Flood of cash for clean water

A flood of grants and financial incentives to ensure clean water supplies have been announced by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA chiefs will hand out $3.6m in grants to six institutions towards research into drinking water contaminants.

The organisation will also issue a new rule allowing states to claim money from EPA if they charge fees for new clean water permits.

Announcing the research grants, George Gray, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development, said: “By supporting research into innovative technologies and approaches to rapidly detect and identify viruses, bacteria and chemicals in drinking water, we can prevent illness.

“These new projects will expand the toolkit available to those on the front lines of protecting our nation’s drinking water and public health.”

It is hoped the research will investigate known and emerging water contaminants, including blue-green algae in algal blooms, which can produce poisons, and noroviruses, which can cause gastrointestinal illnesses.

Drexel University, in Philadelphia, the University of Missouri, in Columbia, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, in Massachusetts, are among the organisations that will benefit from the grants.

The grants followed an announcement that EPA will provide financial incentives for states to introduce fees for clean water permit programmes.

A total of $5.1m will be available for states charging permit fees for the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System programmes.

Some states have already started charging fees to cover some of the costs of the scheme, but others are absorbing the costs themselves.

EPA said the move would “shift part of the financial burden to those who benefit from the permits” and free up money to use on other water quality schemes.

Kate Martin

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