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Federal Water Tap, December 3: Time is Running Out for the 112th Congress

Because of the scant days left in the legislative session, a bill to reauthorize a national drought information system will most likely not be acted on, Zachary Kurz, the communications director for the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology told Circle of Blue.

The National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) was created by Congress in 2006 as a means of preparing for drought through scientific monitoring, research and coordination between local, state and federal agencies.

NIDIS is not dead. Kurz said the program will continue and it will be funded through the annual appropriations process. In the program’s six-year existence, it has received just 75 percent of its authorized funding.

Sandy in the Senate
The Environment and Public Works Committee heard from members of Congress about the effects of Superstorm Sandy on their home states and districts. Members repeatedly said the Atlantic coast’s beaches and dunes need to be restored as a storm buffer.

Sandy in the House
On December 4 the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hear testimony from Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as well as from emergency management officials from Texas and Mississippi during a hearing on Sandy.

Water and the Supreme Court
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments about the muddy water that flows from forest logging roads and whether such sites require the same type of pollution permits that industrial facilities do.

On December 4 the court will consider a case with implications for how the Clean Water Act is enforced. In Los Angeles (Calif.) County Flood Control District v Natural Resources Defense Council, the court will decide who is responsible for water pollution—the flood control district, which maintains a canal system to regulate stormwater, or the individual permit holders from whose property the stormwater flows.

Asian Carp Bill
To protect the region’s fishing and boating industries, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) introduced a bill to prevent Asian carp from spreading up the Ohio River.

“There won’t be gridlock on this, no partisan divide, as we’ve had in the Chicago area where they’re fighting separation [of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan] to protect economic interests in Chicago and Northern Illinois,” Brown told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Coastal Water Quality
The Environmental Protection Agency released new recommendations for coastal water quality standards and water testing methods. States have the option to adopt the standards, but are not required to do so.

Can We Use Your Notes?
The EPA is studying the effect of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water supplies, and it wants your help. To ensure a thorough study, the agency is requesting peer-reviewed science and data that might not be publicly available. Submit data by April 30, 2013 at www.regulations.gov using Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-ORD-2010-0674.

Value of Water Meeting
On December 4 (a busy day, it appears), the EPA will hold a symposium on the importance of water to the U.S. economy. As of this writing, spots for the webinar were still available.

Federal Water Tap is a weekly digest spotting trends in U.S. government water policy. To get more water news, follow Circle of Blue on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter.

Author: Brett Walton  is a Seattle-based reporter for Circle of Blue. He writes our Federal Water Tap, a weekly breakdown of U.S. policy. Interests: Southwest, Pacific Northwest, Pricing, Infrastructure.

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