This Week in EPA Science

By Kacey FitzpatrickResearch Recap graphic identifier

It’s a leap year! Use that extra day to catch up on some science. Here’s the latest from EPA:

EPA Researchers Mentoring Young Students 

EPA researchers Cheryl Brown and Christina Folger recently acted as science mentors for elementary school students preparing for the Newport Science Fair in Newport, Oregon. The mentors assisted the students as they conducted experiments, gathered data, and compiled results. Read more about the event in the blog Mentoring for Science Technology, Engineering, and Math.

It’s National Engineers Week!

National Engineers Week celebrates the contributions engineers make to society. EPA engineers work hard every day to protect public health and the environment. Read about some of our engineers like Felicia Barnett and Diana Bless in Researchers at Work.

Cleaner Air Means Healthier Hearts

February is Healthy Heart Month and EPA has been raising awareness of the role air pollution plays in heart health all month long. Air pollution can affect heart health, and even trigger heart attacks and strokes. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy recently discussed the link between air pollution and heart health in her blog Cleaner Air Means Healthier Hearts.

EPA Scientists Receive Highest Honor from the White House

EPA’s Dr. Alex Marten and Dr. Rebecca Dodder were recently named by President Obama as recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach. Read more about the awardees in the press release EPA Scientists Receive Highest Honor from the White House.

Community-based Research Opportunity

Are you looking for funding to conduct collaborative, community-based research that will foster a better understanding of how ecosystems support human health? Well, you are in luck! EPA just announced a Request for Applications to fund such research: Integrating Human Health and Well-Being with Ecosystem Services. The ultimate goal is to help communities achieve their own objectives while considering the role of ecosystem services. Check out the request for more information.

About the Author: Kacey Fitzpatrick is a student contractor and writer working with the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Preventing and Better Preparing for Emergencies at Chemical Plants is Job One

Mathy Stanislaus Mathy Stanislaus

By Mathy Stanislaus

The chemical industry provides critical products we use every day, creates jobs, and is a staple of the U.S. economy. While numerous chemical plants operate safely, in the past 10 years nearly 60 people died, some 17,000 people were injured or sought medical treatment, and almost 500,000 people were evacuated or sheltered-in-place as a result of accidental releases at chemical plants. During that time, more than 1,500 incidents were reported causing over $2 billion in property damages.

To prevent and reduce the number of accidents and protect communities and first responders, we are proposing revisions to the accidental release prevention requirements under the Clean Air Act, also known as our Risk Management Program (RMP). In the Report to the President on implementing Executive Order (EO) 13650, Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security (August 2013), we committed to amending the RMP regulations in 2016.

This proposal is based on extensive engagement over two years with community leaders, first responders, local and state governments, industry and many other stakeholders – nearly 1,800 participants across the country in over 25 states. The Executive Order Working group reviewed existing programs, recommendations from the safety and security communities, and feedback from the EO listening session, as well as investigative reports of major incidents. In 2014 the EO Working Group published for stakeholder comment a preliminary list of options for improving chemical facility safety and security. The May 2014 Progress Report to the President, Actions to Improve Chemical Facility Safety and Security – A Shared Commitment, summarized the federal governments’ progress. Modernizing the RMP rule was identified as one of the top priorities to improve chemical facility safety and security. In July, 2014 we sought comment on potential revisions to modernize EPA’s regulations, guidance and policies by issuing a Request for Information. In 2015, prior to convening a Small Business Advocacy Review Panel, we conducted outreach with small entities potentially affected by these regulations. EPA invited the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and 32 potentially affected small entity representatives to a conference call and solicited comments from them on preliminary information. These comments and concerns have been reflected in today’s proposal.

The proposed amendments are intended to improve existing risk management plan requirements to enhance chemical safety at RMP facilities by:

  • •Requiring the consideration of safer technologies and alternatives by including the assessment of Inherently Safer Technologies and Designs in the Process Hazard Assessment
    •
  • Requiring third party audits and root cause analysis to identify process safety improvements for accident prevention
  • Enhancing emergency planning and preparedness requirements to ensure coordination between facilities and local communities
    •
  • Ensuring that  emergency response capabilities are available to mitigate the effects of a chemical accident
    •
  • Improving the ability of local emergency planning committees and local  emergency response officials to better prepare for emergencies
    •
  • Increasing public access to information to help the public understand the risks at RMP facilities, and increase community involvement in accident planning for when communities need to evacuate or shelter-in-place during an accident

I participated in many of the listening sessions and stakeholder conferences and heard first-hand from local responders and communities about their concerns about accidental chemical releases and their ideas to improve planning and prevent emergencies. Together we can work to strengthen preparedness and prevention efforts in our communities.

