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May 1998
Water Policy News
Newsletter of the Water Resources Education Network

In this Issue




Clean Water Action has announced that the first of a series of six regional conferences on source water protection will be held on June 27, 1998 at Rosemont College in Rosemont, PA. It will run from 9:30 am to 3 pm. Workshops in other areas of the state are planned for the Fall. Under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act's source water assessment program, Pennsylvania is required to inventory the contaminants which threaten the sources of our drinking water. This information must be made available to consumers, and can be used to develop plans to protect our ground and surface waters from contamination. The data compiled through this process can be useful both to consumers seeking to protect their drinking water, and to watershed groups looking to protect a river or stream from contamination. Clean Water Action received a grant from the Department of Environmental Protection to present these regional conferences with the goal of educating a diverse group of drinking water consumers, environmental activists and public health advocates about the source water assessment process, and to explore opportunities for public input into the state planning process. For more information, or to register for the Rosemont conference, call Gabrielle Giddings at Clean Water Action, 215-629-4022.

About Clean Water Action

Clean Water Action (CWA) is a national organization, established in 1971, which first opened a Pennsylvania office in Pittsburgh in 1985, followed by Philadelphia in 1987 and Allentown in 1989. CWA works on water, waste and toxics, environmental health and environmental justice issues by organizing grass roots groups and coalitions as well as door-to-door campaigns. A recent important campaign in the Philadelphia area was working to reduce the use of pesticides in schools. Office phone numbers are: Allentown - 215-434-9223, Philadelphia - 215-629-4022, Pittsburgh - 412-765-3053.


If water education is your message, spring seems to be the time to spread the word. Communities everywhere are sponsoring water related events, taking advantage of our renewed interest in the natural world around us. Three WREN funded projects are among those communities: Washington County is sponsoring its fourth annual Children's Groundwater Festival on May 7, Pike County held its first Groundwater Festival on April 24 and Mars School District celebrates on May 4 and May 8. Have you ever wanted to walk through the inside of a whale? In Washington County students could do just that and learn about whales and their ocean environment at the same time. Washington County's festival has grown to include 34 different programs, in addition to the exhibit hall, and 1400 sixth-grade students. Programs are presented by outside professionals, including the Smithsonian Institute and the Carnegie Science Center, and homegrown groups including students from Peters Township High School. 200 volunteers, primarily high school and college students, assure the festival runs smoothly. Contact: Joan Jessen, 412-941-9370. Pike County celebrated its groundwater resources with a festival aimed at sixth graders on April 24. Student science projects related to groundwater were only part of an evening of fun and educational exhibits. Some of the more popular were "edible aquifers" - crushed ice, colored water and sprinkles in a clear plastic cup, with a drinking straw as the well, and the "big bubble" - bubble blowing liquid in a kiddie swimming pool with a hula hoop to make a bubble around a student standing in the pool. Contact: Sue Thompson at 717-3226-8220. In Mars School District (Butler County), thirty high school students are planning a water festival for third graders in the district's two elementary schools. Games and learning stations are part of an extensive program. The School District is heading for its third year as a Groundwater Guardian Community; the students' project last year was to develop a wellhead protection program for the district's wells. Contact: Bill Wesley, 412-625-1581. In the Gettysburg Area School District, Franklin Township Elementary School got an early start on spring with a science fair for third, fourth & fifth graders on February 26. Students developed a variety of projects relating to water and shared them with parents and representatives of conservation agencies. All of the students who prepared projects will go on a field trip to the Museum of Scientific Discovery in Harrisburg. Contact: Pat Schindel at 717-642-8932. Students at Strong Vincent High School in Erie County participated in an Earth Day celebration sponsored by the Erie area schools and attended by over 2000 students. The Strong Vincent students presented the results of their PAH (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons) study which uncovered new sources of the chemicals entering Presque Isle Bay. DEP is studying fish abnormalities in the Bay and is using student-developed information in its study. Contact: Jim Rutkowski, 814-871-6537.


Telford Borough Authority, in southeastern Pennsylvania, will likely be recognized as a Groundwater Guardian Community at the GG recognition conference in November. The Borough, and the Water Authority, are working in a unique cooperative program with students from the Souderton High School environmental group SAVE to develop a community Wellhead Protection Program and educate the public about protecting their water supplies. The 100-youth strong group assisted Authority consultants in mapping and verifying land use data and contamination threats. The Wellhead Protection Plan covers five public wells serving Authority customers and 200 private wells in the same groundwater basin. The Authority is now discussing the Plan with neighboring municipalities which contain lands included in the wellhead protection area and, in some cases, are also part of the Authority service area. The municipalities are being asked to review the Plan for compatibility with their land use ordinances. The protection efforts have been well received, in part perhaps because many SAVE members live in the nearby communities. Telford Borough Authority is one of eight Pennsylvania communities which have entered the 1998 Groundwater Guardian program. Other communities are Allegheny County, Antis Township (Blair County), Kutztown, Lancaster, Lebanon County, Mars Area School District and Washington County. GG, a program of the Groundwater Foundation, recognizes team building and groundwater protection efforts in communities across the nation. Communities apply to enter the program in February of each year and, if they successfully complete their proposed activities, gather to share experiences and be recognized for their efforts the following November. This year they will meet in Anaheim, CA on November 12-15.


