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NESC Media Room


News Releases - 2012

RDUS Rates

Interest rates for Rural Development Utilities Service (RDUS) water and wastewater loans--issued at three different levels: the poverty line rate, the intermediate rate, and the market rate-- have been announced. The rate applied to a particular project depends on community income and the type of project being funded.

To qualify for the poverty line rate, two criteria must be met. First, the loan must primarily be used for facilities required to meet health and sanitary standards. Second, the median household income of the area being served must be below 80 percent of the state’s non-metropolitan median income or fall below the federal poverty level. For 2012, the federal poverty level is $23,050 for a family of four.

To qualify for the intermediate rate, the service area's median household income cannot exceed 100 percent of the state’s non-metropolitan median income.

The market rate is applied to projects that don’t qualify for either the poverty or intermediate rates. The market rate is based on the average of the Bond Buyer index. The rates, which apply to all loans issued, are:

RDUS loans are administered through state Rural Development offices, which can provide specific information concerning RDUS loan requirements and applications procedures.

For the phone number of your state Rural Development office, contact the National Environmental Services Center at (304) 293-4191. The list is also available on the Rural Development Web site.

Posted September 24, 2012


PipelineCover

New Issue of Pipeline Avalable Online

Reducing the amount of nitrogen released from onsite wastewater systems has become a controversial issue in certain parts of the U.S. In some locales, property owners are being encouraged or even required to add nitrogen-reducing systems to new and existing septic systems.

The latest issue of the National Environmental Services Center (NESC) newsletter Pipeline—available online atwww.nesc.wvu.edu/pipeline.cfm--examines nitrogen in the environment and provides specific suggestions for reducing nitrogen in onsite wastewater systems.

Formerly printed and maied to nearly 26,000 subscribers, Pipeline is now available in an online format only. Previous editions of the newsletter--also available on the NESC website—cover a variety of topics explaining onsite wastewater issues to homeowners and community members.

Posted September 17, 2012


Partnership Releases Papers Highlighting the Benefits of Decentralized Wastewater Treatment System

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Decentralized Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Partnership has developed a series of four papers that highlight how decentralized wastewater treatment systems can be sustainable and appropriate options for communities and homeowners. The papers are intended to provide information to the public and to state, local, and industry officials on the benefits and types of decentralized wastewater treatment systems. Decentralized wastewater treatment consists of a variety of onsite approaches for collection, treatment, dispersal, and reuse of wastewater.

The MOU Partnership is an agreement between the EPA and 16 partner organizations‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√ë‚àö‚àÇ‚Äö√†√∂‚àö√´‚Äö√†√∂‚àö√úincluding the National Environmental Services Center--to work collaboratively at the national level to improve decentralized performance and our nation’s public health and water resources. Since 2005, the MOU has reflected the commitment of EPA and its partner organizations to work together to encourage proper management of decentralized systems and increase collaboration among EPA, state and local governments, and decentralized system practitioners and providers.

In 2011, the MOU Partnership convened working groups to develop papers around each of four topic areas. MOU partners were selected to participate according to their area of expertise. Each paper focuses on one of four topic areas of decentralized wastewater treatment, demonstrating how decentralized wastewater treatment can be:

  1. (1) a sensible solution;
    (2) cost-effective and economical;
    (3) green and sustainable; and
    (4) protective of the environment, public health, and water quality.

For additional information on the EPA Decentralized MOU Partnership and to view copies of the papers, please visit: http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/septic/Decentralized-MOU-Partnership-Products.cfm

Posted September 17, 2012


Resource Guide to Assist Rural Communities

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other federal agencies have developed a guide outlining programs the federal government has available to support rural communities as they promote economic development and enhance the quality of life for rural residents.ResourceGuide

The publication, Federal Resources for Sustainable Rural Communities, is a collaborative effort among USDA, the Department of Housing and UrbanDevelopment, the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency. It ensures rural communities have access to all of the federal resources that can support their efforts to promote economic competitiveness, protect healthy environments modernize infrastructure and provide services to residents. The guide has key information on funding and technical assistance opportunities available from the four agencies, as well as examples of how rural communities across the country have benefitted from federal resources.

A copy of the resource guide is available in the Spotlight section of the USDA Rural Development home page by clicking here.

