The Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors took a number of actions to respond to the worsening water supply outlook. The board set a preliminary 2014 water reduction target equal to 10 percent of 2013 water use in Santa Clara County.
The target of 10 percent is based on the district’s adopted water shortage contingency plan. Governor Brown, in his Jan. 17 drought declaration, called upon water agencies to immediately activate their water shortage contingency plans.
The plan, which is part of the district’s Urban Water Management Plan, calls for the board to consider a reduction in water use of up to 10 percent when the county’s groundwater supplies are projected to drop below 300,000 acre-feet by the end of the calendar year, an amount equal to about 83 percent of a year’s water use. [Read more]
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) did a review of EPA’s TMDL Program and on January 13, 2014 published a new report entitled “Changes Needed If Key EPA Program Is to Help Fulfill the Nation’s Water Quality Goals” (pdf link) where it recommends that EPA issue new regulations for TMDL development, adding key features. In addition, the GAO recommends that Congress should consider revising the Clean Water Act to allow mandatory controls on pollution from agriculture as part of changes to the federal total maximum daily loads program. The GAO noted that the Clean Water Act addresses nonpoint source pollution largely through voluntary means and that “EPA does not have direct authority to compel landowners to take prescribed actions to reduce such pollution.” The review included a focus on the roles of the EPA and states, as well as the status and effectiveness of long-established TMDLs for impaired waters.
Under the Clean Water Act, states, territories, and tribes develop lists of impaired waters and develop TMDL plans for them under Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act. EPA develops criteria for TMDL plans, provides technical assistance to states in writing TMDLs and approves the final plans. A TMDL plan includes calculations of the maximum level of pollutants that each point source, such as a wastewater utility, and nonpoint source, such as a farm, may discharge while still allowing the receiving waters to meet water quality standards. Such a plan includes strategies and actions for reducing impairments.
The GAO also found that EPA needs to promulgate regulations to require TMDLs to specifically identify the factors, or stressors, causing the impairment and to show how addressing it would help attain water quality standards. “GAO’s review showed that EPA’s existing regulations do not explicitly require TMDLs to include these key features, and without such features in TMDLs—or in addition to TMDLs—impaired water bodies are unlikely to attain standards,” the report said. In addition, the GAO said EPA lacks information about how TMDLs are being implemented by states, and whether implementation of such plans is resulting in improved water quality. Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) requested the GAO review in December 2011. Boxer chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee; Cardin chairs the Senate Environment Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife. EPA did not comment on the recommendation to revise the Clean Water Act and although it agreed with the need to add key features to TMDLs, it did not agree to issue new regulations. EPA has recently announced its 10 Year Vision Plan, however, which includes new approaches to TMDLs. (BNA, Jan 13) (ht WEF This Week in Washington)
CWEA is accepting submissions for the Undergraduate and Graduate Student Paper Competition until March 15, 2014. CWEA awards a $500 prize to winners in each category and advances the winners to the national WEF Student Paper Competition. The Undergraduate/Graduate Student Paper Competition is intended to promote the education of undergraduate / graduate students in water pollution control, water quality problems, water‐related concerns, hazardous wastes or related areas. It also is intended to provide an opportunity for state and national recognition of participating students. Contact Amanda Schmidt, SYPC Past-Chair for more information: Schmidt.Amanda@gmail.com
From Hugh Logan, CWEA WEF Delegate Director
CWEA is proud to present gift Membership to ten students enrolled in the Wastewater Operations training program thru the Tri-Valley Regional Occupational Program in Dublin. These students were selected based on outstanding academic performance and participation. Hugh Logan, Instructor and CWEA Board Member, awarded the memberships at a recent class tour.
Students attend class one evening per week, from September through June, and work as OIT-interns at community wastewater treatment plants each week. During their internship, they work directly with certified treatment plant personnel to learn operation and maintenance procedures. Students complete CSU Volume 1 and 2, take the Certification exam in April, tour numerous plants and see different treatment technologies, and are prepared to start their career as Plant Operators.
These gift memberships were made possible through the generous donations of anonymous friends of CWEA and are beneficial to encouraging the continued growth of our organization. To make donations for books and student scholarships, please contact Hugh at email@example.com or 510-427-5547.