EPA Action: Agency commits $10 million to protect the nation's beaches

Also in this report: Watershed Handbook released; $18M targeted for water quality monitoring; Three Bay Area wetlands projects, state pilot program, Nev. tribe garner over $750K in EPA funds; Annual Environmental Merit Award nominees due Feb. 3; Stormwater rule proposed to comply with Energy Policy Act; Proposed wet weather policy to improve wastewater treatment; Comments sought on CAFO compliance extensions; EPA signs LT2ESWTR, Stage 2 DBPR on SDWA anniversary...

In other news below:
-- Watershed Handbook released
-- $18 million more targeted for water quality monitoring
-- Three Bay Area wetlands projects, state pilot program garner over $750K in EPA funds
-- Nevada tribe gets $52,500 for wetlands project
-- Nominations for annual Environmental Merit Awards due Feb. 3
-- Stormwater rule proposed to comply with Energy Policy Act
-- Iowa's water quality standards approved
-- Agency approves Kansas' impaired waters list for TMDLs
-- Proposed wet weather policy to improve wastewater treatment
-- Comments sought on CAFO compliance extensions
-- EPA signs LT2ESWTR, Stage 2 DBPR on SDWA anniversary
-- $481,100 granted for Pa. drinking water treatment plant
-- EPA publishes procedures for hurricane vendor inquiries
-- N.H. lobster company may pay up to $255,000 for violating environmental laws
-- EPA fines Tri Marine International $5K for ocean dumping in American Samoa
-- Conn. DPW to pay over $38,000 to settle EPA claims of CWA violations
-- $29K settlement reached with Meridian Beartrack Mine for discharge permit violations
-- Saint George, Alaska, in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act
-- Aniak, Alaska, vocational center in violation of the SDWA
-- EPA responds to Conoco Phillips Refinery oil spill in N.J.'s Rahway River
-- Central Calif. water district told to remove TTHMs/HAAs from drinking water

EPA commits $10 million to protect the nation's beaches
WASHINGTON, DC, Jan. 6, 2006 -- In order to get a jump start on the 2006 beach season, the Bush Administration announced yesterday that 30 states and five territories will share $10 million in EPA grants for beach water quality monitoring and notification programs. During the past six years, EPA has provided nearly $52 million under the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act (BEACH) of 2000 to states with shorelines along the nation's ocean coasts or around the Great Lakes.

"While most of us are not thinking about hitting the beach in January, this funding will ensure that families are better protected when heading to their vacations this summer," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "These grants are an integral part of the Administration's Clean Beaches Plan, improving water quality and keeping the public informed."

Beach water monitoring helps identify actions needed to reduce pollution, such as warnings and closures, when bacteria concentrations reach unsafe levels. In addition, as part of the Clean Beaches Plan, EPA is working on new technologies that will provide faster test results, enabling local health agencies to determine more quickly if a beach should be open for swimming.

Grants are available to eligible coastal states and territories based on the length of beach season, the miles of beach and the number of people who use that beach. In addition, money will be made available to eligible Indian tribes who apply. The grants, which cover a five-year period, will be awarded early this year. States and territories must make formal application to receive their allotted funds.

The BEACH Act of 2000 requires coastal states and territories to adopt up-to-date pathogen criteria to protect beach goers from harmful bacteria. Information about EPA's beach program, grant information and a list of eligible states, territories and available 2006 funds can be found at: www.epa.gov/waterscience/beaches/grants.

Among other recent EPA headlines:

Watershed Handbook released -- WASHINGTON, DC, Jan. 6, 2006 -- The EPA's Office of Water has published a guide to watershed management as a tool in developing and implementing watershed plans. The draft Handbook for Developing Watershed Plans to Restore and Protect Our Waters is aimed toward communities, watershed groups, and local, state, tribal, and federal environmental agencies. The 414-page handbook is designed to take the user through each step of the watershed planning process: Watershed monitoring and assessment; Community outreach; Selection and application of available models; Best management practices; Effectiveness data bases; Implementation; Feedback, and Plan adjustment. It's intended to supplement existing watershed planning guides developed by agencies, universities, and other nonprofit organizations. It's more specific than other guides about quantifying existing pollutant loads, developing estimates of the load reductions required to meet water-quality standards, developing effective management measures, and tracking progress once the plan is implemented...

