EPA Action: Agency to infuse $1 billion into drinking water programs

Also in this report: Revised lead rule proposed for drinking water; $3M in grants to go to Gulf of Mexico projects; Conn.'s beach monitoring program gets $223,370 boost; Administrator visits McClelland Mine to advance watershed cleanup efforts; Ariz. tribe wins award for cleaning up environment; Funding helps ensure healthy beaches in Mass., N.H.; Proposed changes to Ohio drinking water rules to protect public health; Idaho fish processor wastewater permits feature 'pollutant trading' option...

In other news below:
-- Revised rule proposed for lead in drinking water
-- Grants totaling $3 million available for Gulf of Mexico projects
-- Connecticut's Coastal Beach Monitoring Program gets $223,370 EPA boost
-- Agency increases beach monitoring during New Jersey government shutdown
-- EPA Administrator visits McClelland Mine to advance watershed cleanup efforts
-- Ariz. tribe receives award for cleaning up environment
-- New funding helps ensure healthy beaches in Mass., N.H.
-- Proposed changes to Ohio drinking water rules will better protect public health
-- Idaho wastewater discharge permits to fish processors to feature 'pollutant trading' option
-- Agency releases latest beach monitoring figures
-- Mass. recycling facility facing fines for clean water violations
-- Guam Waterworks Authority fined $55,000 for lack of water system master plan
-- Nogales, Ariz., fined for drinking water violations
-- Clean Water Act violations settled with two Alaska seafood processors
-- Landowner fined $5,000 for wetlands violations in Douglas, Alaska
-- Hood River cherry farmer agrees to restore wetlands

Agency to infuse almost $1 billion into drinking water programs
WASHINGTON, DC, July 12, 2006 -- States, territories and tribes will share more than $940 million from three U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant programs to support the quality and security of the nation's drinking water, the agency announced July 5 -- indicating that the water supplies for over 270 million people will benefit from the funding.

"This important Congressional funding advances President Bush's commitment to states and communities for safe, sustainable, and secure water systems," said Benjamin H. Grumbles, assistant administrator for water.

More than $837 million will support Drinking Water State Revolving Funds programs, which help states, territories and tribes finance infrastructure improvements to public water systems. Federal capitalization grants fund low-interest loans to public water systems. Eligible projects include upgrades to treatment facilities, certain storage facilities and distribution systems. Since the program began in 1997, public water systems have received more than $9 billion in low-interest loans. Concurrently, the agency has proposed allotting $841,500,000 in the proposed FY 2007 budget.

Another $98 million in grants will fund the Public Water Supervision System. This system operates under the Safe Drinking Water Act and provides resources to implement and enforce drinking water regulations and programs. At the same time the agency is announcing tentative allotments of $99,099,000 in the proposed FY 2007 budget.

Finally, EPA will provide $5 million in FY 2006 counter-terrorism grants to states and territories. The grants will help provide drinking water utilities with technical assistance and training to improve the readiness of first responders at drinking water systems, including practicing emergency response and recovery plans. States are also encouraged to develop strategies to help utilities implement security enhancements.

States, territories, and tribes may apply for funding through their EPA regional offices. For more information, see:
-- Public Water Supervision System
-- Drinking Water State Revolving Funds
-- Counter-Terrorism Funding

Revised rule proposed for lead in drinking water -- WASHINGTON, DC, July 6, 2006 -- The Environmental Protection Agency plans to tighten its rules on lead. That's the gist of proposed revisions, announced today, that would affect the lead portions of the lead-and-copper rule for drinking water.

The proposal would:
-- Revise monitoring requirements to ensure that water samples show how effective lead controls are,
-- Clarify the timing of sample collection and tighten criteria for reducing the frequency of monitoring,
-- Require that utilities receive state approval of treatment changes so that states can provide direction or require additional monitoring,
-- Require that water utilities notify occupants of the results of any testing that occurs within a home or facility. It also would ensure that consumers receive information about how to limit their exposure to lead in drinking water, and
-- Require systems to reevaluate lead service lines that may have previously been identified as low risk after any major treatment changes that could affect corrosion control.

"This proposal reflects the administration's commitment to protect public health. These revisions will prescribe stronger requirements for water system operators and will ensure the American people have access to the fundamental public service of clean, safe drinking water," said Benjamin Grumbles, assistant administrator for water.

The proposal is an outgrowth of EPA's March 2005 drinking water lead-reduction plan. The agency developed the plan after analyzing the efficacy of the regulation and how states and locals were implementing it. The agency collected and analyzed lead information required by the regulations, reviewed the states' implementation, held five expert workshops about elements of the regulations, and worked to better understand local and state monitoring for lead in drinking water in schools and child-care facilities.

