Western Environmental
Testing Laboratory
Strengthened Federal Regulations for Clean Water

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in conjunction with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, recently finalized the Clean Water Rule.  This rule is aimed at protecting our nation’s water resources from pollution and human ruin, especially the smaller streams and wetlands.

This rule is an attempt to make a difference in larger waterways by cleaning the smaller upstream streams and wetlands that feed them.

There is no expanded authority with the instatement of the Clean Water Rule, because the EPA already has the authority to impose these regulations based on the authority granted in the Clean Water Act.

Some farmers and property owners have expressed concern about regulations regarding smaller streams, but environmental groups laud the new rule as long overdue.

WETLAB continues to test water for EPA compliance.  See how we can help you comply with the new regulations by calling us at (775) 355-0202, or emailing us at info@wetlaboratory.com

 

More information about the Clean Water Rule can be found here, via the Environmental Protection Agency.

On January 8, 2014 the water supply for one of the largest water treatment plants in West Virginia was contaminated.  The contaminant was 4-methylcycolhexene methanol, a chemical used to remove impurities from coal. It leaked from a storage container at Freedom Industries, a company that specializes in making chemicals for the coal and steel industries.  The leak was caused by barrier failures that allowed the chemical to flow down a bank and into the Elk River where it traveled one mile downstream to the water treatment plant.

The chemical spill caused a pungent odor to overtake the surrounding area resulting in lead officials from the EPA Air Quality division to discover the leak. Upon investigation, Air Quality division officials notified the EPA Water Quality division, along with management at the treatment plant. A non-use order was immediately put in place for all residents.

The non-use order prohibited water use for all purposes including drinking, cooking, bathing, laundry or cleaning, affecting businesses such as hospitals, motels/hotels, restaurants, schools and grocery stores. And while the water treatment plant serves just 100,000 customers, reports estimated that up to one-fourth of the state’s population was affected by the spill.

TIMELINE

Jan 8th – Spill Occurred; Non-Use Warning Issued

Jan 9th – News and Radio Reporting on Issue

Jan 10th – West Virginia Governor and President Obama declare a state of emergency for 9 Counties

Jan 13th – Limited Use of Water Allowed After Water System Flush

At the time of the spill the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) did not have a healthy concentration consumption standard for 4-methylcycolhexene methanol; therefore, the chemical was not regulated and had been deemed “non-hazardous.”  The CDC is currently working on the total maximum daily load (TMDL), which is a “calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a waterbody can receive and still meet water quality standards” (EPA).

Some interesting points that are highly relative to WETLAB work:

The chemical has a low odor threshold which helped the detection of the leak

A representative from the West Virginia Water Research Institute said the closest thing he could find to 4-methylhexene methanol for water quality are foaming agents (MBAS).

The CDC decided that a “safe” level for the contaminant is less than 1p.m.

 

References:

NPR.org

Huffington Post EPA

 

In the latest chapter on a controversial subject we’ve discussed before on the WETLAB blog, a judge has once again rejected a Southern Nevada Water Authority pipeline aimed at eastern Nevada water.

This is the second time a judge has blocked the project since 2009, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which would siphon billions of gallons a year from eastern Nevada to Las Vegas.

Seventh District Court Judge Robert Estes ruled that Nevada’s chief water regulator needed to recalculate and reduce how much water could safely be taken from Spring, Cave, Dry Lake and Delamar valleys, according to the article.

Estes found that the amount of water proposed would affect other water rights, particularly in Spring Valley, where the project would mean the valley wouldn’t reach equilibrium even after 200 years.

He said the project, “is unfair to following generations of Nevadans and is not in the public interest,” according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.

The proposed project, according to the Las Vegas Sun, would have cost $6.5 billion over 10 years, and has been protested by environmental groups, ranchers and Indian tribes.

If approved, the deal would have taken an estimated 84,000 acre-feet of water. An acre-foot equals 325,851 gallons.

“There is no objective standard to determine when mitigation efforts will be eliminated and implemented,” Estes said in the Sun article, requiring the State Engineer, Jason King, to take steps to avoid potential environmental impacts.

While King said he was disappointed, opponents lauded the decision. And while the decision has been made for now, it didn’t dispute the need for water for Southern Nevada outside of the Colorado River supply – an issue that will continue to arise as time goes on.

In this blog, we spend much of our time talking about water quality testing news, science and politics that we find interesting; but with this month’s blog, we decided to do something a little different.

Here at WETLAB we care about maintaining and improving water quality, above and beyond our roll in monitoring it. When we came across some tips for average citizens to help from www.cleanwateraction.org, we thought it was a great fit.

First is some news that’s been getting quite a bit of attention in the last few years: Don’t flush medicines, pharmaceuticals or personal care products down the toilet or down the drain. That includes anything from over-the-counter drugs to cosmetics and even sun screen or vitamins. They can all impact both the environment and our drinking water down the road.
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Don’t use antibacterial soaps when you don’t need to. These products often contain chemicals that harm aquatic life, and can lead to antibiotic resistant germs.

Don’t put motor oil, detergents, fertilizers, pesticides or anything but water down storm drains. And speaking of motor oil, fix any drips or leaks on your car or truck so it doesn’t wash into the water supply with the rain.

Try to use natural gardening products over pesticides or chemical fertilizers. The same goes for inside the home–stay away from toxic household products in cleaning and home care.

Pick up after your pets! Their waste contains bacteria that can end up in the water supply when it’s washed down the storm drain.

Pave less of your property. The more water runs across pavement instead of seeping down into the soil, the greater chance it has to pick up pollutants, pick up speed and cause flooding or erosion.

These are just a few tips we thought were worth sharing. Please add your ideas by commenting on this post or on our Facebook page.

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