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Water: Watersheds

Watershed News: May 2011

Watershed News is a publication of EPA's Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds. It is designed to provide timely information to groups working at the watershed level.

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In this month's newsletter

1) EPA Seeks Applicants for Environmental Justice Green Jobs Development Pilot Projects
2) Environmental Impact and Mitigation of Oil Spills
3) EPA Celebrates American Wetlands Month: Learn! Explore! Take Action!
4) EPA Releases "Draft Guidance on Identifying Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act"
5) EPA Releases Draft Document on "Identifying and Protecting Healthy Watersheds - Concepts, Assessments, and Management Approaches"
6) Coming Together for Clean Water Strategy Released
7) EPA to Open Public Comment on Proposed Standards to Protect Aquatic Ecosystems
8) EPA's Ocean Survey Vessel Bold 2010 Annual Report Released
9) Catalog of Federal Funding Sources for Watershed Protection
10) Saving Water & Energy - Reducing Greenhouse Gases by Improving Efficiency
11) Rivanna River Basin Commission "Healthy Waters" Project Highlights Opportunities for Conservation and Restoration
12) FLOW 2011: Instream Flow Valuation in Public Decision-Making
13) National Ground Water Association's 2011 Ground Water Summit and 2011 Ground Water Protection Council Spring Meeting
14) 2011 World Environmental and Water Resources Congress
15) 2011 AWRA Annual Water Resources Conference

Funding/Technical Assistance

EPA Seeks Applicants for Environmental Justice Green Jobs Development Pilot Projects (PDF)  (26 pp, 187K, About PDF)

To support underserved populations, the EPA Region 6 office in Dallas is accepting applications for a $100,000 grant for projects that promote Green Job Training and Green Job Placement. An eligible applicant MUST BE: an incorporated non-profit organization; a Native American tribal government (Federally recognized); or Intertribal Consortium or Consortia.

An underserved population, for the purposes of this Request for Application, is a community, including minority, low-income, or indigenous populations or communities, that is disproportionately impacted by environmental harms and risks and has a local environmental and public health issue that is identified in the proposal. Projects must be performed in one of the following Region 6 states: Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and/or Texas.

Environmental justice means the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race or income, in the environmental decision-making process. Environmental justice issues often involve multiple sources of contamination, like pollution from several industrial facilities within one neighborhood, environmental hazards at the workplace or home, or contamination resulting from the consumption of fish or other subsistence foods. Applications must be postmarked by May 10, 2011.

Environmental Impact and Mitigation of Oil Spills

As part of the federal government's response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the U.S. EPA received a $2 million Congressional appropriation for a grant or grants for "a study on the potential human and environmental risks and impacts of the release of crude oil and the application of dispersants, surface washing agents, bioremediation agents, and other mitigation measures listed in the National Contingency Plan Product List..."

To implement this appropriation through its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) grant program, EPA is seeking applications proposing to develop a research program, including an effective community outreach program component, to mitigate the impact of oil spills. The research program must address one or more of the following topics: (1) development of cost-effective innovative technologies to mitigate the impact of oil spills; (2) development of effective oil dispersants, surface washing agents, bioremediation agents, and other mitigation measures ("dispersants/agents/measures") with low environmental impact; and (3) investigation of the effects of oil spills and application of dispersants/agents/measures on the environment. Applicants must also submit a community outreach program plan, the objective of which is to help impacted Gulf Coast communities effectively participate in the study and use its results. The closing date for applications is June 22, 2011.

News

EPA Celebrates American Wetlands Month: Learn! Explore! Take Action!

May marks the 21st anniversary of American Wetlands Month (AWM), a time when EPA and its wetland partners across the country celebrate the vital importance of wetlands to our nation's ecological, economic, and social health.

