is offering approximately $300,000 in grants to eligible applicants in EPA Region 7, which includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska.

EPA will award grants to two types of projects: Watershed Improvement Projects (single media) and Watershed Improvement with Pesticide Emphasis Projects (multimedia).

The grants are being awarded to emphasize water quality improvements in agricultural watersheds by supporting new methods to use less and lower-risk pesticides, an EPA press release notes. The agency also wants to encourage farmers to adopt ecologically based approaches using integrated crop, pest, soil, and water management methods, the release states.

For more details, see the Watershed Improvement Grants announcement at www.epa.gov/region07/economics/r7_grant_opportunities.htm.