Tag Archives: USEPA

January 17, 1896: Drought Cartoon; 1994: Northridge Earthquake Damages Los Angeles Infrastructure; 1900: Missouri v Illinois over Chicago Sewage; 1856: Charles V. Chapin Born; 1859: Death of Lemuel Shattuck

January 17, 1896:  Drought Cartoon. The Los Angeles Times has published cartoons over more than 100 years that depict the many droughts that California has suffered and the reactions to them. Here is one that I think you will enjoy.

January 17, 1994:  Northridge earthquake does significant damage to water infrastructure in Los Angeles.“The Northridge earthquake was an earthquake that occurred on January 17, 1994, at 04:31 Pacific Standard Time and was centered in the north-central San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, California. It had a duration of approximately 10–20 seconds….In addition, earthquake-caused property damage was estimated to be more than $20 billion, making it one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history….Numerous fires were also caused by broken gas lines from houses shifting off their foundations or unsecured water heaters tumbling. In the San Fernando Valley, several underground gas and water lines were severed, resulting in some streets experiencing simultaneous fires and floods. Damage to the system resulted in water pressure dropping to zero in some areas; this predictably affected success in fighting subsequent fires. Five days after the earthquake it was estimated that between 40,000 and 60,000 customers were still without public water service.”

Commentary:  One of the most memorable sights from the earthquake aftermath was the massive natural gas fire occurring while water was spewing from a huge water main break (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WA1m3UgJ8nU).

Breaking the Dam on the Canal

January 17, 1900:Fifteen days after Chicago opened the Sanitary and Ship Canal and reversed the course of the Chicago River to discharge sewage into the Mississippi River, Missouri sued Illinois, “…praying for an injunction against the defendants from draining into Mississippi River the sewage and drainage of said sanitary district by way of the Chicago drainage canal and the channels of Desplaines and Illinois river.”

The Bill of Complaint alleged in part:

“That if such plan is carried out it will cause such sewage matter to flow into Mississippi River past the homes and waterworks systems of the inhabitants of the complainant…

That the amount of such undefecated [huh?] sewage matter would be about 1,500 tons daily, and that it will poison the waters of the Mississippi and render them unfit for domestic use, amounting to a direct and continuing nuisance that will endanger the health and lives and irreparably injure the business interests of inhabitants of the complainant…

That the water of the canal had destroyed the value of the water of the Mississippi for drinking and domestic purposes, and had caused much sickness to persons living along the banks of said river in the State of Missouri.”

The opinion in the case was written by Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes and read in part:

“The data upon which an increase in the deaths from typhoid fever in St. Louis is alleged are disputed. The elimination of other causes is denied. The experts differ as to the time and distance within which a stream would purify itself. No case of an epidemic caused by infection at so remote a source is brought forward and the cases which are produced are controverted. The plaintiff obviously must be cautious upon this point, for if this suit should succeed many others would follow, and it not improbably would find itself a defendant to a bill by one or more of the States lower down upon the Mississippi.The distance which the sewage has to travel (357 miles) is not open to debate, but the time of transit to he inferred from experiments with floats is estimated at varying from eight to eighteen and a half days, with forty-eight hours more from intake to distribution, and when corrected by observations of bacteria is greatly prolonged by the defendants. The experiments of the defendants’ experts lead them to the opinion that a typhoid bacillus could not survive the journey, while those on the other side maintain that it might live and keep its power for twenty-five days or more, and arrive at St. Louis. Upon the question at issue, whether the new discharge from Chicago hurts St. Louis, there is a categorical contradiction between the experts on the two sides.”

Commentary:  In effect, Justice Holmes ruled in favor of Chicago. The experts for St. Louis had failed to prove their case.

Reference:  Leighton, Marshall O. 1907. “Pollution of Illinois and Mississippi Rivers by Chicago Sewage: A Digest of the Testimony Taken in the Case of the State of Missouri v. the State of Illinois and the Sanitary District of Chicago.” U.S. Geological Survey, Water Supply and Irrigation Paper No. 194, Series L, Quality of Water, 20, Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Charles V. Chapin

January 17, 1856:  Charles V. Chapin was born.“Charles Value Chapin (January 17, 1856 – January 31, 1941 in Providence) was a pioneer in public-health practice, serving as one of the Health Officers for Providence, Rhode Island between 1884 and 1932. He also served as President of the American Public Health Association in 1927. His observations on the nature of the spread of infectious disease were dismissed at first, but eventually gained widespread support. His book, The Sources and Modes of Infection, was frequently read in the United States and Europe. The Providence City Hospital was renamed the Charles V. Chapin Hospital in 1931 to recognize his substantial contributions to improving the sanitary condition of the city of Providence.”

