Federal Water Tap, November 14: Lake Erie Pollution Limit Would Be Required by Proposed Consent Decree

The Rundown

  • The EPA proposes a Lake Erie pollution settlement.
  • The EPA also announces funding for children’s health research in rural farm communities.
  • President Biden reveals climate adaptation funds at UN summit.
  • FEMA outlines the claims process for damages from New Mexico’s largest wildfire.

And lastly, NOAA hosts a webinar on Mississippi River drought conditions.

“We are racing forward to do our part to avert the ‘climate hell’ that the U.N. Secretary-General so passionately warned about earlier this week. We’re not ignoring the harbingers that are already here.” — President Joe Biden speaking at the United Nations climate summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. The U.S. government announced $150 million to support climate adaptation in Africa.

By the Numbers

$2.5 Billion: Federal funding available for recovery from the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon fire, which burned in New Mexico’s Santa Fe National Forest last spring. FEMA published an interim final rule that establishes the claims process for people whose property was damaged by the fire.

In context: In New Mexico, Partners Collaborate to End Siege from Megafires

News Briefs

Lake Erie Pollution Case
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a proposed settlement in a lawsuit over Lake Erie nutrient pollution, a move that would set binding deadlines for state and federal agencies to set pollution limits for the lake.

Under the proposed consent decree, Ohio would submit a draft pollution limit, or TMDL, for Lake Erie’s western basin by December 31, 2022, and a final TMDL by June 30, 2023.

If Ohio misses the deadlines, the EPA would be required to develop its own pollution limits to address nutrients.

The action stems from a 2019 lawsuit by the Environmental Law and Policy Center, a public interest group.

Public comments are being accepted on the draft through December 12.

Studies and Reports

Draft National Climate Assessment
Federal agencies posted a draft version of the national climate assessment, a report that documents the effects of climate change in the United States.

For water, the draft report notes an increase in extreme rainfall and severe drought. It also describes threats that climate change poses to drinking water: more toxic algae, an increase in sediment from wildfires, and saltwater invading coastal aquifers.

Public comments are being accepted on the draft through January 27, 2023. The final version should be ready by the end of next year.

Children’s Health Research
The EPA is accepting applications for $1.9 million in research funding to investigate children’s health in rural agricultural communities.

The funding is directed toward research into environmental stressors such as pesticides, chemicals, water pollution, hazardous waste, or other toxic substances.

The agency will host an informational webinar on December 6. Applications are due January 11, 2023.

In context: Is Agrochemical Contamination Killing Nebraska’s Children?

On the Radar

Farm Bill Hearing
On November 15, the Senate Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing on rural development provisions in the next farm bill. One of the witnesses will represent rural water utilities, which are funded through USDA grants and loans.

Mississippi River Drought Webinar
On November 18, NOAA’s drought coordination program will host a webinar to explain drought conditions on the lower Mississippi River.

The agenda includes a river outlook and impacts on the ground. Registration, at the above link, is required.

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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