Coverage of the latest developments in water and drilling matters in the government.

Arkansas Receives Water Projects Funds

According to The Associated Press, Arkansas' Congressional delegation recently announced the first round of projects to receive awards from the newly established Delta Regional Authority (DRA). The awards will fund six water and sewer projects and one construction project in Arkansas.

The DRA is a federal agency established by Congress in December of 2000. The group is designed to channel resources, aid and guidance for economic development in the Mississippi Delta region. Arkansas is to receive about $4.5 million for projects in Woodruff, Prairie, Clay and Calhoun counties and the Mid-South Community College in West Memphis for construction and development of the Delta Regional Transportation Technology Center.

EPA Publishes Arsenic Guidance

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published the final Implementation Guidance for the Arsenic Rule on its Web site, incorporating a how-to approach to implementing the new arsenic standard.

In Jan. 2001, the EPA adopted a new standard for arsenic in drinking water at 10 ppb, replacing the old standard of 50 ppb. The rule became effective Feb. 2002, and the date by which systems must comply with the new 10 ppb standard is Jan. 23, 2006.

The final Implementation Guidance for the Arsenic Rule incorporates comments received on the previous draft implementation guidances and from training sessions held throughout the country. The guidance explains the new rule, discusses training options and treatment technologies and provides documentation of funding opportunities.

Indian Tribe Receives Grant

The EPA recently awarded a $1.2 million grant to the Hopi Tribe to develop a drinking water source for the villages of Moenkopi and Shungopavi in Arizona. Regional EPA administrator Wayne Nastri announced the grant during a tour of the Hopi Reservation.

The EPA estimates that more than 7 percent of all American Indians living on U.S. reservations lack running water, compared with less than a half percent of the U.S. population as a whole.

Calif. Governor Signs Bills

California Governor Gray Davis recently signed two bills that will devote $200 million to solving Southern California's water problems. According to The Associated Press, the laws will help the state cut its use of Colorado River water.

One bill attempts to help transfer water from the Imperial Valley to San Diego by promising at least $50 million from a Proposition 50 bond measure to the transfer project. The Imperial Valley and San Diego water districts have been in negotiations to transfer water from the Colorado River to San Diego County.

The other bill declares the state's intent to devote up to $150 million for various projects, including restoration of the Salton Sea.

The Department of Interior has threatened to completely cut off Colorado River water supplies if California does not come up with a plan by Dec. 31.

Texas Water Projects Approved

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has approved financial assistance totaling about $27.8 million for water-related projects across the state.

Grants and loans to be distributed include $9.3 million from the Economically Distressed Areas Program to finance facility planning and the design and construction of a wastewater treatment plant and collection system improvements; $10 million from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program to the cities of Santa Rosa, Aubrey and Deer Park to be used for expansion and improvements to the water treatment and distribution systems and the wastewater treatment and collection systems; $3 million loan from the Rural Water Assistance Fund to Creedmoor-Maha Water Supply Corp. to finance water system improvements; $2.2 million loan from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Loan Program to Santa Rosa to be used for the expansion and improvement to the water treatment and distribution systems and the wastewater treatment and collection systems; and $2.4 million loan from the Texas Water Development Fund Program to the city of Venus, MacBee Special Utility District and the White Oak Bend Municipal Utility District to finance improvements to the wastewater and water supply systems.

House Committee Approves Water Funding

A U.S. House of Representatives committee recently approved legislation to increase spending for water reclamation projects. The bill also will provide more money for flood control, nuclear security and disposal of nuclear waste.

Water projects under the Army Corps of Engineers will receive $4.76 billion and the Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees western water projects, will receive $945 million, which is $63 million more than President Bush requested.

The White House had sought an 8 percent cut in local water projects, but the committee added a number of projects at the request of various lawmakers.

Great Lakes Bill Passed

The U.S. House has passed a bill to increase funding for cleanup of contaminated sediments in the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2002 (HR 1070) would authorize the EPA to issue $50 million each year in fiscal years 2003-2007 for remediation of contaminated sediment, prevention of further or renewed contamination of sediment and long term monitoring of contaminated sediment. Another $2 million a year would go toward remediation research.

The legislation also includes provisions to prioritize the grant selection process toward projects that are using innovative approaches for remediation of the sediment or that are already remediating contaminated sediment. The bill also would apply to those projects ready to be implemented under current remedial action plans.

The Senate is reviewing a companion bill (S 2544) introduced by Sen. Carl Levin.