July 2002 Washington News

Law Mandates Vulnerability Assessments

Community water systems serving populations of more than
3,300 will be required to asses their vulnerability to terrorist attack under
provisions of legislation Congress has enacted to fight bioterrorism. The
assessments also will cover system vulnerability to ?other intentional
acts intended to substantially disrupt the ability of the system to provide a
safe and reliable supply of drinking water,? the law states.

Vulnerability analyses will cover such specifics as pipes;
physical barriers; water collection; pretreatment; treatment; storage and
distribution facilities; electronic, computer or other automated systems; the
use, storage and handling of chemicals; and the operation and maintenance of the

The deadline for the assessments is March 31, 2003, for
systems serving populations of 100,000 or more; Dec. 31, 2003 for systems
serving populations more than 50,000 but fewer than 100,000 and June 30, 2004,
for systems that serve more than 3,300 but fewer than 50,000. Those serving
populations of fewer than 3,300 will receive guidance from the Environmental
Protection Agency on their responsibilities under the law.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required
by August 1 to provideinformation
advising systems on what types of terrorist or other acts are probable threats
to substantially disrupt a system?s ability to provide a safe and
reliable supply of drinking water.

The measure authorizes $160 million for this fiscal year and
such amounts as may be needed through fiscal years 2003?2005 to help
systems comply with the new requirements.

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New Plan Centers On Pollution-Reduction ?Credits?

A Water Quality Trading Policy EPA is proposing would
?increase the pace and success of cleaning up impaired rivers, streams
and lakes throughout the country,? EPA said.

The new policy would keep existing controls and safeguards
in place, agency Administrator Christie Whitman said in announcing it, while
offering ?greater flexibility and incentives to states, tribes and
companies to comply with the Clean Water Act.?

The plan would involve creation of pollution-reduction
?credits.? Pollution sources such as industrial and municipal
facilities, landowners or farms could gain credits by cutting pollution loads
beyond the level required by the most stringent technology requirements. For
example, a farmer could create credits by changing crop practices, and a municipal
wastewater treatment plant could then use the credits to meet water-quality
limits in its permit.

After a public comment period, EPA expects to issue a final
policy later this summer. Additional information is available at

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Infrastructure Proposal Advances

Legislation to provide additional federal funds to states to
meet water infrastructure needs has been approved by the Senate Committee on
the Environment and Public Works.

It contains five-year authorizations of $20 billion for
clean water projects such as wastewater treatment plants, $15 billion for safe
drinking water projects, $5 billion to help smaller communities meet
EPA?s new arsenic requirements and $1.25 billion to renew a wet-weather
grant program.

The action reflects increased interest in Congress this year
on dealing with infrastructure needs. The House Committee on Transportation and
Infrastructure earlier approved a water-infrastructure measure that differs in
important aspects from the bill approved by the Senate committee but heads in
the same direction of substantially increased federal assistance.

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Antipollution Options Considered on Construction Sites

EPA is considering three alternative approaches on ways to
reduce water pollution associated with construction.

One, the agency said, would build on existing federal
storm-water regulations by establishing a national effluent guideline
specifying the types of runoff controls needed and criteria for how best to
design them. A second would rely on site inspections and certifications
relating to the proper installation of controls to improve implementation of
existing regulations. The third approach would rely on effective implementation
of existing regulations.

?These options provide flexibility to builders and
government agencies to ensure that unique site-specific concerns such as soil
type, local environmental needs and rainfall, are taken into consideration when
determining how best to control construction site runoff,? EPA said.

After a four-month public-comment period, the agency will issue a final rule. Additional information is available at www.epa.gov/waterscience/guide/construction.

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Latest TRI For Water Announced

Approximately 284 million pounds of toxic chemicals were
released into the nation?s waters in the year 2000, according to the
latest Toxic Release Inventory of the EPA. This amount was four percent of the
total amount of 7.1 billion pounds of toxics released to water, land and air.

EPA noted that the total had dropped nearly 48 percent since
the first TRI in 1988. It also said that the annual report reflects release and
other waste-management activities and is not an indicator of potential adverse
effects on human health and the environment.

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EPA Offers Water ?Factoids?

Just seven percent of the nation?s community
water-systems serve 81 percent of the population, EPA reports in a new analysis
under the heading ?FY 2001 Drinking Water Factoids.?

Among other data listed:

? More
systems use groundwater as a source, but more people get their water from a
surface-water system.

? The
number of Community Water System violations was 622 from very large systems and
60,227 from very small ones, but the former affected 2.1 million users and the
later 34.7 million.

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