National Drinking Water Clearinghouse
West Virginia University
PO Box 6893
News and Notes
Free Publications Address Wastewater Issues
Anyone who wants to keep up on alternative wastewater treatment options will be interested in the publications Small Flows Quarterly, a magazine devoted to wastewater, and Pipeline, a newsletter explaining small community and onsite wastewater treatment topics to the general public. Published quarterly by the National Small Flows Clearing-house (NSFC), both publications are free.
Small Flows Quarterly has news, technical, and educational articles about wastewater issues, such as treatment technologies, regulations, and finance. Each issue also includes a peer-reviewed research paper dedicated solely to the topic of small wastewater systems.
Each Pipeline issue features a single wastewater theme or topic. The articles are presented in an easy-to-read, non-technical style, and readers are encouraged to reprint them in local newspapers or include them in newsletters, brochures, and handouts. A list of contacts and resources for local officials and community residents is included.
Both Pipeline and Small Flows Quarterly may be downloaded from NSFC’s Web site at www.nesc.wvu.edu/wastewater.cfm. The site also contains information about new wastewater-related products, NSFC services, and a calendar of upcoming conferences and events.
To order either publication, call (304) 293-4191. To order by e-mail, send name, address, phone number, and the quantity you wish to order to email@example.com. Located within the National Environmental Services Center at West Virginia University, the NSFC is a nonprofit organization funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to provide free and low-cost information about small community and onsite wastewater treatment. For more information, call the NSFC at the phone numbers listed above and request a free information packet.
NDWC and NETCSC Present Security Training
Small community water utilities face many of the same financial, technical, and managerial issues as larger cities. However, they encounter greater challenges in finding appropriate assistance. In the past two years, the threat of terrorism has made us more aware of the importance of security and emergency response planning.
Last year’s amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act require that each drinking water system serving between 3,300 and 50,000 residents conduct a vunerability assessment (VA) by June 30, 2004, and complete an emergency response plan within six months of finishing their VA.
To help small water systems meet this chall-enge, the National Environmental Training Center for Small Communities (NETCSC) and the National Drinking Water Clearinghouse (NDWC) are partnering with national and local programs across the country to present a series of free train-the-trainer sessions: “Security Improvements for Small Water Systems.”
Funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, these sessions will teach participants how to conduct vulnerability assessments, take steps to improve system security, and develop and update emergency response plans. Participants will also receive materials and training designed to help them educate others on these subjects. Class size for each location is limited.
Sessions will be presented in cooperation with St. Louis University School of Public Health-Center for Environmental Education and Training, National Tribal Environmental Council, National Environmental Health Association, California Department of Health Services, EPA Region VII, Florida Rural Water Association, New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission.
Dates and Locations for Small Community Sessions
• September 9–10, in San Diego, California
• September 17–18, in Kansas City, Missouri
• September 30–October 1, in Anchorage, Alaska
• October 15–16, in Tallahassee, Florida
• November 4–5, in Manchester, New Hampshire
Risk Management Primer
The National Center for Small Communities (NCSC) offers a primer designed to introduce the concept of risk management to elected officials of small communities.
Titled Limiting Small Town Liability, the publication explains the goals and purposes of risk management and covers topics, such as understanding your risks, tools and techniques, risk assessment, and management issues.
The free primer is available in bulk orders only—65 copies per box. Those requesting bulk orders can also receive a trainer’s guide, a PowerPoint™ presentation summarizing the primer, trainer’s notes on running effective meetings, and the primer itself. The materials are also on a CD that is included with the order.
To preview or download the materials, go to www.smallcommunities.org/ncsc/ and click on “New Resources.” To order, please email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org, along with your mailing address and the number of boxes you would like. NCSC requests a street address (i.e., no P.O. Boxes).
NETCSC Tracks Small System Regulations
The National Environmental Training Center for Small Communities (NETCSC) has compiled a list of water- and wastewater-related rules and policies that may affect small communities.
The list describes applicable regulations; the size of communities impacted; specific rules for different size communities; and current and future Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act regulatory dates. Included are contacts and sources and a glossary of acronyms and important terms.
Dedicated to providing environmental training and training-related information to small communities, NETCSC is a National Drinking Water Clearinghouse partner within the National Environmental Services Center
at West Virginia University.
