Solid Waste Law Helps Keep Water Clean

Read the full post from U.S. EPA.

The Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act deservedly get much of the credit for protecting the water you drink, but there’s another law you made not have heard of that’s no slouch either when it comes to keeping your water clean – the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, often referred to as RCRA.

Glowing Crystals Can Detect, Cleanse Contaminated Drinking Water

Read the full story from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Tiny, glowing crystals designed to detect and capture heavy-metal toxins such as lead and mercury could prove to be a powerful new tool in locating and cleaning up contaminated water sources.

Motivated by publicized cases in which high levels of heavy metals were found in drinking water in Flint, Mich., and Newark, N.J., a science team led by researchers at Rutgers University used intense X-rays at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) to probe the structure of the crystals they developed and learn how they bind to heavy metals.

The crystals function like miniature, reusable sensors and traps, and are known as luminescent metal-organic frameworks, or LMOFs.

One type of LMOF that the team tested was found to selectively take up more than 99 percent of mercury from a test mixture of heavy and light metals within 30 minutes, according to recent results published in Applied Materials and Interfaces. No other MOFs have performed as well in this dual role of detecting and capturing, or “adsorbing,” toxic heavy metals, the team reported.

Trump win churns U.S.-Mexico water talks

Read the full story at Politico.

Negotiations between the U.S. and Mexico to seal a water-sharing deal over the dwindling supplies on the Colorado River are confronting a new deadline: the inauguration of Donald Trump.

EPA Action Plan Outlines Ways to Improve Safety, Reliability of Nation’s Drinking Water

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today released a plan that serves as a national call to action, urging all levels of government, utilities, community organizations, and other stakeholders to work together to increase the safety and reliability of drinking water.

“Ensuring that all Americans have access to safe drinking water is an absolute top priority for EPA,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “We must work collectively to seize opportunities for progress, partnership, and innovation in order to continue to provide our citizens with the safest drinking water in the world.”

The plan includes six priority areas and identifies proposed actions for each area:

  • Building capacity for water infrastructure financing and management in disadvantaged, small, and environmental justice communities: Actions include launching a national initiative to promote regional partnerships, reinvigorating training programs for system operators, sharing best practices, and establishing an online water funding portal.
  • Advancing oversight of the Safe Drinking Water Act: Actions include electronic reporting for Safe Drinking Water Act compliance data, releasing triennial EPA reviews of state programs, and developing indicators to identify troubled systems.
  • Strengthening source water protection and resilience of drinking water supplies: Actions include updating and acting on source water vulnerability assessments, building collaborative local partnerships for watershed protection, developing an initiative to enhance community resilience to climate and extreme weather events, launching source water monitoring pilot projects, and promoting water efficiency and reuse.
  • Addressing unregulated contaminants: Actions include strengthening the effectiveness of the health advisory program, prioritizing work on contaminants that pose the most significant risk, and promoting the development of low-cost and innovative technologies that may remove a broad range of contaminants.
  • Improving transparency, public education, and risk communication on drinking water safety: Actions include strengthening transparency and public education, developing indicators to enhance how data is presented on the internet, and improving risk communication tools.
  • Reducing lead risks: Actions include the consideration of critical options in revising the Lead and Copper Rule and continuing work to improve implementation of the current rule through enhanced oversight, identifying best practices on lead service line replacement, and revising guidance for schools.

The plan reflects input from state, local, and tribal government officials; drinking water utilities; community groups; and environmental organizations. While EPA and partners have already begun to take some actions, others will require additional resources and further stakeholder engagement. EPA recognizes that partnership and collaboration across all levels of government, utilities, the private sector, and the public will be essential to the success of the plan.

In tandem with the development of the plan, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) undertook a study on science and technology for drinking water safety. The PCAST’s recommendations complement and support EPA’s plan.

Today, nearly every American depends on 152,000 public drinking water systems and consume more than one billion glasses of tap water a day. EPA has established drinking water standards for more than 90 contaminants, and compliance data show that more than 90 percent of the nation’s water systems consistently meet those standards. While America’s drinking water remains among the safest in the world, the drinking water sector faces a growing array of challenges including aging infrastructure, limited funding and management capacity, emerging contaminants, pollution of source water, and the impacts from drought and other climate events. These challenges can be particularly acute in small and disadvantaged communities.

