Federal Water Tap, January 7: Out with the Old Congress, In with the New

As part of the “fiscal cliff” package, Congress extended most of the provisions of the existing farm bill through September 30, 2013, which displeased almost everyone with a stake in the wide-ranging piece of legislation that addresses food stamps, biofuels research, crop insurance and conservation programs.

Yesterday, President Obama signed a $US 9.7 billion aid package to pay for Superstorm Sandy. Most of the money will go toward flood insurance claims, CNN reports. Congress will discuss how much more money to dole out later this month. Munich Re, a company that provides insurance for insurance companies, estimates insured losses from Sandy at $US 25 billion and total losses at $US 50 billion.

Supreme Court Case
The nation’s highest court will take up a dispute between Texas and Oklahoma over interstate water sales, the New York Times reports. Water districts in Texas have sued the state of Oklahoma to overturn the state’s restrictions on transferring water out-of-state. Federal appeals courts have upheld Oklahoma’s laws.

Water Quality Reports Going Paperless?
If water utilities want to email to their customers the annual water quality reports that are required under federal law, they should do so in a way that maintains comprehensive access to the reports, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wrote in a set of new recommendations for electronic delivery. Disseminating the reports via automated phone calls and social media does not count, according to the recommendations.

Oil Spill Money
National Academy of Sciences will get $US 150 million for a 30-year study of the environment and human health in the Gulf of Mexico as part of a $US 1.4 billion Justice Department settlement with Transocean Deepwater Inc., the company that operated the drilling platform at the center of the 2010 oil spill in the gulf. The research program was seeded with $US 350 million from BP’s settlement with the federal government last November.

Iowa’s Last Chance
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will have five years to inspect 8,000 livestock facilities for water quality violations under a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plan to prevent a federal takeover of the state monitoring program, the Des Moines Register reports.

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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