A bill, S. 3481, making its way through the senate contains legislation designed to clarify the federal government’s responsibility to pay reasonable fees for stormwater services provided by local utilities.

Stormwater legislation would hold Feds accountable for fees

A bill, S. 3481, making its way through the senate contains legislation designed to clarify the federal government’s responsibility to pay reasonable fees for stormwater services provided by local utilities.

The legislation was introduced by Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and clarifies that stormwater fees are not be considered a tax and therefore are required to be paid by federal agencies.

The issue gained attention in April when the General Services Administration (GSA) said federal facilities located in Washington, DC, are not required to pay impervious area charges levied by the local municipal sewer authority because they essentially amounted to a tax on the federal government and are therefore unconstitutional.

Survey shows growing infrastructure funding gap

EPA has released its Clean Watersheds Needs Survey (CWNS) report to Congress. The report indicates a total need of $298.1 billion as of January 1, 2008.

The CWNS report is available approximately every four years and provides a complete analysis of wastewater and stormwater treatment and collection needs for the next 20 years. It includes publicly owned wastewater pipes and treatment facilities ($192.2 billion); CSO correction ($63.6 billion); and stormwater management ($42.3 billion).

This funding shortfall represents a 17% increase since the 2004 CWNS report.

Project improves L.A. water supply, quality

A project completed in May has transformed a residential street with frequent flooding problems into a street that cleans up water pollution and will provide clean water for future generations.

Initiated and managed by the Los Angeles & San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council, the Elmer Avenue Neighborhood Retrofit demonstrates the opportunity to recharge Southern California’s underground aquifers with stormwater for later use as drinking water. Pollutants are removed through vegetation and soil as the water percolates underground.

The street directs water from 40 acres of residential land upstream to the aquifer through both active and passive methods. In doing so, Elmer Avenue not only provides 16 acre-feet of groundwater recharge annually (about the same amount of water used annually by 91 people) but also reduces polluted water flowing into the Los Angeles River.

Report examines effects of urbanization on aquatic life

According to a new USGS study, the number of native fish and aquatic insects, especially those that are pollution sensitive, declines in urban and suburban streams at levels of development often considered protective for stream communities.

“When the area of driveways, parking lots, streets and other impervious cover reaches 10 percent of a watershed area, many types of pollution sensitive aquatic insects decline by as much as one third, compared to streams in undeveloped forested watersheds,” said Tom Cuffney, USGS biologist. “We learned that there is no ‘safezone,’ meaning that even minimal or early stages of development can negatively affect aquatic life in urban streams.”

The full report and extended video podcasts are available at the National Water Quality Assessment program urban studies website.

LaGuardia to get new stormwater pumps

EMCOR Group subsidiary Heritage Mechanical Services Inc. will install two new stormwater pumps at LaGuardia International Airport in Flushing, NY.

The new pumps will replace two existing high-capacity stormwater pumps that have been in service for 40 years. The replacement pumps will be high horsepower, high voltage submersible pumps, each capable of pumping 33,000 gallons per minute.

New rules will address sanitary sewer overflows

The EPA is initiating a rulemaking to better protect the environment and public health from the harmful effects of sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) and basement backups.

EPA is considering two possible modifications to existing regulations: (1) establishing standard National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit conditions for publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) permits that specifically address sanitary sewer collection systems and SSOs; and (2) clarifying the regulatory framework for applying NPDES permit conditions to municipal satellite collection systems.

The agency is also considering whether to address long-standing questions about peak wet weather flows at municipal wastewater treatment plants to allow for a holistic, integrated approach to reducing SSOs while at the same time addressing peak flows at POTWs.

Beer brewer sponsors watershed projects

As part of its commitment to World Environment Day, Anheuser-Busch and its Budweiser brand have donated $150,000 to River Network to support river and watershed conservation projects in each of the company’s 12 U.S. brewery cities. Projects will include river cleanups, native vegetation plantings, invasive species removal and environmental education initiatives.

In one example, the Budweiser/River Network partnership will work with the Upper Etowah River Alliance (Cartersville, GA) to support watershed restoration and educate brewery employees on rainwater collection systems.

In Merrimack, NH, the organizations will partner with the New Hampshire Rivers Council and New Hampshire Fish and Game to help clean up the Merrimack River in an effort to preserve the recently discovered Eastern Brook Trout.

More information on Anheuser-Busch’s environmental commitment can be found in the company’s recently released 2009 Citizenship Report available on the company’s website.

New permit requirements for pesticide discharges proposed

The EPA is proposing a new permit requirement that would decrease the amount of pesticides discharged into waterways.

The proposed permit, released for public comment and developed in collaboration with states, would require all operators to reduce pesticide discharges by using the lowest effective amount of pesticide, prevent leaks and spills, calibrate equipment and monitor for and report adverse incidents. Additional controls, such as integrated pest management practices, are built into the permit for operators who exceed an annual treatment area threshold.

EPA estimates that the pesticide general permit will affect approximately 35,000 pesticide applicators nationally.

The agency plans to finalize the permit in December 2010. It will take effect April 9, 2011.

Florida water quality standards now under EPA review

As part of its effort to develop standards to protect Florida’s coastal and estuarine waters, EPA will send its nutrients criteria to the Science Advisory Board (SAB) for peer review and open it up for public comment.

EPA is also extending the development timetable by 10 months. This announcement only impacts criteria related to coastal waters, downstream protection values to protect those waters and criteria for south Florida flowing waters.

In October 2010, the agency will finalize proposed standards for lakes, streams and springs, which have already undergone peer review.

Drugs in surface water tied to pharmaceutical manufacturing

The USGS is reporting that drug manufacturing facilities are a significant source of pharmaceuticals in surface water.

The new study, conducted in cooperation with the State of New York, examined outflow from two wastewater treatment plants that receive more than 20 percent of their wastewater from pharmaceutical facilities. These plants had concentrations of pharmaceuticals that were 10 to 1000 times higher than outflows from 24 plants nationwide that do not receive wastewater from pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Scientists analyzed the samples for a number of common pharmaceuticals, including oxycodone, diazepam, and methadone, among others.

For more information on the study, visit

Southeast facilities cited for stormwater violations

EPA issued Administrative Orders (AOs) against eight entities in Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee between January and April for CWA violations.

Seven were cited for alleged stormwater-related violations: Alabama Department of Transportation, for violations at the Buttermilk Road Project construction site in Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Burns Construction Company Inc., for violations at the Jamestown Villas in Tuscaloosa, Ala.; City of Memphis, for violations at the Applying/I-40 Northwest Planned Development in Memphis, Tenn.; Hillside, LLC, for violations at the Hillside Terrace subdivision in Louisville, Ky.; Outdoor Properties, LLC, for violations at the Woburn Place Section 1 in Radcliff, Ky.; Salt River Development Company, LLC, for violations along the Cedar Grove Phase 3 Park Loop Road in Shepherdsville, Ky.; and Shelby County, for violations at the Houston Levee Road Improvements in Memphis, Tenn.

The violators will be required to revise and implement their Construction Pollution Prevention Plans, install and maintain Best Management Practices, conduct adequate self-inspections, cease discharging, and address areas where sediment had been discharged.

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