EPA and a host of other public and private partners are planning a number of events as part of this year's celebration.  In particular, EPA is partnering with the Center for Watershed Protection's national Web cast "Wetlands-At-Risk Protection Tool (WARPT)" Exit EPA Disclaimer on May 4 that will outline a process for local governments to quantifies the extent of at-risk wetlands, document the benefits they provide at various scales, and use the results to develop a wetland protection plan. On May 4, the Environmental Law Institute, EPA, and other federal partners will honor a diverse group of individuals for their extraordinary commitment to conserving wetlands at the National Wetlands Awards ceremony Exit EPA Disclaimer on Capitol Hill. Other AWM highlights include EPA participation in the Ducks Unlimited sponsored "Wetland Clean Up Day" on May 7 at Huntley Meadows in Alexandria, VA (park includes 1,425 acres of wetlands, forests, and meadows) and an EPA hosted Webinar "Promoting Wetland Conservation and Restoration to Private Landowners" Exit EPA Disclaimer on May 16 featuring an overview of outreach programming in outdoor recreational enterprise development and associated land and water conservation practices to private landowners, resource agencies, and state and local elected officials in the U.S. EPA regional activities planned for the month of May include educational displays, discussions, presentations, special feature articles, wetland walks and celebrations, and an array of other outreach and communication events.

EPA Releases "Draft Guidance on Identifying Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act"

Recognizing the importance of clean water and healthy watersheds to our economy, environment and communities, last week the Obama Administration released a national clean water framework last week that showcases its comprehensive commitment to protecting the health of America's waters. The framework emphasizes the importance of partnerships and coordination with states, local communities, stakeholders, and the public to protect public health and water quality, and promote the nation's energy and economic security. As part of that effort, the U.S. EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have developed draft guidance for determining whether a waterway, water body, or wetland is protected by the Clean Water Act.  Over the past decade, interpretations of Supreme Court rulings removed some critical waters from Federal protection, and caused confusion about which waters and wetlands are protected under the Clean Water Act. As a result, important waters now lack clear protection under the law, and businesses and regulators face uncertainty and delay. The draft guidance will reaffirm protections for small streams that feed into larger streams, rivers, bays and coastal waters.  It will also reaffirm protection for wetlands that filter pollution and help protect communities from flooding. It also will provide clearer, more predictable guidelines for determining which water bodies are protected by the Clean Water Act. EPA is seeking comments on this draft document until July 1, 2011.

EPA Releases Draft Document on "Identifying and Protecting Healthy Watersheds - Concepts, Assessments, and Management Approaches"

EPA recently released a draft technical document called "Identifying and Protecting Healthy Watersheds - Concepts, Assessments, and Management Approaches" which provides the basis for implementing the Healthy Watersheds Initiative.  In partnership with states, tribes, local governments, nongovernmental organizations, and others, the Healthy Watersheds Initiative is intended to protect our remaining healthy watersheds, prevent them from becoming impaired, and accelerate our restoration successes.  The Healthy Watersheds approach is based on a holistic, integrated, systems view of aquatic ecosystems that acknowledges their dynamics and interconnectivity in the landscape.  This draft technical document provides an overview of the key concepts behind the Healthy Watersheds approach, examples of assessments of healthy watershed components, an integrated assessment framework for identifying healthy watersheds, examples of management approaches, sources of national data, and key assessment tools.  It contains numerous examples and case studies from across the country.  The intended audience for this document is aquatic resource scientists and managers at the state, tribal, regional, and local levels; non-governmental organizations; and federal agencies.  It will also benefit local government land use managers and planners as they develop protection priorities.  EPA is seeking comments on this draft document until June 3, 2011.

Coming Together for Clean Water Strategy Released

EPA released Coming Together for Clean Water: EPA's Strategy to Protect America's Waters. This strategy charts a path for meeting the nation's clean water strategic plan goals over the next several years.  Protecting the nation's water resources is not only important to the health of the nation's citizens and the environment, but clean water is also a critical resource for the economy.

