Federal Water Tap, December 1: EPA Watchdog Sniffs at Landfill Monitoring

The Rundown

The EPA’s watchdog sniffs at landfill monitoring. The Obama administration ponders the viability of small satellites while a large satellite sends back images of the world’s oeans. The Senate Environment Committee will think about innovation in wastewater treatment. The Bureau of Reclamation invests in water research.

By the Numbers

$US 9.2 million: Dollars invested in 131 water and energy research projects for fiscal year 2015 (Bureau of Reclamation)

Reports and Studies

Global Water Cycle
Launched in 2011, NASA’s Aquarius satellite mission measures the salt content of the oceans. These measurements will lead to a better understanding of the world’s water cycle. NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio has put together animated maps that show three years of data.

News Briefs

Ensuring Landfills Don’t Leak
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s internal watchdog will begin an investigation of the agency’s oversight of disaster debris and its disposal in landfills. Disaster debris is any material destroyed by hurricane, tornado, earthquake and other such calamities. Debris could be millions of cubic yards of vegetation and sediment or the remains of collapsed homes and business, which could hold toxic chemicals, lead-based paint, or asbestos.

Contaminants leaching from landfills that have received disaster debris could potentially contaminate water supplies, according to Jeffrey Lagda, spokesman for the Office of the Inspector General. Lagda told Circle of Blue that the investigation was initiated because of inspector observations and published reports that suggested that debris was being placed in landfills without proper controls for monitoring contaminants.

On the Radar

Senate Water Hearing
On Tuesday, a Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee will discuss innovation in wastewater treatment. Witnesses include sanitation leaders from Green Bay, Wisconsin; San Francisco, and suburban Washington, D.C., as well as two lawyers versed in the Clean Water Act.

Small Satellites
Can the United States monitor the planet’s air, land, and water resources using satellites that are smaller and cheaper than the current fleet? The Obama administration wants input from scientists and the public about the technical feasibility of microsatellites. To comment, fill out this form (PDF) and email it as an attachment to EarthObsStudy@OSTP.gov.

Protecting the Texas Gulf Coast
The six counties in the upper Texas Gulf Coast – from the Louisiana border to Galveston Bay – are home to 40 percent of the U.S. petrochemical industry, three of the largest U.S. seaports, and three of the nine largest oil refineries in the world. More than two million people in this region live near the shore. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will prepare an environmental review of measures to protect vulnerable areas from destructive storm surges, measures that include mechanical gates and land purchases.

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.

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