Friday, November 30, 2012

New How’s My Waterway Mobile Website & App

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) released a new mobile app and website, How’s My Waterway, on October 18th. The site provides the public with plain English information on local waterways based on water quality assessment reports that states provide to USEPA under sections 305(b) and 303(d) of the Clean Water Act. Its local-scale (roughly 5-mile radius) search retrieves information on whether and when a waterway was assessed, what pollution was reported, and what has been done to improve conditions. How’s My Waterway provides simple descriptions of each major category of pollutants, where the pollution comes from, its effect on the environment and on beneficial waterway uses, what citizens can do to help, and where to find more information. It also identifies whether a polluted waterway has TMDL cleanup plans or polluted runoff control projects.

For more information, visit: www.epa.gov/mywaterway

Thursday, November 29, 2012

EPA Releases Draft Section 319 Nonpoint Source Program and Grant Guidelines

EPA has released draft Nonpoint Source Program and Grants Guidelines for States and Territories for review and comment. The revised guidelines provide states and territories with a framework to use section 319 Clean Water Act grant funds to effectively implement their state nonpoint source management programs. The guidelines provide updated program direction, an increased emphasis on watershed project implementation in watersheds with impaired waters, and increased accountability measures. They also emphasize the importance of states updating their nonpoint source management programs to ensure that section 319 funds are targeted to the highest priority activities.

EPA is requesting comments by December 7, 2012. 
Click here for the guidelines.
Comments should be sent to 319grants@epa.gov.

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EPA Recommends New Recreational Water Quality Criteria to Better Protect Public Health

Release Date: 11/26/2012 Contact Information: Julia Valentine (News Media Only), valentine.julia@epa.gov, 202-564-0496, 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON -- Pursuant to an order from a U.S. District Court and as required by the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act of 2000, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today recommended new recreational water quality criteria for states that will help protect peoples’ health during visits to beaches and waters year round. The science-based criteria provide information to help states improve public health protection by addressing a broader range of illness symptoms, better accounting for pollution after heavy rainfall, providing more protective recommendations for coastal waters, encouraging early alerts to beachgoers and promoting rapid water testing. The criteria released today do not impose any new requirements; instead, they are a tool that states can choose to use in setting their own standards.

The criteria provide states and communities with the most up to date science and information that they can use to determine whether water quality is safe for the public and when to issue an advisory or a beach closure. EPA has provided a variety of other tools to help states evaluate and manage recreational waters.

The new criteria are based on several recent health studies and use a broader definition of illness to recognize that symptoms may occur without a fever, including a number of stomach ailments. EPA also narrowed from 90 days to 30 days the time period over which the results of monitoring samples may be averaged. This produces a more accurate picture of the water quality for that given time, allowing for improved notification time about water quality to the public. This shortened time period especially accounts for heavy rainfall that can wash pollution into rivers, lakes or the ocean or cause sewer overflows.

The strengthened recommendations include:
  • A short-term and long-term measure of bacteria levels that are to be used together to ensure that water quality is properly evaluated.
  • Stronger recommendations for coastal water quality so public health is protected similarly in both coastal and fresh waters
  • A new rapid testing method that states can use to determine if water quality is safe within hours of water samples being taken.
  • An early-alert approach for states to use to quickly issue swimming advisories for the public.
  • Tools that allow states to predict water quality problems and identify sources of pollution, as well as to develop criteria for specific beaches.

More information: http://water.epa.gov/scitech/swguidance/standards/criteria/health/recreation/index.cfm