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Federal Water Tap, March 11: Technical Reports for EPA Water Regulations

The Environmental Protection Agency’s science advisory board will hold a public teleconference March 29 to discuss a draft report on methods for establishing a national drinking water standard for perchlorate, a chemical used in explosives. To get details about the call, contact Angela Nugent at nugent.angela@epa.gov.

EPA Science Advisory Panel
The EPA wants experts in hydrology, ecology and freshwater biology for a scientific panel that will review the agency’s report on how small streams and wetlands affect water quality in larger lakes and rivers downstream. The report will be used to inform a debate about which waters come under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act, Greenwire reports. Nominations are due March 29, through this link.

Alabama-Georgia Water Management Plan
The Army Corps of Engineers released a draft environmental review of its updated water management plan for the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa River Basin, which flows through Alabama and Georgia. The updated plan, ordered in 2008 by the Secretary of the Army, includes a drought management plan coordinated with Alabama Power, an energy company that owns hydroelectric dams and power plants in the basin. For this plan, the corps did not consider reallocating the water stored in its reservoirs.

The corps will hold public meetings to discuss the proposed plan during the week of March 25. Comments on the draft are due May 1 and can be emailed to act-wcm@usace.army.mil.

Vegetation Maps
The Department of Agriculture released a new mapping tool that shows satellite data on vegetation cover in the United States. Called VegScape and updated weekly, the maps allow users to compare year-to-year vegetation conditions at a high spatial resolution (15 acres per pixel).

Snowpack
Heading into the last weeks of winter, the snowpack in several western U.S. regions is thin on the ground. Both the headwaters of the Colorado River Basin and the Sierra Nevada show below average snow levels. Recently the Bureau of Reclamation announced that farmers south of California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta would get only a quarter of their historical supply. In the Colorado River Basin, the Bureau is forecasting that the water flowing into Lake Powell will be just 53 percent of normal this water year.

Trade Mission to Colombia
The Commerce Department is sponsoring a September 2013 trade mission to Colombia for U.S. businesses. To sell the country, the department touts Colombia’s agricultural potential, noting that “barely 8% of the potential arable land is effectively used” and that “the availability of water resources in Colombia is among the highest in the world.”

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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