Commentary:  Chapin defined the new public health movement at the beginning of the 20thcentury. His career expressed the advances in public health that we all now take for granted.

January 17, 1859:  Lemuel Shattuck died in Boston.“Lemuel Shattuck was born on October 15, 1793 in Ashby, Massachusetts… He is remembered as a public health innovator, and for his work with vital statistics. Shattuck was one of the early prime-movers of public hygiene in the United States. With his report to the Massachusetts Sanitary Commission in 1850, he accomplished for New England what such men as Chadwick, Rarr, and Simon had done for England. There had been in the United States few advances in public health aside from a few stray smallpox regulations until this report. Shattuck’s report pointed out that much of the ill health and debility in the American cities at that time could be traced to unsanitary conditions, and stressed the need for local investigations and control of defects.

Shattuck was a prime mover in the adoption and expansion of public health measures at local and state levels. In 1850, he published a Sanitation Report that established a model for state boards of health in Massachusetts (1869) and other parts of the United States….”


January 7, 1914: First Transit of Panama Canal; 1832: Richmond Filter; 2011: Fluoride Exposure

SS Ancon first official transit of the Panama Canal in 1914. The Alexandre La Valley was an old French crane boat that made the first unofficial transit on 1/7/1914.

January 7, 1914:  “On January 7, 1914 the Alexandre La Valleybecame the first ship to make a complete transit of the Panama Canal.The Canal is about 50 miles long and uses a system of locks to transport ships through. The locks are 110 feet wide and 1,000 feet long. Between 13,000 and 14,000 vessels use the canal each year, accounting for about 5% of the world trade….The number of ships able to be processed through is limited by the space available. Larger ships are being built and the locks are limited by size. These forces combined are leading to the Panama Canal Expansion Project. Work began on a new set of locks in 2007 and is expected to be completed by 2014.”

Commentary:The water history connection is that the filling of the locks is accomplished by draining water from Gatun Lake that is fed by precipitation in the Panamanian rain forest. Over 26 million gallons of fresh water is lost to the ocean during each downward lock cycle. The new canal system of locks will recycle about 60 percent of the water so there will be less pressure on the local water resources. A terrific blog posted on October 21, 2012, entitled “Panama Canal Update : Why Water is still King”gave a lot of details on the water resources angle of the new canal. I recommend it.

Albert Stein

January 7, 1832:Completion of the first attempt to filter a public water supply in the U.S.  Filtration was begun in Richmond, VA.  The slow sand filters operated in an  “upflow” mode and consisted of layers of sand and gravel.  The design engineer was Albert Stein who built a downflow filter after the upflow version failed.  Despite the problems, Moses N. Baker declared the Richmond filtration efforts the start of filtration of public water supplies in the U.S.

Reference:  Baker, Moses N. 1981. The Quest for Pure Water: the History of Water Purification from the Earliest Records to the Twentieth Century. 2nd Edition. Vol. 1. Denver, Co.: American Water Works Association, 125-9.

January 7, 2011:  To prevent overexposure to fluoride, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced proposed changes in the recommended level of fluoride in drinking water. The  HHS proposed recommendation of 0.7 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride in drinking water replaced the current recommended range of 0.7 to 1.2 ppm.

January 5, 2015: History of Raleigh’s Water; 2006: Long Term 2 ESWTR

January 5, 2015:  Article published on theHistory of Raleigh’s Water. “Raleigh’s first go at creating water infrastructure was in the early 1800s when only about 1,000 residents called the city home. In 1818 the city built a water wheel in the Rocky Branch creek, which pumped water through wooden pipes to a water tower.

“Think barrels,” wrote Huler in a follow-up email. “Staves held together by wire, wound around almost like a spring.”

Unfortunately, Raleigh’s first try at a citywide system was, to put it bluntly, a total disaster. The mud and silt that accompanied the water caused the pipes to burst and within a few years the city returned to wells and pumps.