The Coming Together for Clean Water strategy presents a framework for how EPA's national water program will address the challenges and highlights EPA's priorities for achieving clean water goals.  This strategy focuses on the following key areas: ensuring transparency and effectively reporting on the status of the health of all waters; increasing protection of source waters and healthy watersheds; restoring degraded waters and ecosystems; reducing the amount of pollution entering our waters that impact our health and our economy; and tackling new and emerging threats to our waters in a way that will ensure healthier, more livable communities.

EPA to Open Public Comment on Proposed Standards to Protect Aquatic Ecosystems

As required by the Clean Water Act and pursuant to a settlement agreement, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing for public comment standards to protect billions of fish and other aquatic organisms drawn each year into cooling water systems at large power plants and factories. The proposal, based on Section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act, would establish a common sense framework, putting a premium on public input and flexibility.

Safeguards against impingement will be required for all facilities above a minimum size; closed-cycle cooling systems may also be required on a case by case basis when, based on thorough site-specific analysis by permitting authorities, such requirements are determined to be appropriate. EPA is proposing this regulation as a result of a settlement agreement with Riverkeeper, Inc. and other environmental groups. The public will be able to comment on the proposal published in the Federal Register. EPA will conduct a 90 day comment period, and will carefully consider those comments before taking final action on the proposal.

EPA's Ocean Survey Vessel Bold 2010 Annual Report Released (PDF) (26 pp, 4.7MB, About PDF)

EPA has released the Ocean Survey Vessel Bold 2010 Annual Report, a report summarizing the surveys completed by the Ocean Survey Vessel Bold, EPA's coastal and oceans monitoring and assessment vessel.  The surveys provide scientific information and data to support EPA's mission to protect and enhance ocean and coastal waters through a variety of programs including partnerships and regulatory activities.

In 2010, the OSV Bold supported scientific surveys over a wide variety of geographic areas, including the Atlantic Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida Keys, and the Caribbean Sea.  The OSV Bold provided state-of-the-art oceanographic support to EPA scientists and their federal, state, territorial, and academic partners.

Watershed Tool of the Month

Catalog of Federal Funding Sources for Watershed Protection

The Catalog of Federal Funding Sources for Watershed Protection Web site is a searchable database of financial assistance sources (grants, loans, cost-sharing) available to fund a variety of watershed protection projects. To select funding programs for particular requirements, use either of two searches below. One is based on subject matter criteria, and the other is based on words in the title of the funding program. Criteria searches include the type of organization (e.g., non-profit groups, private landowner, state, business), type of assistance sought (grants or loans), and keywords (e.g., agriculture, wildlife habitat).

Webcast

Saving Water & Energy - Reducing Greenhouse Gases by Improving Efficiency

Water SenseMay 17, 2011 / 1:00–3:00pm Eastern. Join us for a webcast on "Saving Water & Energy – Reducing Greenhouse Gases by Improving Efficiency."  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) has developed several programs in the water sector to help you and your communities make small changes that can lead to big reductions in greenhouse gases. Listen into this webcast to learn how US EPA's WaterSense program can help you find and select water-efficient products that can help your wallet and the environment. The webcast will also highlight actions that water and wastewater utilities can take to save water and energy. Finally, the webcast will include information about how grassroots organizations are getting involved to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their communities. Webcast participants are eligible to receive a certificate for their attendance. The webcast presentations are posted in advance at www.epa.gov/watershedwebcasts and participants are encouraged to download them prior to the webcast.

Watershed Spotlight

Rivanna River Basin Commission "Healthy Waters" Project Highlights Opportunities for Conservation and Restoration Exit EPA Disclaimer

Two men wade through a stream with nets.

The Rivanna River Basin Commission (RRBC) is the regional organization tasked with recommending programs for the enhancement of the water and natural resources of the Rivanna River and its watershed. The four jurisdictions participating in the RBBC are Albemarle, Fluvanna and Greene Counties and the City of Charlottesville. The Commission is a forum in which local governments and citizens can discuss issues the Basin's water quality and quantity and other natural resources.

