Tag Archives: Drinking Water

Scripps Institution of Oceanography: Climate Change Means Shortfalls in Colorado River Water Deliveries

EMBARGOED BY PNAS: FOR RELEASE ON Monday, April 20, 2009 02:00 PM PDT: Climate Change Means Shortfalls in Colorado River Water Deliveries:  Scripps researchers find that currently scheduled water deliveries from the Colorado River are unlikely to be met if human-caused climate change reduces run1off in the region. The Colorado River system supplies water to tens of millions of people and millions of acres of farmland, and has never experienced a delivery shortage. But if human-caused climate change continues to make the region drier, scheduled deliveries will be missed 60-90 percent of the time by the middle of this century, according to a pair of climate researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego.

“All water-use planning is based on the idea that the next 100 years will be like the last 100,” said Scripps research marine physicist Tim Barnett, a co-author of the report. “We considered the question: Can the river deliver water at the levels currently scheduled if the climate changes as we expect it to. The answer is no.”

Even under conservative climate change scenarios, Barnett and Scripps climate researcher David Pierce found that reductions in the runoff that feeds the Colorado River mean that it could short the Southwest of a half-billion cubic meters (400,000 acre feet) of water per year 40 percent of the time by 2025. (An acre foot of water is typically considered adequate to meet the annual water needs of two households.) By the later part of this century, those numbers double.

The paper, “Sustainable water deliveries from the Colorado River in a changing climate,” appears in the April 20 edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The analysis follows a 2008 study in which Barnett and Pierce found that Lake Mead, the reservoir on the Colorado River created by Hoover Dam, stood a 50-percent chance of going dry in the next 20 years if the climate changed and no effort was made to preserve a minimum amount of water in the reservoir. The new study assumes instead that enough water would be retained in the reservoir to supply the city of Las Vegas, and examines what delivery cuts would be required to maintain that level.

“People have talked for at least 30 years about the Colorado being oversubscribed but no one ever put a date on it or an amount. That’s what we’ve done,” said Barnett. “Without numbers like this, it’s pretty hard for resource managers to know what to do.”

Barnett and Pierce also point out that lakes Mead and Powell were built during and calibrated to the 20th century, which was one of the wettest in the last 1,200 years. Tree ring records show that typical Colorado River flows are substantially lower, yet 20th Century values are used in most long-term planning of the River. If the Colorado River flow reverts to its long-term average indicated by the tree rings, then currently scheduled water deliveries are even less sustainable.

Barnett and Pierce show that the biggest effects of human-induced climate change will probably be seen during dry, low-delivery years. In most years, delivery shortfalls will be small enough to be manageable through conservation and water transfers, they estimate. But during dry years there is an increasing chance of substantial shortages.

“Fortunately, we can avoid such big shortfalls if the river’s users agree on a way to reduce their average water use,” said Pierce. “If we could do that, the system could stay sustainable further into the future than we estimate currently, even if the climate changes.”

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10/11/2011 Gallup Independent: Hopi challenges BIA over water contamination

10/11/2011 Hopi challenges BIA over water contamination By Kathy Helms, Dine Bureau, Gallup Independent: KYKOTSMOVI – The Hopi Tribe has taken legal action against the Bureau of Indian Affairs over its operation of the Tuba City Open Dump and is seeking immediate restoration of contaminated groundwater that is migrating toward the Upper Moenkopi supply wells. Hopi Tribal Chairman LeRoy N. Shingoitewa said the tribe has spent more than 12 years trying to get the BIA to adequately address the issue of groundwater contamination stemming from the open dump since it was shut down in 1997. “Simply put, the BIA has failed to comply with the requirements that are in place to protect the Hopi Tribe’s drinking water,” he stated Monday in a press release.

The Tuba City Open Dump has contaminated groundwater that the Hopi Villages of Upper Moenkopi and Lower Moencopi rely on as their only source of drinking water, according to Louella Nahsonhoya, public information officer for the Hopi Tribe.

“Since the mid-1990s, the Hopi Tribe has been working under the guidance of the Environmental Protection Agency to establish a comprehensive program for the maintenance and protection of the Tribe’s drinking water sources on the reservation,” Shingoitewa said. “We have a series of ordinances in place which conform to the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.”

The Hopi claim the BIA did little, if anything, to manage what was being disposed at the dump during its years of operation and exacerbated the contamination by digging waste trenches that brought the waste material into close contact with the water table, approximately 15 feet below surface, according to Nahsonhoya.

The BIA has failed to take any action to prevent the further migration of the contamination that is now within the cone of influence of the Moenkopi supply wells, she said.

According to U.S. EPA, the dump – located on 28 acres of Hopi land and two acres of the Navajo Nation – received waste from 1940 to 1997. EPA signed an enforcement agreement with BIA in 2010, requiring investigation and evaluation of feasible cleanup options. BIA is the lead federal agency responsible for closing the site.

