Water

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In a January study exploring ways to prevent the movement of invasive species such as Asian carp between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River systems, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers offers plenty of options, but no definitive answers on what to do next. Reaction to the much-anticipated report, too, has highlighted continuing divisions in the region over how to attack the Asian carp problem.

The San Jose Mercury News is reporting that state officials with the California Department of Public Health are warning that 17 most rural communities may run out of water within the next 60 to 120 days as the staggering effects of the state's historic drought continue. 

CSG Director of Energy and Environmental Policy Brydon Ross outlines the top five issues for 2014, including upcoming Clean Air state implementation plans, EPA cooling water intake regulations, increased scrutiny on crude oil transportation safety, potential rate and policy disputes involving net metering, and lingering impacts that drought may pose for states and water infrastructure.  

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For years, the Wisconsin city of Waukesha has had a water problem: High levels of radium in the town’s supply of drinking water, and a federal requirement that it find a new water source by 2018. Its proposed solution to this local problem will require support from the entire Great Lakes region.

A push in Iowa by environmental groups to establish new state water quality standards ended in defeat this fall. In a unanimous vote, the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission rejected a proposal to create numeric standards for nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. The Sioux City Journal reports that state officials want more time to study the efficacy of current nutrient-reduction strategies before implementing any new rules.

Nuclear power is the source of 19 percent of the electricity generated in the United States and 15 percent in Canada, making up a significant percentage of each country’s share of energy derived from non-fossil-fuel sources. Producing this electricity generates waste in the form of highly radioactive spent fuel and other nuclear waste that, while less radioactive, still requires isolation from the biosphere. The challenges of finding a site for permanent disposal of spent fuel are well known. But disposing of waste that is less radioactive can be difficult as well, as Ontario Power Generation, or OPG, is finding out with its plans for a deep geologic repository less than a mile from Lake Huron. The repository, if licensed, could open by 2018. It would be the first permanent disposal facility for radioactive waste to operate in the Great Lakes basin.

With the goals of protecting water quality and providing regulatory certainty to farmers, voluntary state programs that certify land-management practices at agricultural operations are cropping up across the country. Minnesota is one of the latest states to adopt such a program, and is backing it up with state dollars to help farmers adopt new conservation practices.

Today, the Army Corps of Engineers and EPA announced in a blog post that the agencies were jointly sending a draft rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) intended to clarify where the jurisdictional oversight of the federal Clean Water Act begins and ends. At issue, is the draft rule's attempt to define the "waters of the United States" and the application of federal law.

A June ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court is being hailed as a significant victory for interstate compacts.  At issue in the case was whether the Tarrant Regional Water District, located in Texas, could access water from the Red River in Oklahoma pursuant to the terms of the Red River Compact. In the ruling the Court concluded that Tarrant was not entitled to the water in question based on the terms of the compact.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Bureau) announced that it will reduce releases from Lake Powell into Lake Mead to its lowest level since filling Lake Powell in the 1960s. 

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