EPA awards Northern California wetlands projects totaling $469,517 -- SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 5, 2006 -- As part of a new pilot program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded the California Resources Agency $300,000 to expand wetland monitoring and report on wetland acreage statewide, and also awarded the Humboldt Bay Harbor District $131,686 and the Western Shasta Resource Conservation District $37,831 for wetlands development projects. The grants are part of over $1.5 million the EPA's Pacific Southwest region awarded to nine organizations, tribes and local governments this year to protect wetlands in California, Arizona and Nevada. The EPA awarded $300,000 to the California Resources Agency as part of a new pilot program to determine environmental results from wetland programs and to meet the goals of protecting wetland acreage. The agency will use the funds, matched with $300,000 of state funds, to manage data and report on extent and condition of wetlands statewide. The initial effort will expand wetland regulatory and non-regulatory assessment and tracking capacity in the state's coastal regions and then expand availability of these tools throughout California...
-- Also see: "EPA awards three Bay Area wetlands projects totaling $469,980 State awarded additional $300,000 under pilot program"

EPA awards Nevada tribe $52,500 for wetlands project -- SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 5, 2006 -- The EPA recently awarded the Yerington Paiute Tribe $52,500 for a wetlands development project. The Yerington Paiute Tribe will use the grant, plus $17,500 in tribal matching funds, to assess agricultural and mining impacts on the tribe's wetlands, and the potential for restoration. The tribe will hire a full-time wetland specialist to assess current risks associated with potential contaminants, and assess potential degradation and loss that may have affected the wetland. The tribe will also complete a habitat, vegetative and soil assessment, and implement a quarterly water-quality monitoring program...

EPA seeks nominations for annual Environmental Merit Awards by Feb. 3 -- BOSTON, Jan. 5, 2006 -- Notable environmental achievements in New England during the past year are eligible for recognition by EPA's New England Office. EPA is now accepting nominations for the 2006 Environmental Merit Awards, which seek to recognize environmental achievements during the past year. Award categories are available for individuals, businesses, state and local governments, and other organizations. Awards are also given under a lifetime achievement category...

$18 million more targeted for federal water quality monitoring -- WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 30, 2005 -- The EPA announces its plans to allocate the FY 2006 increase of $18 million for national water quality monitoring. These funds supplement an existing allocation of approximately $200 million annually to support state, interstate agency, and tribal programs to combat water pollution. As such, the agency is changing the way it allocates funds under the water pollution control grant program (known as Section 106 of the Clean Water Act). The agency allocates the funds through a prescribed allotment formula. Under the revised process, EPA will be better able to target these additional funds to help carry out priority areas that include monitoring for pollutants. The process requires the agency to consult with states and interstate agencies prior to finalizing the allocation formula. This action was taken in response to President Bush's FY 2006 budget calling for an increase in funding of water-quality monitoring nationwide. For further information about the changes in the allotment formula, visit: www.epa.gov/owm/cwfinance/altformula-fy06.htm.

Stormwater rule proposed to comply with Energy Policy Act -- WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 30, 2005 -- EPA is proposing revisions to storm water regulations under the Clean Water Act to advance the comprehensive energy policy recently enacted by Congress. The proposed action, required by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, would modify National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System regulations to clarify that uncontaminated storm water discharges from oil and gas field activities do not require federal Clean Water Act permits. This action also encourages voluntary application of best-management practices for oil and gas field construction activities to minimize erosion and control sediment. The proposed rule will be available for public comment for 45 days after publication in the Federal Register. For further information, including a copy of the proposed rule, visit: www.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater/oilgas.

EPA approves Iowa's water quality standards -- DES MOINES, IA, Dec. 29, 2005 -- The EPA has approved the revised Iowa water quality standards adopted by the state Dec. 15, 2004. The approved revisions now can be implemented under the Clean Water Act. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) submitted the 2004 revised Iowa Water Quality Standards to EPA for review and approval Feb. 28, 2005, as part of the state's ongoing triennial review process. States are required to conduct a review of their water quality standards no less frequently than every three years and submit new or revised standards to EPA...

EPA approves Kansas' impaired waters list -- TOPEKA, KS, Dec. 22, 2005 -- The EPA has approved Kansas' 2004 Section 303(d) List of impaired waters requiring the development of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) to address the impairments. A TMDL is a calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a water body can receive and still meet water quality standards, and an allocation of that amount to the pollutant's sources. EPA is approving 1,639 water-quality limited segments for which TMDLs will be developed by the state. Also, under an agreement with the state, intensive bacterial studies will be conducted by KDHE at 17 monitoring stations across the state to assess pollutant criteria for primary and secondary contact recreation...

Proposed wet weather policy to improve wastewater treatment -- WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 19, 2005 -- The EPA today proposed a new policy for addressing peak wet weather discharges at wastewater treatment plants. Across the country, many municipal wastewater treatment systems experience problems during heavy rain downpours (peak wet weather), when flows to the wastewater treatment plants exceed the plant's biological treatment capacity. During peak wet weather, limited diversions around biological treatment units can help prevent raw sewage from being discharged into our nation's waters, backing up into homes and other buildings, or damaging biological treatment units. EPA's goal in proposing this new policy is to ensure that all feasible solutions are used by local governments when addressing problems related to peak wet weather and to improve treatment of wastewater to protect human health and the environment. The policy reflects the joint recommendations of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA). It encourages public participation via the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit process, and provides for public notification in the event that a diversion does take place...

