by Patrick Crow
Casting a broader scientific net for drinking water contaminants, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking public comment on 104 possible contaminants it might regulate under the Safe Drinking Water Act via the draft Contaminant Candidate List (CCL).
The draft list has 93 chemical contaminants or groups and 11 microbes, including commercial chemicals, pesticides, biological toxins, disinfection byproducts, and waterborne pathogens. The agency evaluated 7,500 chemicals and microbes and selected these based on potential health risks of drinking water exposure. It’s the third such list issued since 1998 and, if all 104 contaminants are endorsed, it would double those from CCL1 and CCL2, which were created under a much less stringent methodology.
The draft list includes acetochlor, alachlor, metolachlor, perchlorate, and MTBE from the earlier lists. New contaminants included several nitrosamines and PFOA. The microbials contains only two from the prior tally, calciviruses and Helicobacter pylori.
Funding, Appropriations at Odds
Although EPA recently estimated the nation needs to invest $202.5 billion to control wastewater pollution in the next 20 years, the Bush administration’s proposed fiscal 2009 budget would slash the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) and only slightly increase the Drinking Water SRF. The administration proposed $842 million for the Drinking Water SRF, up $13 million from 2008 appropriations, and $555 million for the Clean Water SRF, down $134 million. EPA’s overall budget would drop to $7.1 billion from $7.5 billion.
Still, EPA’s latest Clean Watersheds Needs Survey included $134.4 billion for wastewater treatment and collection systems, $54.8 billion for combined sewer overflow (CSO) corrections, and $9 billion for stormwater management. It said the survey shows a $16.1 billion (8.6%) increase in needed investment over the prior report due to a combination of population growth, more protective water quality standards and aging infrastructure.
Three key congressmen on the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure subsequently asked the GAO to study ways to meet the nation’s water infrastructure needs. Chairman James Oberstar (D-MN) said, “The EPA’s own data shows the ever-increasing need for water infrastructure investment isn’t being met. To guarantee consistent long-term funding, we must identify a dedicated source of revenue that’s both logical and sustainable.”
The National Association of Clean Water Agencies noted, “Local communities already pay more than 95% of the cost of meeting their obligations under the Clean Water Act. Without a strong federal recommitment to clean water in the form of a trust fund, communities risk losing the gains made over the past 35 years to clean up the nation’s waters.”
Other agency actions:
- EPA is holding public workshops to discuss development of regulations for underground injection of CO2.
- EPA launched a “Green Infrastructure” plan to promote techniques like green roofs, trees and tree boxes, rain gardens, and porous pavement to mitigate stormwater runoff.
- The Peace Corps is seeking water professionals with expertise in environmental and water resource engineering.
Among recent Justice Department consent decrees:
- In Kansas, Home Depot agreed to pay a $1.3 million penalty and implement a nationwide compliance program to resolve alleged stormwater runoff violations.
- Martha’s Vineyard oil storage and distribution firm RM Packer Inc. will pay a $78,000 fine for inadequate Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) procedures.
- EPA issues order to 28 parties to participate in $28 million cleanup of Li Tungsten Superfund Site on Long Island – and city of Glen Cove, NY, agrees to contribute $3 million.
- A Kansas U.S. District Court consent decree would have Cyprus Amax Minerals Co. pay $1.2 million for natural resource damages at a Cherokee County, KS, Superfund site.
- Massey Energy Co. will pay $20 million for discharges from its West Virginia and Kentucky coal mines above permit levels about 4,100 times from January 2000 through March 2006.
Washington association news
- A recent AWWA Research Foundation report examines how hydrocarbons impact gaskets and plastic pipes used to distribute drinking water. Another study examines how water utilities can develop strategies to cut energy usage.
- The Water Environment Federation and International Water Association said global participation in World Water Monitoring Day last fall increased 61%, with 46,117 people testing local streams, rivers and lakes for dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature and turbidity.