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Water

ACTIVISTS SAY WATER ACT MANDATES DISCHARGE PERMITS FOR BALLAST WATER

Environmentalists are rejecting EPA arguments that the agency's regulatory exemption for ballast water discharges is sanctioned by the Clean Water Act (CWA) -- in a case that may result in a significant expansion of the clean water permitting program to address aquatic invasive species.

In a brief filed Nov. 8, environmentalists argue that ships should be required to get clean water permits prior to discharging ballast water, and that EPA's regulatory exemption "contravenes the plain language of the CWA."

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INDUSTRY URGES DOI TO EASE PLAN FOR APPEALING DAM RELICENSING CONDITIONS

The hydropower industry is urging the Interior Department (DOI) to expand its controversial plan allowing dam operators to appeal environmental conditions -- such as water quality requirements -- to political appointees, industry sources say. The conditions are frequently included by DOI staff as part of the dams' relicensing process.

Dropping the requirement for alternatives to environmental conditions would make the proposal consistent with provisions in House-backed energy legislation that was stripped from a compromise bill developed by a House-Senate conference committee.

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POTWs CITE IG REPORT IN CALL FOR STREAMLINED PRETREATMENT RULES

Wastewater treatment officials are citing a report by EPA's Inspector General (IG) to support a push for the agency to move forward with plans to streamline its pretreatment program requirements. The move comes even as wastewater officials are attacking the bulk of the IG report's other conclusions.

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OTHER STATES UNLIKELY TO FOLLOW NEW JERSEY WITH STRICTER ARSENIC LEVEL

Other states are unlikely to follow New Jersey's lead in setting drinking water standards for arsenic that are more stringent than the federal level, according to state drinking water sources.

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NEW OREGON 'TAKINGS' BALLOT FACES LITIGATION OVER IMPLEMENTATION

The recently-approved Oregon ballot measure allowing land owners to be seek compensation for reductions in property value due to the state's strict wetlands and other land use regulations appears likely to withstand legal scrutiny on its merits but face extensive litigation over how it is implemented, proponents and opponents say.

Litigation over the ballot measure could hamper pending challenges by environmentalists seeking to use state land-use laws to tighten municipal separate storm sewer permits to control nonpoint sources.

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FUNDING SHORTAGE COULD HAMPER NEW APPROACH TO REDUCE GULF HYPOXIA

Scarce resources could prevent EPA and other federal agencies from conducting research to determine whether they should shift their approach to reducing low oxygen levels in the Gulf of Mexico to focus on phosphorus rather than nitrogen pollution, one EPA source says.

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SENATORS INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO CREATE INFRASTRUCTURE COMMISSION

Sens. Bob Graham (D-FL) and George Voinovich (R-OH) recently introduced legislation that could fill the resource gap between national infrastructure needs and available money by establishing a national commission to conduct a study making the case for increased funding.

The effort comes as lawmakers have struggled to find agreement on water and highway infrastructure legislation in the 108th Congress, leading to funding levels for both areas that have been criticized as inadequate.

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DRAFT WATER TRUST FUND BILL WOULD CREATE NEW TAX ON BOTTLED BEVERAGES

Draft legislation being circulated among wastewater and drinking water treatment officials would create a new tax on bottled beverages to finance a trust fund for clean water and safe drinking water utilities.

According to the discussion draft, legislation tentatively titled the Clean & Safe Water Trust Fund Act of 2005 would establish a fee of five cents per container on bottled beverages -- excluding milk and fruit juices -- to finance a trust fund for clean water and drinking water projects. The draft is available on InsideEPA.com.

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CLEAN WATER STATE REVOLVING LOAN FUND SLASHED IN OMNIBUS BILL

An omnibus appropriations bill approved by Congress Nov. 20 included a 20 percent cut in funding to EPA's clean water state revolving loan fund (SRF), setting the funding level at $1.1 billion for fiscal year 2005. The bill maintains the current annual spending level of $850 million for EPA's SRF for drinking water projects, but cuts by $273 million the agency's state and tribal assistance grants by appropriating $3.6 billion.

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EPA WETLANDS MITIGATION GUIDE TO BACK INDUSTRY REQUEST FOR FLEXIBILITY

A pending EPA guidance that will outline the conditions under which wetlands mitigation projects can be constructed off-site is likely to include language favored by the wetlands mitigation banking industry -- which drops the agency's previously stated preference for on-site mitigation, EPA and other sources say.

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