Comments sought on CAFO compliance extensions -- WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 16, 2005 -- EPA is seeking comments on a proposal to extend the dates for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to seek National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit coverage and to implement nutrient management plans as required by EPA's 2003 CAFO rule. The extensions reflect revisions to permit application deadlines required by the decision issued by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Waterkeeper Alliance et al. vs. EPA, 399 F.3d 486 (2nd Cir. 2005). EPA is developing new regulations in response to the decision but is not expected to finalize the rule by the date that new CAFOs must seek permit coverage. EPA is proposing to move expediently to revising these dates in a separate rulemaking. Additional information about the CAFO rule is available at: http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/afo/cafofinalrule.cfm.

EPA announces new rules to further improve, protect drinking water -- WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 15, 2005 -- The EPA finalized two related drinking water protection rules today -- one that reduces the risk of disease-causing microorganisms from entering water supplies and the other that requires water systems to limit the amount of potentially harmful "disinfection byproducts" (DBPs) that end up in our drinking water. Signed as EPA enters the 31st anniversary year for the Safe Drinking Water Act, the rules -- known as the Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule (LT2ESWTR) and Stage 2 Disinfection Byproducts Rule (Stage 2 DBPR)-- were proposed in August 2003, and were developed from consensus recommendations from a federal advisory committee comprised of state and local governments, tribes, environmental, public health and water industry groups...
Also see: "AWWA applauds EPA signing of Stage 2 DBPR, LT2ESTWR"

EPA awards $481,100 grant for drinking water treatment plant PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 15, 2005 -- The EPA has awarded a $481,100 grant to the Nelson Township Authority, of Tioga County, Pa., to help supply drinking water to about 287 residents who have been under voluntary or mandatory water conservation measures. The grant will help pay for a river intake structure, wet well and a 43,200-gallon per day drinking water treatment plant. The plant includes facilities for chemical coagulation, rapid mixing and flocculation, followed by sedimentation and conventional filtration. The overall cost of the project is $1.3 million. Additional funding will come from the state...

EPA publishes procedures for hurricane vendor inquiries -- WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 15, 2005 -- The EPA announced today coordinated procedures for accepting unsolicited technology offers from vendors to work with the agency on Hurricane Katrina-related response. The procedures provide a streamlined approach for the many contacts from vendors and service providers offering products and services for EPA's response efforts to Hurricane Katrina. In such emergency situations as this response, the EPA serves as the lead federal agency working with FEMA and state and local agencies in oil and hazardous materials response. To view the procedures and a vendor listing, go to: www.epa.gov/katrina/vendors.html.

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Among recent EPA enforcement actions:
-- N.H. lobster company may pay up to $255,000 for violating environmental laws
-- EPA fines Tri Marine International $5,000 for ocean dumping violations in American Samoa
-- Conn. DPW to pay over $38,000 to settle EPA claims of Clean Water Act violations
-- EPA reaches $29,000 settlement with Meridian Beartrack Mine for discharge permit violations
-- Saint George, Alaska, in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act
-- Aniak, Alaska, vocational education center in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act
-- EPA responds to Conoco Phillips Refinery oil spill in N.J.'s Rahway River
-- Central Calif. water district ordered to remove TTHMs/HAAs from drinking water

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In earlier EPA Action reports: "EPA Action: Largest civil administrative penalty ever levied for DuPont PFOA violations" -- Also in this report (Dec. 14, 2005): Agency changes 'water bubble' rule for iron, steel plant effluent limit guidelines; Tools to help small drinking water utilities control arsenic released; Comment period open on Lac du Flambeau Band clean water application; Maine mill owner agrees to pay $12,000 to settle clean water violations; New water conservation organization to be based in Chicago; Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy now available; Md. town, Pa. county honored for operation of wastewater facilities; At $50 million, Ashtabula River cleanup to be nation's largest Legacy Act project; Guidebook details control of urban runoff pollution; Comments sought on proposed multi-sector permit for stormwater discharges; Greek shipping company to pay $1 million fine in oil pollution case; States join Energy Star challenge to cut costs by 10% or more; EPA, Army Corps, NJDOT launch Passaic River dredging, decontamination test project; New environmental research ship docks in Baltimore; EPA amends oil spill rule; Utility sector leaders pursue energy efficiency as solution to rising energy costs; Mo. city ordered to clean up sewage spill, notify residents, develop plant safeguards...

For the latest EPA news releases, click here.

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