Federal Water Tap

The slow dance between the Obama administration and a controversial oil pipeline that has become a symbol of an era will take another spin around the floor. The White House delayed a final decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, through which heavy crude from the Alberta tar sands will flow. Senior State Department officials blamed […]

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The American shale gas boom is more than drilling pads and fracking fluids. New pipelines are sprouting as well. Williams Partners offers the latest entry in the race to funnel new supplies to market. The Tulsa, Oklahoma-based pipeline giant notified federal regulators earlier this month that it wants to begin field surveys for the $US […]

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A major Bureau of Reclamation study depicts widespread changes in the coming decades for water supply and demand in California’s Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, as well as for water quality in the delta ecosystem where the two rivers intersect. The study, to be released publically later this month, uses climate models and population trends […]

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It was an unusual move for the Obama administration. Instead of waiting for a Friday afternoon to unveil a controversial new rule, the Environmental Protection Agency announced its Clean Water Act proposal on Tuesday – just days before Gina McCarthy, administrator of the EPA, was schedule to testify in Congress about the agency’s 2015 budget […]

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To the pile of existing state and federal legislation that provides drought and disaster relief to California and the U.S. West, add two more bills. First, a bipartisan contribution from two Northern California congressmen. John Garamendi, a Democrat, and Doug LaMalfa, a Republican, are using the drought to justify a new reservoir in their territory. […]

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Three years ago President Obama signed into law sweeping reforms for how the nation’s food is grown, harvested, packaged, shipped, and stored. At first an environmental review of the Food Safety Modernization Act was not deemed necessary, but after more analysis certain aspects of the new law are getting a second look. One aspect involves […]

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Like with any spending plan, water programs, because of their diversity, seesawed in the president’s budget request. Some programs were down, some up. Two programs that tipped way down were the state revolving funds, which provide low-interest loans to drinking water and sewer projects. President Obama requested a 25 percent cut. The president also requested […]

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Building a long-debated reservoir in the Sierra Nevada foothills 40 kilometers (25 miles) northeast of Fresno would improve river habitat for salmon but would provide little additional water for farmers and cities, according to a Bureau of Reclamation feasibility report. The $US 2.6 billion Temperance Flat Dam would create a reservoir with a capacity of […]

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Most farmers in California who have contracts with the Central Valley Project, a federal canal system, will get no water this year, according to initial projections by the Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the canals. Contractors that supply water to industries and cities in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys, the canal system’s service area, […]

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Both chambers of Congress reauthorized a program that coordinates drought data, research, and outreach between the federal government, the states, and the public. The House funded the National Integrated Drought Information System at $US 13.5 million and the Senate at $US 12 million, two sums that will be reconciled. Drought Aid President Obama pledged $1.2 […]

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Language in the budget deal that passed Congress in January instructed U.S. representatives to the World Bank and other development banks to oppose loans, grants, or policies that support large hydroelectric dams, defined as those taller than 15 meters (49 feet). It is not clear, however, how that message, which was directed at international financial […]

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James Clapper, director of national intelligence, presented the 2014 assessment of global security threats to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence last week. For the fourth consecutive report, a section is dedicated to water. “Risks to freshwater supplies – due to shortages, poor quality, floods, and climate change – are growing,” according to the 31-page […]

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By Friday, a working group comprising state representatives, federal officials from the U.S. and Mexico, and environmental groups will submit a plan for using a high-volume surge of water in the Colorado River to revive its delta. The goal is to begin releasing the water – called a pulse flow – from U.S. dams by […]

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After a period of budget gloom, the $US 1 trillion spending bill approved by the House and Senate last week brought a little cheer to water programs, which fared relatively well. Some of the harshest sequestration cuts have been restored. The bill will add $US 10 million to the U.S. Geological Survey’s water resources program, […]

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Popping U.S. corn production in 2013 set a record of 13.9 billion bushels, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. Collectively, farmers topped the old record, set in 2009, by 7 percent. Also faring well was the soybean crop, the third largest ever. Drought and new demand for gluten-free grain pushed sorghum acreage higher. Production […]

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In a normal week, I use this space to look back at U.S. government water news from the seven days that have just passed. Today, however, I turn the lens in the opposite direction. These are the policies, reports, and decisions to anticipate in 2014, organized chronologically, more or less. Great Lakes The government gets […]

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Pesticide Use The U.S. Geological Survey updated its maps of pesticide use in the United States to include preliminary data from 2010 and 2011. The use of glyphosate jumped by roughly 13 percent between 2009 and 2011, according to the preliminary data. Glyphosate, an herbicide marketed by Monsanto under the name Roundup, is one of […]

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Budget Deal The House and Senate made nice and passed a budget deal, setting total spending limits for the next two years. Now comes the quick work of doling out the money to specific programs. Appropriations committees in both chambers have a January 15 deadline for these negotiations. When Congress reconvenes, two major bills with […]

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Dropping When It’s Hot The Santa Ana watershed, home to 6 million people in Southern California, faces a number of threats to its water supply because of climate change, according to a comprehensive Bureau of Reclamation study. River flows and precipitation will decrease, as will the amount of water infiltrating the basin’s aquifers, which provide […]

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Fire Hydrants The margin was atypical but not unprecedented. The House voted unanimously last week 384-0 to strike down a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposal that would require fire hydrants to cut the amount of lead in their piping. Representatives from both sides of the aisle agreed with national drinking water lobby groups, who claim […]

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