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Restoring and Protecting Water Quality

Monday, June 25, 2018
Adam Schempp

Adam Schempp

Senior Attorney; Director, Western Water Program

Restoring and protecting our country’s lakes, rivers, and streams is difficult, especially with populations increasing and budgets in decline. It requires innovation, partnerships, sound science, and effective means of communicating.

ELI has long worked with the agencies tasked with restoring and protecting our waters. Earlier this month, we held the 2018 National Training Workshop for CWA §303(d) Listing and TMDL Staff at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. It was the 10th such multi-day training workshop for water quality professionals focused on identifying and reporting polluted waters as well as developing and implementing Total Maximum Daily Load documents and other restoration plans. This year’s iteration brought together over 140 government officials, including staff from all 50 states, D.C., three territories, five tribes, all 10 EPA regions and EPA Headquarters.

ELI organized the National Training Workshop for CWA 303(d) Listing & TMDL Staff in Shepherdstown, WV.

Concurrently, ELI hosted a water quality data management meeting of staff from 11 states, multiple EPA regions, and EPA Headquarters. The meeting provided an opportunity for participants to discuss multiple aspects of the new ATTAINS (an online system for accessing information about the conditions in the country’s surface waters), innovations in data management tools and processes, how to share developed products with each other, and how to better communicate information to stakeholders and the public. For more information, please see the website for this and prior water quality data events, at https://www.eli.org/freshwater-%2526-ocean/water-quality-data-management-training-workshops. ELI designs these trainings, with the help of state, tribal, and EPA staff, to equip participants with the knowledge, contacts, and tools needed to continually improve their implementation of the Clean Water Act.

This year, the agenda focused on tools and strategies for accomplishing a jurisdiction’s Vision goals. The CWA §303(d) Vision was released at the end of 2013, setting objectives for the program, including that jurisdictions will prioritize waters and focus on addressing those needs by 2022. Halfway through this 10-year period, ELI structured the training workshop around what is needed to meet those goals, communicating and building upon existing practices with hands-on trainings, presentations, and group discussions on a wide variety of topics. For more information, please see the website for this and prior training workshops, at https://www.eli.org/freshwater-ocean/cwa-303d-training-workshops

It will take all of us to restore our polluted waters and protect our clean ones, and ELI is working to build communication channels, improve cooperation, provide information, generate new solutions, and ultimately make this tough task a little more possible.

ELI conducts these projects pursuant to cooperative agreements with U.S. EPA.