Water

In a 2-1 decision the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it—rather than a federal district court—has jurisdiction to decide whether the Clean Water Rule, clarifying the scope of the “waters of the United States (WOTUS),” exceeds the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority.

In October the Sixth Circuit assumed it had jurisdiction and issued a temporary nationwide stay of the rule. The WOTUS rule defines “waters the United States,” according to the EPA, “through increased use of bright-line boundaries” to make “the process of identifying waters protected under the Clean Water Act easier to understand, more predictable and consistent with the law and peer reviewed science, while protecting the streams and wetlands that form the foundation of our nation’s water resources.”

According to a Feb. 25 poll conducted by the Kaiser Health Policy News Index, the safety of the nation's water supply is causing concern in a significant number of Americans. While nearly half (47 percent) of Americans are worried about the safety of the water supply in their own communities, 77 percent are equally concerned about the water supply in low-income communities, like Flint. Forty percent are "very concerned" about low income communities having access to a safe water supply.

CSG Midwest
As the realization that a generation of children in Flint, Mich., has been exposed to lead poisoning by their own water sets in, some Michigan lawmakers are pushing to enshrine access to clean, safe water in state law as a basic human right.
If such a law is enacted, Michigan would be the second state to do so, following California, whose 2012 statute declaring “every human being has the right to clean, affordable and accessible water adequate for human consumption, cooking, and sanitary purposes” requires state agencies to consider this right when formulating policies, regulations and grant programs that impact water for domestic consumption.
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CSG Midwest
As the realization that a generation of children in Flint, Mich., has been exposed to lead poisoning by their own water sets in, some Michigan lawmakers are pushing to enshrine access to clean, safe water in state law as a basic human right.
If such a law is enacted, Michigan would be the second state to do so, following California, whose 2012 statute declaring “every human being has the right to clean, affordable and accessible water adequate for human consumption, cooking, and sanitary purposes” requires state agencies to consider this right when formulating policies, regulations and grant programs that impact water for domestic consumption.

Like many observers, Comcast and Walmart leaders were stunned by the news of the water crisis in Flint, Mich. Two years ago, the city switched its water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River and the new source was highly corrosive and wasn’t properly treated to prevent dangerously high levels of lead from seeping into the water supply. A neurotoxin with hazardous effects on the brain and the body, lead is particularly harmful to children.

America’s water infrastructure is at a crossroads. Water lines installed, in some cases, more than 100 years ago are nearing or past their useful lifespans. In addition, an estimated 6.5 million water lines across the country contain lead, which as exhibited by the current crisis in Flint, Mich., can have devastating consequences to communities if not appropriately managed. Combined with a growing population that demands new infrastructure as new communities are built, the cost of maintaining and expanding the country’s water infrastructure has outpaced available funding. The following infographic provides a snapshot of the state of the nation’s water infrastructure.

Produced water is a term used to describe water trapped in underground formations that is brought to the surface during oil and gas exploration and production. Because the water has been in contact with the hydrocarbon-bearing formation for centuries, it carries some of the chemical characteristics of the formation and the hydrocarbon itself. Produced water may include water from the reservoir, water injected into the formation, and any chemicals added during the drilling, production, and treatment processes. Often, produced water is regarded as wastewater, but if managed as a resource rather than a waste for disposal, produced water has the potential to be used beneficially, such as helping to alleviate drought and reducing earthquakes caused by waste water injection. This webinar explores alternative uses and factors that influence the demand for alternative uses, as well as environmental concerns posed by produced water.

Several states authorize the appointment of emergency managers or some other authority to take over localities in times of economic crisis. Since the recession in 2008, several cities across the nation have been threatened by financial insolvency and states have stepped in to attempt to prevent bankruptcy or to ensure residents continue to receive essential services. However, as details of the recent water crisis in Flint, Mich. continue to emerge, questions have arisen as to the role emergency managers played in this tragedy. The...

CSG Midwest
In the weeks following congressional passage of an omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2016, Great Lakes advocates were hailing the federal legislation as a victory for protecting and restoring the world’s largest system of fresh surface water. As has been the case in past budget cycles, future funding levels for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiativehad been in doubt. President Obama, who helped create the GLRI during his first year as president, had called for a $50 million reduction in funding for FY 2016.
But the final budget maintains funding at $300 million, and it also formally authorizes the initiative — a move that will put it on more solid footing during the annual budget-making process in Washington, D.C.

The Clean Power Plan

On Aug. 3, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized the Clean Power Plan, which is expected to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The rule sets target emissions reductions for states and states are responsible for designing their own plans to meet these emissions reductions targets...

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