A notice of endangerment and intent to sue filed by Hopi in May 2009 stated that the unlined dump lies directly on top of the Navajo Aquifer and that supply wells located about 4,000 feet west of the dump provide water for the public water supply system that serves the Upper Village of Moenkopi. The Lower Village obtains water from two springs approximately 7,000 feet southwest of the dump.

At the time of the 2009 filing, the Hopi Tribe’s consultant had identified a contaminant plume that included uranium and elevated levels of inorganic contaminants which had migrated more than 4,000 feet downgradient from the dump. Groundwater exceeding the maximum contaminant level for uranium was within 2,500 feet of the village spring and supply wells, posing an imminent threat.

8/8/2011 EPA and USDA Create a Partnership to Improve Drinking Water Systems and Develop Workforce in Rural Communities

8/8/2011 EPA and USDA Create a Partnership to Improve Drinking Water Systems and Develop Workforce in Rural Communities: WASHINGTON –The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced a national partnership to protect Americans’ health by improving rural drinking water and wastewater systems. Nationwide, small water and sewage treatment facilities with limited funding and resources face challenges due to rising costs and aging equipment and pipes. Today’s agreement will send federal resources to support communities that need assistance and promote job training to help put people to work while addressing the growing workforce shortage in the water industry.

“EPA and USDA have joined forces to leverage our expertise and resources to improve drinking water and wastewater systems in small towns across the country,” said Nancy Stoner, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Water. “A critical part of this agreement is to ensure that we have a well trained, professional workforce available to replace workers when they leave or retire.”

“The agreement we are announcing today represents an exciting partnership between USDA and EPA that will greatly enhance our investments in water systems and also in developing a skilled workforce to oversee them,” said Jonathan Adelstein, administrator for USDA’s Rural Utilities Service. “By working together, our agencies will strengthen their capacity to provide rural residents with safe, clean, well-managed water and wastewater systems for years to come.”

Under the agreement, EPA and USDA will work together to promote jobs by targeting specific audiences, providing training for new water careers and coordinating outreach efforts that will bring greater public visibility to the workforce needs of the industry, and develop a new generation of trained water professionals. EPA and USDA will also facilitate the exchange of successful recruitment and training strategies among stakeholders including states and water industries.

The agencies will also help rural utilities improve current operations and encourage development of long-term water quality improvement plans. The plans will include developing sustainable management practices to cut costs and improve performance.

Since taking office, President Obama’s administration has taken significant steps to improve the lives of rural Americans. For instance, the administration has set goals to modernize infrastructure by providing broadband access to 10 million Americans, expanding educational opportunities for students in rural areas and providing affordable health care. In the long term, these unparalleled rural investments will help ensure that America’s rural communities are thriving economically.

In June, President Obama signed an executive order establishing the first White House Rural Council, chaired by U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack. The White House Rural Council will work throughout government to create policies that will help realize the administration’s goals for rural communities. Today’s agreement is part of that initiative.

More about the EPA-USDA agreement: http://water.epa.gov/type/drink/pws/smallsystems/partners.cfm#moa

CONTACTS:
EPA: Dale Kemery (News Media Only)
kemery.dale@epa.gov
202-564-7839
202-564-4355

USDA: Dane Henshall
dane.henshall@wdc.usda.gov
202-720-4623

More about EPA’s programs and tools for small water systems: http://water.epa.gov/type/drink/pws/smallsystems/index.cfm

More about USDA’s Water and Environmental Programs for rural communities:

http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/UWEP_HomePage.html

4/27/2011 US EPA Water News Release (HQ): Obama Administration Affirms Comprehensive Commitment to Clean Water

Please submit comments. The draft guidance from U.S. EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is open for 60 days of public comment, will protect waters that many communities depend upon for drinking, swimming, and fishing, and provide clearer, more predictable guidelines for determining which water bodies are protected from pollution under the Clean Water Act. 4/27/2011 US EPA Water News Release (HQ): Obama Administration Affirms Comprehensive Commitment to Clean Water CONTACTS: (CEQ) Taryn Tuss, 202-456-6998 (EPA) 202-564-6794; press@epa.gov (USDA) 202-720-4623 (DOI) Kendra Barkoff, 202-208-6416 (DOA) Moira Kelley, 703-614-3992 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Obama Administration Affirms Comprehensive Commitment to Clean Water WASHINGTON – Recognizing the importance of clean water and healthy watersheds to our economy, environment and communities, the Obama administration released a national clean water framework today 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.

