In a comprehensive analysis of clean energy and clean transportation jobs, Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) has found that more than 2.5 million Americans now work in clean energy at businesses across all 50 states. These are workers who install solar panels, manufacture electric vehicle parts, and retrofit our homes, schools and businesses to make them more energy efficient. They build wind turbine blades, invent battery technologies, and assemble the most energy-efficient kitchen appliances on the planet. This first-of-its-kind analysis was completed for E2 in late 2015 by the research team at BW Research Partnership. It is based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S Department of Energy and was done in conjunction with partners Clean Energy Trust, The Solar Foundation and Advanced Energy Economy. As part of the study, BW Research surveyed more than 20,000 businesses nationwide….
In April 2014, the city of Flint, Michigan, stopped purchasing treated water from the city of Detroit and began using the Flint River as its water source without providing corrosion control treatment . (A key source of lead in drinking water is the corrosion of plumbing materials in the distribution system and households.) While some water quality changes were quickly apparent, elevated lead concentrations were identified over a longer period through monitoring conducted by the city and others and detections of elevated blood lead levels in children. On October 1, 2015, city officials urged residents to stop drinking the water. On October 16, Flint reconnected to Detroit’s water and advised residents not to use unfiltered tap water. The city and the governor of Michigan each declared a state of emergency. President Obama issued an emergency declaration on January 16, 2016. On January 21, 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an emergency order directing the city and state to take immediate actions to address concerns over the city’s water system. Requirements include, among others, that the city and state re-optimize corrosion control, post online lead monitoring results and weekly reports, and ensure the city’s capacity to operate the system in compliance with federal regulations. EPA’s current Flint responses include providing technical assistance for water testing and treatment, conducting water monitoring, and identifying lead service line locations.
Congress established a statutory formula governing distribution of financial aid for municipal wastewater treatment in the Clean Water Act (CWA) in 1972. Since then, Congress has modified the formula and incorporated other eligibility changes five times, actions which have been controversial on each occasion. Federal funds are provided to states through annual appropriations according to the statutory formula to assist local governments in constructing wastewater treatment projects in compliance with federal standards. Congress has appropriated more than $91 billion since 1972. The formula originally applied to the act’s program of grants for constructing such projects. That grants program was replaced in the law in 1987 by a new program of federal grants to capitalize state revolving loan funds (SRFs) for similar activities. The most recent formula change, also enacted in 1987, continues to apply to federal capitalization grants for clean water SRFs. ….
… This report describes the formula and eligibility changes adopted by Congress since 1972, revealing the interplay and decisionmaking by Congress on factors to include in the formula. Two types of trends and institutional preferences can be discerned in these actions. First, there are differences over the use of need and population factors in the allocation formula itself. During the 1970s, the Senate strongly favored reliance on use of population factors in the allocation formula, while the House strongly advocated a needs – based approach. During the 1980s, the period when categorical eligibilities were restricted in order to emphasize water quality benefit s, the Senate favored needs as the basis for grants distribution, while the House position generally was to retain formulas used in prior years, which incorporate both needs and population elements. When population has been used as a factor, differences have occurred over whether a current or future year population estimate is appropriate, but there is no clear trend on this point.
Second, there have been gradual increases in restrictions on types of wastewater treatment projects eligible for federal assistance. Beginning with a limitation that denied use of federal funds for stormwater sewer projects in 1977, debate over categorical eligibility has had two elements. One has been fiscal: a desire to not fund types of projects with the highest costs and often the most unreliable cost estimates. The other focus has been environmental: a desire to use federal resources to assist projects which benefit water quality protection most directly. While some of these eligibility restrictions presented Congress with rat her straightforward choices, others have been more complex. Some continue to be debated, such as whether certain types of projects should be fully eligible for federal aid or should be the responsibility of state and local governments. …..
Tests for cities, rural subdivisions and even schools and day cares serving water to 6 million people have found excessive and harmful levels of lead.
Philadelphia’s city council passed an ordinance on November 19, 2015, to establish a new income-based water rate affordability program for low-income Philadelphians. Mayor Michael Nutter signed the ordinance on December 1, 2015. The law marks the beginning of a fundamental shift in how the City of Philadelphia will assist low-income families in maintaining life-essential water service…. While we at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia have advocated for many water revenue assistance program approvals for individuals and achieved limited success with systemic improvements, the overarching problems of inaccessibility and unaffordability persist. The city’s new ordinance mandating a new income-based water rate affordability program stands in full recognition of longstanding problems with the current mode of water-bill assistance….
