Federal Water Tap

Before a meeting of his climate change task force, comprised of state, local, and tribal leaders, President Obama announced a slew of investments, tools, and partnerships to help prepare the nation for a warming world. The programs include: Two stages of funding for the $US 1 billion natural disaster resilience competition, a pot of money […]

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The House Appropriations Committee passed a $US 34 billion bill on Thursday to fund the Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior, which handles western U.S. water matters, and the Army Corps of Engineers, which is in charge of many levees, dams, and wetlands. The White House threatened to veto the bill, making several […]

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President Obama signed legislation that authorizes $US 82 million over four years for researching and responding to harmful algae blooms. A federal task force, led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, must prepare a plan within two years for reducing algae blooms in the Great Lakes. An existing task force must file a progress […]

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Computer models forecast a low-oxygen “dead zone” of average size for the Gulf of Mexico this summer and a slightly above-average fish-suffocation zone for the Chesapeake Bay, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The standard unit for comparing the size of dead zones is the “New England state.” The Gulf of Mexico will […]

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A new Department of Energy report on the connections between water and energy marks a path for the department’s research into the twinned challenges. Between phrases such as “opportunity space” and “technology continuum” the authors argue that the department’s role is three-fold: researching the technologies that will improve efficiencies and allow polluted waters to be […]

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Inadequate waste disposal practices from more than a century of oil and gas development — practices that are no longer permitted — are the chief source of salty brines in the waters of the Williston Basin, according to U.S. Geological Survey research. The Williston Basin, one of the nation’s critical bird habitats and one of […]

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The Federal Reserve’s assessment of current economic conditions, known as the beige book, notes that drought is affecting food prices and crop production. With cattle stocks the lowest in decades, beef prices are expected to rise, as are food prices more broadly because of California’s drought, the Fed claims. In Texas, wheat is in poor […]

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Seeking to make good on a promise to address the causes of global warming, the Obama administration took a first-ever step to limiting carbon emissions from power plants that are already operating. But it is a step, not a leap. The proposed rule seeks to cut emissions by 30 percent by 2030 against a 2005 […]

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Both sides of Congress passed a $US 12 billion water infrastructure package last week. The 532-page Water Resources Reform and Development Act is a doozy. It hands out money, defines policies, and orders new studies. The highlights: Project planning assessments, called feasibility studies, will be capped at three years and $US 3 million dollars, codifying […]

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How much benzene should be allowed in a liter of river water? Or how about vinyl chloride? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a new answer for 94 federally regulated chemicals, though states and tribes will be the ultimate arbiters. The EPA is updating human health benchmarks for chemical concentrations in rivers, lakes, and streams […]

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Filling a gap in its mission, the U.S. Forest Service is adding a chapter on groundwater to its water resources management manual. The primary goal for the groundwater policy is to preserve rivers and streams while ensuring groundwater is available in the future. To achieve this, the USFS proposes an unusual water policy caveat: it […]

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture brought a bounty of farm data to the public market on Friday when it released the 2012 agriculture census. Published every five years, the census is a trove of information down to the county level on production practices, farm economics, and rural demographics. Being a water news site, Circle of […]

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Air, land, and water. Greek elements each, the basic substances of life will have a turn in the American spotlight in the coming weeks and months. First in line is land. Data from the 2012 Census of Agriculture will be released online May 2. Published every five years, the census is the most comprehensive picture […]

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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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