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Federal Water Tap, September 28: U.S.-China Meeting Gives Lift to Climate Change Talks

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The Rundown

President Xi Jinping visits Washington. A smaller backlog for drinking water infrastructure spending, but dollars still sit in the bank. A new treatment facility for the Gold King mine, and legislation to compensate for damages. New reports look at global food security and the Columbia Plateau Aquifer. Without congressional action, the Land and Water Conservation Fund will expire this week. Afghanistan’s water draws attention at a diplomatic conference.

“Beyond the immediate cleanup of this spill, it’s high time that we overhaul our abandoned mine cleanup policies to make future disasters like this less likely. While developers of resources like oil, natural gas, and coal all pay royalties to return fair value to taxpayers for our public resources, hardrock mining companies can still mine valuable minerals for free.” — Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), speaking at a U.S. Senate committee hearing on the August wastewater spill at Gold King mine, in Colorado. Heinrich plans to introduce legislation establishing royalty payments for hardrock mining on federal land. He also co-sponsored the Gold King Mine Spill Recovery Act, which lays out allowable compensation for those hurt financially by the spill.

By the Numbers

$US 1.1 billion: Money allocated by Congress for improvements to public drinking water systems that has not yet been spent. The backlog is half what it was four years ago. (Associated Press)

$US 2 million: Grant funding to establish water quality trading markets, a cap-and-trade system for water pollution. (Natural Resources Conservation Service)

$US 1.8 million: Cost of temporary water treatment facility that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will build at the Gold King mine site, in southwest Colorado. (Durango Herald)

Reports and Studies

Federal Report on Climate Change and Food Security
A warming planet with more erratic rainfall and deeper droughts is “likely to diminish continued progress on global food security,” according to a draft federal report on agriculture and climate change.

The report notes that water availability will limit the capacity of both wet and dry regions to adapt to changes in precipitation and temperature. It also notes that the United States is likely to see increased demand for agricultural exports from countries that struggle to adapt.

The report — titled Climate Change, Global Food Security, and the U.S. Food System — is the consensus work of 21 federal agencies, universities, private groups, and nongovernmental organizations.

Public comments are due by October 8 and can be submitted at https://review.globalchange.gov/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss.

Columbia Plateau Aquifer Report
Groundwater levels have declined in a quarter of the Columbia Plateau Aquifer system because of intensive irrigation, according to a U.S. Geological Survey assessment.

The Columbia Plateau, a volcanic basin between the Cascades and the Rockies, produces $US 6 billion in farm output per year. Here’s a link to a six-page fact sheet on the report.

News Briefs

Climate Talks
During a visit to Washington, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that a national cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions will begin in 2017. The tricky matters of measurement, monitoring, the size of the cap, and enforcement are still on the table.

The two leaders also issued a joint statement that serves as a guidepost for the climate negotiations that will take place in Paris later this year. They affirmed the notion that technology and financing will be essential in assisting the transition to low-carbon economies and in helping poor countries cope with the unwelcomed effects of a warming planet.

Afghanistan, Development, and Water
At a diplomatic meeting in New York on the future of Afghanistan, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi mentioned the fractured country’s water resources as a prospective salve for healing economic and civic wounds.

“Afghanistan has a significant geographic location, abundant water and mineral resources, and a huge potential in terms of human talent,” Wang said at the meeting, which was organized by the governments of Afghanistan, China, and the United States. “The international community should step up strategic communication with Afghanistan and help the country fully tap its potential, harness its advantages, and explore an effective development path that fits the country’s reality and actual needs, and draw up a master plan for national development.”

What happens when Afghanistan begins developing its rivers — for agriculture, mining, or industry — is a significant geopolitical question. The country is located at the headwaters of major watersheds that flow into Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and other neighbors. Only the Helmand River, shared with Iran, is marked by a treaty.

On the Radar

LWCF Deadline Approaches
A fund that uses royalties from offshore oil and gas production to purchase land for parks, forests, wildlife refuges and water benefits will expire on September 30 unless Congress reauthorizes it.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund is allowed to provide $US 900 million per year for parks and conservation, but recently Congress has allocated only one-third the limit. A temporary extension could be added to a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through December, which will be voted on this week. Or its authorization could lapse and the program would be reconstructed, with uncertain outcomes.

“If Congress fails on this and we are forced to reinvent this program in the future, there’s no telling how it could get written,” said Dave Chadwick of the Montana Wildlife Federation, to the Missoulian newspaper.

Federal Water Tap is a weekly digest spotting trends in U.S. government water policy. To get more water news, follow Circle of Blue on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter.

The post Federal Water Tap, September 28: U.S.-China Meeting Gives Lift to Climate Change Talks appeared first on Circle of Blue WaterNews.

Source: Water News

Source: Water Industry News

The Stream, September 28: United States Drinking Water Funds Not Being Spent

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The  Global Rundown

The Global Rundown

A large sum of federal money aimed at improving drinking water systems in the United States has not been spent. The United Nations adopted a new set of global goals to improve human and environmental well-being. The United Kingdom said it will pledge billions to help developing countries address climate change. Floods destroyed rice crops in Nigeria, while electricity shortages damaged wheat harvests in Zambia. Water experts in Kenya decried a dearth of groundwater data, and investors bet on groundwater to make a profit in California.

“The great danger is that the breadth of the targets becomes an excuse for not fulfilling the targets.”–David Miliband, president and chief executive officer of the aid organization International Rescue Committee, on the challenge facing global leaders after the adoption of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals over the weekend. (Reuters)

By the Numbers

By The Numbers

$1.1 billion Amount allocated to the U.S. Drinking Water State Revolving Fund that had not been spent as of August 1. The fund is a federal program used to help communities improve drinking water systems. Associated Press

11 percent Estimated drop in wheat production in Zambia due to electricity shortages that cut off irrigation supplies. Bloomberg

626,250 metric tons Amount of rice destroyed by floods in Nigeria, equivalent to the amount consumed in the country in 1 1/2 months. Bloomberg

$8.8 billion Amount to be pledged by the United Kingdom to address climate change in developing countries over the next five years. Guardian

Science

Science, Studies, And Reports

A lack of accurate and reliable groundwater data is inhibiting proper water management and increasing the cost of well drilling projects in Kenya, according to industry experts. The data currently available are disparate and not readily available to water managers and well drillers. Reuters

On the Radar

On The Radar

Investors are betting on groundwater in the Mojave Desert to someday become a profitable export to dry, highly populated areas in Southern California. So far, however, millions of dollars have gone into the project with little to show. The New York Times

The post The Stream, September 28: United States Drinking Water Funds Not Being Spent appeared first on Circle of Blue WaterNews.

Source: Water News

Source: Water Industry News