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Water: Watersheds

Watershed News: December 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 Requests Proposals for Urban Waters Small Grants
2) EPA Renews Partnership to Improve Septic Systems
3) EPA Staff Share Tips for Golf Channel’s Green Week
4) Office of Water’s Senior Advisor Blogs on Tribal Water Perspectives and Place-Based Knowledge
5) National Water Quality Monitoring Council 4th Edition of Online Newsletter National Water Monitoring News
6) U.S. EPA approves new water quality standards for Chicago River System
7) The State of San Francisco Bay 2011 Report
8) Drinking Water Data Added to Nitrogen and Phosphorus Pollution Data Access Tool
9) Innovative Community Wastewater System Restores Windmill Gap Creek and Protects Citizen’s Health
10) AWWA 2012 Sustainable Water Management Conference & Exposition
11) National Water Quality Monitoring Council (NWQMC) 8th National Water Quality Monitoring Conference
12) New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) 23rd Annual Nonpoint Source Pollution Conference

Funding/Technical Assistance

EPA Requests Proposals for Urban Waters Small Grants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expects to award between $1.8 to $3.8 million in funding for projects across the country to help restore urban waters by improving water quality and supporting community revitalization. The funding is part of EPA's Urban Waters program, which supports communities in their efforts to access, improve, and benefit from their urban waters and the surrounding land.  Healthy and accessible urban waters can help grow local businesses and enhance educational, recreational and employment opportunities in nearby communities. The goal of the Urban Waters Small Grants program is to fund research, studies, training, and demonstration projects that will advance the restoration of urban waters by improving water quality through activities that also support community revitalization and other local priorities such as public health, social and economic opportunities, general livability and environmental justice for residents. The deadline for submitting proposals is January 23, 2012.

News

EPA Renews Partnership to Improve Septic Systems

On November 9, 2011, EPA and 16 organizations renewed their commitment to improve septic system performance for over 26 million homes nationwide.  Today, one in five homes in the United States uses a septic system to handle its wastewater. Ten to 20 percent of all septic systems may not be properly functioning, which can pose risks to public health and the environment.

Signatories to the memorandum of understanding (MOU) have doubled since its initiation in 2005 with eight public and private partners. The MOU partners have achieved a number of successes in encouraging proper management of septic systems and increasing collaboration among EPA, state and local governments, practitioners and assistance providers. The partnership has supported a credentialing program for septic system installers and a model septic system performance code, training opportunities and improved curriculum consistency to enhance the competencies of installers and maintenance professionals, coordinated research priorities, and a wiki website to serve as a one-stop shop for sharing decentralized wastewater information.

EPA Staff Share Tips for Golf Channel’s Green Week Exit EPA Disclaimer

Golf courses have stepped up to better protect the environment, including improvements to water conservation, wildlife habitat protection and fertilizer and pesticide management. In celebration of Green Week, Golf Channel’s news show, Morning Drive, interviewed EPA staff about these improvements.

Office of Water’s Senior Advisor Blogs on Tribal Water Perspectives and Place-Based Knowledge

The Office of Water’s Senior Advisor, Ellen Gilinsky, posted a blog on her trip to the 2011 National Tribal Water Quality Conference near Santa Fe, New Mexico. In the blog, Ms. Gilinsky shares her experience with the sessions and insights on people and place-based approaches to water protection.

National Water Quality Monitoring Council 4th Edition of Online Newsletter National Water Monitoring News (PDF) (21 pp, 1.8MB, About PDF)

This newsletter provides a forum of communication among water practitioners across the Nation. In support of the national Council’s mission, this newsletter is geared to foster partnerships and collaboration; advance water science; improve monitoring strategies; and enhance data integration, comparability, and reporting. Topics in the newsletter include the upcoming 8th National Monitoring Conference, U.S. EPA’s National Wetlands Condition Assessment and National Lakes Assessment, bivalve monitoring in the Great Lakes, and new online tools.

U.S. EPA approves new water quality standards for Chicago River System

EPA approved the State of Illinois' new and revised water quality standards for five segments of the Chicago and Calumet Rivers. "In May of this year, US EPA notified the State of Illinois that upgraded water quality standards were necessary to protect the health and safety of the increasing number of people who use these rivers for recreation," said EPA Regional Administrator Susan Hedman. "We are pleased that Illinois acted quickly to adopt new standards, which will help to further the transformation of the Chicago River system from sewage canal to valuable recreational and economic asset." The approved standards apply to the North and South Branches of the Chicago River, the North Shore Channel, the Cal-Sag Channel and the Little Calumet River. EPA continues to review the other new and revised water quality standards that the State of Illinois has proposed for the Chicago Area Waterway System and the Lower Des Plaines River.

The State of San Francisco Bay 2011 Report Exit EPA Disclaimer

This report presents a science-based assessment of the health of San Francisco Bay. The authors reviewed available data and developed methods for evaluating the status and trends of the Bay’s vital signs. With this assessment, the San Francisco Estuary Partnership will begin to report on the state of the Bay on a regular basis, with the goal of educating the public and helping scientists and managers make decisions about how to best allocate resources to protect and restore the Bay.

Watershed Tool of the Month

Drinking Water Data Added to Nitrogen and Phosphorus Pollution Data Access Tool

Public water system (PWS) data reported to the EPA Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS) has been added to the Nitrogen and Phosphorus Pollution Data Access Tool. The data is summarized on a 12-digit HUC watershed basis and drinking water from both surface and ground water sources (corresponding to surface water intakes and groundwater wells) are reported as a range of values. Data summarized from SDWIS for a PWS includes drinking water sources as either surface water or groundwater, population served by PWS, and the number of PWSs per 12-digit HUC watershed.

Drinking water data may be used to help prioritize nitrogen and phosphorus reduction activities in watersheds by highlighting watersheds with the greatest number of drinking water sources, PWSs or with greater population(s) receiving drinking water from PWSs.  In addition to considering watersheds with high density of drinking water sources, neighboring watersheds with high nitrogen and phosphorous loading may also impact downstream water quality.

Watershed Spotlight

Innovative Community Wastewater System Restores Windmill Gap Creek and Protects Citizen’s Health (PDF) (2 pp, 1.2MB, About PDF)

Failing household septic systems in McDowell County contributed to water quality impairments in West Virginia’s Windmill Gap Creek. As a result, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WV DEP) added a 2.8-mile segment of the stream to the state’s 2006 Clean Water Act (CWA) section 303(d) list of impaired waters for fecal coliform (FC). The Wastewater Treatment Coalition of McDowell County (WTCMC) worked with partner agencies and community residents to install a decentralized community wastewater system, which significantly improved water quality. The stream now meets the state’s water quality standard for FC, and West Virginia will propose removing the segment from the CWA section 303(d) list of impaired waters in 2012.

Upcoming Conferences and Workshops

AWWA 2012 Sustainable Water Management Conference & Exposition Exit EPA Disclaimer

March 18-21, 2012 in Portland, OR


National Water Quality Monitoring Council (NWQMC) 8th National Water Quality Monitoring Conference

April 30 to May 4, 2012 in Portland, OR


New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) 23rd Annual Nonpoint Source Pollution Conference Exit EPA Disclaimer

May 15 & 16, 2012. Portsmouth, NH on May 15 & May 16, 2012.

The deadline for abstract submissions is December 16, 2011. The call for abstracts (PDF) (1 pg, 157K, About PDF) Exit EPA Disclaimer is available online.


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Mention of any commercial enterprise, product, or publication does not constitute endorsement by EPA. Also, EPA does not endorse any group's policies, activities or positions on any federal, state or local legislation.

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