WaterWorld Weekly Newscast: Oct. 10, 2011

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The following is a transcript of the Oct. 10, 2011, edition of the WaterWorld Weekly Newscast.

Hi, I'm Angela Godwin, digital media editor for WaterWorld magazine, bringing you this week's water and wastewater news headlines. Coming up...
• City challenges EPA stormwater regulations
• Bill focuses on water treatment plant security
• Court upholds conviction for storing irrigation water
• Majority stake in UK water utility acquired by Capstone

The City of Springfield, Missouri, has filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency challenging new federal rules related to stormwater runoff.

The rules in question pertain to the TMDL established last January for Pearson Creek, Wilson's Creek and Jordan Creek in Springfield, and Hinkson Creek in Columbia.

In the TMDL, EPA does not identify a specific pollutant to control and says that, as a surrogate, it intends to regulate overall stormwater flow.

Left unchallenged, the rule would require the city to reduce overall stormwater flows 30 to 40 percent at an estimated cost of $100-300 million.

The city says it's strongly committed to clean water but maintains that the proposed TMDL limits are unattainable.

The decision to file the suit comes as the city is in the process of negotiating a new stormwater permit with the Department of Natural Resources. If no objection had been raised prior to issuance of the permit, the city would lose its ability to object later.

EPA has not yet responded to the lawsuit.

A new bill introduced by Representative Hansen Clarke of Michigan seeks to include water systems and water treatment works in Homeland Security's Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards program.

Under the existing program, more than 2500 water treatment facilities regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act are exempt from CFATS.

While these facilities are required to conduct vulnerability assessments and submit them to EPA, the agency does not have the authority to require implementation of these assessments.

Congressman Clarke said his bill is intended to close a security gap that puts major cities at risk.

The bill has been referred to the Transportation Committee's Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment.

The federal felony conviction of an Idaho farmer who injected his irrigation wells with snowmelt was upheld this week by a federal appeals court.

Cory L. King, who manages a large farm in a semi-desert area of southern Idaho, injected melting snow into his irrigation wells each spring to ensure adequate water supplies throughout summer.

According to a 1971 statute, however, the use of injection wells requires a permit, which King had not obtained until 2005 when he was made aware of the violation.

King paid a fine to the state but three years later, federal officials indicted King on federal charges for violating the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The defendants argued that the federal government had exceeded its powers, and further demonstrated that the water in question did not cross state lines, contained no contaminants, and had no contact with drinking water supplies.

The appeals court upheld the original 2008 indictment, saying that clean water was an issue of national importance and that Congress was entitled to act broadly to ensure the safety of drinking water.

In international news...
Canada's Capstone Infrastructure Corporation has acquired a 70% interest in Bristol Water, a regulated water utility in the United Kingdom.

Capstone acquired its stake from SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT through its AGBAR subsidiary for approximately $206 million US dollars.

Capstone CEO Michael Bernstein said, "Bristol Water is ... an ideal complement to our existing portfolio."

This is the fund's second transaction in Britain, but its first water utility.

The remaining 30% interest will continue to be held by Suez Environnement through its AGBAR subsidiary.

The news of the Bristol sale follows an announcement earlier in the week of HSBC's sale of Cambridge Water to South Staffordshire Plc for an undisclosed amount.

For WaterWorld magazine, I'm Angela Godwin. Thanks for watching.


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