WBEZ | Clean Water Act http://www.wbez.org/tags/clean-water-act Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Midwest breweries lead environmental group's charge to fortify water laws http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/midwest-breweries-lead-environmental-groups-charge-fortify-water-laws <p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/chollsjr/8031541422/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/lakefront-beer-by-carlton-holls.jpg" title="Beer from Lakefront Brewery, one of 21 breweries to sign the Natural Resources Defense Council's clean water pledge. (Flickr/Carlton Holls) " /></a></div><p>Raise a cold one this weekend and make a toast to the Clean Water Act.</p><p><a href="http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/khobbs/cheers_to_brewers_for_clean_wa.html">That&rsquo;s the advice</a> of the Natural Resources Defense Council as they <a href="http://www.nrdc.org/water/brewers-for-clean-water/">team up with 21 craft breweries</a> in an effort to raise awareness of threats to the key ingredient in beer.</p><p>As any beginning homebrewer&rsquo;s kitchen floor will attest, the brewing process requires a lot of water. Beer is 90 percent water, and including all the water it takes to clean brewing materials and rinse the packaged product, it can take 7 gallons of water to produce one gallon of beer.</p><p>&ldquo;When you talk about beer, you have to talk about water. It&rsquo;s not as sexy as talking about hops and malt,&rdquo; said Jason Spaulding, co-owner of <a href="http://www.breweryvivant.com/">Brewery Vivant</a> in Grand Rapids, Mich. &ldquo;If we don&rsquo;t look after [our water] long-term, it&rsquo;s going to directly hurt our industry and our livelihood.&rdquo;</p><p>Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972, following a series of high-profile pollution incidents including <a href="http://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/63">the Cuyahoga River fire of 1969</a>. Citing recent congressional attempts to tinker with the law or <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/01/us/01water.html?pagewanted=all">erode the Environmental Protection Agency&#39;s authority to enforce clean water provisions</a>, NRDC&rsquo;s senior policy analyst Karen Hobbs said the coalition of brewers isn&rsquo;t united for or against any particular policy proposal.</p><p>&ldquo;We&#39;re hoping to work with the brewers to have a consistent industry voice in support of clean water,&rdquo; Hobbs said. &ldquo;Some brewers will want to enter into specific policy issues.&rdquo;</p><p>Two supreme court decisions in 2001 and 2006 questioned the EPA&rsquo;s jurisdiction to enforce the Clean Water Act. <a href="http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/wetlands/CWAwaters.cfm">The agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are waiting for clarification</a> from the Obama administration before they enter into legal battles over water pollution where the legal definition of what waters are covered in the act is unclear. In Arizona, for example, storm water containing grease and oil from nearby construction sites pours into the San Pedro River for only part of the year. Since the tributaries carrying pollution do not flow year-round, the EPA dropped its enforcement efforts there to avoid a long and costly legal battle.</p><p>The bottom line for the nation&rsquo;s craft brewers and their customers, however, is straightforward.</p><p>&ldquo;If your water&rsquo;s not good, your beer&rsquo;s not going to be good,&rdquo;&nbsp;Spaulding said.</p><p>Goose Island uses more than 18 million gallons of water each year, racking up a hefty water bill. Some large water users negotiate for a flat monthly fee for water, but many craft breweries, including Goose Island, pay a monthly rate based on how much water they actually use. Like any ratepayer in Chicago, Goose Island gets their water from Lake Michigan.</p><p>&ldquo;Lake Michigan water has a really great chemical content to it to use as your blank canvas,&rdquo; said Goose Island&rsquo;s Ian Hughes.</p><p>Like many breweries, Goose Island is pursuing water conservation efforts, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&amp;v=e_HVUQW20Vs">reusing water that rinses beer bottles</a> after they&rsquo;ve been filled and commissioning a life-cycle assessment of their product&#39;s environmental footprint.</p><p>Despite some recent rate hikes, water in the Great Lakes region <a href="http://www.circleofblue.org/waternews/2010/world/the-price-of-water-a-comparison-of-water-rates-usage-in-30-u-s-cities/">is among the cheapest in the country</a>. Even where rates are higher, many argue <a href="http://www.glc.org/announce/11/11vglwi.html">they don&#39;t reflect the true cost</a> of water. If ensuring clean water costs more, Brewery Vivant&rsquo;s Spaulding said he is prepared to pay.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s a cost we&rsquo;d be happy to pay,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Without that clean water you don&rsquo;t have a viable business.&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 12 Apr 2013 12:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/midwest-breweries-lead-environmental-groups-charge-fortify-water-laws Water distrct to curb raw sewage discharges http://www.wbez.org/story/water-distrct-curb-raw-sewage-discharges-94902 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-December/2011-12-14/River spray.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Wastewater managers in Chicago have agreed to spend billions to reduce the amount of raw sewage discharged into area waterways. The Environmental Protection Agency and water managers have <a href="http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/cwa/mwrd.html">struck a deal </a>to head off combined sewer overflows, which happen when snowmelt or storm water overwhelm the sewers. That pushes the whole messy mixture of runoff and sewage into the rivers and canals.</p><p>The consent decree requires the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District to build so-called green infrastructure, like porous concrete and rain gardens, to absorb runoff. It also gives the agency deadlines for completing the deep tunnel and reservoir project, now scheduled for completion in 2029.</p><p>The Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups are suing the District over the discharges. Josh Mogerman, spokesman for the NRDC’s Midwest office, said he’s heartened by the agreement.</p><p>“This is part of a really positive trend with MWRD,” said Mogerman. “You add this to the very positive vote taken to decontaminate the sewage going into the Chicago River, and we see a more modern way of looking at sewage and water in this city.”</p><p>Mogerman said the NRDC is still mulling how this consent decree might affect the lawsuit. The agreement does resolve several Clean Water Act violations cited by the federal government.</p></p> Wed, 14 Dec 2011 22:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/water-distrct-curb-raw-sewage-discharges-94902 Environmentalists sue water district over discharges http://www.wbez.org/story/environmentalists-sue-water-district-over-discharges-86028 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-03/Chi River.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Conservation groups are taking the Chicago-area’s water reclamation district to court, accusing the agency of chronically polluting the region’s river system. The plaintiffs call out the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District for allowing sewage and storm water to spill into waterways on rainy days, including<a href="http://www.mwrd.org/irj/portal/anonymous?NavigationTarget=navurl://a5611bcef89c3cc2abca008c0ea969df&amp;LightDTNKnobID=-983772002"> 19 times this year so far</a>. The Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and Prairie Rivers Network say that overflow, along with excess phosphorous and other wastewater pollution, violate the Clean Water Act.&nbsp;</p><p>The District is working on the deep tunnel and reservoir project, which would divert most overflows. But the Natural Resources Defense Council attorney Ann Alexander said that effort has taken too long.</p><p>“They need to get off the dime and finish the tunnel and reservoir project that they started more the three decades and three billion dollars ago,” Alexander said. “But they need to do more than that.”</p><p>The Sierra Club and Prairie Rivers Network are also plaintiffs.</p><p>The water district is in talks with the federal government over how to resolve the Clean Water Act issues through a consent decree. A spokesman says the district hadn’t received the lawsuit as of late yesterday, and, citing the ongoing legal negotiations, declined to comment. &nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 03 May 2011 21:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/environmentalists-sue-water-district-over-discharges-86028