This proposal is a step in the right direction.  We want to build on the success of leaders in the chemical industry by enhancing their operations to prevent accidents, and we want to make sure that communities are fully prepared for a chemical plant accident, so that first responders, workers, and neighboring community members are protected.

The proposed rule is just one of the actions the U.S. government has undertaken to enhance the safety and security of chemical facilities under EO 13650. In addition to these revisions, we continue our work under EO 13650 by assisting local communities in developing local emergency contingency plans and facilitating a dialog between communities and chemical facilities on chemical accident prevention and preparedness.

Learn more about the proposal here: http://www.epa.gov/rmp/proposed-changes-risk-management-program-rmp-rule

Follow us on Twitter at @EPAland.

 

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Water with your meal?

By Jennie Saxe

This time of year, you might find me sampling the last of our Valentine’s Day chocolates, or cooking up a hearty stew – enough to ensure there will be leftovers for my busy family. In past blogs, we’ve written about the water footprint of our food, and ways that sustainable food management protects water resources. This got me thinking: how much water goes into producing some of my family’s favorite foods?

You can calculate the “water footprint” of your favorite foods.

You can calculate the “water footprint” of your favorite foods.

After doing a little research, I found that there’s a lot of water hidden in my go-to chicken stew recipe: the chicken alone – about 2 lbs. of it – requires around 1,100 gallons of water to produce. That’s enough water to fill about 25 bathtubs! If my famous beef stew were on the menu, the same amount of beef requires almost quadruple the amount of water – 91 bathtubs’ worth. And believe it or not, those Valentine’s Day chocolates have the largest water footprint on the menu: it takes a whopping 454 gallons of water to produce a standard-sized (100g) chocolate bar. According to EPA’s WaterSense program, that’s more water than an average American family of four uses in one day.

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the water footprint of your favorite meals. Buying only what you need for your recipes reduces potential food waste, and minimizes the waste of everything that went into producing the food, including water!

You can also look for foods that are locally-grown. Lower transportation needs for local food translate into a smaller environmental footprint overall. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and urban gardens are great ways to support your community and get healthy, local foods. EPA is a partner in the Local Foods, Local Places program which helps communities like Allentown, Pennsylvania, Crisfield, Maryland, and Williamson, West Virginia stimulate economic development through local food enterprises.

With simple steps, you can be a water-savvy home chef – and still make mouths water at the dinner table.

About the author: Dr. Jennie Saxe joined EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region in 2003 and works in the Water Protection Division on sustainability programs.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

A Romantic Getaway?

A romantic idea for next Valentine’s Day.

A romantic idea for next Valentine’s Day.

By: Maureen Krudner

Another Valentine’s Day has come and gone, with gifts of flowers, candy and jewelry. Was this pretty routine? How about something different next year? The Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant offers a Valentine’s Day Tour and it is well worth the trip.

The facility is located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and is the largest of New York City’s 14 wastewater treatment plants. The plant takes wastewater from residences of approximately 1 million New Yorkers spread over 25 square miles. A multitude of facts about our wastewater system are available online, easily found.

Alligators in the sewer? Find out the truth behind the rumors.

Alligators in the sewer? Find out the truth behind the rumors.

The tour brings more than those facts. The visitor center, which educates numerous school groups on the city’s water system from supply to wastewater, pays homage to the undying legend of alligators in our sewer system. You get a look at the internal workings of fire hydrants. You also get to see the inside of water supply sampling stations, used to ensure our drinking water is safe.

Greenpoint’s wastewater treatment plant is the largest in New York City

Greenpoint’s wastewater treatment plant is the largest in New York City

Leaving the visitor center, we took an express elevator 13 stories to the viewing deck. From here, we get a good look at the eight state-of-the-art stainless steel digester eggs. These ‘eggs’ break down the organic material removed from sewage and produce material which can eventually be used as fertilizer. Combining form and function, the eggs are illuminated at night, making them a landmark for travelers on the city’s highways and bridges. In addition to getting a bird’s eye view of the plant, we were treated to fabulous views of the Manhattan skyline and the plant’s surrounding industrial areas. Oh, speaking of treats, did I mention the chocolate kisses we were given on arrival?

Being familiar with the wastewater treatment process, the most educational part for me was hearing the reaction of the other visitors. So many guests were amazed at the amount of effort that goes into providing a safe source of drinking water and then cleaning it up after we’re done using it. This is something that’s easily taken for granted.

