DAYTON, OH — Woolpert recently won a Merit Award from the Virginia Chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) ...

Woolpert recognized for role in stormwater management program

DAYTON, OH — Woolpert recently won a Merit Award from the Virginia Chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) for its role in the Loudoun County, Virginia, Stormwater Management Program.

Under the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) mandate, Loudoun County was required to map out its existing stormwater infrastructure. Hired to develop a stormwater management program, Woolpert mapped the county's stormwater infrastructure and created a GPS-based field inventory to implement a system capable of tracking pollutants that infiltrate the system in a timely manner so they can be eliminated as quickly as possible.

The ACEC Engineering Excellence Awards (EEA) recognize outstanding projects in seven different categories. Woolpert received the Merit Award for the Loudoun County project under the category Environmental, Water and Water Resources, Wastewater.

NJ DEP proposes $19M in Delaware watershed projects

TRENTON, NJ — The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is proposing more than $19 million in ecological restoration and enhancement projects for the Delaware River watershed as compensation to the public for natural resource injuries caused by a massive spill from the oil tanker Athos I in 2004.

The tanker discharged more than 263,000 gallons of crude oil after puncturing and slicing its hull on an abandoned, submerged anchor while attempting to dock at the Citgo asphalt refinery along the West Deptford-Paulsboro border on Nov. 26, 2004. Some 280 miles of shoreline were affected by the spill.

The DEP's Office of Natural Resource Restoration has proposed three key restoration and enhancement projects. The largest, accounting for about $18.5 million of the proposed improvements, involves restoration of 63 acres of degraded wetlands, creation of 35 acres of wet meadows, and restoration of 100 acres of grasslands at the Mad Horse Creek Wildlife Management Area along the upper bay in Salem County.

The federal government and the states affected by the spill are taking public comment on proposed projects to be funded by the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. Administered by the U.S. Coast Guard and supported by a federal tax on the oil industry, the trust fund is managing the natural resource damage claims resulting from the Athos spill because the operator of the tanker has reached a liability cap on spill-related damages and activities.

EPA publishes draft handbook for developing watershed TMDLs

WASHINGTON, DC — EPA's Office of Water has issued a draft “Handbook for Developing Watershed TMDLs” available for public comment until Feb.18, 2009.

EPA is looking for ways to help states expedite development of scientifically defensible TMDLs. The draft document identifies the issues for practitioners to consider and tools and resources that can help them when planning for and developing watershed TMDLs. The draft document also identifies the benefits of developing watershed TMDLs, as well as the challenges and ways to address them.

EPA announces finalists for grants to improve Gulf of Mexico

WASHINGTON, DC — A total of $3.7 million is available to help selected organizations reduce pollutants that contribute to the oxygen-depleted zone in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The 10 selected finalists will support agricultural conservation measures, restore wetlands and riverbanks, monitor water quality, and create a variety of innovative, market-based programs to improve water quality.

The organizations are:

  • Conservation Technology and Information Center (West Lafayette, IN) for the Wabash River Watershed
  • Electric Power Research Institute (Palo Alto, CA) for the Ohio River Basin
  • Iowa State University (Ames, IA) for the Raccoon River Watershed, Walnut Creek Watershed, and Boone River Watershed
  • The Miami Conservancy District (Dayton, OH) for the Great Miami River Watershed
  • The Nature Conservancy (Nashville, TN) for the Lower Hatchie River Watershed, Loosahatchie River Watershed, and Wolf River Watershed
  • The Ohio State University (Columbus, OH) for the Upper Scioto Watershed
  • The Wetlands Initiative (Chicago, IL) for the Lower Illinois River-Lake Senachwine Watershed
  • University of Kentucky (Lexington, KY) for the Green River Watershed and Kentucky River Watershed
  • West Virginia University (Morgantown, WV) for the Kanawha River Watershed
  • World Resource Institute (Washington, DC) for the Ohio River Basin, Upper Mississippi River Basin and Lower Mississippi River Basin

Since its establishment in 2002, EPA's Targeted Watersheds Grant Program has encouraged successful community-based approaches to protect and restore the nation's watersheds. To date, more than $55 million has been provided through targeted watersheds grants.

