Federal Water Tap, July 22: Two Major Water Regulations Await White House Approval
A new Waters of the United States rule gets closer to completion, as do revised regulations for lead and copper in drinking water. The Army Corps will study flood-prevention in the back bays of Miami-Dade County. Congressional committees discuss corporate knowledge of PFAS toxicity, working waterfronts, and the costs of climate change. The Supreme Court schedules oral arguments in a groundwater pollution case. And lastly, June was the hottest month globally in the historical record.
By the Numbers
$6.6 billion: Funding requested by water utilities expressing interest in federal WIFIA loans for fiscal year 2019. (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
In context: Even Without Federal Infrastructure Deal, Cities Continue to Invest
Two major water regulations are awaiting White House approval.
On July 12, the EPA submitted to the White House for final legal review its definition of which waterways are protected under the Clean Water Act. The new definition will drastically reduce protections for rivers, wetlands, and intermittent streams.
The EPA submitted its revision of the federal Lead and Copper Rule on June 6. Agency officials expect the draft rule to be published this summer.
Studies and Reports
Back Bay Flood Mitigation Study
Flood waters in coastal don’t always push through the front door. Sometimes, like in Miami-Dade County, they spill over the back bays and swamps that are opposite the sandy shore.
The Army Corps of Engineers will prepare a feasibility study to look at options for reducing back bay flooding in the Miami area. The Corps acknowledges that seas are rising and back bay flooding is increasing. The study will evaluate structural investments — flood walls, barriers, raising houses — as well as repairing natural systems, such as restoring storm-buffering oyster beds. Another option: simply paying people to move.
The average global temperature in June was the hottest on record, according to NOAA. It was the 414th consecutive month in which the average temperature was above the 20th-century average.
On the Radar
PFAS accountability, working waterfronts, costs of climate change, and more.
- On July 23, the Senate Commerce Committee looks at working waterfronts and how to balance the needs of ports and harbors against recreation and ecosystem protection.
- On July 24, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform will examine what corporations knew about the toxicity of PFAS chemicals and when they knew it.
- On July 24, the House Budget Committee discusses the costs of climate change. Witnesses include representatives of business, government agencies, public health groups, and academia.
- On July 24, the House Natural Resources Committee investigates the Bureau of Reclamation’s infrastructure fund.
- On July 25, the House Natural Resources Committee looks at scientific integrity at the Department of the Interior during the Trump administration.
Groundwater Case on Supreme Court Fall Calendar
The U.S. Supreme Court scheduled oral arguments for November 6 in a case that will determine whether the Clean Water Act applies to groundwater that is connected to rivers, lakes, streams, and the ocean.
Amicus briefs and other documents related to the case can be found on SCOTUS blog.
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.
Brett writes about agriculture, energy, infrastructure, and the politics and economics of water in the United States. He also writes the Federal Water Tap, Circle of Blue’s weekly digest of U.S. government water news. He is the winner of two Society of Environmental Journalists reporting awards, one of the top honors in American environmental journalism: first place for explanatory reporting for a series on septic system pollution in the United States(2016) and third place for beat reporting in a small market (2014). He received the Sierra Club’s Distinguished Service Award in 2018. Brett lives in Seattle, where he hikes the mountains and bakes pies. Contact Brett Walton
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