On April 26th, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) held a National Water Quality Program Liaison Committee Meeting in Washington DC to discuss current USGS National Water-Quality Program activities on harmful algal blooms (HABs), and on nutrients in the Chesapeake Bay. HABs and the sources, transport, and fate of nutrients in the Nation’s rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and coastal areas are among the key issues being assessed by the USGS as part of the NWQP’s National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project. The NAWQA Project looks at how our Nation’s water quality has changed – and tries to identify causes and solutions.

Three presentations were given – each followed by a discussion. 

The first presentation, given by Tom Stiles, Assistant Director for the Kansas Dept. of Health and Environment:  Bureau of Water, was on Kansas’s need for science to help in the face of perceptions of HABs.  He spoke about efforts being made to examine levels of cyanotoxins in Milford Lake – and looking into cause of HABs.  He wrapped up the presentation by presenting the states needs as:  research to address what we don’t know, science to confirm what we believe is the truth, observations and data to address what the public believes.  This data can then be used when trying to decide whether to open the lake to the public on the weekends.

The second presentation was given by Jennifer Graham, HABs Coordinator for the National Water-Quality Program.  She spoke on the occurrence of HABs in US freshwaters and emerging technologies to address them including sensors and satellite imagery and cells.  She talked about the importance of understanding causal factors, environmental fate and transport, ecological processes and effects of environmental exposure and developing early warning systems. 

The final presentation, by Paul Capel with the USGS, focused on nutrients in the Chesapeake Bay watershed—including sources, transport and trends.  Elevated nutrients in Chesapeake Bay contribute to algal blooms, reduced water clarity, and declining fish and oyster harvests. Monitoring and modeling do not indicate any substantial decreases in nutrient loading to the Bay, despite management efforts over the last decade.  An improved understanding of nutrient sources and flowpaths can help set realistic expectations for the effectiveness of policy decisions for managing nutrients in the Bay.

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This Week in Washington is an online news portal from the Water Environment Federation that provides updates on the latest legislative and regulatory developments that affect the water and wastewater communities. It provides concise reports of related bills, regulations, legal decisions, congressional hearings, and other federal government actions, following key issues from introduction to final determination.

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This Week in Washington is compiled by the WEF Government Affairs department. Please contact us with any questions or comments.

Claudio Ternieden
Senior Director of Government Affairs & Strategic Partnerships

Steve Dye
Legislative Director

Amy Kathman
Government Affairs Specialist