RRBC just completed a Rivanna Healthy Waters Pilot project, an initiative that embraces the principles of EPA's Healthy Watersheds Initiative. From July 2009 through September 2010, the Rivanna River Basin Commission (RRBC) undertook a study to identify the Rivanna's healthy waters and promote their protection through land use planning in the Rivanna watershed. Virginia Commonwealth University scientists worked with local professionals from the Rivanna River watershed's community-based biological monitoring program, StreamWatch, to identify the Rivanna's "healthy waters" using the ecological integrity assessment protocol INSTAR. The study showed that, of the 54 streams assessed in the Rivanna basin, 16 streams (29%) meet the criteria of "Healthy Waters," and 4 streams (7%) were "Exceptional." Based on INSTAR modeling, this is more than many other parts of the Commonwealth.  Also during the study period, RRBC worked with its member local governments to recognize that identifying, protecting, and preserving healthy waters can support economic prosperity and quality of life. Moving forward, RRBC will continue to work with its member localities in the watershed to provide data and to develop tools that will support local decision-making to enhance the protection of and help maintain the ecological integrity of "healthy streams."

Upcoming Conferences and Workshops

FLOW 2011: Instream Flow Valuation in Public Decision-Making Exit EPA Disclaimer

May 2-4, 2011, in Nashville Tennessee. The Instream Flow Council and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency invite you to participate in FLOW 2011: Instream Flow Valuation in Public Decision-Making. Similar to FLOW 2008 in San Antonio, this conference seeks to further advance the integration of state-of-the-art science, policy, and public dialogue regarding water management related to aquatic resources. The specific goal of the 2011 conference is to build participants' abilities to effectively participate in public decision-making to generate outcomes favorable to aquatic resources.

National Ground Water Association's 2011 Ground Water Summit and 2011 Ground Water Protection Council Spring Meeting Exit EPA Disclaimer

May 1-5, 2011, in Baltimore, MD. The 2011 Ground Water Summit and 2011 Ground Water Protection Council Spring Meeting will bring together a mix of federal and state regulators, practitioners, natural resource managers, policymakers, municipal planners, remediation site owners, attorneys, climatologists, and those who supply knowledge and technology needed to address and influence key water issues.
   
  This year's conference theme is "Meeting Groundwater Challenges in Uncertain Times." Economic conditions have placed enormous stresses on the resources of government, private industry, and academic and research institutions, which affect our ability to respond to the challenges of understanding, protecting, restoring, and managing the complexities of the nation's groundwater resources. This conference focuses on the critical need for cooperation and collaboration to raise and address issues affecting groundwater resources.

2011 World Environmental and Water Resources Congress Exit EPA Disclaimer

May 22-26, 2011, Palm Springs, CA. The 2011 World Environmental & Water Resources Congress program is intellectually and professionally stimulating and provides plenty of opportunities for networking. The program will include outstanding plenary sessions and technical presentations. It will also be the site of the annual committee meetings and offer fun social events that allow participants to renew old friendships and make new ones. There will be opportunities for presenting your project or research, exhibits, co-sponsorships, cooperating organizations, student and international activities and much more.

The World Environmental & Water Resources Congress is an important opportunity for professionals in the environmental and water fields to convene and focus on topics of the day. This year's technical program focuses on "Bearing Knowledge for Sustainability". It is important that the environmental and engineering community integrate sustainability, in dealing with today's issues whether they be technical, economic, social, environmental or political. To that end a number of symposia are being offered including: Arid Lands Symposium, Climate Change Symposium, Sustainability Symposium and the 6th World Water Forum Symposium: North American Regional Event.

2011 AWRA Annual Water Resources Conference Exit EPA Disclaimer

Hyatt Regency Albuquerque, Albuquerque, NM
  November 7-10, 2011
  Submit Abstracts by May 13, 2011


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