World Water Forum Meets in Japan
The third World Water Forum (WWF) was held in Kyoto, Japan, in March 2003. The 24,000 participants from 182 countries developed more than 100 new “commitments” dealing with global water issues. Noting that by 2050, water shortages brought on by increased populations and global warming will affect between two and seven billion people around the world, the conference explored the geopolitical aspects of water and warned of conflicts over this resource.
“Water is an inalienable human right. Water is life,” said Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union and currently leader of Green Cross, a non-governmental organization dedicated to creating a sustainable future, in a March 20 Reuters article. “People are sometimes willing to do anything to get water. There could be grave consequences of this.”
Rather than just focusing on the potential conflicts that could arise over water, the conference examined ways that these issues can be turned into positive forces for change. The “common basic requirement for water is an opportunity for cooperation and peace,” said William J. Cosgrove, vice president of the World Water Council, one of the WWF’s sponsors.
“Water-related conflicts can be prevented if humanity recognizes that water can be a learning ground for conflict resolution,” said Amdras Szollosi-Nagy, deputy assistant director general with UNESCO, the United Nation’s cultural division.
For more information, visit the WWF Web site at
Finland’s Water Rated Best
According to a report by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Finland has the best water quality among 122 nations studied.
The rest of the top ten, in order, were Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Japan, Norway, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Korea, Sweden, and France. The U.S. ranked 12th in the UNESCO study.
The report was based on an in-depth look at every major dimension of water use and management, from the growth of cities to the threat of looming water wars between countries. The report ranked the countries according to the quality of their water, as well as their ability and commitment to improving their water. Some of the factors used in the analysis were the quantity and quality of freshwater (especially groundwater), the number of wastewater treatment facilities, and legal issues, such as the application of pollution regulations.
USDA Announces Rural Projects
On Earth Day (April 22, 2003), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Ann Veneman announced 45 rural water and wastewater projects worth more than $105 million. The projects, in 29 states, will help rural communities address health and environmental issues and promote business development. The funding consists of loans totaling $37.2 million and $68.3 million in grants.
One recipient of these funds is Maine’s Boothbay Region Water District. Comprised of the small coastal communities of Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor, Boothbay Center, and East Boothbay, the project will finance the consolidation of three water districts and the construction of a 500,000-gallon underground tank.
Funds include a $1 million grant and a $3.05 million loan and will rectify problems with inadequate water supply during the summer (tourist season) and low pressure. Staff from Maine Rural Development and Maine Rural Water worked with the communities to develop the new water district and to obtain necessary legislative approval. According to USDA, “the primary recipients for this project are the residents and the very important tourist industry. This project will improve the quality of life for the residents of the area by providing safe drinking water and improving the overall quality and quantity of water for residential use and fire safety of its inhabitants.”
To see a complete list of the 45 rural water and wastewater projects, go to www.rd.usda.gov/rd/newsroom/news.htm.
End of the water wars? (Photo by Harriet Emerson.)
If a new U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) initiative is successful, water wars in the West may one day be a thing of the past. A June 2003 meeting between DOI and western water officials—titled “Water 2025: Preventing Crisis and Conflict in the West”—sought to start a discussion about preventing chronic water supply problems facing communities in the years ahead.
According to a DOI news release about the conference, “explosive population growth in western urban areas, the emerging need for water for environmental and recreational uses, and the national importance of the domestic production of food and fiber from western farms and ranches is driving major conflicts between these competing uses of water. Water 2025 provides the basis for a public discussion in advance of water crises and sets forth a framework to focus on meeting water supply challenges in the future.”
“Crisis management is not an effective solution,” said DOI Secretary Gail Norton. “We need to work together now. Locally driven, practical solutions are needed. States, tribes, local governments, and affected communities should have a leading role in this effort.”
The goal, DOI officials say, is to identify the watersheds facing the greatest potential risk in the next 25 years, evaluate the most effective ways of addressing water supply challenges, and recommend cooperative planning approaches and tools that have the most likelihood of success.
For more information about Water 2025, write to the U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW, Washington DC, 20240 or visit their Web site at www.doi.gov.
