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Federal Water Tap, March 26: What Are the Best Policies?

Restoring Abundance
At a House hearing on the 2013 budget requests for several of the nation’s water and power agencies, California Republican Tom McClintock said the central objective of the House water and energy policy was to “restore abundance”—unlike the Obama administration, which, he claims, is trying to encourage and threaten Americans into using less water and energy through “intrusive” regulations, higher bills, and higher taxes.

Water Infrastructure Hearing
For the second time in less than a month, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee met to discuss how to pay for repairing the nation’s water and sewer systems. Witnesses included local and state water managers, financial sector representatives, environmental organizations, and national water lobbies.

Stephen Howard, a director at investment bank Barclays Capital, argued for eliminating the cap on tax-exempt, private activity bonds in order to boost private sector involvement. A Senate committee included such a provision in a transportation bill. The House is considering its own version.

Ben Grumbles, the president of the Clean Water America Alliance, urged the committee, when considering new financing proposals, not to undermine the existing programs for funding water and sewer projects—the state revolving funds for drinking water and clean water.

Clean Water Case
In a unanimous ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court said that property owners can have a judge review water pollution controls ordered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Associated Press reported.

Flow Protection
A commission established by Congress to oversee the Susquehanna River basin has released a proposed policy to guide the process for approving water withdrawals. The policy would establish minimum seasonal flows for the river and its tributaries, which cover the states of New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland. The deadline for public comments is May 16.

Ballast Water
The U.S. Coast Guard published the final rule for ships discharging ballast water in U.S. territorial waters. The rule tightens existing regulations in hopes of halting the spread of aquatic invasive organisms.

A federal task force on aquatic invasive species will hold its next meeting May 2-3 in Annapolis, Md.

Arsenic Update
The EPA has provided a grant to Andrews, Texas for a water treatment system to remove arsenic. Last summer, Circle of Blue reported on the town’s struggles with high levels of arsenic in its water supply.

The EPA is also highlighting the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act with a new website showing how the landmark legislation has helped clean up America’s waters.

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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