Lead exposure is a major public health concern, particularly because low-level exposures can impair the neurodevelopment of children. The main source of lead in drinking water is the corrosion of plumbing materials in the distribution system. Corrosion control can prevent lead and other metals in water lines, pipes, plumbing, and fixtures from leaching into drinking water. In April 2014, the city of Flint, Michigan, stopped purchasing treated water from the city of Detroit and began using the Flint River as its water source without providing corrosion control treatment. While water quality changes were quickly apparent, elevated lead concentrations were detected over a longer period through monitoring conducted by the city and others and detections of elevated blood lead levels in children. On October 1, 2015, Flint city officials urged residents to stop drinking the water. On October 16, Flint reconnected to Detroit’s water and advised residents not to use unfiltered tap water. The city of Flint and the governor of Michigan have each declared a state of emergency. President Obama issued an emergency declaration on January 16, 2016. On January 21, 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an emergency order to the city and state, directing them to take immediate actions to address concerns over the safety of the city’s water system. Regulatory implementation, monitoring protocols, compliance, oversight issues, and the lead regulation itself have been identified as contributing factors in the failure to effectively prevent, identify, and respond to high lead levels in Flint’s drinking water…..
Policymakers have recently been considering several legislative options to help finance water infrastructure projects, including projects to build and upgrade wastewater and drinking water treatment systems. This report examines one particular option, a “Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act” (WIFIA) program, which Congress included in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA). As enacted (P.L. 113-121), the legislation created a WIFIA pilot program based on provisions in Senate-passed S. 601 with some additions and modifications. H.R. 3080 as passed by the House did not include similar provisions…..
A writer returns home to find a toxic disaster, giant government failure and countless children exposed to lead. …. The human damage is incalculable. …. Lead poisoning stunts IQs in children, many of whom in Flint are already traumatized by poverty, arson and rampant gunfire outside their doors. And for what? I hate to get all MSNBC-y, but this man-made disaster can be traced to one fact: Republicans not giving a shit about poor kids as much as they give a shit about the green of the bottom line. …. On April 25th, 2014 … town leaders gathered at the cavernous Flint Water Treatment Plant for a celebration. After a countdown, then-Mayor Dayne Walling pushed a black button, and Flint’s water supply switched from a Detroit-based system to the Flint River. …. The reason Walling didn’t get all the information is simple: He was only sort of mayor. Elected in 2009, Walling took over a city that had hemorrhaged half its population over the past 50 years, and once contemplated taking a part of the city off the grid to save on infrastructure costs. …. In 2011, Gov. Rick Snyder, a white-haired accountant who ran on the slogan “one tough nerd,” took office. He quickly ordered the state to take over the management of cities like Detroit, which had become economically insolvent. Part of the state’s reasoning for the takeovers was that it needed to step in to provide for the safety and welfare of citizens. Walling and the city council were stripped of their power, and their salaries were cut….
While nearly every water utility anticipates increasing difficulties in hiring technically qualified employees, Orange County Utilities in Orlando, Fla., has designed a utility-wide approach to retaining and developing in-demand expertise and leadership. …..
…In order to develop essential technical service providers in the public sector, water utilities frequently face long-standing restrictions in their ability to be the employer of choice: low pay scales, slow advancement, declining value in benefits and inflexible hierarchies. There are many more areas of expertise for which the demand is increasing. People capable of conducting complex operations; applying technical specialties in plants, labs and in the field; overseeing preventive maintenance; data quality management; and continuing regulatory compliance are sought after by both public and private water utilities. Moreover, 67 percent of manufacturing companies are currently experiencing a shortage of qualified workers. The data makes it clear — private sector recruiting efforts will limit the availability of the talent pool for public utilities.
Nationally and locally, public utilities must be able to make the case to retain, train or hire the right people into those positions. A strong employee development and technical growth program creates purpose, motivation and long-term interest within organizations. ….
Source: AWWA Connections, May 25, 2015
The American Water Works Association’s 2015 State of the Water Industry Report comes at a time when utilities are faced with a daunting conundrum: How to pay for more than a trillion dollars in infrastructure renewal, replacement and expansion over the next 25 years during a time of declining water sales and revenues. ….
…So, with nearly three out of every four water utilities in North America reporting flat or declining sales and revenues – largely the result of more efficient appliances and fixtures, rate structures that encourage conservation, and conservation education programs — how will utilities finance impending infrastructure repairs as well as day-to-day operating costs? According to the survey, the top choice among water professionals was shifting from consumption-based fees to fixed fees within rate structures, followed by changes in growth-related fees, shifting rate designs to increasing block-rate structures and increasing financial reserves. Sixteen percent of utility respondents are concerned that they will someday be unable to cover the costs of services and repairs through rates and fees. …