In the mid 1880s, with the population at a booming 10,000 people, Raleigh decided to give it another try. In 1886 the city built a real pump, just south of downtown, pulling water from Walnut Creek. The steam-powered water treatment plant filtered 2 million gallons per day sending the water to a reservoir and then to a 100,000-gallon water tower that still stands downtown.

By 1910 Raleigh had 55 miles of water mains running beneath the streets.”

Cryptosporidium parvum

January 5, 2006:  Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rulefinalized by USEPA. “The purpose of the LT2 rule is to reduce illness linked with the contaminant Cryptosporidiumand other disease-causing microorganisms in drinking water. The rule will supplement existing regulations by targeting additional Cryptosporidiumtreatment requirements to higher risk systems. This rule also contains provisions to reduce risks from uncovered finished water reservoirs and to ensure that systems maintain microbial protection when they take steps to decrease the formation of disinfection byproducts that result from chemical water treatment….The final rule is effective on March 6, 2006.”

Commentary:  This regulation was a critical component of the Reg Neg and FACA negotiations that I participated in from 1992 to 2000. Utilities were given a number of years to develop compliance plans to meet this relatively complex drinking water regulation.

December 19, 2011: USEPA Water Headlines; 2011: Colorado River Supply

December 19, 2011USEPA Water Headlines.

1) EPA Extends Comment Period for the Proposed CAFO Rule

On October 21, 2011, EPA published a proposed rule that would require concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) to submit basic operational information to the Agency. EPA received requests from the public for additional time to submit comments, and is extending the public comment period to January 19, 2012. EPA proposed the rule in order to more effectively carry out its CAFO permitting programs on a national level and ensure that CAFOs are implementing practices to protect water quality and human health.

For information on the proposed rule, visit http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/afo/aforule.cfm.

2) Success Spotlight: Fosdic Lake, Texas–Educating Residents and Collecting Household Hazardous Waste Items Reduces Pollutants in Fosdic Lake

EPA’s Clean Water Act Section 319 Program provides funding for restoration of nonpoint source-impaired water bodies. Success stories are posted at: http://water.epa.gov/polwaste/nps/success319/. This week’s success spotlight shines on Fosdic Lake, Texas.

In 1995, the Texas Department of State Health Services banned the possession of fish taken from Fosdic Lake in Fort Worth because of high concentrations of potentially-harmful chemicals in fish tissue. As a result, Texas added Fosdic Lake to the state’s list of impaired waters. In 2000, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and EPA approved a total maximum daily load for Fosdic Lake to address pollutants in fish tissue. Local, state and federal agencies coordinated data collection and education and outreach efforts in the city of Fort Worth to reduce the inflow of harmful chemicals into area lakes. Recent monitoring shows that the pollutant levels in fish from Fosdic Lake have diminished sufficiently to allow for their safe consumption, prompting the state to lift the fish possession ban in 2007.

December 19, 2011. Circle of Blue. Federal Water Tap, December 19: Less Money, More Problems. Colorado River

The Bureau of Reclamation and several state water agencies are conducting a multi-year study of water supply and demand in the Colorado River Basin. According to projections, demand will exceed supply by nearly 25 percent by 2060. The bureau is canvassing the publicfor ideas about how to rebalance the curves.

Commentary:  Negotiations have continued over many years to try and make the allocation of water more equitable.

December 16, 1974: Safe Drinking Water Act Signed into Law

December 16, 1974:Safe Drinking Water Act signed into law by President Ford.  “The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) is the principal federal law in the United States intended to ensure safe drinking water for the public. Pursuant to the act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required to set standards for drinking water quality and oversee all states, localities, and water suppliers who implement these standards.

SDWA applies to every public water system in the United States. There are currently more than 150,000 public water systems providing water to almost all Americans at some time in their lives. These water systems must be analyzed by third-party analytical laboratories. The Act does not cover private wells [or bottled water].”

To ensure that drinking water is safe, SDWA sets up multiple barriers against pollution. These barriers include: source water protection, treatment, distribution system integrity, and public information. Public water systems are responsible for ensuring that contaminants in tap water do not exceed the standards. Water systems treat the water, and must test their water frequently for specified contaminants and report the results to states. If a water system is not meeting these standards, it is the water supplier’s responsibility to notify its customers. Many water suppliers now are also required to prepare annual reports for their customers. The public is responsible for helping local water suppliers to set priorities, make decisions on funding and system improvements, and establish programs to protect drinking water sources. Water systems across the nation rely on citizen advisory committees, rate boards, volunteers, and civic leaders to actively protect this resource in every community in America.”

