Congress

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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Today, just after the lunch hour, NASA launches the eighth version of Landsat. The earth-observing satellite will carry two instruments that will, among other things, measure water quality and quantity. NASA will cover the launch of the satellite live online. Liftoff is scheduled for 1:02 p.m. eastern standard time. Water Themes for Congress Federal spending […]

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The freshmen have been initiated, the committees settled and the staffs filled. Now comes the law making. Here’s the first batch of water-related bills in the 113th Congress: Harry Reid (D-Nevada) reintroduced the farm bill that the Senate passed in June 2012. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), the Senate Agriculture Committee chair, said that she would hold […]

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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 […]

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The Supreme Court seemed ready on Tuesday to overturn a lower court’s ruling in a case about stormwater pollution in the Los Angeles area, the Associated Press reports. Environmental groups had prevailed in an appellate court in their attempt to lay responsibility for polluted runoff at the hands of the county flood control district. Carp […]

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Because of the scant days left in the legislative session, a bill to reauthorize a national drought information system will most likely not be acted on, Zachary Kurz, the communications director for the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology told Circle of Blue. The National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) was created by Congress […]

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Sandy has brought new urgency to a water resources bill.

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USACE Sandy levee repair

Water utilities prepare for bigger storms and rising seas.

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A U.S. Department of Agriculture research branch published reports on the consequence to farm income of eliminating direct payments and on trends in nitrogen used for corn. One of the debate points for the farm bill is whether to reduce “direct” payments — cash given to farmers based on fixed per-acre rates. The federal government […]

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Senator Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, introduced legislation that would set up a federal water infrastructure financing program modeled after a program that provides low-interest loans for transportation projects.The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) would give priority to water and wastewater projects of national or regional significance, covering a gap in existing federal […]

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Sandy, the hurricane turned mega-storm that battered the United States’ East Coast earlier this week, could cost insurers $US 5 billion to $US 10 billion, while economic losses are estimated anywhere between $US 10 billion and $US 20 billion, Reuters reported. The increasing cost of natural disasters could pressure Congress to take action on climate […]

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