Posted August 1, 2012


$800,000 for NESC's Drinking Water Clearinghouse
Grant Continues Service to America’s Small Communities

Thanks to a $800,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Utilities Service, the National Environmental Services Center’s (NESC) National Drinking Water Clearinghouse will continue to offer free and low-cost information and assistance to small towns and rural areas across the country. Based at West Virginia University, the clearinghouse is now entering its 21st year
.
"Over the past two decades, we've expanded and adapted our services," says Gerald Iwan, Ph.D., NESC's executive director. "What hasn't changed, though, is our commitment to providing assistance, solutions, and knowledge for solving small community environmental challenges."

To help small communities address their drinking water needs, NESC's National Drinking Water Clearinghouse offers a technical assistance hotline ((304) 293-4191), electronic publications On Tap and Pipeline, available through this comprehensive website and more than 1,200 educational products.

NESC's staff of engineers, water system operators, and specialists provide information about subjects such as: household wells, source water protection and conservation issues, water treatment technologies, treatment plant operation and management, updates about regulations, and funding sources for community water infrastructure.

Posted June 15, 2012


Phosphorous and Water Quality

Although phosphorus is a naturally occurring element and a vital nutrient for plants and animals, too much can cause water quality problems.

Phosphorous (and phosphates) trigger algal blooms, through a process called eutrophication, that deplete the receiving watEmergingIssues2ers of oxygen under certain conditions, killing the aquatic life. In many surface waters, algal blooms can have considerable detrimental impacts on leisure activities, tourism, and fish and other organisms. Algal blooms also impact the source water quality for drinking water utilities.

Although fertilizer runoff is a significant factor in eutrophication, domestic sewage also contributes to the problem. Therefore, removing phosphorus during the sewage treatment process has become an area of interest.

The article available here provides a brief overview of phosphorus removal during wastewater treatment. Readers are also encouraged to contact the National Environmental Services Center technical staff toll free at (304) 293-4191. (selection option 3) if they have question.

Posted June 5, 2012


Unregulated Contaminants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently published a list of 28 chemicals and two viruses that approximately 6,000 public water systems will monitor from 2013 to 2015 as part of the agency's unregulated contaminant monitoring program. The data will be collected for contaminants suspected to be present in drinking water, but that do not have health-based standards set under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The list of contaminants to be studied includes total chromium and hexavalent chromium, also known as chromium-6. EPA selected the contaminants by first reviewing the agency’s contaminant candidate list, which highlights priority contaminants that need additional research to support future drinking water protections. State participation in the monitoring is voluntary. EPA will fund small drinking water system costs for laboratory analyses, shipping, and quality control.

The contaminants on WaterTestingthe list are known or anticipated to occur in public water systems. However, they are not addressed by existing national drinking water standards. Additional contaminants of concern were selected based on current occurrence research and health-risk factor.

EPA has standards for 91 contaminants in drinking water, and the Safe Drinking Water Act requiresthat EPA identify up to 30 additional unregulated contaminants for monitoring every five years.

For more information, visit: http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/rulesregs/sdwa/ucmr/ucmr3/index.cfm

Posted May 15, 2012


WHEATLogoEPA Developes Risk Assessment Tool

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in collaboration with drinking water and wastewater sector partners, has developed the Water Health and Economic Analysis Tool (WHEAT). The tool is designed to assist drinking water utility owners and operators in quantifying public health impacts, utility financial costs, and regional economic impacts of an adverse event, based on a variety of asset-threat combinations that pose a risk to the water sector.

Existing WHEAT modules analyze two event scenarios: the release of a hazardous gas and the loss of operating assets in a drinking water distribution system, and provide information that can be used as part of a comprehensive risk assessment. Future WHEAT modules will analyze drinking water contamination and wastewater system hazardous gas releases and loss of operating assets scenarios.

WHEAT is designed to run on Windows-based computers and generates reports in Microsoft Excel. Learn more about this tool, including specific hardware and software requirements, by visiting http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/watersecurity/techtools/wheat.cfm

EPA has other security and resilience resources at http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/watersecurity/techtools/index.cfm

Posted April 17, 2012


NAPlogo

New Report Touts Benefits of Water Reuse

With recent advances in technology and design, treating municipal wastewater and reusing it for drinking water, irrigation, industry, and other applications could significantly increase the nation's total available water resources, particularly in coastal areas facing water shortages, says Water Reuse: Potential for Expanding the Nation's Water Supply Through Reuse of Municipal Wastewater, a new report from the National Research Council. The reuse of treated wastewater, also known as reclaimed water, to augment drinking water supplies has significant potential for helping meet future needs, the report adds. Moreover, new analyses suggest that the possible health risks of exposure to chemical contaminants and disease-causing microbes from wastewater reuse do not exceed, and in some cases may be significantly lower than, the risks of existing water supplies. 

