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Water Law
Congress
Landscape

Seminal water law does not address nation’s emerging water pollution challenges.

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Natural resources agencies have the authority to change practices on their own, conservation groups argue.

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Agencies are going after polluters with smaller staffs and less money.

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Unlike previous eras, Congress has avoided adjusting the law to manage new conditions.

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The Rundown Memphis and Mississippi will take their aquifer dispute to the nation’s highest court. California drought legislation will move quickly through the House. Water use per well for fracking skyrockets. States sue over the EPA’s Clean Water Act definition. State and federal gencies outline an Asian carp strategy. “As House Majority Leader and your […]

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The Rundown Drought and water challenges go beyond California, senators learned. The EPA released a draft study of fracking’s effect on drinking water. House Transportation Committee reviews a water infrastructure bill that was signed last year. Florida and Georgia are urged to settle water dispute. “We need to be as long-term in our view as […]

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The Rundown House Republicans try again to send more water to San Joaquin Valley farmers, but President Obama says he’ll veto the bill. The Senate Agriculture Committee talks about agriculture and water pollution, while a Seattle Superfund site gets a $US 342 million prescription. Congress passes a water rights settlement in the Colorado River Basin […]

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The Rundown Lawmakers asked questions about toxic algae and international water conflicts, while regulators looked at liquefied natural gas terminals and pipelines. The Supreme Court appointed two special masters for interstate water lawsuits, and the president’s climate task force released adaptation recommendations. “Some may believe that the solution to this drinking water problem is a […]

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Lots of Water Aquifers beneath parts of 17 states in the south-central United States hold more than enough salty water to fill the Great Lakes twice, according to a first-of-its-kind U.S. Geological Survey report. Freshwater aquifers in the region, including the famed Ogallala, which irrigates the Great Plains, are well-known, but the last general surveys […]

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Kansas Aqueduct Study The Army Corps of Engineers will reassess a 600-kilometer (375-mile) aqueduct that would deliver Missouri River water to the High Plains. The aqueduct was part of a 1982 study that analyzed four schemes to increase water supplies in the region served by the diminishing Ogallala Aquifer. The cost of the $US 300,000 […]

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Countdown The first products from the National Water Census will be estimates of water flows in rivers without gauges and estimates of evapotranspiration, according to a congressional briefing led by the U.S. Geological Survey. Required in the SECURE Water Act of 2009, the census will be a comprehensive survey of national water use and availability, […]

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The American Society of Civil Engineers says that more money needs to be spent on infrastructure.

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Yesterday Barbara Boxer (D-California) and Senate colleague David Vitter (R-Louisiana) submitted a new Water Resources Development Act. Last session of Congress, Boxer circulated a draft version of the bill, but it was not introduced. The act is a major piece of legislation. It authorizes billions in projects for the Army Corps of Engineers and sets […]

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