2010 WaterPro Conference in New Orleans, LA!
**Location Changed from Nashville to New Orleans!**
The Industry Event for Districts and Municipalities...
The State & National Rural Water Association's WaterPro Conference
New Orleans, Louisiana
September 26-29, 2010
Visit the conference website at www.waterproconference.org for Attendee and Exhibitor info, and much more.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will be in Hillsboro, Mo., today to host a "National Summit of Rural America: A Dialogue for Renewing the Promise," on behalf of the Obama administration.
As co-chairmen of the Rural America Solutions Group, we hope the event will mark a turning point in the Obama administration's agenda for rural America. However, if the first half of President Barack Obama's term is any indication of things to come, the outlook for folks in America's heartland isn't good.
Put simply, the Obama administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress are out of touch with the needs of the people who keep this country running – farmers, ranchers, small-business owners and the hard-working families who call rural America home. It seems as if we wake up every day to find government bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., churning out new policies that disproportionately will affect rural Americans.
On Tuesday, the government confirmed that plumes of dispersed oil were spreading far below the ocean surface from the leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico, raising fresh concerns about the potential impact of the spill on sea life.
Tests conducted by researchers at the University of South Florida found that the concentrations of oil-related chemicals in the water were generally low. Still, the tests confirmed that some toxic compounds that would normally be expected to evaporate from the surface in a shallow-water oil spill were, instead, spreading through the ocean in the Deepwater Horizon leak.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which helped to fund the research, said it was still working to get a better handle on the potential impact of the spill on fish, corals and other wildlife. Jane Lubchenco, the NOAA administrator, said the agency was doing its best to determine "where the oil is going, where it is at the surface, where it might be below the surface, and what the consequences of that oil will be to coastal communities as well as to the health of the gulf."
President Obama said on Tuesday that he is looking for some "ass to kick" in the ongoing BP oil spill catastrophe. Obama's reply to critics as to how he is handling the crisis: "I don't always have time to perform for the benefit of the cable shows."
In an NBC "Today Show" interview with host Matt Lauer, Obama defended his administration's – and his personal – response to the inability to cap the deepwater gusher. Obama does not like being portrayed as emotionally detached from the situation.
Said Obama, "And I understand. And here's what – I'm going to push back hard on this, because I think that this is just an idea that got in folks' heads and the media has run with it. I was down there a month ago, before most of these talking heads were even paying attention to the Gulf. A month ago, I was meeting with fishermen down there standing in the rain talking about what a potential crisis this could be.
Even as nations struggle to curb emissions of greenhouse gases, the European Union is taking on a potentially more complicated environmental challenge: preserving the world's biodiversity.
Last week, the European Commission put biodiversity at the center of its annual Green Week conference in Brussels, after E.U. environment ministers warned in March against "going beyond the limits of nature," and after heads of state and government endorsed the ministers' pledge to halt biodiversity loss in the Union by 2020 and step up efforts to avert such losses globally.
The wives of two workers who died in the April 20 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, testified this morning before a special meeting of the House Energy subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, in Chalmette. Both told committee members that their husbands, Shane Roshto and Wyatt Kemp, had told them in the weeks before the explosion about problems they had in controlling the well.
"This well was different in the fact that they were having so many problems, and so many things were happening, and it was just kind of out of hand," said Courtney Kemp, of Jonesville, La.
Several of the committee members asked whether their husbands felt comfortable bringing safety concerns to Transocean, which owned the rig, or BP, which was leasing the rig to drill its well.
Pennsylvania regulators halted work on Monday at dozens of unfinished natural gas wells being drilled by the company – whose out-of-control well spewed out explosive gas and polluted water for 16 hours last week.
The order against Houston-based EOG Resources Inc. will remain in place until the Department of Environmental Protection can finish its investigation and until after the company makes whatever changes may be needed, Governor Ed Rendell said.
The order stops EOG from drilling and hydraulically fracturing wells. It affects about 70 unfinished EOG wells into the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation.
If the Obama administration is serious about holding BP and others responsible for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, it can start with the federal Clean Water Act, which could allow the federal government to collect as much as $4.7 billion in civil fines, just for the oil that's spilled so far.
Even if the courts allow the fines, however, there are no guarantees that the money would go to the cleanup and economic recovery of the Gulf Coast, according to legal experts.
Though other laws could come into play, the Clean Water Act may provide the best avenue for legal action. After the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, the law was beefed up to include harsh civil and criminal penalties for oil spills.
