Entries for the 'Source Water Protection' Category

08

A healthy environment can make an area a pleasant place to live, visit, and do business. For water utilities, healthy ecosystems are often associated with compliance, whether they contribute to cleaner sourcewater, or indicate a properly adjusted TMDL. However, healthy environments don’t always happen on their own, particularly when humans get involved. If your local government needs help managing environmental issues, LGEAN can be a good place to get started.

Water Environmental Resources
The Local Government Environmental Assistance Network (LGEAN) is intended to provide environmental management, planning, funding, and regulatory information for local government officials, managers, and staff. Water utilities will likely find their water topic areas to be of most interest, with pages for drinking water, groundwater, stormwater, wastewater, watersheds, and wetlands. These topic pages include issue summaries followed by links to resources from the EPA and other federal and non-government programs, as well as links to relevant publications, databases, and financial assistance programs. These resources may not provide detailed information on specific problems a utility is facing, but they can be a great place to begin wrapping your head around an important issue in your community.

Other Environmental Issues
In addition to the water-specific resources, it can be worthwhile to explore the other topic areas on the site. For example, the environmental management systems and smart growth sections can provide good context for community-wide approaches to problems like watershed management and distribution/collection system expansion projects. And the financing section can be a good place to skim for programs related to issues your area is facing.

Stay Up-to-Date
If you find the resources at LGEAN useful, you can also sign up for their email update, which keeps subscribers informed on new funding opportunities, federal policy updates, and upcoming conferences/events, among other topics. (For an example, see the most recent update here.)

If environmental issues are a problem at your utility (and where aren’t they), LGEAN can provide a great starting point for your response. If they have a particularly helpful program we’ve missed here, tell us in the comments!

08

The most recent state to experience widespread severe drought is California. Water restrictions are going into effect and everyone seems to be having in-depth discussions about the future of water resources in the state. Though California’s drought is particularly severe, a glance at the latest Drought Monitor report shows several areas of the country are feeling a little parched. And even if your region of the country isn’t experiencing a drought right now, it doesn’t hurt to have some plans in place for next time things dry up for a while. One place to start on that project could be the Rural Community Assistance Corporation’s drought resources page.

A Great Starting Point for Drought Contingency Planning
RCAC has collected drought contingency planning resources from a number of states and organizations with previous drought response experience. These resources include Drought Contingency Plan templates from both Texas and IHS, the TCEQ handbook for drought contingency planning, presentation slides from RCAC drought contingency planning training sessions, the Urban Drought Guidebook from California DWR, several resources for calculating irrigation needs for landscape plantings and lawn sprinkler systems, and an Action Plan for Emergency Drought Management co-developed by RCAC and the New Mexico Environment Department Drinking Water Bureau. In addition, there’s a brief summary of a report on climate change and water in the Southwest, for background on the current water situation. Some of these materials should be useful to any utility that wants to be prepared for the next time water resources run low, while others will be most helpful for utilities with no previous plan in place that need one in a hurry.

California Resources Also Available
Since the RCAC page was created in response to California’s current drought crisis, it makes sense that some of the resources would be specific to California. In addition to the general resources mentioned above, RCAC has also collected sample water conservation and water use restriction resources from the Water Resources Control Board, and a spreadsheet of California licensed water haulers. They’re also where we heard about the Water Resources Control Board’s CAA Interim Emergency Drinking Water financial assistance program. This fund is intended to provide interim replacement drinking water for economically disadvantaged communities with contaminated water supplies, but is only available to eligible California utilities. See the link for details on the program.

More Drought Resources
If you want to check out more resources, you can search our documents database by typing the keyword “drought” into the search box. If there’s more drought response or planning resources we should know about, tell us in the comments!

27

NASA's new SMAP (Soil Moisture Active Passive) satellite will provide worldwide soil moisture readings every 2-3 days. This data will be invaluable to scientists, engineers, and local decision makers alike, improving flood prediction and drought monitoring.

12

As a small water system operator, the journey of supplying safe, clean water to consumers begins at the source. Source water protection is best approached through collaboration and can be enhanced with the use of voluntary conservation practices by local agricultural professionals. That’s why the Source Water Collaborative (SWC) developed a simple 6-step toolkit designed to facilitate collaboration between source water stakeholders (like you) and landowners through USDA’s agricultural conservation programs.

Step 1: Understand How Key USDA Conservation Programs Can Help Protect and Improve Sources of Drinking Water
In order to foster beneficial relationships for source water protection, it is important to understand what national, state, and local organizations can be of service to you. Two USDA sponsored organizations are highlighted in the toolkit: the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Farm Service Agency (FSA). The NRCS exists to provide technical and financial assistance to both landowners and operators for the enactment of voluntary conservation practices. The FSA works to provide farm commodity, credit, conservation, disaster, loan, and price support programs. Having a working knowledge of specific programs, key contacts, and common vocabulary are vital first steps to take in your source water project.

Step 2: Define What Your Source Water Program Can Offer
Next you’ll need to understand NRCS and FSA programs and how they relate to specific information and regulations in your state. This can be done quickly by browsing by location for NRCS State Offices at nrcs.usda.gov and at fsa.usda.gov. It’s important to note that the staff of these organizations often times are the most aware of regulatory structure of environmental programs, so be sure to make it known that you wish to work collaboratively. You should then focus on identifying what specific areas or projects that collaboration with conservation practices could help protect. This is your opportunity to share valuable information such as source water data and GIS maps in order to identify potential water quality improvements.

Step 3: Take Action
Step 3 of the collaborative toolkit focuses on making concrete moves to begin an action plan. It’s suggested you start by contacting your Assistant State Conservationist for Programs as a beginning reference point. Be clear about your intentions to foster a partnership regarding source water concerns and NRCS programs that can be of assistance. Linked in the toolkit are initial talking points, draft agenda for first meeting, and key USDA documents to help you begin your first steps to action.

Step 4: Find Resources
This is where you do your homework. Step 4 lists several links of very useful conservation and source water resources. Resources include a list of NRCS conservation programs, state drinking water programs, watershed projects, maps of nutrient loading, and much more. These resources will ensure you develop your project with the correct programs and people.

Step 5: Coordinate with Other Partners
This crucial step enables you to make sure that you are partnered with the people that will give your project the highest probability of being successful. The links listed in this step are for key partners who can bring data, technical capabilities, useful state and local perspectives, and other important stakeholders. These links include EPA regional source water protection contacts, state source water program contacts, state clean water programs, and other federal agencies that can make your efforts more productive.

Step 6: Communicate Your Success & Stay Up-to-Date
Finally, share your source water protection experiences with SWC to allow improvement in the toolkit as well as influencing source water colleagues by promoting the toolkit.

Finding the right partners for voluntary, collaborative conservation practices is a progressive step for improved source water protection. By utilizing the resources and tips provided in the collaboration toolkit, you can put yourself in the best position to maximize your source water protection potential. Visit Source Water Collaborative for more information on any of your protection questions.

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