EPA Outlines Program Goals for FY 2005

In the coming years the Environmental Protection Agency's water programs will focus on improved monitoring, water infrastructure needs, and protecting watersheds...

In the coming years the Environmental Protection Agency's water programs will focus on improved monitoring, water infrastructure needs, and protecting watersheds, according to a memo written by Benjamin H. Grumbles, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of Water.

"Based on my own experience in the U.S. Congress and EPA, and lessons from our State and Tribal partners, I became more convinced than ever of the common themes and critical needs between Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act programs," Grumbles wrote. "As we work together to integrate efforts and develop workplans for FY 2005, I hope you will keep in mind these three key areas of critical importance to both the clean water and drinking water programs."

The memo was Grumbles' introduction to the EPA's new National Program guidance for FY 2005, which provides general direction for the management of water programs over the next several years, especially fiscal year 2005.

EPA's goal will be to do a better job of understanding both the condition of the nation's waters and the safety of the nation's drinking water, Grumbles said.

"In the case of surface water, we have relied for years on information that is useful for some program management purposes but does not form a sufficient basis for the range of increasingly complex decisions we now face at the waterbody, watershed, and national levels. Work is now underway to build a broad consensus on how to improve surface water monitoring and it is critical that we promptly complete this work and implement a new monitoring approach," he said.

In the case of drinking water, there is growing evidence that information on the compliance of drinking water systems with safety standards is not as reliable as it needs to be. Here, too, work is underway by federal, state and local program managers to assess problems and design needed changes.

"Establishing or improving monitoring networks will help ensure water is not only clean and safe, but secure, as well," Grumbles said.

EPA Releases New Set of Utility Security Products

EPA's Water Security Division has released the final two modules of its Response Protocol Toolbox, which is intended to help water utilities plan for and respond to contamination threats.

Rounding out four modules released last year covering utility planning, threat management, site characterization/ sampling and sample analysis, the fifth and sixth modules cover issues related to public health response and remediation and recovery.

Designed to help the water supply sector respond to intentional contamination threats and incidents, the toolbox modules were produced by EPA in conjunction primarily with experts from Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and intended to be adopted on a voluntary basis by utilities, laboratories, emergency responders, state drinking water programs, technical assistance providers and public health and law enforcement officials.

The 83-page Module 5 Public Health Response Guide is organized into eight sections that include an introduction, an overview of public health response organizations and actions and descriptions of public health consequences due to water contamination, operational response options, a public notification strategy, short-term alternative water supply options and returning to normal operation. It also includes a compendium of references and resources and appendices of supportive forms and tools.

The 112-page Module 6 Remediation and Recovery Guide details a process that should be used for confirmed contamination incidents by people involved in systems characterization, risk assessment and remedial response, including utility emergency response managers, state drinking water program managers, public health officials, technical assistance providers and specialized remediation teams.

It is organized based on a process flow chart that covers the following topics: ensuring a long-term alternative supply; conducting a system characterization/feasibility study, assessing risks, analyzing alternatives, selecting a remedy, preparing a remedial design, undertaking remedial action, conducting post-remediation monitoring and an operations assessment and providing public communication.

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