WaterWorks: EPA Recovery Act funds awarded, Carolina water war, WEF-AWS partnership

EPA awards first Recovery Act water funds

The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded the first of the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund grants under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009. Clean Water State Revolving Fund grants have been made to the states of New York, West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Nebraska. Drinking Water State Revolving Fund grants have been awarded to the states of Kansas and Nebraska.

This new infusion of money will help state and local governments finance many of the overdue improvements to water and wastewater projects including innovative green projects that save energy, water and further reduce the impact on the environment. The Clean Water State Revolving Fund program provides low-interest loans for water quality protection projects for wastewater treatment, non-point source pollution control, and watershed and estuary management. The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program provides low-interest loans for drinking water systems to finance infrastructure improvements. The drinking water program also emphasizes providing funds to small and disadvantaged communities and to programs that encourage pollution prevention as a tool for ensuring safe drinking water.

An unprecedented $6 billion dollars will be awarded to fund water and wastewater infrastructure projects across the country under the Recovery Act in the form of low interest loans, principal forgiveness and grants. At least 20 percent of the funds provided under the Recovery Act are to be used for green infrastructure, water and energy efficiency improvements and other environmentally innovative projects. President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 on Feb. 17, 2009, and has directed that the Recovery Act be implemented with unprecedented transparency and accountability.

Plattsburg gets go-ahead to improve water system

Plattsburg, MO, city officials received permission from residents to proceed with a major improvement to the city’s water system as reported in the St. Joseph News-Press.

A $6.2 million bond issued for the project passed by an unofficial margin of 224 to 88 in the municipal election. The vote gives the city leverage toward securing federal stimulus funds designed specifically for water systems.

It’s now up to agencies such as the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program to begin steering Plattsburg’s water improvements into reality. The Missouri Water/Wastewater Review Committee also will play a role.

It is estimated that the awarding of contracts could occur as early as late summer or early fall.

Carolina’s water war rages on

The legal battle over the rights to the Catawba River rests with the U.S. Supreme Court in the form of a two-year lawsuit to prevent North Carolina from hoarding a major water supply from South Carolina.

A win or loss in the Supreme Court would be particularly important as it would establish future rules for river battles that are yet to come. The Catawba River goes through North Carolina before it hits the Palmetto Sate and NC is alleging it can do whatever it wants with the water, but SC is fighting to ensure its supply doesn’t get cut off.

Charlotte is the biggest city along the Catawba and the largest provider of water and wastewater treatment. The city serves more than 800,000 people in six counties and nine towns on both sides of the state line. Charlotte pulls 53 percent of the water drawn by municipalities along the river. And the demand for treated water has grown to 110 Mg/d in 2006 from 57 Mg/d in 1987. The projected need by 2050 is 215 Mg/d.

The Supreme Court will also be deciding whether to allow three parties — the city, Duke Energy Corp. and a local water utility — to intervene.

Duke says it should be a party to the case because neither state will adequately represent its interests since the company’s hydroelectric operations are in both states.

The case threatens Duke’s pending federal relicensing agreement with 70 groups that have a stake in the river. In addition, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission oversees Duke’s use of the Catawba. Duke is in the process of renewing its 50-year license with FERC for its 11 reservoirs and 13 hydroelectric facilities on the river.

Duke says it will “face conflicting federal mandates” if the Supreme Court’s decision differs from its FERC license. Duke argues the relicensing agreement “reflects an equitable apportionment” of the Catawba because it sets lake levels and stream flows.

An attorney for the Catawba River Water Supply Project — a bi-state utility that filed to intervene — says Duke’s relicensing agreement serves as an interstate compact.
NC Attorney General Roy Cooper claims that his state has the right to do whatever it wants with the Catawba River.
Siding with South Carolina is the U.S. solicitor general, who represents the federal government’s interests in all litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Partnership will promote good practices among large water users, providers

The Water Environment Federation (WEF) is planning to partner with the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS), an international group of like-minded organizations that promotes responsible use of water resources. WEF will participate in a three-year plan to help develop a set of principles and good practices for large water users and providers, including industry and all types of water utilities.

“Insufficient and unsafe water supplies affect over a billion people worldwide and cause an estimated 1.6 million water-related deaths every year,” said WEF Vice President Paul Freedman. “When it comes to water, smart conservation, effective allocation and wise use is essential. As professional stewards of the water environment, WEF has a responsibility to lead and help establish practices that will ensure a sustainable future for clean water and is why we are supporting the AWS.”

Specifically, WEF will provide a utility perspective and other water sector input in the development of global watershed certification and international water stewardship standards over the next three years. In addition, WEF will assist in efforts to secure funding for the AWS via cooperative agreements with agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other institutions.

New date, venue for Water Expo China 2009

This year’s Water Expo China will now be held at the Beijing Exhibition Center, Beijing, China from Nov. 18-20 and will run concurrently with the 4th Water Summit Conference.

Organized by Messe Frankfurt (Shanghai) and the Chinese Hydraulic Engineering Society (CHES), Water Expo China is the only fair sponsored by China’s Ministry of Water Resources and approved by the Ministry of Commerce.

For more information about Water Expo China, email Estelle Ni at estelle.ni@china.messefrankfurt.com or visit www.waterexpochina.com.

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