Federal Water Tap, July 7: Algae Research, Lake Mead, Hydropower

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 report for work in the Gulf of Mexico within one year.

The bill was introduced by Senator Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat.

Lake Erie Algae
NOAA will release the annual summer algae bloom forecast for Lake Erie on July 10.

Lake Mead
America’s largest reservoir will drop to a record low this week, according to a Bureau of Reclamation forecast.

D.C. Sewage Tunnel
The National Park Service and DC Water, the municipal water utility for the nation’s capital, will assess the environmental effects of a large underground sewage holding tank.

The 21-kilometer (13-mile) tunnel next to the Potomac River will store sewage during intense rain storms that would normally be dumped into the river. The sewage will later be cleaned at a treatment plant.

The National Park Service is the lead federal agency because the tunnel is being constructed on or beneath land that the agency manages.

Comments on the tunnel are being accepted through August 31. They can be submitted via this form.

Hydropower Payments
The Department of Energy has $US 3.6 million to hand out to dam owners who retrofitted their dams since 2005 to generate electricity.

The payments were authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 as an incentive to develop power-generation at dams without that ability, but this is the first time that Congress has given the program any funding.

The department wants public comments on the payment plan, which is based on the amount of kilowatt-hours of hydropower generated. Owners will receive 1.8 cents per kilowatt-hour, capped at $US 750,000 per year.

Comments should be sent by July 16 to Steve Lindenberg at hydroincentive@ee.doe.gov.

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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