EPA Action: New study will benchmark home water usage

Also in this report: Report shows drop in toxic chemicals; Grants awarded to help groups celebrate Earth Day; $6.1M settlement won for Casmalia Superfund site; Rubicon LLC promises 1.5 million pound hazardous waste reduction; Breckenridge Sanitation earns environmental award; $30M pledged for PCB cleanup at Wis. Superfund sites; $8M to go toward Phoenix Superfund site cleanup; Comment sought on Chevron groundwater cleanup; PCB levels down at Mich.'s Manistique Harbor...

In other news below:
-- New tools offer easier access to health, environmental effects of industrial chemicals
-- EPA report shows decrease in toxic chemicals released
-- EPA awards financial assistance to help organizations celebrate Earth Day
-- U.S. EPA announces $6.1 million settlement for Casmalia Superfund site
-- Rubicon LLC joins EPA partnership, pledges 1.5 million pound hazardous waste reduction
-- Breckenridge Sanitation earns EPA Environmental Achievement Award
-- EPA and CNMI DEQ team up on Tanapag tank remova
-- $30M pledged toward PCB cleanup at Lower Fox River, Green Bay Superfund sites
-- Companies to pay over $8 million, clean up Phoenix-area Superfund site
-- EPA invites comment on Chevron groundwater cleanup plan; Public meeting to be May 9
-- PCB levels decline at Mich.'s Manistique Harbor
-- EPA settles hazardous chemical reporting cases in Indianapolis, Toledo
-- Delaware DOT, Transit Authority settle UST violations with EPA
-- Citizens' Coordinating Council meeting scheduled to discuss Housatonic River cleanup
-- EPA requires city of Great Falls to investigate sewer gas
-- Taunton, Mass., textile company pays $26,000 fine for chemical spill
-- EPA cites Lynchburg for chlorine release
-- Chevron pays $113,000 to clean up underground fuel tanks
-- AK Steel settlement requires cleanup, investigation of Middletown plant contamination
-- Contractors to pay fines for sewage discharges from Delaware Valley Veterans Home

New study will benchmark home water usage
WASHINGTON, DC, April 13, 2006 -- How much water do new homes consume? No one knows for sure, so EPA and six water districts in the West and three in the South plan to find out. The 10 agencies have announced a 33-month study to collect detailed information about how much water is consumed in "standard" new homes vs. "high-efficiency" new homes.

The $530,000 study will look at water usage by collecting data from billing records, surveys, and meter measurement of usage signifying faucet, clothes washer, toilet and other household uses. EPA will invest $350,000, with the other agencies contributing $20,000 each.

"Better information and technology give homeowners greater choices to save water, money, and streams," said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles. "The water efficiency wave is good news for family budgets and local ecosystems."

The study will help establish voluntary targets for builders who want to provide buyers with alternate water-efficiency options; develop criteria for water-efficient homes based on water-using products and building design or on average gallons used per resident per day; and create special certification marks to help consumers identify water-efficient new homes. The study results will aid states and water utilities in making local decisions on establishing water-use criteria for new homes, planning water-efficiency programs and projecting future needs.

The project will demonstrate how advanced technologies, such as water-efficient landscape designs; weather-based irrigation controllers; and high-efficiency toilets and faucets can reduce water use below current levels. The study will investigate relationships between household indoor-water use and variables that include the number of residents, home size, and types of fixtures and appliances present. Outdoor water use will be quantified from total annual use, rates of application, local plant water requirements, lot size, landscape design, and type of irrigation system controller.

Water systems involved in the study encompass eight states: Utah, Colorado, North Carolina, Oregon, Arizona, California, Nevada, and Florida. The Salt Lake City Water Department will coordinate the effort among the participating state agencies.

Sixty homes will be selected in each city -- 40 "standard" and 20 higher efficiency. Researchers will visit participating homeowners to explain the study, install the equipment, and ask a few questions.

It is expected that data gleaned from the study will apply to homes across the country, especially for indoor water use. Outdoor usage will depend on local climate conditions.

Click here for general information about water efficiency.

Easier access to health and environmental effects of industrial chemicals
WASHINGTON, DC, April 13, 2006 -- A new database will provide the public with available information on the potential hazards associated with the most widely used industrial chemicals. The High Production Volume Information System (HPVIS) will provide comprehensive and easy access to basic health and environmental effects on the 2200 High Production Volume (HPV) chemicals that are sponsored under the HPV Challenge Program. This program challenges U.S. companies to voluntarily make publicly available basic health and safety data for chemicals manufactured or imported in volumes of one million pounds or more per year. HPVIS offers several options for accessing the data including, standard reports, customized requests, and the ability to review data for either individual chemicals or categories of chemicals.

Click here for more information on the HPVIS.

Click here for additional information on the HPV Challenge Program.

EPA report shows decrease in toxic chemicals released
WASHINGTON, DC, April 12, 2006 -- The amount of toxic chemicals released into the environment decreased four% from 2003 to 2004 according to the Environmental Protections Agency's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) released today.