For information on the NYC Wastewater Treatment Plants:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/wastewater/index.shtml

 

For information on the NYC Water Supply:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/drinking_water/index.shtml

About the Author: Maureen Krudner works in the Clean Water Division of EPA Region 2.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Aire más limpio significa corazones más sanos

Por la administradora de EPA Gina McCarthy

 

Febrero es el Mes del Corazón Saludable. No hay mejor momento para aprender acerca de cómo proteger su corazón.

La contaminación del aire puede afectar la salud del corazón y hasta desencadenar ataques al corazón o derrames cerebrales. Esa es información importante para una de cada tres personas en Estados Unidos que padecen del corazón y para sus seres queridos.

Y es por eso que la EPA está trabajando con otras agencias gubernamentales y con organizaciones de salud privadas y sin fines de lucro sobre la iniciativa nacional Million Hearts® para prevenir 1 millón de ataques al corazón y cerebrovasculares para el 2017. Este mes, y todos los meses, queremos asegurarnos de que la gente entienda cómo las enfermedades cardíacas están vinculadas a la contaminación del aire—y qué puede hacer la gente para protegerse.

Los estudios científicos, incluyendo la investigación realizada por los científicos de la EPA, indican que no tan solo hay una asociación entre la contaminación del aire y las enfermedades del corazón, sino que esa asociación puede tener consecuencias que amenazan la vida misma.
En un reciente estudio publicado en Environmental Research,  los científicos de la EPA analizaron los datos recopilados por los satélites de la EPA y los monitores de aire de la EPA basados en la tierra y confirmaron que las enfermedades cardíacas y los ataques al corazón son más probables en los individuos que viven en áreas con una contaminación de aire elevada. Este estudio encontró que la exposición aun a pequeñas cantidades adicionales de contaminación de partículas finas promediadas a lo largo de un año podrían aumentar las probabilidades de que una persona sufriera un ataque al corazón por hasta 14 por ciento.
Entonces, ¿qué puede hacer para mantener su corazón saludable?
• Usted puede comenzar asegurándose de comer alimentos nutritivos y hacer ejercicios (no obstante, asegúrese de consultar primero con su proveedor de salud”.
• Consulte el Índice de Calidad de Aire cada día para informarse acerca de la calidad del aire en su localidad y cómo reducir su exposición a la contaminación de aire.
• Todos podemos poner de nuestra parte para seleccionar opciones que sean mejor para el medio ambiente y nuestra salud—como tomar transporte público con mayor frecuencia o guiar vehículos más limpios.
Este febrero y todos los meses, recuerde que el aire más limpio significa corazones más saludables.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Mentoring for Science Technology, Engineering, and Math

By Coral Tily

EPA researchers Cheryl Brown and Christina Folger were among the 45 volunteer science mentors that offered technical assistance to elementary school students preparing for the Newport Science Fair in Newport, Oregon. This science fair is one of the Oregon coast’s many STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) activities.

Lydia Miller with Anastasia in front of the poster of Lydia’s group – influence of soil composition and retention

Lydia Miller with Anastasia Kaldy in front of the poster of Lydia’s group – influence of soil composition and retention

Students at Newport area elementary schools conducted experiments, gathered data, and compiled results. On January 21, the students shared their scientific discoveries with the public at a Science Fair held at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, home to one of EPA’s Western Ecology Division research laboratories.

The science mentors visited the classrooms regularly to assist the students with their investigations. Over 800 students from 33 classrooms at Sam Case and Yaquina View Elementary Schools in Newport participated; each class was matched with one or more science mentors. Oregon Sea Grant and volunteer coordinators organize the Science Fair in partnership with the schools. Cheryl and Christina (in her 5th year volunteering as a mentor) worked at Sam Case Elementary School, helping to develop and conduct experiments investigating plant growth and factors influencing soil permeability.

Science Fair participant : Anastasia Kaldy in front of her group’s project – effects of soil types

Anastasia Kaldy in front of her group’s project – effects of soil types

Cheryl’s class tested the effect of different factors on plant growth and survival.  Each group came up with their own factor/hypothesis that they tested.  Factors selected included the effect of salt, detergent, soda vs diet soda, Gatorade, effect of soil type (dirt, sand, and coffee), if plants could grow on ramen noodles, and the effect of burning plant leaves, as some of the boys just wanted to burn something.

