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How Americans Relate to Water: A Qualitative Study

Americans are increasingly asked to make important decisions about managing our collective water resources. To do so, Water Main believes that people need both Water IQ, an understanding of key issues, and Water EQ, a personal connection to water.

How do Americans relate to water? To shed light on that question, The Water Main conducted this national study, How Americans Relate to Water: A Qualitative Study, that asked Americans just that.

For this study, How Americans Relate to Water: A Qualitative Study, a total of 201 surveys were completed with respondents from 11 selected regions of the United States, for an overall response rate of 5.5%. This exploratory study begins to break ground on a topic that is not yet well understood.

White paper: https://www.thewatermain.org/s/APM_WaterMainReport_PUBLISH.pdf
Executive Summary: https://www.thewatermain.org/s/Water-handout-vFINAL.pdf

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Perspectives on State Legislation Concerning Lead Testing in School Drinking Water

The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council undertook this study, Perspectives on State Legislation Concerning Lead Testing in School Drinking Water, to inform state legislators and advocates as they consider new state laws to address lead contamination in school drinking water. They reviewed the growing body of state laws concerning testing of lead in school water, and they identified relevant reports that could help understand the effectiveness of laws. They also contacted stakeholders with knowledge of the implementation and impact of the state laws. Finally, they analyzed how each law addresses key elements that may relate to the effectiveness of a law in terns of the coverage of schools, implementation of testing, risk, reduction, and disclosure.

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2018 Stormwater Utility Survey

This 2018 stormwater utility survey was conducted online, in the United States, during May through July of 2018. The results are presented under the following six sections:

  • Section 1: Organization and Operations presents a general profile of the respondents including population, size and characteristics of service area.
  • Section 2: Planning presents insights into what utility managers perceive to be the most important industry issues and stormwater infrastructure investment drivers. This section also highlights utility governance, the types of permit requirements that utilities have to comply with and the planning activities utilities engage in to address stormwater management. In addition, a new question was added this year regarding public-related partnership agreements (Question 13).
  • Section 3: Finance and Accounting reviews stormwater utility revenues, expenditures, sources of funding, and the adequacy of stormwater funding to meet utility obligations.
  • Section 4: Stormwater Rate Structure and Billing presents the types of costs recovered through user fees, the fee methodology used in setting rates, the rate structures and billing practices, and the average monthly residential rate of each utility that participated in the survey. Information on the types of exemptions and discounts that utilities offer, and insights on legal challenges are also provided. Calculated bills reflect rates in effect as of June 1, 2018.
  • Section 5: Stormwater Credits and Incentives offers insights into the types of credits, criteria used in offering credits, and innovative credit programs.
  • Section 6: Public Information/Education assesses the methods of education and multi-media sources used in educating and in disseminating information.

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Lead in Drinking Water: Post-Flint Media Coverage and Policy Changes in the Northeast-Midwest Region

This report, Lead in Drinking Water: Post-Flint Media Coverage and Policy Changes in the Northeast-Midwest Region, released by the Northeast-Midwest Institute presents a comprehensive analysis of post-Flint statewide laws and regulations enacted in the NEMW states to improve water quality, as well as testing, reporting, and notification of lead results, and replacement of infrastructure.

The report catalogs the severity of the lead crisis in the Northeast and Midwest jurisdictions by using a novel, yet established methodology of reviewing news media coverage as a proxy for the severity of drinking water issues related to lead contamination. A review of news articles published in the years 2015, 2016, and 2017 found that the lead contamination problem is geographically spread across the region, but most concentrated in a few states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Ohio.

The report also found that media coverage of the lead contamination issue was most intense in mid-2016, when the problem was high on the public agenda, but that the coverage quickly receded in visibility, with little to no media coverage of the lead problem in 2017, even though the seriousness of the crisis is just as bad today as before.

News release here.

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Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure: Information on Identified Needs, Planning for Future Conditions, and Coordination of Project Funding

The U.S. Government Accountability Office was asked to review federal programs that provide funding for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.

This report describes (1) how federal agencies and selected states identify drinking water and wastewater infrastructure needs; (2) how federal agencies have supported selected states’ planning for future conditions that may affect needs; and (3) the extent to which federal and state agencies have coordinated in
funding projects, and any challenges they faced.

Report: Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure: Information on Identified Needs, Planning for Future Conditions, and Coordination of Project Funding

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Assessing the Affordability of Water and Sewer Utility Costs in New Jersey

This report, Assessing the Affordability of Water and Sewer Utility Costs in New Jersey, reviews various methods that have been or could be used to evaluate the household affordability of drinking water and sewer utility costs in New Jersey. It provides a preliminary assessment of household financial stress using these methods, based on recent household income levels and estimated utility costs (2017/2018 rates) for households using 60,000 gallons per year as a common demand level. The report makes preliminary findings on household affordability based on the analyses and provides policy recommendations and ideas for additional research. This Phase 1 report was developed to provide background information for use by the Jersey Water Works collaborative and policy makers in selecting a consensus method for affordability analysis that can be used to establish baseline data for New Jersey communities.

This report is an initial step toward measurement of progress regarding the Jersey Water Works goals by establishing baseline measures for the following:

  • Drinking water and sewer utility affordability for residential users.
  • Level of financial stress facing water utilities, based on the fiscal capacity of ratepayers

This report provides an initial assessment of affordability calculation methods, levels of household stress using a variety of affordability indicators, ideas for improving the analysis through additional research, and a discussion of policy implications for the development of affordability programs.

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2018 State of Stormwater Report

This report, 2018 State of Stormwater Report, provides a brief overview of stormwater programs in participating states. The information was compiled by National Municipal Stormwater Alliance member organizations and does not reflect any official state position on permit compliance or receiving water quality. Rather, the information provided is a snapshot of overall MS4 NPDES program implementation, current regulatory issues in the state, and a general estimate of the trend and overall quality of the state’s receiving waters.

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A Review of New Jersey Water Bank Financing for Green Infrastructure Projects

This report issued by New Jersey Future, A Review of New Jersey Water Bank Financing for Green Infrastructure Projects, is the culmination of a year-long partnership with I-Bank and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to improve access to the program’s low-cost green infrastructure financing and continues to move the I-Bank into innovative areas of lending beyond traditional “gray” infrastructure.

Read more about the project here.

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Informing, Improving, and Expanding Water Quality and Financing through Advanced Data Management

Informing, Improving, and Expanding Water Quality and Financing through Advanced Data Management

Over the past three decades, billions of federal, state, and local dollars have been deployed to support water infrastructure projects and other programs that reduce point and nonpoint sources of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

The University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center examined the trends that emerged in terms of project characteristics that drive successful outcomes and identified gaps in how funders collect evaluation data. After analyzing 699 projects across two major Bay-wide funders, the EFC provided recommendations for improving the impact of grant-funded programs and projects. Specifically, the EFC recommended that funders establish a process to better coordinate data collection efforts in order to assess and improve future program evaluation and regional investment. The complete findings and recommendations are detailed in the report.

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Putting children first: Tackling lead in water in child care facilities

Addressing lead in water in child care facilities presents a significant opportunity to reduce lead exposure for many vulnerable children in a single location, with reasonable effort. To succeed in testing and remediating lead in water, child care facility operators, state licensing agencies, and health departments will need support from EPA, water utilities, and NSF International, as well as the families they serve.

This report, Putting children first: Tackling lead in water in child care facilities, provides recommendations for each of these critical audiences.

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