Tuesday, March 23, 2010

EPA Moves to Revise Drinking Water Standards

The United Nations General Assembly designated March 22nd of each year as the World Day for Water, an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro.

Perhaps it was coincidental that yesterday the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it is taking steps to overhaul US drinking water regulations.

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced to the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) that the agency is developing a broad new set of strategies to strengthen public health protection from contaminants in drinking water. Specifically, this shift in drinking water strategy is organized around four key principles:
  • Address contaminants as a group rather than one at a time so that enhancement of drinking water protection can be achieved cost-effectively.
  • Foster development of new drinking water treatment technologies to address health risks posed by a broad array of contaminants.
  • Use the authority of multiple statutes to help protect drinking water.
  • Partner with states to share more complete data from monitoring at public water systems.
The EPA also aims to revise the drinking water standards for four carcinogenic chemicals: tetrachloroethylene (PCE), trichloroethylene (TCE), acrylamide, and epichlorohydrin.

There are ongoing efforts on 14 other drinking water standards, including potential revisions to the lead and copper rule, health risk assessments or information gathering for chromium, fluoride, arsenic, and atrazine, and ongoing consideration regarding the regulation of perchlorate.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Oakland City Council to Discuss Climate Action Plan

The Oakland City Council is holding a public meeting on Oakland's Energy and Climate Action Plan on Tuesday, March 30, from 5:30-8:30 at City Hall.

Click here for an overview of the ECAP development process.

Click here for a council meeting schedule.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Oakland Hills Canyon Saved for Open Space

Neighbors' work to save Butters Canyon pays off
Carolyn Jones, San Francisco Chronicle, March 5, 2010

Last week, a group of Oakland neighbors purchased the last of 13 parcels in Butters Canyon, capping a 9-year effort to preserve the 1/2-mile open space in perpetuity.

They did it entirely on their own, raising nearly $800,000 through yard sales, grants, loans and donations.

The Butters Canyon Conservancy, a nonprofit formed by a few dozen neighbors, will maintain the canyon and keep it accessible to bicyclists, hikers, dog-walkers and those just seeking relief from city life.

The effort started in 2001, when a developer planned to build a home in the secluded, steep canyon just south of Joaquin Miller Road. Afraid they'd lose their green oasis, which is also the headwaters of Peralta Creek, neighbors started raising money to usurp development plans.

Most of the funding came through Measure DD, a $200 million bond that Oakland voters passed in 2002. With help from city Councilwoman Jean Quan's office, the conservancy obtained more than $500,000 to purchase four of the properties. Three lots were donated, three were secured through conservation easements and remaining parcels already have homes on far corners.

Oakland has taken advantage of the slumping real estate market to save four other canyons, as well. The city has purchased Castle Canyon, 10 acres near Joaquin Miller Park, 5-acre Beaconsfield Canyon off Ascot Drive, and Dunsmuir Heights Canyon, 62 acres behind the Dunsmuir House.

Read the complete story here.