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U.S. federal agencies release water resource reports

Published On: 4/12/2011

Three U.S. federal agencies have released reports related to the nation's freshwater resources.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Geologic Survey (USGS), and Bureau of Reclamation have recently released reports related to protection of the nation's freshwater and public health. All three reports tackle the issue of climate change to various degrees.

EPA’s Strategy for Protecting America’s Waters
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its two-year strategy for protecting national water bodies and public health entitled “Coming Together for Clean Water”. The EPA has identified five key areas to guide its implementation efforts and actions to meet the strategic plan objectives. These areas include developing a baseline for progress, increase protection of healthy waters, restore degraded waters, reduce pollution from discrete sources, and enhance watershed resiliency and revitalize communities. Look for the agency to continue to clamp down on point-source polluters, to expand water quality monitoring, to lobby for stronger pollution standards, and to encourage clean technology and better management practices. Read the plan for more details about key objectives and proposed actions.

USGS Water Study
The U.S. Geological Survey has released a draft report on observing changes to the nation’s freshwater resources as a result of climate change. The report provides an overview of climate-relevant water resource challenges and assessments regarding current hydro-climatological observation networks, data gaps in water monitoring networks, data management and access, and adequacy of water resource models. The draft is available for public review until April 22. Send comments to tschertz@usgs.gov. Include “9506 Report” in the subject line and full name and address in the body of the message. Comments become part of the public record.

Bureau of Reclamation Hydropower Assessment
The Bureau of Reclamation has recently asserted that it could economically develop 225 MW of hydropower generation at 70 sites it manages. The finding is part of a report assessing the feasibility of hydropower installations at existing dams, canals and tunnels. Sites in Colorado, Montana and Utah account for more than half of the potential new capacity.

In conjunction with publication of the report, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu and U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced on April 5, 2011 $26.6 million in funding for research and development projects to advance hydropower technology. This funding is focused on development of innovative technologies that can produce power more efficiently, reduce costs and increase sustainable hydropower generation at sites not previously considered practical.

Projects will be selected in four areas:

• Sustainable Small Hydropower ($10.5 million awarded over 3 years): These projects will research, develop, and test low head small hydropower technologies that can be quickly and efficiently deployed in existing or constructed waterways. DOE will fund system or component model development, as well as the testing of these systems.

• Environmental Mitigation Technologies for Conventional Hydropower ($2.25 million awarded over 3 years): These projects will develop innovative conventional hydropower technologies that feature enhanced environmental performance designs to increase electricity generation while mitigating fish and habitat impacts and enhancing downstream water quality. As an example, concepts that demonstrate turbine efficiencies greater than 90 percent and fish passage survival greater than 96 percent will be sought.

• Sustainable Pumped Storage Hydropower ($11.875 million awarded over 4 years): DOE intends to provide technical and financial assistance to accelerate pumped storage hydropower projects already in the pipeline. Projects that begin construction by 2014 and integrate wind and/or solar will be preferred. DOE will also support analyses that calculate the economic value of pumped storage hydropower in dynamically responding to the grid and in providing other ancillary services.

• Advanced Conventional Hydropower System Testing at a Bureau of Reclamation Facility ($2.0 million awarded over 3 years): These projects will support system tests of innovative, low-head hydropower technologies at non-powered hydro facilities and sites owned by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation. The deliverable includes testing to demonstrate energy cost reductions that could be replicated at other Bureau of Reclamation sites. Both the Bureau and Energy Department are sponsoring this work.

The solicitation is issued by DOE’s Wind and Water Power Program, which works to research, test, and develop innovative technologies capable of generating renewable, environmentally responsible, and cost-effective electricity from wind and water power. Mandatory letters of intent are due May 5, 2011, and completed applications are due June 6, 2011. For more details on this opportunity, see the Funding Opportunity Announcement.

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