WaterWorld Weekly: July 7, 2011

July 7, 2011
Transcript of the July 7, 2011, edition of the WaterWorld Weekly newscast.
Click on the video to watch newscast

The following is a transcript of the July 7, 2011, edition of the WaterWorld Weekly newscast.

Hi, I'm Angela Godwin, digital media editor for WaterWorld magazine, bringing you this week's water and wastewater news headlines. Coming up...
• EPA, Corps asked to abandon Clean Water Act guidance
• Oil spills into Yellowstone River
• Drilling wastewater finds home in Ohio
• Georgia victory in southern water dispute
• WHO releases updated drinking water guidelines

Forty-one senators are asking the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to stop their work on draft guidance identifying waters protected by the Clean Water Act.

The senators, led by James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, are questioning whether the agencies have the authority "to rewrite their jurisdictional limitations in this manner."

The also contend that new guidance is unnecessary since the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act hasn't changed since the last guidance was issued in 2008 following the Rapanos case.

EPA has said that the guidance is intended to reaffirm protection for critical waters, in particular small streams feeding into larger bodies of water, and wetlands.

All of the Clean Water Act's exemptions for agriculture and forestry will remain unchanged.

The comment period for the new guidance document was set to expire on July 1, but has been extended to July 31st.

An estimated 42,000 gallons of oil spilled into the Yellowstone River last weekend when a 12-inch pipeline running beneath the river ruptured.

The ExxonMobil pipeline, which delivers 40,000 gallons of crude per day to a refinery in Billings, Montana, passed recent inspections. At this time, officials have not pinpointed the cause of the breach.

More than 300 responders are on site but clean up efforts have been hampered by high waters. Heavy snows and late runoff have swollen the river, causing oil to flow into areas that don't normally flood.

Exxon originally estimated the most affected area was the 10-mile stretch downstream from the spill, but recent reports confirm oil has reached at least 25 miles -- with some unconfirmed reports of oil appearing as far away as 240 miles.

Exxon has been ordered to make safety improvements to the 20-year-old pipeline and submit a restart plan before resuming operations.

Facing tougher regulations on fracking wastewater, Pennsylvania gas drillers are turning to the neighboring state of Ohio for their disposal needs... and putting Ohio on track to collect almost $1 million dollars in fees from out of state drillers this year.

Compared to the last quarter of 2010, there's been a 25% increase in the amount of drilling wastewater being sent to Ohio from out of state.

Part of the reason Ohio is so attractive to drillers has to do with the state's geology. An underground well, one of the common methods for disposing of fracking wastewater, requires a permeable layer of earth to absorb waste, covered by a rocky layer to trap it.

Ohio has an abundance of this type of soil at the required depth of 4000 to 5000 feet. In Pennsylvania, developers would have to drill two to three times deeper -- at two to three times the cost -- to find comparable disposal space.

Georgia has won a big victory in the long-standing water dispute between that state and its neighbors, Alabama and Florida, over usage of water from Lake Lanier.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals last week tossed out a lower court ruling that, starting in July 2012, would have restricted the amount of water Georgia could withdraw to levels last seen in the 1970s.

The court also ruled, once and for all, that Georgia has a right to use water from the lake, which supplies water to 800,000 residential and business customers in metro Atlanta.

How much water Georgia will get is up to the Army Corps of Engineers, which is currently conducting a technical review of the dam.

In international news...

The World Health Organization this week released a new set of drinking water guidelines during Singapore International Water Week.

The guidelines are intended to help the more than 800 million people around the world who do not have access to safe drinking water.

The guidelines are meant to help regulators and water utility companies strengthen their management of drinking water quality by adopting water safety planning.

They provide best-practice recommendations for various levels of water management, from residential rainwater harvesting and safe storage to policy advice on bulk water supply and the impacts of climate change.

According to the World Health Organization, two million people die every year of water-borne illnesses.

For more information on the guidelines, visit the World Health Organization website at who.int.

For WaterWorld magazine, I'm Angela Godwin. Thanks for watching.


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