The report examines a wide range of reuse applications, including potable water, non-potable urban and industrial uses, irrigation, groundwater recharge, and ecological enhancement. It outlines wastewater treatment technologies for mitigating chemical and microbial contaminants, including both engineered and natural treatment systems.

Dr. Gerald Iwan, Ph.D., executive director of the National Environmental Services Center, offers words of caution, however. "Our country has a positive history of capitalizing on technology to address its problems," he notes. "But before a national policy in water reuse is established, consideration of the unintended consequences of such a paradigm shift would seem appropriate. Technology is not a substitute for integrated water resources planning, inappropriate land use, and population expansion into unsustainable locations. Simultaneous with developing water reuse technologies, we must also address the causative factors leading to such a need if we are to be sustainable."

The report closes by suggesting 14 areas of research to help guide the country on how to apply water reuse appropriately. Such research would require improved coordination among federal and nongovernmental organizations.

Purchase the report or download a free pdf at the National Acadamies Press at www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13303.

Posted March 6, 2012


IndonesianVisitors

NESC Hosts Indonesian Leaders
Discuss Sustainability, Alternative Energy, Water Resources

Over the past year, the National Environmental Services Center (NESC), located at WVU's National Research Center for Coal and Energy, has been a veritable United Nations, hosting environmental leaders from Moldova, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Poland, China, and, most recently, Indonesia.

On February 20, 2012, NESC welcomed Dr. Eniya Listiani Dewi, chief engineer and researcher, Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology, Center for Materials Technology, and Mr. Mahendra Taher, executive director, Sumatra Sustainable Support, Association for the Autonomy of Civil Society in Sumatra. Joining the discussion about sustainability, alternative energy, and water resources were Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design faculty members Peter Butler and Jingxin Wang.

"As the world economy grows, energy and environmental concerns are taking center stage," says Gerald Iwan, Ph.D., NESC's executive director. "Opportunities for the global scientific community to come together for positive technical and cultural exchanges are, therefore, extremely important. Addressing emerging issues related to water infrastructure sustainability offers a path toward international environmental and economic progress."

The Indonesian visit was coordinated through WVU's Office of International Students and Scholars and GlobalPittsburgh through the U.S. Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program.

Learn more about GlobalPittsburgh by visiting their website at www.globalpittsburgh.org.

Posted February 21, 2012


National Groundwater Awareness Week
March 11-17, 2012

Groundwater Awareness Week

Now in its second decade, Groundwater Awareness Week spotlights one of the world’s most important resources — groundwater. Sponsored by the National Ground Water Association (NGWA), this annual event helps build awareness about this vital resource and asks: "Who should be aware of groundwater?"

The answer, quite simply, is "everyone."

Groundwater is essential to the health and well being of humanity and the environment. Whether you’re on a public water system or a private well, whether you are a health care official, policymaker, regulator, or someone interested in water resources or the environment in general, groundwater is important to you.

Find more information about groundwater and water well stewardship by visiting NGWA's website for well owners, www.wellowner.org.

Posted February 7, 2012


RDUS Loan Rates

Interest rates for Rural Development Utilities Service (RDUS) water and wastewater loans--issued quarterly at three different levels: the poverty line rate, the intermediate rate, and the market rate--have been announced. The rate applied to a particular project depends on community income and the type of project being funded.

To qualify for the poverty line rate, two criteria must be met. First, the loan must primarily be used for facilities required to meet health and sanitary standards. Second, the median household income of the area being served must be below 80 percent of the state's non-metropolitan median income or fall below the federal poverty level. For 2011, the federal poverty level was $23,050 for a family of four.

To qualify for the intermediate rate, the service area's median household income cannot exceed 100 percent of the state's non-metropolitan median income.

The market rate is applied to projects that don't qualify for either the poverty or intermediate rates. The market rate is based on the average of the Bond Buyer index. The rates, which apply to all loans issued. The rates, which apply to all loans approved on or after May 23, 2RDUS map011, are:


  1. poverty line: 2.25 percent;
    intermediate: 3.0 percent; and
    market: 3.75 percent.

RDUS loans are administered through state Rural Development offices, which can provide specific information concerning RDUS loan requirements and applications procedures.

For the phone number of your state Rural Development office, contact the National Environmental Services Center at (304) 293-4191. The list is also available on the Rural Development Web site at www.rd.usda.gov/recd_map.html.

Posted January 15, 2012