The Focus of the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments to Water Conservation

Watersheds are the areas of the Earth’s surface that drains downhill to surface water bodies large or small, watersheds have discrete boundaries established by mountains, hills and valleys, and include all lakes, rivers, wetlands, streams, and other surrounding landscape. Watersheds often cross national, state and local borders, watersheds transcend as many political, social and economic boundaries as they do ecological boundaries. In recent years, significant progress has been made in achieving cleaner and healthier watersheds that support both aquatic life and many human uses.

I will be discussing what State and Federal Departments are doing to rectify these problems. I also will be discussing the progress of watershed management and the effects they have on water quality and are own lives.

Agriculture is very important in watershed planning activities, often holding keys to solutions as well his many of the problems associated with nonpoint source environmental impacts: soil erosion, increased sediment and nutrient loading, riparian vegetation removal, pesticide loadings, and stream channelization.

It is easy to forget that are drinking water doesn’t just come from a faucet or a bottle. Our drinking water source includes streams, rivers, lakes, or groundwater wells that tap into underground aquifers. Most of our drinking water from these sources is treated before it’s poured into our glasses to remove natural and man-made contaminants. However, treatment can be expensive, and some contaminants are not easily removed. The cost of the treatment can be reduced or avoided by insuring that the source of the drinking water are safe from contaminants.

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The 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments placed a new focus on source water protection by requiring States to implement source water assessment and protection programs to assess areas serving as a source of drinking water. The amendments also authorized funding sources and technical support for Local State agents to engage in voluntary source water protection programs. The protection of groundwater is very important because it serves as a source of drinking water for 95 percent of the population in rural areas and approximately half of the nation’s population.

A joint effort by the Department of Pesticides Regulation (DPR) and the State Water Resource Control Board (State Board), it describes how DPR and the country agricultural commissioner are working together with the State Board and the regional boards to protect water from the use of pesticides. DPR and the State Board have adopted a four-stage approach to minimize the potential for pesticide movement to surface and groundwaters .Stage 1: educational out reach. .Stage 2: Self-regarding or cooperative efforts are used to identify and implement the most appropriate site-specific, reduced-risk practices. This could include manufacturer-imposed labeled changes and stewardship programs in the region or statewide. Stage 3: Restricted material used permit requirements, regulations, and other authorities used. . Stage 4: If necessary, the State and Regional Boards will enforce additional water quality regulations. The customer out reach and educational programs of the pesticide industry described above will be an essential part of this process. If most people and industries don’t get the message or understand how to implement it the program fails to work. Those in agriculture are very familiar with the importance of pesticides and related products for pest control and optimizing crop production.

The nature of many products requires strict labeling conditions in handling uses. The industry conducts educational efforts to encourage farmers and others properly follow label restrictions and use common sense to store, handle, and use pesticides cautiously. These include: • The observed restrictions on where and when each product may be used, climatic conditions, method of application, necessary safety equipment and who may not use the product. Observe restrictions on setback from drinking water wells, surface water bodies and other sensitive habitat. . Observe restrictions on storage, handling, mixing, and using the products and disposal of empty containers or lettover product. Dispite these precautions and stages, with today’s advanced monitoring technology pesticides and their degradation products often undetected in surface water bodies and shallow groundwaters are vulnerable to contamination. The drinking water aquifers only were rarely having detectable pesticide residues. New federal and state clean water policies often focused water quality protection strategies on watershed resource management tailored to local needs, and state and university monitoring has shown detections of pesticide contaminants in unfiltered river water only rarely exceeds federal and state drinking water standards established for tap water.

Most frequently detected pesticides are low concentrations of herbicides in agricultural areas and other herbicides and insecticides in urban and non-agricultural areas monitoring found pesticides throughout the year in streams sample across all major land-use settings. The most agricultural areas, pesticides are detected as seasonal pulses lasting from a few days to several months during and following high use periods. Total pesticide concentrations in streams draining urban areas are generally lower than the agricultural areas, but seasonal pulses are more dominated by insecticides, which may be more toxic to some aquatic life than herbicides. Over the last 25 years since the Clean Water Act (CA) most of the historic point source toxic problems have been corrected, revealing less obvious nonpoint source (NPS) water quality and aquatic habitat problems. Water quality has improved in recent years, NPS runoff from farms, cities, suburban development, golf courses, and logging activities have come under intense scrutiny. Although two-thirds of water now meets water quality standards, recent state reports of U.S. water quality indicates that PS runoff is responsible for about half of the remaining water quality problems. In conclusion the quality of water is much better now than years prior but as landscape architects we can also help in achieving cleaner and more healthy watersheds by removing pesticides before it gets into any major water systems.

By incorporating vegetative riparian buffers along stream and riverbanks whenever possible. Runoff is intercepted and slowly allowed to percolate into the groundwater. Soil sediment, lawn and agricultural chemicals are trapped, modified, or use by the vegetation for growth, reducing the amount of pollution. This buffer also reduces the waters velocity during high flows, which reduces steam bank erosion. Within the buffer, the water holding capacity of the soil increases; this modifies flooding and recharges groundwater supplies. Trees and shrubs, and native grasses near the waterway improved water quality by removing sediment and chemicals before they reach the waterway, and also improved and protect the aquatic environment. Not only do they provide shade and lower summer water temperatures, but the woody and leaf debris provides both food and shelter to aquatic insects, fish, and amphibians. These buffers also provide important needed habitat for wildlife. It is very important that as a landscape architect we do our part to purify waterways and be ecologically sensitive to the environment around us.

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The Focus of the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments to Water Conservation. (2023, May 16). Retrieved from

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