Tinicum Township in Bucks County is taking steps to assure it will have adequate water supplies for its residents in the future. Working with consultants, Ground-Water Management and Conservation, Inc., the Township has developed a Water Budget, analyzing groundwater recharge areas, groundwater flow, stream flows, and hydrogeological properties of soils, and estimating development impacts on each of these. The water budget approach will enable the Township to plan for future needs and impacts. Groundwater is the only source of potable water in the Township and demand for water has been growing. In recent years some domestic wells have gone dry and stream flows have declined. The Water Budget is a valuable planing tool for assuring future development occurs in ways that will minimize adverse impacts on water resources. Since groundwater does not recognize municipal boundaries, cooperation with nearby municipalities is essential. Tinicum Township worked with neighboring townships, Bridgeton and Nockamixon, which share the same groundwater system, to gather the information necessary for developing the water budget. For more information contact Dr. Amleto Pucci at 610-294-9475.


In 1996, the United States Environmental Protection Agency began a project to study ways to improve the labeling of pesticides to foster pollution prevention, empower consumer choice, and improve consumer understanding of the safe use, storage and disposal of pesticides. The first results will appear on pesticide labels this year and include: 1. Putting the toll-free emergency number of the National Pesticide Telecommunications Network on all labels. 2. Putting standardized common names rather than formal chemical names in the list of ingredients on every label. 3. Changing the words "inert ingredients" to "other ingredients" to remove the implication that these ingredients are not chemically active. 4. Changing "Statement of Practical Treatment" to "First Aid". EPA believes that this is a simple, easier to understand heading for the section of the label containing instructions about what to do in case of an accident. As the project continues, EPA plans to simplify first aid instructions, add more information about ingredients and make storage and disposal information clearer.


www.epa.gov/pesticides Useful information on pesticides and their use, with links to many other EPA sites.


The Department of Environmental Resource is piloting a project to provide the public with information on the compliance record of those issued permits by the Department. Reports on violations noted by DEP inspectors when they visit permit holders' facilities can now be found on the DEP website (http://www.dep.state.pa.us). Choose Compliance Reporting when you visit the site. This public availability of compliance reports is part of DEP's shift to measuring agency success by using compliance rates and environmental indicators, rather than fines levied. When you visit the site you can also comment on the whether you find the information presented in a useful manner. The data provided is just a start in what could be a valuable public information tool and DEP is seeking input on how to make it most useful.


COMMUNITY GROUNDWATER EDUCATION IN PENNSYLVANIA: Lessons from Successful Project Leaders (PA Groundwater Policy Education Project, 1998, 20 pp.) Tips on managing local education projects, gleaned from the experiences of local leaders. Available from Charles Abdalla, 112 Armsby Bldg., University Park, PA 16802, 814-865-2562, fax: 814-865-3746; or from the WREN Resource Center, 1-800-692-7281.

SAVING OUR WATERSHEDS: A Field Guide to Watershed Restoration Using TMDLs (National Wildlife Federation, 1998, 71 pp.) Explains TMDLs and simple actions you can take to protect and restore your watershed using the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) provisions of the Clean Water Act. Available from NWF, 802-229-0650.

POLLUTION PARALYSIS: State Inaction Puts Waters at Risk (National Wildlife Federation, 1998, 18 pp.) An assessment of state TMDL programs. Available from NWF, 802-229-0650.

CLEAN WATER ACTION PLAN: Restoring and Protecting America's Waters (USEPA and US Dept. of Agriculture, 1998, 89 pp. EPA-840-R- 98-001) Describes plans for achieving the original goal of the Clean Water Act - "fishable and swimmable Waters for all Americans." Available from NCEPI, 1-800-490-9198 or fax your order to 513-489-8695.

PENNSYLVANIA WATER RESOURCES DIRECTORY (PA Association of Conservation Districts, 1998, 60 pp.) A compilation of Chesapeake Bay watershed and other water related educational information. Available from PACD, 225 Pine St., Harrisburg PA 17101, 717-236-1006.

A PRIMER ON ACCESS AND ALLOCATION OF WATER IN PENNSYLVANIA (Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, 1997, 15 pp.) Explains Pennsylvania's water laws and water rights within the Common Law system. Available from Publications Distribution Center, PSU, 112 Agricultural Administration Bldg., University Park, PA 16802. 814-865-6713.

WATER QUALITY IN THE LOWER SUSQUEHANNA RIVER BASIN, Pennsylvania and Maryland, 1992-1995 (United States Geological Survey Circular 1168, 1998, 37 pp.) A summary of the National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program study of the lower Susquehanna River Basin. Available from Kim Wetzel, USGS Water Resources Division, 840 Market St., Lemoyne, PA 17043-1584, 717-730-6940. For technical info about the study contact Kevin Breen 730-6970 at the same address.


The Groundwater Simulator, developed by Western Michigan University under a grant from the Kellogg Foundation, and distributed by The Western Group, Inc., clearly demonstrates the nature, behavior and contamination of groundwater, the role of groundwater in the hydrologic cycle and the interrelationships between groundwater and surface water. The Simulator is available with purely sand aquifers or with an additional bedrock aquifer. It is available for $300-$400, depending on the model, from The Western Group, L.C., P.O. Box 638, Augusta, MI 49012-0638, 616 665-4680, Fax: 616-665-4780.


This newsletter is a project of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania Citizen Education Fund - WREN.   Funded by a grant from the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection

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