Upcoming conferences
  • 21st Century Ground Water Systems Conference, Oct. 12–13, Costa Mesa, Calif., www.ngwa.org
  • National Asphalt Pavement Association's 52nd Annual Meeting, Feb. 18–21, 2007, San Francisco, www.hotmix.org

EPA doles out funding

The U.S. EPA introduced three grant programs amounting to more than $940 million to improve the quality and security of the nation's drinking water. More than $837 million will be put toward the Drinking Water State Revolving Funds programs, which allots money to projects improving the infrastructure of public water systems, such as upgrades to treatment facilities, storage facilities, and distribution centers. Another $98 million will fund the Public Water Supervision System, which enforces drinking water regulations. The remaining $5 million will provide facilities with technical training and emergency response plans. For more information on the grants, visit www.epa.gov.

Clarifying CRT recycling

To maximize recycling and reduce the amount of lead in landfills, the U.S. EPA has clarified cathode ray tube (CRT) waste management requirements. CRTs—the video display components of television and computer monitors—usually contain enough lead to qualify as hazardous waste. However, the EPA has changed this rule so that used, unbroken CRTs will not qualify as hazardous waste as long as they are stored and transported in clearly labeled containers designed to minimize releases. The CRTs also must be stored onsite less than one year before being recycled. For more information on the new rules, visit www.epa.gov.

Battery recycling soars

The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corp. (RBRC) has collected 2.4 million pounds of rechargeable batteries so far this year, which is a 6.4% increase from the same period in 2005. The nonprofit group's battery and cell phone recycling program, Call2Recycle, recovers nickel, iron, cadmium, lead, and cobalt from collected batteries. The program experienced a surge in recycled materials after the passage of California's Rechargeable Battery Recycling Act of 2006, which requires retailers who sell rechargeable batteries to provide consumers with a free program for returning used batteries. Call2Recycle also is teaming up with public agencies and municipalities who wish to recycle old batteries from cell phones, laptops, and other electronics. For more information about the program, visit www.call2recycle.org.

Did you know?
  • Since its founding in 1994, RBRC has recycled more than 26 million pounds of rechargeable batteries, which equals the weight of 7300 cars.
  • Each household in the United States and Canada uses more than five cordless products, which are powered by rechargeable batteries.
  • Less than 3% of cell phone users recycle their old phones.
  • 130 million cell phones are retired each year.
  • More than 56% of old cell phones are lying around the house.

Tightening lead rules

The U.S. EPA plans to revise its rules concerning lead in drinking water. Some of the specific changes in the proposal include:

  • Revising monitoring requirements
  • Reducing sample collection frequency
  • Requiring utilities to receive state approval of treatment changes
  • Notifying occupants of test results in homes and facilities
  • Re-evaluating lead service lines previously identified as low risk.

For more information on the proposal and lead in drinking water, visit www.epa.gov/safewater/lead.

Simplifying small systems

The U.S. EPA has released Total Coliform Rule: A Handbook for Small Community Water Systems Serving Less Than 3300 Persons, a guidebook to help owners and operators better understand the Safe Drinking Water Act. The book discusses drinking water sampling requirements and the specifics of the Total Coliform Rule, which requires public water systems to monitor coliforms in their distribution centers every six years. For more information or to download the handbook, visit www.epa.gov.