Feb. 25 set for first WEF Congressional Briefing

Answers that monitoring provides for water quality protection is the topic of the first legislative briefing sponsored by the Water Environment Federation in the nation's capital. The overall theme of the briefing series -- with others to be held March 4 and 11 -- is "The Quality of the Nation's Water: What Do We Know and How Can We Know More?"...

WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 22, 2005 -- Sponsored by the Water Environment Federation (WEF), in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), the first of three Congressional Briefings will feature Tim Miller, chief of the USGS Office of Water Quality, Mike Shapiro, EPA deputy assistant administrator for Water, and Sally Knowles, of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

This event will be Feb. 25 at 9:30-11:30 a.m. in Room 2318 of the Rayburn House Office Building. Focusing on water quality monitoring and "Answers It Provides for Water Quality Protection," the briefing will explore questions that can be answered through monitoring, strategies used to provide the answers, and how federal agencies and states can collaboratively use data acquired through different monitoring strategies to help meet water protection challenges. Moderated by Robin O'Malley, of the Heinz Center for Science, Economics and Environment, it will include a discussion of the needs and options for national policy on water quality monitoring.

According to the most recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report on water quality conditions in the United States, about 40% of assessed streams and rivers were not clean enough to support intended uses such as fishing and swimming. Yet, the report is based on 1998 data that only assessed 25% of the nation's streams and rivers for water quality. So, how much do we really know about the condition of our streams and rivers? Recent reports by the Government Accounting Office, the EPA and the Heinz Center for Science, Economics and Environment uncover the challenges confronting the country's ability to effectively monitor the quality of our streams and ground water.

This series of three congressional briefings will discuss current water quality monitoring activities and policy options for improving them, demonstrate how monitoring data provide nationwide and regional findings that are useful in protecting water quality even in unmonitored areas, and provide specific examples of federal, state and local governments' effective use of monitoring information.

The second briefing, "Monitoring Extrapolation: Nutrients in the Nation's Rivers" will be held Friday, March 4 and will describe the extent to which the nation's rivers and streams are polluted with nutrients. It will explain how NAWQA can provide this information through a combination of data from its carefully designed monitoring strategy and a model developed to accurately predict conditions in un-sampled areas nationwide.

The third and final briefing, "Monitoring Extrapolation: Ground Water Quality" will be held Friday, March 11 and is currently in development. It is expected to address nutrients in ground water nationwide, possibly including arsenic and MTBE. Information on the interaction of ground and surface water is also expected to be presented with examples from USGS National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) findings of pollutants in streams that contaminate ground water and impacts on stream quality. Examples will include situations in which drinking water supplies are affected by ground water/surface water interaction.

Each briefing is open to the public and will have time reserved for a question and discussion period. For exact locations of future briefings, contact WEF at info@wef.org.

Founded in 1928, the Water Environment Federation (www.wef.org) is a not-for-profit technical and educational organization with members from varied disciplines who work toward the WEF vision of preservation and enhancement of the global water environment. The WEF network includes water quality professionals from 76 Member Associations in 30 countries.

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