Christina’s class worked with how different soil composition influences water retention. Students used different materials (sand, clay, pine needles, pebbles, etc.) to create multiple soil treatments in plastic cups with holes in the bottom for drainage.  They ‘made it rain’ on the cups several times over the two week period and recorded the weight of each cup at specific times after the “rain” to see which combination of materials retained the most water.

The event was a great experience for students and mentors alike. It showed the promise of making the connection between working scientists and young people in science, technology, engineering, and math activities.

About the Author: Information services specialist Coral Tily wrote this post in cooperation with Cheryl Brown (oceanographer), Christina Folger (marine ecologist), and Joan Hurley (senior environmental employment grantee).

Read “Science Fair A Big Success,” an article about the Newport Science Fair in the local paper

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Cleaner Air Means Healthier Hearts

Gina McCarthy Gina McCarthy

By EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy

February is Healthy Heart Month. There’s no better time than now to learn how to protect your heart.

Air pollution can affect heart health, and even trigger heart attacks and strokes. That’s important information for the one in three Americans who have heart disease, and for the people who love them.

And it’s why EPA is working with other government agencies, and with private and nonprofit health organizations, on the Million Hearts® national initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. This month, and every month, we want to make sure people understand how heart disease is linked to air pollution – and what people can do to protect themselves.

Scientific studies, including research by EPA scientists, shows that there’s not just an association between air pollution and heart disease, but that this association can have life-threatening consequences.

In a recent study in Environmental Research, EPA scientists looked at data from NASA satellites and EPA ground-based air monitors, and confirmed that heart disease and heart attacks are more likely for individuals who live in places with higher air pollution.  The study found that exposure to even small additional amounts of fine particle pollution averaged over a year could increase a person’s odds of a heart attack by up to 14 percent.

So, what can you do to help keep your heart healthy?

  • You can start by making sure to eat nutritious meals and exercise (just make sure to check with your health care provider first).
  • Check the Air Quality Index every day to learn about your local air quality and how can reduce your exposure to air pollution.
  • And we can all do our part to make choices that are better for the environment and our health – like taking public transit more often and driving cleaner vehicles.

This February, and every month, remember that cleaner air means healthier hearts.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

This Week in EPA Science

By Kacey FitzpatrickResearch Recap graphic identifier

Happy Friday! Here’s some weekend reading:

A Tribute to Maurice Strong
Maurice Strong, Founding Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, passed away last November at the age of 86. Strong was a pioneer of global sustainable development. Alan Hecht, EPA’s Director for Sustainable Development, recently wrote A Tribute to Maurice Strong.

EPA Supports the Science that Makes a Difference for Heart Health
February is American Heart Month! EPA scientists are working to learn more about how our environment interacts with genetic, social, and health factors to contribute to the progression of conditions like high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure. Read more about this research in the blog EPA Supports the Science that Makes a Difference for Heart Health.

People, Prosperity, and the Planet Award
Every year, EPA awards grants to outstanding college and university teams through the People, Prosperity, and the Planet student design competition for sustainability. The students who participate tackle a wide range of issues, but each project aims to develop sustainable solutions to the world’s most pressing environmental and human health topics. Read more about this year’s recipients in the blog People, Prosperity, and the Planet Award: 38 New Winners, 38 New Ways to Change the World.

Federal Research Action Plan
Concerns have been raised by the public about the safety of recycled tire crumb used in playing fields in the United States. Limited studies have not shown an elevated health risk from playing on fields with tire crumb, but the existing studies do not comprehensively evaluate the concerns about health risks from exposure to tire crumb. Because of the need for additional information, EPA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission are launching a multi-agency Federal Research Action Plan on Recycled Tire Crumb Used on Playing Fields and Playgrounds to study key environmental human health questions.

About the Author: Kacey Fitzpatrick is a student contractor and writer working with the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Maps Can Make Water Safer to Drink

By Karen Wirth

Maps are integral to our daily lives. They are the basis of exploration and navigation, helping us plot our observations to reveal new relationships and information we may have overlooked. Maps have evolved from the unwieldy foldouts to computerized maps. I use maps on a regular basis now, more commonly looking to my computer, phone or my car’s navigation system, to find my way around a traffic jam, plan a jogging route, or track the coming weekend weather. But maps can serve a more important function: they can help us protect the drinking water that is critical to our health.

EPA is harnessing the power of maps to help you and your community do just that. We have released DWMAPS—the Drinking Water Mapping Application to Protect Source Waters. This robust, online mapping tool provides the public, water system operators, state programs, and federal agencies with critical information to help them safeguard the sources of America’s drinking water.