John Rapanos agrees to pay for Clean Water Act violations

WASHINGTON, DC — John A. Rapanos and related defendants have agreed to pay a civil penalty and recreate approximately 100 acres of wetlands and buffer areas to resolve violations of the Clean Water Act at three sites in Midland and Bay counties, MI. Rapanos has agreed to pay a $150,000 civil penalty and will spend an estimated $750,000 to compensate for 54 acres of wetlands that were filled without authorization under the Clean Water Act. Rapanos has also agreed to preserve an additional 134 acres of wetlands that were unaffected by the unauthorized activity. Under the agreement, the preservation of these areas will be enforced via a conservation easement held by the State of Michigan.

The original enforcement action was filed against Rapanos in 1994 and the case drew national attention after the District Court ruling was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and subsequently sent back to the U.S. District Court for further proceedings. Rapanos challenged EPA's findings that the filled wetlands were under federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. The litigation determined that Rapanos did fill wetlands under federal jurisdiction.

Improving mitigation ‘win-win' for state's environment, economy

OLYMPIA, WA — Bolstered by a set of recommendations from a diverse and independent advisory group, the Washington Department of Ecology is expanding efforts to improve environmental mitigation in Washington.

Until recently, practices designed to offset or “mitigate” the damaging environmental effects that development can have on wetlands and other aquatic resources have been fraught with problems. Poor site selection, bad design and lack of compliance has meant most mitigation projects have fallen short of replacing the function and value of wetlands, estuaries, streams, shorelines and other aquatic habitat damaged by road building and commercial and residential expansion.

Ecology Director Jay Manning has elevated improving state mitigation practices to one of Ecology's top priorities — on par with tackling climate change, protecting Puget Sound, managing state waters, and reducing toxic threats.

Gov. Chris Gregoire's proposed 2009-11 budget for state government would advance an innovative in-lieu-fee program recommended by the ‘Mitigation That Works' forum. The governor proposes $5 million to implement the program in the Puget Sound basin, providing an alternative to traditional forms of mitigation such as replacing or rebuilding a wetland at a construction site, and wetland mitigation banks.

Baker watershed monitoring project wins engineering award

CARY, NC — Michael Baker Engineering was the recipient of the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of North Carolina Honors Award in the 2009 Engineering Excellence Competition for its work on the Mitchell River Watershed Monitoring Project. The project was conceived and implemented by the Surry County Soil and Water Conservation District (SSWCD).

Baker, the prime consultant for the project, provided design services for two reaches and oversaw monitoring for those sites and three additional streams in the Mitchell River Watershed. SSWCD has used the information gleaned from the Mitchell River monitoring effort to develop additional restoration projects which support their overall goals of maintaining the water quality of the Mitchell River.

EPA, Florida DEP collaborate to restore state's surface waters

WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. EPA and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) are taking actions to protect and restore both recreational uses and aquatic life in Florida waters. These actions include EPA issuing a formal determination under the Clean Water Act that “numeric” nutrient water quality criteria are necessary in Florida, and Florida accelerating its efforts to adopt numeric nutrient criteria into state regulations. Numeric nutrient criteria will significantly improve Florida's ability to address nutrient pollution in a timely and effective manner.

Water quality degradation from nutrient pollution is a significant environmental issue in Florida. Florida's 2008 Integrated Water Quality Assessment revealed that approximately 1,000 miles of rivers and streams, 350,000 acres of lakes, and 900 square miles of estuaries are impaired by nutrients. The actual number of miles and acres of waters impaired for nutrients is likely higher, as many waters that have yet to be assessed may also be impaired.

The federal determination is intended to build upon the substantial investments that Florida has made to date in nutrient data collection, analysis, and stakeholder involvement, and is fully consistent with the state and EPA's commitment to a stronger nutrient control program.

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