NancyStoner

About Nancy Stoner

Posts by Nancy Stoner:

Motivation Meets Innovation in the Name of Water Conservation

California is in the midst of one of the worst droughts the state has ever seen—so smart water use matters more than ever before. Earlier this month, I visited Southern California to get a firsthand look at some of the largest and most successful efforts to reuse and recycle water in the country.

Nancy_OC

From left to right: Jim Colson, Environmental Compliance Manager, Orange County Sanitation District; Nancy Stoner, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Water; Benita Best-Wong, Director of EPA’s Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds; Mike Wehner, Assistant General Manager, Orange County Water District; and Dr. Robert Ghirelli, Assistant General Manager, Orange County Sanitation District. Photo credit: Jason Dadakis, Orange County Water District

 

One of the facilities I visited was the Orange County Groundwater Replenishment System, which puts highly treated wastewater collected from the county’s sewer system—and that would otherwise be discharged into the Pacific Ocean—to beneficial use in the county’s water supply. Finding innovative ways for municipalities and businesses to use water is a priority for EPA. More

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Reducing Cybersecurity Risks in the Water Sector: A Voluntary Partnership Approach

Last year, President Obama took an important step to improve the security and resilience of the nation’s critical infrastructure against cyber attacks by issuing Executive Order 13636 – Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity. This order calls for the development of a voluntary Cybersecurity Framework, which should provide flexible, performance-based and cost-effective approaches to help owners and operators of critical infrastructure assess and manage cyber risk. It must also include provisions to protect business confidentiality, individual privacy and civil liberties.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) issued the Cybersecurity Framework on February 12, 2014. The Framework, which NIST developed in collaboration with the private sector and other federal agencies, provides guidance to organizations on managing cybersecurity risk. A key objective is to encourage organizations to make cybersecurity risk a priority, similar to financial, safety, and operational risk. The Framework relies on existing standards, guidance, and best practices. It provides a common method for organizations to assess their cybersecurity posture, describe a cybersecurity target state, prioritize opportunities for improvement, assess progress toward the target state, and foster communications among stakeholders. More

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Offsetting Wetlands Losses is Critical Work

Nancy Stoner in SF

Eric Mruz of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service points out to Nancy Stoner (left) and EPA Pacific-Southwest Water Director Jane Diamond some of the wetland restoration work being done alongside the San Francisco Bay. Photo credit: EPA

 

When I was recently in San Francisco, I was astonished to learn that over the last century the Bay has lost more than 85 percent of its tidal wetlands. So I took a tour with Jane Diamond, EPA’s water director for the Pacific Southwest region, of the restoration work being done in the South Bay to convert industrial salt ponds back into tidal wetlands and other habitats.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Infrastructure is Going Green in Communities Across America

When I released the Water Technology Innovation Blueprint last spring, it framed the top ten opportunities to help solve current water resource issues. Green infrastructure is one of my favorites in the top ten, and it is rapidly expanding across the country. Green infrastructure decreases pollution to local waterways by treating rain where it falls and keeping polluted stormwater from entering sewer systems. Green infrastructure tools and techniques include green roofs, permeable materials, alternative designs for streets and buildings, trees, rain gardens and rain harvesting systems.

Green infrastructure is also a critical tool for addressing climate change and mitigating its impacts by making communities more resilient. Green infrastructure can increase the capacity of sewer systems by reducing the flow into them, making the systems more resilient.

This fall I attended the first national Community Summit on Green Infrastructure, co-hosted by the Syracuse Environmental Finance Center and EPA in partnership with Onondaga County, NY  and the City of Syracuse. The summit provided an opportunity for communities across the country to share experiences and innovation in green infrastructure, while also strengthening the EPA Green Infrastructure Community Partnerships.  The pioneering cities who attended this community summit are ahead of the curve, paving the way for more natural stormwater controls through the use of green infrastructure.

Green roof on top of Syracuse University’s LEED Platinum certified Gateway Center. Photo Credit: Caitlin Eger, Syracuse Environmental Finance Center

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Addressing Critical Water Access Issues along the U.S.-Mexico Border

In most parts of the United States, regular access to water is an afterthought. We open our taps or turn on our faucets and out comes all the water we need for cooking, drinking, bathing and cleaning. But some communities, including many along the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, lack access to the abundant, clean water that most of us enjoy every day. EPA, through its U.S.-Mexico border water infrastructure program, is working to address critical public health and environmental problems at the source by providing often first-time drinking and wastewater services to underserved communities.