RUS Loans: Poverty Rate Unchanged; Others Down
The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) recently announced interest rates for water and wastewater loans. RUS interest rates are issued quarterly at three different levels: the poverty line rate, the intermediate rate, and the market rate. Each has specific qualification criteria. The rates, which apply to all loans issued from July 1 through September 30, 2003, are:
poverty line: 4.5 percent (unchanged from the previous quarter);
intermediate: 4.375 percent (down 0.125 percent from the previous quarter); and
market: 4.25 percent (down 0.375 percent from the previous quarter).
For this quarter, all loans may be obligated and closed at the market rate. RUS loans are administered through state Rural Development offices, which can provide specific information concerning RUS loan requirements and applications procedures.
For the phone number of your state Rural Development office, contact the National Drinking Water Clearinghouse at (304) 293-4191.The list is also available on the RUS Web site at
Water Quality and Property Values
A study by researchers at Bemidji State University found a direct correlation between water quality and property values around Minnesota lakes. The researchers examined 1,205 residential property sales between 1996 and 2001 in the upper Mississippi River watershed. Land values were compared to water quality data for 37 lakes in the region.
“We concluded that water clarity is very significantly related to the price per foot of lakeshore,” said Charlie Parson, geography professor and the study’s co-author, in a May 26, 2003 Minneapolis–St. Paul Star Tribune article. “We have enough lakes and enough parcels to establish that this is a real relationship.”
“Lake Leech,” the article cites as an example, “is clear to a depth of about 10 feet. The study said that if the water got clearer—so that you could see down another three feet—a lake property’s value would rise by $423 for each foot of frontage. For a 40-foot lakefront lot, that amounts to nearly a $17,000 gain in value. If the lake’s clarity is reduced by more than three feet, the study said, it would cut values by $594 per frontage foot.”
For more information about the report, contact the Center for Research and Innovation, Bemidji State University, 1500 Birchmont Drive NE, Bemidji, MN 56601-2699 or call (218) 755-4900 or e-mail email@example.com.
EPA Water System Survey Results
The results of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Community Water System Survey 2000 have been published. The report found “an increase in the percentage of systems that treat their water and an overall improvement in water system financial performance.” Other findings include:
• The percentage of systems operating at a loss declined for most size categories between 1995 and 2000.
• The percentage of systems providing treatment rose between 1976 and 2000.
• While the total number of community water systems increased between 1995 and 2000, the number of small systems declined. The number of systems serving populations of 100 or fewer declined by eight percent. The number of systems serving more than 3,300 people, on the other hand, increased by 20 percent.
• While systems continue to make substantial capital investments to fund water quality improvements (totaling more than $50 billion over the past five years), investment in treatment accounts for only 22 percent of systems’ total capital investments. The largest share of investment went toward distribution and transmission (47 percent). Storage capacity accounted for an additional 12 percent of the total investment.
EPA conducted the Community Water System Survey 2000 to “obtain data to support its development and evaluation of drinking water regulations.” A total of more than 1,800 systems, ranging from very small to very large, were selected for inclusion in the survey. It is the fifth such endeavor, with others collected in 1976, 1982, 1986, and 1995.
Copies of the report are available online at www.epa.gov/OGWDW/cwssvr.html. You may order a printed copy from EPA’s Water Resource Center. Call them toll free at (800) 832-7828 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Water Resource Center (RC-4100), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., 20460. Ask for document EPA 815-R-02-005A.
High School Students Solve Water Budget Woes
Rushford, Minnesota—like many rural towns across the country—has experienced trouble with excessive water loss and revenues that didn’t meet expenses. Unlike many towns that have turned to an expensive consultant for answers, Rushford officials found a solution at their local high school.
Jeff Copley, Rushford’s water and wastewater superintendent, provided the high school resource program with all the information they would need to devise a new water rate schedule. The class was divided into six groups. Each came up with a different solution.
While the class was working on the project, Copley informed the public about what the students were doing. After the project was completed and rates increased based on the students’ recommendations, he heard not a single complaint from water customers.
“This was a great learning experience for these students,” writes Jeff Dale, technical advisor with the Minnesota Rural Water Association (MRWA) in the Spring 2003 issue of their publication Minnesota Rural Water Today. “They are the next generation of councilpersons and mayors.”
For more information about this project, call the MRWA at (218) 685-5197, write to 216 12th Avenue Southeast, Elbow Lake, MN, 56531 or visit their Web site at www.mrwa.com.