EPA Action: Agency proposes new information collection initiative for manufacturers

Also in this report: Agency says permits unneeded for water transfers; DWSRF tops $9B; Tools to help small utilities monitor drinking water; Public comment sought on LUST guidelines; N.H. conservationist honored for wetlands work; Decision amended on Iowa's impaired waters list; Public meetings set on NYC filtration determination; Pacific SW water systems told to complete vulnerability assessments; Abandoned mine cleanup legislation proposed; Steep fines proposed to curb polluted stormwater...

In other agency news below:
-- Agency says permits not needed for water transfers
-- DWSRF tops $9 billion for infrastructure improvements
-- Tools will help small drinking water utilities monitor drinking water
-- EPA seeks public comment on underground storage tank draft grant guidelines
-- EPA to hold public hearing on proposed permit for salt water disposal well
-- New Hampshire conservationist awarded for career studying, protecting wetlands
-- EPA announces amended decision on Iowa's impaired waters list
-- Public meetings scheduled on New York City's filtration avoidance determination
-- Pacific SW drinking water systems ordered to complete vulnerability assessments
-- Proposed legislation seeks cleanup of abandoned mines
-- EPA proposes steep fines for companies that fail to curb polluted stormwater

Agency proposes new information collection initiative for manufacturers
WASHINGTON, DC, June 1, 2006 -- For the first time ever, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants manufacturing facilities to include water consumption as part of the Manufacturing Energy Consumption Survey (MECS) of the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Included in a June 1 notice filed by the EPA in the Federal Register was the following:

"The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has requested to include questions on the MECS relating to manufacturing water consumption. Pending funding from EPA and EIA and OMB approval, these questions plan to target general water consumption at manufacturing establishments. These questions, which focus on water use, are not to be confused with the Industrial Hot Water section that is currently collected by the MECS, which focuses on the energy content of the water."

The EIA also plans to eliminate all of the steam and industrial hot water questions from the 2002 survey except for purchases, generation from renewable energy sources, and sales and transfers offsite, which will still be collected for the 2006 survey.

The Manufacturing Energy Consumption Survey (MECS) is a self-administered sample survey designed to collect energy consumption and expenditures data from establishments in the manufacturing sector. There are three MECS data collection forms and their use depends on an establishment's primary business activity classification. The 2006 MECS will collect information during 2007 for business activities in calendar year 2006.

This program collects, evaluates, assembles, analyzes, and disseminates information on energy resource reserves, production, demand, technology and related economic and statistical information. The information is used to assess the adequacy of energy resources to meet near and longer term domestic demands.

Comments on the proposal should be filed with the EIA's Tom Lorenz (202-586-3442, fax: 202-586-0018 or email: thomas.lorenz@eia.doe.gov) by July 31. Additional details can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/EPA-WATER/2006/June/Day-01/w8496.htm...

Also see:
-- Energy Information Administration - Manufacturing Energy Consumption Survey
-- "U.S. Census Bureau, Manufacturing, Mining & Construction Statistics"

EPA Proposes Rule: Permits not needed for water transfers -- WASHINGTON, DC, June 1, 2006 -- A rule proposed by the EPA would clarify that permits are not required for transfers of water from one body of water to another. Such transfers include routing water through tunnels, channels, or natural stream courses for public water supplies, irrigation, power generation, flood control, and environmental restoration.

"The Water Transfer Rule gives communities needed flexibility to protect water quality, prevent costly litigation and promote the public good," according to EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles. "President Bush is committed to cleaning and protecting the nation's water resources, and this rule keeps the Clean Water Act focused on water pollution, not water allocation."

Thousands of water transfers currently in place across the country are vital to the water infrastructure. Whether a permit is needed under the Clean Water Act's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) has been an issue in numerous court cases in recent years. The proposed rule would define such transfers as the movement of water between bodies of water with no intermediate use, such as manufacturing or agriculture.

