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Water in the News

February 25, 2013

Drought forces a new era of agricultural water
conservation

New projects are being implemented in the Colorado
valley to reduce the load of salt and selenium that irrigation waters remove
from the area’s alkaline soils and carry into the Colorado River system. But the
small farmers and ranchers who grow hay in this high desert are excited for
another reason: by eliminating seepage and reducing evaporation, the irrigation
pipes should deliver more water — up to 40 percent more, according to some
projections. More

Water conservation methods for agriculture — Part 4

A leading concern facing the future of agricultural
production is the availability of water. Many of the methods known to conserve
water and use it efficiently have been practiced for thousands of years, in some
very arid regions of the world, with great success. The best systems require
little maintenance while yielding maximum results. Here is a list of water
saving techniques which will be helpful in growing more food with less
water. More

NRCS invests in conservation for Mississippi River
health
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the
investment of $59 million this year from the Natural Resources Conservation
Service for the health of the Mississippi River basin, making a total of
approximately $289 million for the initiative that reduces nutrient and sediment
run-off. More
Ag commissioner seeks recommendations for new water quality
pilot projects

Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson is
seeking recommendations for pilot project watershed areas for the Minnesota
Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program. The program is designed to
accelerate voluntary adoption of agricultural practices that enhance water
quality. More

Sewage Lagoons Remove Most – But Not All – Pharmaceuticals

2012 marked the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, which established regulations for the discharge of pollutants to waterways and supported the building of sewage treatment plants. Despite these advances, sewage remains a major source of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) and naturally occurring hormones found in the environment. More

EPA Hydraulic Fracturing Study,
Summary of Technical Roundtables

On November 14-16, 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted a series of five technical roundtables focused on each stage of the water cycle, as defined in
the study plan for EPA’s Study of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources. In this study, each stage of the cycle is associated with a primary research question:

. Water acquisition: What are the possible impacts of large volume water withdrawals from ground and surface waters on drinking water resources?
. Chemical mixing: What are the possible impacts of hydraulic fracturing fluid surface spills on or near well pads on drinking water resources?
. Well injection: What are the possible impacts of the injection and fracturing process on drinking water resources?
. Flowback and produced water: What are the possible impacts of flowback and produced water (collectively referred to as “hydraulic fracturing wastewater”) surface spills on or near well pads on drinking water resources?
. Wastewater treatment and waste disposal: What are the possible impacts of inadequate treatment of hydraulic fracturing wastewater on drinking water resources?

Based on feedback from the November 2012 roundtables, EPA will host in-depth technical workshops to address specific topics in greater detail. EPA believes a transparent, research-driven approach with significant stakeholder involvement can address questions about hydraulic
fracturing.

This document will also be linked on the 2012 Reports and Publications page of the Sustainable Water Resources Site.

News from Tim Smith

Pruitt, Arkansas AG sign Illinois River agreement

Attorney General Scott Pruitt Wednesday announced an agreement between Oklahoma and
Arkansas to study the water quality of the Illinois River.

The agreement comes after months of negotiation among the attorneys general, Arkansas
environmental officials, Oklahoma Environmental Secretary Gary Sherrer and Agriculture Secretary Jim Reese on limits for phosphorus in the section of the river that travels through 100 miles of eastern Oklahoma.

The Statement of Joint Principles with Arkansas provides for a new “best science” study of the
phosphorus load for the river with both states, for the first time, agreeing to be bound by the outcome. The new study will take three years, and could result in a standard stricter than the current requirement. Oklahoma’s .037 milligrams per liter phosphorous standard will remain in effect while the new study is conducted.

Prior to Wednesday’s announcement, members of Save The Illinois River Inc. were concerned stakeholders had not been informed about the potential agreement. Representatives of STIR met with Pruitt on Tuesday to learn more.

“Well, STIR was concerned about the lack of communication, but after our representatives met with the attorney general, we’re relieved the .037 standard will remain in effect,” said Denise Deason-Toyne, STIR president.

The new study is estimated to cost $600,000 and will be funded by Arkansas and managed by the Joint Study Committee. The committee will consist of six members with the governors of Oklahoma and Arkansas appointing three members each. According to the agreement, the joint study will be conducted by a third party group with no ties to businesses in either state.

Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission Administrator Ed Fite, who was a signatory on the
agreement, said the measure shows the states are willing to work together for the protection of the watershed.

“This is the firs enforceable agreement [we’ve had], and it continues to show that Arkansas and Oklahoma are willing to work together,” said Fite. “None of the parties to previous agreements have clean hands, including the EPA, Oklahoma and Arkansas, so we have to work
together. If we don’t, it harms the river.”

While the Gov. Mary Fallin will appoint three of the six members of the committee, Fite said he believes she will likely choose those with scientific credentials and a background in water resource management.

“It’s up to the governor to appoint, but they will most likely consist of leaders from the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality’s water quality division, and the Oklahoma Conservation Commission,” said Fite. “I think they will be who she will consider.”

The study, known as a stressor response study, will be conducted using EPA-approved testing methods that ensure scientifically reliable data collection and analysis.

“Generations of Oklahomans have enjoyed the Illinois River for hunting, fishing, camping and floating, and their safety and enjoyment of the river is paramount,” Pruitt said. “This agreement ensures that the progress we’ve made will continue, and that the river remains a recreation
destination for future generations.”

The committee will produce two interim reports, and make public the final report and all data collected or reviewed during the joint study.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also is conducting a Total Maximum Daily Load study for the Illinois River that will set the discharge permit limits for all point source dischargers in the watershed. The EPA study is ongoing.

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