For nearly 40 years, the Clean Water Act, along with other important federal measures, has been a cornerstone of our effort to ensure that Americans have clean and healthy waters. The administration’s framework outlines a series of actions underway and planned across federal agencies to ensure the integrity of the waters Americans rely on every day for drinking, swimming, and fishing, and that support farming, recreation, tourism and economic growth. It includes draft federal guidance to clarify which waters are protected by the Clean Water Act nationwide; innovative partnerships and programs to improve water quality and water efficiency; and initiatives to revitalize communities and economies by restoring rivers and critical watersheds.

“Clean water and healthy waterways are vital to the health and vibrancy of our communities and the strength of our economy,” said Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “Working with our partners across communities, governments and sectors, we are taking comprehensive action to ensure Americans have the clean and healthy waters they need and deserve.”

”The steps we’re outlining today will be instrumental to protecting the waters of the United States, and ensuring that the vital natural resources our communities depend on for their health and their economy are safeguarded for generations to come,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “After four decades of progress on clean water, there is still work to be done to address unfinished business and tackle new threats to our waters. American families and businesses are counting on us to maintain and improve the rivers, lakes, streams and other waters that support thousands of communities and millions of jobs across the country.”

“Healthy rivers and clean waters are fundamental to our economy, our health, and our way of life,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “With growing pressures on our natural systems, we must work to secure cleaner, safer, and more reliable water supplies for our communities.”

“As our nation’s foremost conservationists, farmers, ranchers and forest owners have a values system rooted in rural America that recognizes we cannot continue to take from the land without giving something back,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “At USDA, we are working with farmers, ranchers and forest owners to conserve land, plant stream buffers for cleaner water, and install other conservation practices. We also will continue to invest in rural water and community facility projects that help small towns ensure their citizens have access to safe and reliable drinking water. The draft Clean Water Act guidance released today reflects USDA’s work with our federal partners by maintaining existing exemptions for ongoing agricultural and forestry activities, thereby providing farmers, ranchers and forest landowners with certainty that current agricultural and forestry activities can continue.”

“The Army is very proud of our ecosystem restoration efforts across the nation,” said Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy. “The proposed joint EPA and Army guidance will clarify Clean Water Act jurisdiction and help the Corps and its partner agencies protect important aquatic resources and watersheds that communities rely on for their quality of life and essential services.”

Clean water provides critical health, economic and livability benefits to American communities. Since 1972, the Clean Water Act has kept billions of pounds of pollution out of American waters, doubling the number of waters that meet safety standards for swimming and fishing. Despite the dramatic progress in restoring the health of the nation’s waters, an estimated one-third of American waters still do not meet the swimmable and fishable standards of the Clean Water Act. Additionally, new pollution and development challenges threaten to erode our gains, and demand innovative and strong action in partnership with federal agencies, states, and the public to ensure clean and healthy water for American families, businesses, and communities.

The Obama administration is safeguarding clean water by: Promoting Innovative Partnerships. Federal agencies are partnering with states, tribes, local governments and diverse stakeholders on innovative approaches to restore urban waters, promote sustainable water supplies, and develop new incentives for farmers to protect clean water.

Enhancing Communities and Economies by Restoring Important Water Bodies: The Obama administration is dedicating unprecedented attention to restoring iconic places like the Chesapeake Bay, California Bay-Delta, Great Lakes, Gulf of Mexico and Everglades, investing in action and helping states, local governments and stakeholders find pollution control solutions that are tailored to their specific needs.

Innovating for More Water Efficient Communities: The administration is working with policymakers, consumers, farmers and businesses to save water – and save money – through 21st century water management policies and technology.

Ensuring Clean Water to Protect Public Health: The Obama administration is aggressively pursuing new ways to protect public health by reducing contaminants in Americans’ drinking water. We are updating drinking water standards, protecting drinking water sources, modernizing the tools available to communities to meet their clean water requirements, and providing affordable clean water services in rural communities.

Enhancing Use and Enjoyment of our Waters: The administration is promoting stewardship of America’s waters through innovative programs and partnerships. These efforts include expanding access to waterways for recreation, protecting rural landscapes, and promoting public access to private lands for hunting, fishing and other recreational activities.

Updating the Nation’s Water Policies: The administration is strengthening protection of America’s waters and American communities. We are modernizing water resources guidelines, and updating federal guidance on where the Clean Water Act applies nationwide. The draft guidance will protect waters that many communities depend upon for drinking, swimming, and fishing, and provide clearer, more predictable guidelines for determining which water bodies are protected from pollution under the Clean Water Act. The guidance is open for 60 days of public comment to all allow all stakeholders to provide input and feedback before it is finalized.

Supporting Science to Solve Water Problems: The administration is using the latest science and research to improve water policies and programs and identify and address emerging pollution challenges.

More information and to read the Obama administration’s clean water framework: http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/initiatives/clean-water

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