In 2004, the question of whether NPDES permits were necessary for water transfers went before the U.S. Supreme Court in South Florida Water Management District v. Miccosukee Tribe of Indians. The court did not rule directly on the issue, generating uncertainty about the need for a permit. EPA concluded in 2005 that Congress intended water resource-management agencies and other state authorities to oversee water transfers, not the NPDES permitting program. This rulemaking codifies that conclusion.

EPA will accept comments on the proposed rule for 45 days. More water transfers information: http://www.epa.gov/npdes/agriculture#water_transfer

Also see: "Statement by Earthjustice Managing Attorney David Guest on EPA Water Transfer Rule; EPA Proposes New Pollution Exemptions"

Report: Drinking water fund tops $9 billion for infrastructure improvements -- WASHINGTON, DC, May 18, 2006 -- The EPA, all 50 states and Puerto Rico have invested almost $9.5 billion in drinking water improvements since 1996, according to the just-released Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) 2005 annual report. The first of its kind, the report focuses on nearly 4,400 projects that have ranged from treatment, transmission and distribution, and rehabilitation of wells to developing new sources of water, upgrading storage facilities, and consolidating water systems.

"The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund is a thriving, multi-billion dollar partnership that protects public health and sustains America's water infrastructure," said Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles. "It has a robust future and will continue to provide critical assistance to help communities provide safe drinking water and meet economic needs."

Congress established the program in 1996 to help finance infrastructure improvements. EPA awards grants to states, which, in turn, provide low-cost loans and other assistance to eligible water systems.

Since 1997, the fund programs have improved public health protection for 100 million people. In recent years, the program has averaged more than $1.3 billion in annual assistance to drinking water systems. The program appeals to financial institutions because no participants have defaulted on their loans.

Low interest rates -- sometimes as low as zero percent -- make state programs attractive to the participating drinking water systems. Since the program's inception, almost 73 percent of all DWSRF loans have been made to water systems serving fewer than 10,000 people. This aspect is particularly important to small and disadvantaged systems that have difficulty obtaining affordable financing.

State DWSRF programs advance public health protection in two ways: they provide an accessible and affordable source of financing for infrastructure improvements, and they improve a system's ability to provide safe and reliable drinking water -- now and into the future.

More information on the DWSRF annual report: www.epa.gov/safewater/dwsrf

Tools will help small drinking water utilities monitor drinking water -- WASHINGTON, DC, May 9, 2006 -- The EPA has released a set of user-friendly multimedia products to help small drinking-water utilities determine federal monitoring requirements and prepare water compliance samples under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The tool kit features an interactive Rule Wizard website -- http://www.RuleWizard.org -- that provides a complete list of all of the federal monitoring requirements for a selected type and size of public drinking water system, such as a community water system serving 3,300 people using ground water as a source of supply.

A companion tool, Interactive Sampling Guide for Drinking Water Operators, features a CD-ROM with a video and a slide presentation that illustrates proper sampling procedures, which users can download to their local computer. Case studies are also presented on the CD-ROM to help public water system owners and operators work with state and local agencies when contaminants are detected.

A brochure, Interactive Sampling Guide for Drinking Water Operators, which provides an overview of the CD-ROM and the Rule Wizard, will be sent to EPA's state and technical assistance partners for distribution to public water systems.

The CD-ROM is available through the Safe Drinking Water Hotline (1-800-426-4791), the Water Resource Center (202-566-1729), and the National Service Center for Environmental Publications (1-800-490-9198).

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In other recent agency news:

-- "Milltown Reservoir drawdown begins today" (6/1/06)
-- "EPA Seeks Public Comment on Underground Storage Tank Draft Tribal Strategy" (6/1/06)
-- "EPA to hold public hearing on proposed permit for salt water disposal well" (5/31/06)
-- "New Hampshire Conservationist Awarded for Career Studying and Protecting Wetlands" (5/30/06)
-- "EPA Seeks Public Comment on Underground Storage Tank Draft Grant Guidelines" (5/25/06)
-- "Virginia Receives Federal Funding To Protect Its Beaches" (5/25/06)