December 2, 1970: USEPA Starts Operations

December 2, 1970: The United States Environmental Protection Agency(EPA or sometimes USEPA) is an agency of the U.S. federal government which was created for the purpose of protecting human health and the environment by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress. The EPA was proposed by President Richard Nixon and began operation on December 2, 1970, after Nixon signed an executive order. The order establishing the EPA was ratified by committee hearings in the House and Senate. The agency is led by its Administrator, who is appointed by the president and approved by Congress. The current administrator is Gina McCarthy. The EPA is not a Cabinet department, but the administrator is normally given cabinet rank.

The EPA has its headquarters in Washington, D.C., regional offices for each of the agency’s ten regions, and 27 laboratories. The agency conducts environmental assessment, research, and education. It has the responsibility of maintaining and enforcing national standards under a variety of environmental laws, in consultation with state, tribal, and local governments. It delegates some permitting, monitoring, and enforcement responsibility to U.S. states and Native American tribes. EPA enforcement powers include fines, sanctions, and other measures. The agency also works with industries and all levels of government in a wide variety of voluntary pollution prevention programs and energy conservation efforts.

The agency has approximately 17,000 full-time employees. and engages many more people on a contractual basis. More than half of EPA human resources are engineers, scientists, and environmental protection specialists; other groups include legal, public affairs, financial, and information technologists.

Commentary:  In 2019 or 2020, will Trumpism and the Republican Party destroy EPA and all of our environmental protections?

November 23, 1992: First Reg Neg Negotiation Session

Reg Neg Negotiating Committee

November 23, 1992:  First Negotiation Session of Regulatory Negotiation for the Microbial Disinfectants/Disinfection Byproducts Rule Making. This was a multi-stakeholder regulatory negotiations process (including the USEPA) which resulted in the adoption of five landmark drinking water regulations:  Interim Surface Water Treatment Rule, Stage 1 Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts Rule, Information Collection Rule, Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule and Stage 2 Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts Rule.

As stated in the introduction to the 1995 Roberson et al. paper: “The proposed Disinfectants/Disinfection By-products (D/DBP) Rule reflects one of the most complicated standard- setting processes addressed under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The process involved balancing potential trade-offs between chemical risk (most of which is considered chronic) and microbial risk (most of which is considered acute). In this case, both types of risk are poorly characterized. Nevertheless, the potential is enormous for changes in risk and associated treatment costs resulting from regulatory action. Largely as a result of this dilemma, the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) elected to use a regulatory negotiation (“reg-neg”) process to develop a proposed rule. This was the first time a negotiated rule-making had been used in the development of a drinking water regulation….During the process negotiators were aided by the Technologies Working Group (TWG), which quantified the costs and benefits of various treatment alternatives.”


Roberson, J.A., Cromwell, J.E., Krasner, S.W., McGuire, M.J., Owen, D.M., Regli, S., and Summers, R.S. (1995). “The D/DBP Rule: Where did the Numbers Come From?” Jour. AWWA. 87:10, 46-57.

McGuire, M.J. (1993). “Reg Neg Process and the D/DBP Rule.” presented at the Fall Conference. California‑Nevada Section, American Water Works Association. Reno, Nevada, October 28, 1993.

McGuire, M.J. (1994 ). “Using the Information Superhighway to Corral the ICR.”Jour. AWWA. 86:6, 10.

McGuire, M.J. (1996). “AWWA’s Information Collection Rule Activities.” presented at M/DBP Cluster Information Exchange Meeting. RESOLVE, Washington, D.C. May 10, 1996.

McGuire, M.J. (1997). “Technical Work Group Presentation.” presented at the M-DBP Stakeholder Meeting. Washington, DC. January 28, 1997.

Commentary:  The photo below is a good portion of the Technologies Working Group. Note the hats. I had about 200 of them made and handed them out to everyone who helped during the process. I have been using the extras for the past sixteen plus years in my boating and cruising life. The most recent loss occurred when the hat flew off my head while raising the mainsail on a sailboat cruise to Cabo San Lucas in 2016. Great hat.