Legislative issues as well as letters to the editor are covered this month.

The SECURE Water Act

The National Ground Water Association (NGWA) recently testified in support of key provisions of the SECURE Water Act, telling a U.S. Senate committee that the act will “help ensure data are available to effectively manage our water supplies,” including ground water.

Testimony on the SECURE (Science and Engineering to Comprehensively Understand and Responsibly Enhance) Water Act took place before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

NGWA representative David Wunsch said developing scientifically based strategies for sustainable use of our nation’s ground water resources is a key component in our nation’s ability to address the growing demands of an increasing population and to prepare for the potential adverse effects of climate change.

“Implementing the SECURE Water Act will help ensure data are available to effectively manage our water supplies and maintain their chemical quality to support population growth, economic growth, irrigated agriculture, energy production and sustain ecosystems,” says Wunsch, commending Committee Chair Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-New Mexico) and Ranking Minority Com-mittee Member Sen. Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico), sponsors of the bill.

“NGWA also concurs with the bill’s statement that ‘States bear the primary responsibility and authority for managing water resources of the United States,’ but ‘the federal government should support the states, as well as regional, local and tribal governments.’”

Along those lines, Wunsch urged the committee to consider modifications to the bill that would ensure sufficient funding and flexibility for states to gather data consistent with the goals of the act.

Additionally, Wunsch said NGWA urges the committee to:

  • Ensure that water availability is considered in the context of water quantity and quality.

  • Specifically list ground water recharge and discharge as an important component of integrated water resources management planning.

  • Include enhanced ground water storage and availability as a potential strategy for mitigating water supply shortages.

  • Add treating brackish ground water or other impaired waters to the bill’s section on water management improvement.

NGWA further commended the bill’s inclusion of provisions to take into account the potential impacts of climate change on the nation’s water resources.

“Climate change has the potential to cause significant impacts on the distribution of the nation’s water resources, and subsequent water demand,” Wunsch notes. “Ground water, the nation’s subsurface reservoir, will be relied on more in the future to help balance larger swings in precipitation and temperature, and to increase the water supply reliability in the more uncertain times caused by climate fluctuations.”

Mining Reform Introduced

A bill to bring modern standards to the mining industry recently was introduced by a member of the House of Natural Resources Committee.

Under terms of the law, known as the Hard Rock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2007, miners on federal lands for the first time ever would be required to pay a royalty for the minerals they extract. The bill proposes that new mines would pay 8 percent of the gross value of minerals they extract from federal land. Existing mines would pay a 4-percent royalty. The funds would be used to pay for an estimated $70 billion cleanup of the wreckage left by more than 150 years of hard-rock mining.

Royalty payments from existing mines would generate about $40 billion a year to fund environmental clean-ups, abandoned-mine closures and aid to communities that have been negatively impacted by hard-rock mining. Half of the royalties would be returned to the states that generated them, and half would be available to all other states.

The Act would halt the practice of patenting claims, termed by the bill’s opponents as a federal land giveaway. It also makes it easier to ban mining on scenic or religious sites, and gives federal land managers broader authority to deny mining permits.

The legislation has passed the House, and now is before the Senate.

Bill Addresses Safe Drinking Water

The omnibus appropriations bill passed by the House and Senate includes $300 million for safe drinking water and sanitation supply projects to implement the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005.

The bill will result in a dramatic increase in funding for safe, affordable and sustainable supplies of drinking water and sanitation in the poorest regions of the developing world. Strong implementing language in both the text of the bill and the accompanying joint explanatory statement will help ensure that the funding is spent as Congress intends.

The Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005 makes it a major goal of U.S. foreign policy to help halve the proportion of people without access to safe, sustainable and affordable drinking water and sanitation by 2015, and creates a framework for achieving that goal.

Lobbying Effort

The Pacific Water Quality Association (PWQA) is urging water treatment dealers in the western United States to attend the group’s annual Legislative Days, set for March 10-11, in Sacramento, Calif. The event is an opportunity for water treatment dealers to join PWQA lobbyists in introducing themselves as water improvement industry experts to their legislators, according to the PWQA. The association says it will provide participants with training on past legislation and other relevant topics so they are more prepared in delivering their message. PWQA will host a meeting room at the Hyatt Hotel across the street from the state capitol. For more information, telephone 760-644-7348.

Water-sharing Pact

Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne recently signed the Record of Decision that will implement strategies for management of the Colorado River. The Record of Decision activates a legal agreement among the basin states that contains a provision in which they firmly commit to address future controversies on the river through consultation and negotiation before initiating any litigation.

The Record of Decision adopts four key elements of river management. First, the new guidelines establish rules for shortages, specifying who will take reductions and when they take them. Second, the new operational rules for Lake Powell and Lake Mead will allow these two massive reservoirs to rise and fall in tandem, thereby better sharing the risk of drought. Third, the new guidelines establish rules for surpluses, so that if the basin is blessed with ample runoff, the Department of Interior will have rules in place to distribute the extra water; and fourth, the new rules will address the ongoing drought by encouraging new initiatives for water conservation.

The rules, which take effect immediately, will be in place through 2026.

In Our Mail Box

An article you published in your January issue (“Are You on Angie’s List?”) indicated that Angie’s List does not accept advertising from companies. We feel it’s important to point out that Angie’s List does invite the most highly rated companies to place coupons, or ads, in our monthly magazine, through our call center and on our Web site. We do not, however, require any of the service companies to advertise, and there are many long-time, consistently highly rated companies on the List that have never advertised with us. The purchase or non-purchase of ads has no affect on grades – those result only from members’ reports about their experience with a service company.

To display these coupons companies must obtain and maintain at least an overall B rating, and they must also offer members a discount. If their overall grades drop below a B, we pull their coupon. We pay very close attention to these grades because many of our members have come to trust that if they see a coupon, it’s from a highly rated company.

Cheryl Reed,
director of communications
Angie’s List