-- "EPA Announces Amended Decision on Iowa's Impaired Waters List" (5/23/06)
-- "Public Information Sessions Scheduled on New York City's Filtration Avoidance Determination for Catskill/Delaware Drinking Water Supply" (5/19/06)
-- "EPA and the Federation of Fly Fishers sponsor international symposium on invasive algae" (5/18/06)
-- "Pacific SW drinking water systems ordered to complete vulnerability assessments" (5/18/06)
-- "EPA funds Onondaga Lake Partnership 2006 Grants" (5/12/06)
-- "Proposed Legislation Seeks Cleanup of Abandoned Mines" (5/10/06)
-- "EPA Proposes Steep Fines for Companies that Failed to Curb Polluted Storm Water" (5/9/06)

In recent regulatory enforcement action:

-- "Greka Integrated Inc. fined $127,500 for underground injection violations" (6/1/06)
-- "The City of Cordova, Alaska agrees to settle with EPA for Clean Water Act violations" (5/31/06)
-- "City of Torrington (Wyo.) agrees to pay $4,500 to settle alleged violations of EPA Administrative Order" (5/31/06)
-- "Costco will pay $75,000 for not closing Hawaii cesspools" (5/30/06)
-- "Clean Up Work and Environmental Investigations Continue at Groveland Wells Superfund Site in Mass." (5/30/06)
-- "Public Meeting in Plymouth, ME will Discuss Proposed Final Cleanup Plan for Hows Corner Superfund Site" (5/26/06)

-- "EPA cites Heser Farms for filling in wetlands without a permit" (5/18/06)
-- "American Energy Inc. to pay $585,000 for Clean Water Act violations resulting from oil spill" (5/18/06)
-- "Bar Development fined $15,000 for violating Safe Drinking Water Act" (5/17/06)
-- "The City of Driggs, Idaho agrees to settle with EPA for Clean Water Act violations" (5/16/06)
-- "Wentworth N.H Sawmill Cited for Clean Water Violations" (5/16/06)
-- " Holyoke, Mass., Fined and Will Take Actions to Address Wastewater Discharges" (5/16/06)

-- "U.S. Seeks Court Approval on Dredging Agreement with GE" (5/16/06)
-- "Ruddiman Creek cleanup finished on schedule" (5/15/06)
-- "Hartford Metropolitan District Fined $850K for Illegal Sewage Discharges - Settlement Will Significantly Reduce Sewage Discharges in Hartford Area" (5/11/06)
-- "Norquest Seafoods Inc. Agrees to Pay EPA $77,000 to Settle Federal Water Permit Violations at 3 Facilities" (5/11/06)
-- "$3.5 Million Settlement with City of Dallas Requires Increased City Effort to Keep Stormwater Sewers Clean" (5/10/06)
-- "Housing Developer to Pay $130,000 in Penalties to Settle Clean Water Act Violations at Eastern Pennsylvania sites" (5/9/06)

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In earlier EPA Action reports: "EPA Action: House panel moves USEPA budget bill" -- Also in this report (May 8, 2006): Agency unveils first-ever assessment of U.S. wadeable streams; EPA, AWWA to celebrate National Drinking Water Week; Updated plans for each of the Great Lakes now available; New Partnership to help ensure water infrastructure sustainability; 37 facilities go beyond legal requirements to improve environment; New England individuals, groups honored with environmental awards; Idaho DOT, contractor to pay nearly $1M over federal stormwater claims; New York City fined for drinking water violations; Missouri water quality standards approved in part; Worker safety convictions fifth for McWane Divisions in two years; Complaint seeks $10K penalty for wetlands violations at Latrobe, Pa., airport; Marshfield, MA, students receive Presidential Award for environmental project; Case settled over 3M voluntary disclosures of toxic substances violations; Ridgecrest, Calif., ordered to stop discharging metals into sewer system; Oahu construction firm ordered to restore wetlands; Stockton facility may pay $62K for injection well violations...

For the latest EPA news releases, click here.

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