MAPS-upstream###

Here are just a few ways you can use DWMAPS:

Who supplies my drinking water?

  • Perhaps you have heard that excess levels of the nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus can be in sources of drinking water. You can use DWMAPS to find out which systems serve drinking water to your county, and whether or not they face contamination issues like nutrients or fecal coliform.

Where are potential sources of contamination?

  • DWMAPS can help you trace upstream of your water supply to find potential sources of contamination. Use the map to search for waste sites, industries with recent pollution permit violations, landfills and wastewater treatment plants, sewer overflow points, pipelines, and facilities that manage carcinogenic or other toxic waste and more.

How can the Clean Water Act protect my drinking water?

  • Imagine you live near the Chesapeake Bay and learn that the Susquehanna River, a source of drinking water, is listed as “impaired” under the Clean Water Act due to high nutrient levels. You can use DWMAPS to learn more about the Susquehanna River, its tributaries, and factors leading to impairment. Then, you can participate in permit reviews or other public sessions to help your state apply Clean Water Act tools to protect it.

Is there anything else I can do?

  • Perhaps you would like to start a project to protect your local watershed. You can use DWMAPS to learn which watersheds near your home are most important to drinking water supplies. DWMAPS can also help you find partners and take action to prevent contaminants from getting into nearby drinking water sources. We’ve mapped watershed groups and drinking water contacts working around the country to restore watersheds. Link up with these groups to learn how you can get involved.

Geospatial technology is allowing us to see the world from a different perspective. Using this technology, DWMAPS brings together a suite of resources that will serve as “one stop shop” for source water protection and watershed assessment. With DWMAPS, you can now look beyond the tap and take a bird’s eye view of your drinking water. With this broader perspective, we can begin to take action together. Let’s get started www.epa.gov/sourcewaterprotection/dwmaps

About the author:  Karen Wirth is the Source Water Protection Team Leader in the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

A Tribute to Maurice Strong

By Alan Hecht

Mr. Maurice Strong, Secretary-General of of the 1992 Earth Summit talking in the Special Ceremony to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Rio de Janeiro - Brazil. 15 Jun 2012. UN PHOTO/Maria Elisa Franco

Mr. Maurice Strong, Secretary-General of of the 1992 Earth Summit talking in the Special Ceremony to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Rio de Janeiro – Brazil. 15 Jun 2012. UN PHOTO/Maria Elisa Franco

On November 27, 2015 Maurice Strong of Canada died at the age of 86. No one deserves more credit than him for advancing the goals of sustainability. Delegates at the recent Paris climate conference payed tribute to his vision and accomplishments.

He organized the Stockholm Conference in 1972, subtitled “Only One Earth” and the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, subtitled “Our Last Chance to Save the Earth.”  The Stockholm Conference is recognized as a major landmark in launching a new era of international environmental diplomacy. After the 1972 Summit he served as the first Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

His leadership in 1972 was crucial to beginning to address a host of emerging threats to the natural environment and advancing the critical role of the United Nations.  He was clever enough to commission an historic study (“Only One Earth”) by Barbara Ward and Rene Dubos which underscored the growing industrial stressors on the environment and depletion of natural resources.  This was the first “State of the World” Report

The 1972 Report was the first to emphasize the potential for depletion of natural resources and to project that the impacts of global population growth and urban development would be critical lessons of world history.  The Report was a flashing yellow light of caution. Today global population is projected to be 9 billion by 2050 and 10 billion by 2100, with more people living in cities than ever before. This has prompted the current UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to note that, “our struggle for global sustainability will be won or lost in cities.”  Today this is a flashing red light.

Twenty years later Maurice Strong was key in organizing the Rio Earth Summit. It was there that the head of the US Delegation, EPA Administrator Bill Reilly, and I met with him. Since then he played a key role in many UN activities helping to advance a more sustainable and resilient world. In his book in 2000 “Where on Earth Are We Going?” he predicted that in three decades environmental catastrophes could wipe out as much as two-thirds of the world’s population. He strongly pushed for business-government collaboration to get out front on key issue. After the Earth Summit, Strong continued to take a leading role in implementing the results of Rio through dozens of international organizations.

Over his life time he strongly advanced the concept of sustainability.  Unfortunately what he advanced in 1972 and 1992 is still an issue today.  Today, achieving the goal of sustainability is even more urgent. While it has taken decades to reach this point, there is a need for accelerated action due to pressures and trends that will impact society over the coming decades. It is here that EPA can help shape and protect the future world.

About the Author: Alan Hecht is the Director for Sustainable Development in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

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