Learn more about the plan and the PCAST report.

In Slovenia, Drinking Water Now Protected as a Constitutional Right

Via e360 Digest.

Slovenia has amended its constitution to make access to drinking water a human right protected under national law — the first European Union member state to do so. The amendment, which turns management of water resources over to the federal government as a public good supplied as a nonprofit service, was approved by the Slovenian parliament earlier this month by a 64-0 vote. Lawmakers who opposed the change abstained from the vote rather than voting no, arguing it was unnecessary and a publicity stunt, the Associated Press reported. Slovenia joins 15 other countries that have incorporated the right to water in their constitutions, according to the Agence France-Presse news agency. Prime Minister Miro Cerar, who previously called water “the 21st century’s liquid gold,” said that “being able to drink tap water around Slovenia… is a huge privilege that we must preserve for us and generations after us.”

The Bureau of Reclamation Releases Two WaterSMART Grants Funding Opportunities for Water Conservation and Energy Efficiency Projects

The Bureau of Reclamation has released two WaterSMART Grants funding opportunities including the water and energy efficiency grants funding opportunity and the new small-scale water efficiency projects funding opportunity. These two funding opportunities will help move the West towards resilience in the face of drought and ongoing imbalances between water supply and demand.

The new small-scale water efficiency projects funding opportunity is for small improvements that have been identified through previous planning efforts. Projects eligible for funding include installation of flow measurement or automation in a specific part of a water delivery system, lining of a section of a canal to address seepage, small rebate programs that result in reduced residential water use, or other similar projects that are limited in scope. These projects are eligible to receive up to $75,000 in federal funding. For this funding opportunity, Reclamation has developed a streamlined selection and review process to reflect the small-scale nature of these projects.

Previously, small-scale water efficiency projects were funded through Reclamation’s Water Conservation Field Services Program, which beginning this year will focus on planning and design activities to help lay the groundwork for future improvements. Proposals for this new category of WaterSMART Grants will be accepted, evaluated and selected on a rolling basis with the final application submission deadline on April 27, 2017, at 4:00 p.m. MDT. This funding opportunity is available at by searching for funding opportunity BOR-DO-17-F011.

Water and energy efficiency grants focus on larger scale projects that result in quantifiable and sustained water savings and that may have several components intended to address a significant water management concern. Projects include canal lining and piping, more comprehensive installation of irrigation flow measurement or canal automation improvements, installation of water meters and other similar projects. Projects may also include components that increase renewable energy use and improve energy efficiency, and projects that result in instream flows for endangered species and other fish and wildlife or support water sustainability in other ways.

Applications may be submitted to one of two funding groups:

  • Funding Group I: Up to $300,000 will be available for smaller projects that may take up to two years to complete.
  • Funding Group II: Up to $1,000,000 will be available for larger, phased projects that will take up to three years to complete. No more than $500,000 in federal funds will be provided within a given year to complete each phase.

Proposals must be submitted by January 18, 2017, at 4:00 p.m. MST. The funding opportunity is available at by searching for funding opportunity number BOR-DO-17-F012.

Those eligible to apply for both grants are states, tribes, irrigation districts, water districts or other organizations with water or power delivery authority located in the western United States or United States territories as identified in the Reclamation Act of June 17, 1902; specifically: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Virgin Islands. Another WaterSMART Grants funding opportunity, for water marketing activities, is expected to be released this winter.

WaterSMART aims to improve water conservation and sustainability, helping water resource managers make sound decisions about water use. The program identifies strategies to ensure this generation and future ones will have sufficient amounts of clean water for drinking, economic activities, recreation and ecosystem health. The program also identifies adaptive measures to address climate change and its impact on future water demands. To learn more, please visit

Widespread Shallow Groundwater Contamination Found in Southwestern Illinois Cave Streams and Springs

Read the full story from the Illinois Natural History Survey.

Researchers have detected prescription and over-the-counter medications and personal care products in Illinois groundwater, an indication that humans are contaminating water that is vital to aquatic life…

This study was funded by PRI and the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center and is published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.