EPA, Army Corps Issue Wetlands Decision

In late December, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) announced that they would not issue a new rule on federal regulatory jurisdiction over isolated wetlands.

In late December, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) announced that they would not issue a new rule on federal regulatory jurisdiction over isolated wetlands.

"Across the Federal Government, the Bush Administration has reaffirmed and bolstered protections for wetlands, which are vital for water quality, the health of our streams and wildlife habitat," said EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt.

Assistant Secretary of the Army John Paul Woodley Jr. added, "We will continue our efforts to ensure that the Corps' regulatory program is as effective, efficient and responsive as it can be."

The Supreme Court's 2001 decision in the case of Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (commonly referred to as to "SWANCC") overturned the Corps' assertion of federal jurisdiction over certain isolated wetlands based on the presence of migratory birds. EPA and the Corps responded by issuing revised guidance to their field offices. At the same time, the Agencies reaffirmed federal jurisdiction over the majority of wetlands not impacted by the decision.

After soliciting public comment to determine if further regulatory clarification was needed, the EPA and the Corps have decided to preserve the federal government's authority to protect wetlands.

The Administration is currently implementing 30 programs to protect and restore millions of acres of US wetlands. These include the Food Security Act's "Swampbuster" requirements and the Wetlands Reserve Program, both under the authority of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. EPA programs include its "Five-Star Restoration" grant program, the EPA wetlands grants programs and the National Estuary Program.

Other federal programs include: the Fish and Wildlife Service's "Partners in Wildlife" program, the National Marine Fisheries Service's Coastal Wetlands Restoration Program and the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, composed of the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture, the Administrator of EPA, and Members of Congress.

EPA Web pages focus on Infrastructure, Water Pricing

EPA has developed web pages that focus on Sustainable Infracture and pricing for water & wastewater services.

In Jan. 2003, the Administrator of EPA convened an Infrastructure Forum to discuss issues related to sustainable infrastructure. At this forum, Assistant Administrator for Water G. Tracy Mehan III highlighted the "Four Pillars of Sustainable Infrastructure" - Better Management, Full-Cost Pricing, Water Efficiency, and Watershed Approaches to Protection.

EPA has developed web pages that describe and provide information about the Four Pillars of Sustainable Infrastructure. You can learn more about the Sustainable Infrastructure Initiative at http://www.epa.gov/ water/infrastructure/index.htm and Water and Wastewater Pricing at http://www.epa.gov/water/infrastructure/pricing/index.htm

EPA Releases Draft

Of Response Protocol Toolbox

EPA is making available the interim final Response Protocol Toolbox: Planning for and Responding to Contamination Threats to Drinking Water Systems.

The Response Protocol Toolbox is designed to help the water sector effectively respond to intentional contamination threats and incidents. It was produced by EPA, building on the experience and expertise of several drinking water utilities and, in particular, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Organized in modular format, the Response Protocol Toolbox will be of value to drinking water utilities, laboratories, emergency responders, state drinking water programs, technical assistance providers, and public health and law enforcement officials.

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