This blog series examines major trends and newsworthy events that occurred in the US water industry during the fourth quarter of 2017. The second part of the series focuses on activity within the New England, Mid-Atlantic, and South regions of the US. Check back tomorrow for part three of the series, which will cover the Midwest/Great Lakes and Central Plains regions, as well as grant and funding information related to the US water industry.
The New England region consists of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
During the fourth quarter of 2017, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York represented more than two-thirds of the region’s demand for installation and maintenance work; while New York accounted for more than one-third of the region’s demand for planning, design, engineering, and consulting services.
In November 2017, a state advisory commission on drinking water and groundwater approved $35 million in grants and loans for projects throughout New Hampshire. Specific projects include water main and meter replacements, pumping station upgrades, and a statewide assessment of drinking and groundwater contamination.
Also in November 2017, the US EPA awarded nearly $4.4 million in funding to the state of New York, the state of Vermont, and the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission to aid in managing the spread of invasive species and outbreaks of harmful algal blooms in Lake Champlain. The funding was given on behalf of the Lake Champlain Basin Program, which has developed a localized guide for handling the restoration of the lake, including objectives for clean water and healthy habitats.
In December 2017, New York governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a $65 million plan to study, treat, and prevent algae blooms in upstate lakes, including Lake Champlain, Lake George, Chautauqua Lake, and Cayuga Lake. These lakes are considered high priorities due to their vulnerability to algae formation, their status as key sources of drinking water, and/or their importance as recreation areas.
During the fourth quarter of 2017, the Connecticut State Water Planning Council drafted a report containing a series of recommended water policies for the 2018 legislative session. The report, which serves as Connecticut’s first statewide water plan, summarizes specific goals to protect watersheds, increase investment in water infrastructure, promote improved water reuse and storage practices in the agricultural sector, and streamline the management of water usage to ensure there is an adequate water supply in the future.
The Mid-Atlantic region consists of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
In the fourth quarter of 2017, the largest demand for natural environment-related projects across the nation was seen in the Mid-Atlantic, of which North Carolina and Pennsylvania accounting for nearly two-thirds of the region’s total demand. Also during the fourth quarter of 2017, the Mid-Atlantic region represented the greatest demand for projects related to fluid and materials handling in the US, with Maryland and New Jersey accounting for more than half of the region’s total demand.
In October 2017, $5.8 million in grants were awarded via the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund to recipients in Pennsylvania to assist with projects designed to protect the Chesapeake Bay. For example, Stroud Water Research Center received $750,000 in funding to implement best management practices on 24 farms, with priority being given to subwatersheds in Chester and Lancaster counties to improve local and Chesapeake Bay water quality.
The Virginia Institute of Marine Science was awarded $2.5 million in grants in October 2017 to research the multiple factors that contribute to the onset, duration, and toxicity of harmful algal blooms. One study will focus on Alexandrium monilatum and Dinophysis species, which produce toxins that pose a major threat to shellfish; while other research aims to develop early warning systems for harmful algal blooms in the Chesapeake Bay, Long Island Sound, Puget Sound, and the Gulf of Mexico, all of which contain key shellfish harvesting sites.
In November 2017, Virginia Tech was awarded $600,000 in federal funding from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes to expand its lead testing and contamination remediation efforts throughout the nation. In particular, the money will be used to fund a project designed to assess how filters function in various water conditions, as well as how communities view their filters. The goal of the project is to develop suitable outreach materials for communities faced with high levels of lead and iron in their drinking water.
Also in November 2017, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced the state will be the first in the country to set maximum contaminant levels for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA). Specifically, the agency has proposed a drinking water standard of 14 parts per trillion for PFOA (as recommended by the New Jersey Drinking Water Quality Institute) and 13 parts per trillion for PFNA. According to the New Jersey DEP, the approval of these levels will require water companies and utilities to regularly test for the chemicals and take corrective actions if necessary.
The South region consists of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
During the fourth quarter of 2017, the greatest demand for stormwater projects in the US was seen in the South, of which Florida and Kentucky represented nearly half of the region’s total demand. Among these projects were requests for flood condition assessments, drainage repairs and improvements, the installation of green infrastructure, and the construction of stormwater detention ponds.
In October 2017, officials in Gwinnett County, Georgia announced plans to build a $30 million water innovation center to serve as a centralized site for research, training, and education. The county aims to employ professionals with advanced degrees in water treatment, water reclamation, and limnology (the study of lakes) at the new center. Upon completion, which is projected to occur within the next two or three years, the proposed 49,000-square-foot water innovation center will be the first of its kind in the southeastern US.
In November 2017, the Duke Energy Foundation awarded more than $350,000 in grant funding to 14 environmental non-profit organizations in South Carolina. The money will finance a variety of environmental projects and educational programs, as well as wildlife conservation efforts within the state. For example, the Newberry Soil and Water Conservation District will receive $10,000 to support private landowners in coordinating water quality and wildlife habitat improvement practices in the expanded Indian Creek Wildlife Habitat Restoration Initiative area.
Also in November 2017, the Georgia Water Coalition released its 7th annual “Dirty Dozen” list highlighting the state’s worst water pollution issues. Threatened water resources that made the list include the Savannah River, which landed on the list twice for concerns linked to two separate energy projects; and the Altamaha River, which made the list due to an ongoing influx of noxious wastewater discharge from the Rayonier Advanced Materials pulp mill in Jesup. The list is published to call attention to problems that could harm Georgia property owners, downstream communities, and fish and wildlife.
In December 2017, $13.9 million in funding became available to help landowners protect and restore wetlands throughout Arkansas, as well as in three special project areas in the Mississippi River Basin. The funding is provided through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Wetlands Reserve Program, which was established in 2014 to improve water quality, reduce impacts from flooding, recharge groundwater, and protect fish and wildlife habitat.
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