Last month, I traveled to Laredo, Texas, and was able to see firsthand exactly how this program is helping provide communities there, known as colonias, with their first-ever access to drinking water and sewer systems. Many people in the colonias have not had regular access to water and modern sanitation systems because that type of infrastructure was not required to be installed at the time the properties were sold and their houses built.

This small water treatment plant near the U.S.-Mexico border provides about 3,700 people in the Laredo, Texas area with sewer system access, many for the first time. Photo credit: Stephanie Von Feck, EPA.

This small water treatment plant near the U.S.-Mexico border provides about 3,700 people in the Laredo, Texas area with sewer system access, many for the first time. Photo credit: Stephanie Von Feck, EPA.

 

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Clarifying Protection for Streams and Wetlands

In September, we joined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in developing a proposed rule that will provide greater consistency, certainty, and predictability nationwide by clarifying where the Clean Water Act applies – and where it doesn’t. These improvements are necessary to reduce costs and minimize delays in the permit process, and protect waters that are vital to public health, the environment, and the economy.

Over the past decade, Supreme Court rulings have caused confusion about which streams and wetlands are protected from pollution and development under the Clean Water Act. As a result, members of Congress, state and local officials, industry, agriculture, environmental groups, and the public asked EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to clarify jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.

In response, we’ve developed a draft rule that takes into account the more narrow reading of the Clean Water Act jurisdiction established by the Supreme Court. This means that EPA’s jurisdiction will only include the protection of the same waters that have historically been covered under the Clean Water Act for the past 40 years – in fact, it will be a smaller set of waters than before the Supreme Court decision.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Water is Critical to Our Economy

When it comes to supporting the economy by spending money on water-based tourism, I do my share. Like most Americans, I love swimming, fishing, boating and even just hanging out by lakes, streams and beaches in the summertime. This past summer for example, I spent a weekend on the Delaware shore; a week in Wyoming hiking and fishing in pure mountain streams; and a week in New York swimming in the state park beaches. None of that comes cheap – but it is well worth it because I will remember these family vacations forever and my children will as well.

Water is also vital to a number of other economic sectors. Water is used to extract energy and mineral resources from the earth, refine petroleum and chemicals, roll steel, mill paper, and produce uncounted other goods, from semiconductors to the foods and beverages that line supermarket shelves. Water cools the generators and drives the turbines that produce electricity, and sustains the habitat and fish stocks that are vital to the commercial fishing industry. Rivers, lakes, and oceans provide natural highways for commercial navigation. Every sector of the U.S. economy is influenced by water.

Here at EPA, we have studied this issue more closely and are releasing a report on the Importance of Water to the U.S. EconomyMore

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Are the Streams that Flow to Your Tap Protected from Pollution?

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words.

Well, this picture tells the story of a much higher number – 117 million.

Map shows the percent of the U.S. population that gets some of its drinking water directly or indirectly from streams that are seasonal, rain-dependent or headwaters.

 

It has to do with types of streams – that are tiny headwaters or only flow after precipitation or in certain seasons – that form the foundation of our nation’s water resources. These often unknown, unnamed and under-appreciated streams have a tremendous impact on everything downstream, including rivers, lakes and coastal waters, as well as people. More

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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EPA Science: Supporting the Waters of the U.S.

One of the great environmental success stories of our time is the Clean Water Act. Forty years ago, the condition of U.S. rivers, streams, lakes, coastal areas and other water resources was a national concern.

Things started to improve after the newly-established U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was given direction “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters” through major revisions to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (now the Clean Water Act).

But over the past decade, court decisions have created uncertainty about the Clean Water Act’s protection of certain streams and wetlands from pollution and development. In particular, the confusion centers on questions surrounding small streams and wetlands—some of which only flow after precipitation or dry up during parts of the year—and what role they play in the health of larger water bodies nearby or downstream.

This week, EPA’s Science Advisory Board released for public comment a draft scientific report, “Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence.” This draft report synthesizes more than 1,000 peer-reviewed pieces of scientific literature about how smaller, isolated water bodies are connected to larger ones and represents the state-of-the-science on the connectivity and isolation of waters in the United States. The draft report makes three main conclusions:  More

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.