A new law intended to keep rivers from being sucked dry, won't stop existing industries from using millions of gallons of surface water every day.
But the law will control withdrawals by new companies seeking to pump more water from rivers across South Carolina. That's the essence of a compromise bill approved on Thursday by the Legislature after five years of negotiations involving conservationists, farmers and big-business leaders.
Few are satisfied with the law, but many say it's a step in the right direction. The bill is awaiting Governor Mark Sanford's approval. Indications are that he will sign it.
An out-of-control natural gas well in a remote area of Pennsylvania shot explosive gas and polluted water as high as 75 feet into the air before crews were able to tame it more than half a day later, officials said on Friday.
The gas never caught fire and no injuries were reported, but state officials worried about an explosion before the well could be controlled. The well was brought under control just after noon on Friday, about 16 hours after it started spewing gas and brine, said Elizabeth Ivers, a spokeswoman for driller EOG Resources Inc.
Pennsylvania, historically an insignificant source of natural gas, is trying to adapt its laws to respond to a furious rush to tap a gas-rich shale formation under its land. The blowout could test the ability of state regulators, who promised an aggressive investigation into the accident.
The nation might sense the anguish of those whose lives lie in the path of the Gulf Coast disaster, but we Alaskans know that hollow ache firsthand. Just 90 miles from where I stand, the Exxon Valdez ran aground in 1989, spilling more than 11 million gallons of oil and leaving scars that still linger. Though Prince William Sound is slowly healing itself, the massive herring runs that drove both the ecosystem and the fishing economy have yet to return. We can only hope our loss isn't a harbinger of what awaits the people and wildlife of the Gulf.
Their misfortune, though, might have spared Alaskans a new disaster. Incredible as it may seem, when the Gulf began spewing, we were about to take a gargantuan risk in the pristine waters of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, off Alaska's northern shore – perhaps the most potentially catastrophic offshore drilling environment on earth. Royal Dutch Shell was poised to begin drilling exploratory wells on July 1 in this fragile ecosystem rich in rare wildlife, from polar bears to eider ducks. But in the wake of the BP catastrophe, the Obama administration stepped forward and announced a moratorium, until at least 2011, on all new offshore drilling plans, including Shell's – a courageous and correct move in the face of an ongoing environmental crisis caused by repeated, institutional failures of both government and industry.
This week, in a swift and blunt response, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency rejected a proposal to dump Cuyahoga River sludge into an idled limestone quarry on Kelleys Island.
The agency said the Kellstone Quarry is unsuitable for storage of contaminated sediment dredged from Cleveland's harbor, and would render groundwater undrinkable on the vacation island off Sandusky.
But officials with Lafarge North America, which mined the quarry until 2008, and the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority said they still hope to negotiate a compromise that would allow sludge to be stored on the island.
Ground water levels declined over the past quarter-century in 83 percent of 470 wells measured in the sprawling Columbia Plateau Regional Aquifer system in southeastern Washington, northeastern Oregon and western Idaho, a new report from the U.S. Geological Survey found.
The steepest drops occurred in the deepest basalt aquifer in the 44,000-square-mile plateau. Smaller declines were recorded in shallower aquifers that receive recharge water from irrigation, precipitation or discharge from rivers or wells, according to the survey.
Hydrologists compared readings taken in 1984 with measurements recorded in 2009 for the report, which was released this week.
New Products and Technology
It's a brilliant morning in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park and more than 20 people have gathered on the boardwalk to stare into a bubbling, steamy pool of mud. They're waiting for a show. Like a dragon dozing beneath the earth's surface, Grand Geyser is snoring and sighing, belching bubbles and puffs of steam.
"When Grand erupts, it can shoot up to 200 feet in the air – 25 percent taller than Old Faithful," Bob Bailey says, from the crowd of onlookers.
Tourists in windbreakers and hiking boots listen as Bailey reports over a two-way radio, "Grand has overspill." After Bailey's report, comes another, "Beehive has indicators... Beehive is going to go!"
Water University was created to acknowledge recognition and certification for experience and educational achievements in the field of water and wastewater management.
State rural water associations – who are the trainers of the industry, and train approximately 100,000 personnel each year – will administer the certification program as a satellite of Water University. This partnership provides an added local state dimension of the value to the certification designation. The overall goal is to provide recognition that ultimately makes certification holders more hirable, more promotable and more valued. The UMC is a career investment that will reap many returns as the industry raises the bar of management excellence.
Contact YOUR State Rural Water Association for more information, TODAY! Or visit www.wateruniversity.org.