"Today's report demonstrates that economic growth and effective environmental protection can go hand-in-hand," said Linda Travers, acting assistant administrator for the Office of Environmental Information. "We are encouraged to see a continued reduction in the overall amount of toxic chemicals being released into the environment."

Significant decreases were seen in some of the most toxic chemicals from 2003-2004.
1. Dioxin and dioxin compounds, which decreased by 58%,
2. Mercury and mercury compounds, which were cut by 16% and
3. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) went down 92%.

Industries were instrumental in getting the data to the public quickly and more efficiently. More than 23,000 facilities reported for calendar year 2004 and ninety% used electronic reporting, which streamlined the process significantly. Facility-specific data was released last November and the full national data released today.

EPA's 2004 TRI reporting includes toxics managed in landfills and underground injection wells in addition to those released into water and air and releases or other disposals of persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) chemicals. PBT chemicals include dioxin and dioxin-like compounds, PCBs, mercury and mercury compounds, lead and lead compounds, and several pesticides. The amount of toxic chemicals released into the environment has declined 45% since 1998. It is important to review the full data in context, since in many cases changes from one year to the next are less important than longer term trends.

TRI tracks the chemicals and industrial sectors specified by the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act of 1986 and its amendments. The Pollution Prevention Act (PPA) of 1990 also mandates that TRI reports must include data on toxic chemicals treated on-site, recycled, and burned for energy recovery. Together, these laws require facilities in certain industries to report annually on releases, disposal and other waste management activities related to these chemicals.

Click here for TRI data and background information.

Click here for TRI explorer mapping tool.

EPA awards financial assistance to help organizations celebrate Earth Day
KANSAS CITY, KS, April 5, 2006 -- The EPA Region 7 Office has awarded financial assistance to seven organizations to help celebrate Earth Day 2006 on April 22 and throughout the year in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. Region 7 received 99 proposals from environmental groups, non-profit organizations, schools and state agencies. The Earth Day awards ranged from $500 to $2,500. The selected proposals also can be viewed on the Region 7 website at www.epa.gov/region07/news_events/events/index.htm. Following is a list of organizations, by state, that have received assistance...

Among other recent EPA headlines, see:
-- "U.S. EPA announces $6.1 million settlement for Casmalia Superfund site"
-- "Rubicon LLC joins EPA partnership, pledges 1.5 million pound hazardous waste reduction"
-- "Breckenridge Sanitation earns EPA Environmental Achievement Award"
-- "EPA and CNMI DEQ team up on Tanapag tank remova"
-- "Companies to spend $30 million on PCB cleanup at Lower Fox River, Green Bay Superfund sites"
-- "Companies to pay over $8 million, clean up Phoenix-area Superfund site"
-- "EPA invites comment on Chevron groundwater cleanup plan; Public meeting slated May 9"
-- "PCB levels decline at Mich.'s Manistique Harbor"
-- "Hazardous chemical reporting roundup: EPA settles cases in Indianapolis and Toledo"
-- -- "Delaware DOT, Transit Authority settle UST violations with EPA"
-- "Citizens' Coordinating Council meeting scheduled to discuss Housatonic River cleanup"
-- "EPA requires city of Great Falls to investigate sewer gas"
-- "Taunton, Mass., textile company pays $26,000 fine for chemical spill"
-- "EPA cites Lynchburg for chlorine release"
-- "Chevron pays $113,000 to clean up underground fuel tanks"
-- "Settlement with AK Steel will require cleanup and investigation of contamination of Middletown plant"
-- "Contractors to pay fines for sewage discharges from Delaware Valley Veterans Home"

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In earlier EPA Action reports: "EPA Action: Report shows $53B invested in U.S. wastewater infrastructure" -- Also in this report (March 24, 2006): National assessment of toxic air pollutants issued; New requirements for chemical risks study; $5M awarded to assess nanotechnology health effects; 100% participation in EPA's PFOA Stewardship Program; Businesses recognized for turning energy savings into environmental profit; U.S., Mexico to cooperate on capture, use of methane; Peer review plans for EPA science available for public comment; University of Arizona wins $1.7M for U.S.-Mexico environmental science center; EPA, Wash. provide $4M to protect Puget Sound; Hundreds of Louisiana school labs get help from environmental responders; Technology turns contaminated river, harbor sediment into useful product; Iowa group wins $30,000 grant for Smart Growth Assessment in Des Moines; Hudson cleanup plans near completion; Public comment extended on 'Model Validation' report for Housatonic River; Higher PCB concentrations found at Superfund site in Seattle; Mass. water authority to sharply reduce in sewage contamination of Charles River; Funding supports Anacostia, Potomac watersheds; Waiver proposed for Ponce WWTP; Three achievement awards presented in S.D.; Puerto Rico Corrections to build $1M water supply system; Tallahassee water utility honored for drinking water excellence; Hawaii gets $1.36 million to replace cesspools; Aid offered to improve agricultural watershed quality in heartland...

For the latest EPA news releases, click here.

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