Lead is a highly toxic metal that was used for many years in and around homes. Even at low levels, lead may cause such health effects as behavioral problems and learning disabilities especially among children six years old and under, whose brains are still developing. Children are most often exposed to lead from the paint of older homes. Lead in drinking water can add to the exposure.

Lead is not a natural constituent of drinking water. It is picked up as water passes through pipes and household plumbing fittings and fixtures that contain lead. Water leaches lead from these sources and becomes contaminated. In 1991, EPA issued the lead-and-copper rule to reduce lead in drinking water. The rule requires water utilities to reduce lead contamination by controlling the corrosiveness of water and, as needed, replace lead service lines used to carry water from the street to the home.

The proposal will be published in the Federal Register in the near future. The full proposal and information about lead in drinking water can be found at: epa.gov/safewater/lead

EPA provides $3 million for Gulf of Mexico projects -- DALLAS, TX, June 29, 2006 -- The EPA's Gulf of Mexico program is supporting a healthy and resilient Gulf of Mexico coast by announcing competition for as much as $3 million in grants.

The Gulf of Mexico Alliance Regional Partnership Projects will benefit the health of the Gulf of Mexico by improving water quality and public health, protecting coastal habitat, increasing coastal environmental education, improving habitat data and decision support systems, and reducing nutrients. Projects must actively involve stakeholders and focus on support and implementation of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Governors' Action Plan for Healthy and Resilient Coasts, released March 28, 2006.

The president's U.S. Ocean Action Plan highlighted the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, a partnership formed by the five gulf state governors. The president called for increased integration of resources, knowledge and expertise to make the collaboration of the Gulf Alliance a success. Thirteen federal agencies formed a federal workgroup committed to supporting the Alliance, with EPA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as co-leads.

EPA's Gulf of Mexico program is a voluntary, inclusive partnership which provides a broad geographic focus on the major environmental issues in the Gulf. The mission of the program is to facilitate collaborative actions to protect, maintain, and restore the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico in ways consistent with the economic well-being of the region. The partnership includes representation from state and local governments and residents in each of the five Gulf states; the private sector; federal agencies responsible for research, monitoring, environmental protection, and natural resource management; and the academic community.

Depending on availability of funds and the evaluation and quality of proposals, an estimated 10 to 50 projects are expected to be awarded. State and local governments, interstate agencies, tribes, colleges and universities, individuals, and other public or nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply.

More information on the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Regional Partnership Projects funding announcement is at: epa.gov/gmpo/pubinfo/partn-funding-announcement.html

Among other EPA headlines:

-- "Connecticut's Coastal Beach Monitoring Program gets $223,370 EPA boost: Additional sections of coastline designated 'No Discharge'"
(7/12/06)
-- "EPA increases beach monitoring during New Jersey government shutdown" (7/6/06)
-- "EPA Administrator visits McClelland Mine to advance Good Samaritan watershed cleanup efforts" (7/6/06)
-- "Ariz. tribe receives award for cleaning up environment" (6/30/06)
-- "New funding helps ensure healthy beaches in Massachusetts" (6/30/06)
-- "Proposed changes to Ohio drinking water rules will better protect public health" (6/27/06)
-- "New EPA proposed wastewater discharge permits to aquaculture facilities, fish processors in Idaho to feature 'pollutant trading' option" (6/26/06)
-- "New funding helps ensure healthy beaches in New Hampshire" (6/23/06)
-- "EPA releases latest beach monitoring figures" (6/23/06)

Among EPA enforcement actions:

-- "Mass. recycling facility facing fines for clean water violations" (7/12/06)
-- "EPA fines Guam Waterworks Authority $55,000 for failure to submit water system master plan" (7/11/06)
-- "Nogales, Ariz., fined for drinking water violations" (7/6/06)
-- "EPA settles Clean Water Act violations with two Alaska seafood processors" (6/30/06)
-- "EPA fines landowner $5,000 for wetlands violations in Douglas, Alaska" (6/28/06)
-- "Hood River cherry farmer agrees to restore wetlands" (6/27/06)

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In earlier EPA Action reports: "EPA Action: Puerto Rico pays largest Clean Water Act fine in history" -- Also in this report (June 24, 2006): Rule proposed to control effluent from large animal feedlots; Merck facility identified as source of cyanide-related discharge to Wissahickon Creek; Final rule published for cooling water intake at new oil & gas facilities; Stormwater discharge rule finalized to comply with Energy Policy Act; EPA releases latest beach monitoring figures; Southern Company pledges $1.2 million to Southeast wetlands restoration projects; Dredging begins at Sheboygan River site; 30 states to split $10M in beach protection grants;; WaterSense labeling program aims to raise awareness about importance of water efficiency; New guidance helps small drinking water systems identify affordable-treatment options; Permit proposed to inject biosolids under Los Angeles...

For the latest news releases from the EPA, click here.

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