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Water

MERCURY STUDY COULD BOOST EFFORTS TO IMPLEMENT EPA FISH TISSUE CRITERION

A new EPA-backed study showing increased effectiveness of state mercury control programs that assess mercury based on fish tissue levels rather than the amount in the water column could boost efforts to implement the agency's 2001 fish tissue-based water quality criterion, sources familiar with the study say.

EPA and several New England states will soon publish the study indicating that state water quality programs to control mercury are more effective when they measure mercury levels in fish tissue rather than the total amount of the pollutant found in a waterbody.

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ACTIVISTS MAY FIGHT NEW ARGUMENT LIMITING CORPS ROLE OVER WETLANDS

A national environmental group may intervene in a lawsuit to challenge a novel industry argument that wetlands connected to a manmade discharge pond are not protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA) because the pond severs any significant link to navigable waters.

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EPA WETLANDS MITIGATION GUIDE TO INCLUDE INDUSTRY REQUEST FOR FLEXIBILITY

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

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POTWs SEEK RULING IN BLENDING LAWSUIT REGARDLESS OF EPA GUIDANCE

Wastewater industry attorneys are urging a federal appeals court to rule in a pending suit against EPA on whether publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) are allowed to blend treated and untreated wastewater -- regardless of whether the agency finalizes an interim guidance that may allow the practice early next year, according to an industry brief.

"Even if EPA finalizes its draft blending policy this matter will not be mooted," three municipal wastewater groups say in their Nov. 17 brief. Relevant documents are available on InsideEPA.com.

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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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