It is difficult to envision a water scarcity issue when you turn on your tap in most places in the U.S. and immediately are provided with clean, fresh, and relatively low cost or even free water. Increasingly, this is not the case for many, and we only need to look at the recent water crisis in Flint to learn of the water quality and quantity concerns existing today. Understanding the water management needs and resources for your business is critical, as well as how this precious natural resource may be adversely impacted by climate change, population growth, and drought, among other considerations.
Summarized below are some important insights for business:
Two recent New York Times op-ed contributors shed light on the magnitude of the challenges that we face domestically with respect to water, its infrastructure, and our ability to measure it, and offer possible policy prescriptions.
On March 21, 2016, the Flint Water Advisory Task Force (FWATF) issued its Final Report regarding the Flint water crisis. The FWATF is a 5-member task force appointed by Governor Rick Snyder and charged with conducting an independent review of the contamination of the Flint water supply. The FWATF report contains some harsh criticism of government actions that caused and exacerbated the Flint water crisis, concluding that "the causes of the crisis lie primarily at the feet of the state by virtue of its agencies' failures and its appointed emergency managers' misjudgments." The FWATF lays much blame on the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) as well as on the state-appointed emergency manager who had replaced local representative decision-making in Flint and made the decision to switch Flint's water supply to the Flint River.
The report contains 36 findings and 44 recommendations.
Key findings include:
Today is World Water Day, and consistent with this year’s theme of “Water and Jobs,” this blog focuses on the impact of water shortages on jobs globally. According to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, an estimated three out of every four jobs globally are dependent on water, and a lack of access to water is likely to limit economic growth in the coming decades. More than 1.5 billion people are employed in industries that are heavily dependent on water, most in farming, fisheries, and forestry. The lack of clean, available water now and in the future will obviously have a very significant impact on all of these jobs.
In addition to preserving the above-referenced jobs, a 2016 United Nations Water Development Report noted that investing in projects intended to provide and improve access to safe water can result in a significant economic growth. For example, investments in small scale projects in Africa could offer a return equivalent to five percent of the continent’s economic output. Similarly, for every $1 million invested in the United States to upgrade water supply and treatment systems, approximately 10 to 20 additional jobs are generated, per the United Nations Development Report.
Please click here to view a video message from Guy Ryder, the ILO Director-General and Chair of UN Water, discussing the importance of World Water Day 2016.
Today the White House is hosting a Water Summit to shine a spotlight on the importance of cross-cutting, creative solutions to solving current water problems as well as to highlight innovative strategies that will catalyze change in how we use, conserve, protect and think about water now and in the years to come. The Water Summit brings together public and private entities to consider some of the most significant water-related challenges. 150 external institutions are joining the Federal government in announcing new efforts and commitments to enhance the sustainability of water in the U.S. by managing our water resources and infrastructure for the long term.
Examples of these new developments include:
- Nearly $4B in private capital committed addressing water-related infrastructure;
- More than $1B from the private sector over the next decade to conduct R&D into new technologies;
- A Presidential Memorandum and supporting Action Plan on building national capabilities for long term drought resilience;
- Nearly $35M this year in Federal grants from EPA, NOAA, National Science Foundation and DOA supporting water science; and,
- The release of a new National Water Model to enhance river-forecasting capabilities.
Read the White House Fact Sheet for more breaking news about the Water Summit and new developments in recognition of World Water Day.
There is no life without water. Yet it is not often mentioned that the availability and sustainable management of water has a direct link with the creation of quality jobs. The theme of 2016 World Water Day — Better water, better jobs — aims to highlight how water can create paid and decent work while contributing to a greener economy and sustainable development.
Today, almost half of the world's workers, or about 1.5 billion people, work in water-related sectors. Around 650 million people (one in 10 of the world's population) do not have access to safe water, putting them at risk of infectious diseases and premature death. Dirty water and poor sanitation can cause severe diarrhoeal diseases in children, killing 900 under-fives a day across the world, according to United Nations estimates — or one child every two minutes. The availability and quality of water has a direct impact on workers' lives. Every year over 340,000 workers die because of inadequate water supply and sanitation. Fishermen depend on the quality of fresh water, while a farmer's job depends on the ability to manage the available freshwater. In factories, 38 workers die from water-related diseases every hour, which can be prevented with cleaner water and sanitation.
Women and often children have to trek for hours every day to bring home water for their families. However, if availability of water was guaranteed, they could be learning skills that would help them to find better work. This is why the 2016 World Water Day theme — water and jobs — is so important. It is focusing on how enough quantity and quality of water can change workers' lives and livelihoods — and even transform societies and economies.
Read the entire article and see compelling images that accompany it of the importance of water to the economy and better jobs.
March 22, 2016, is World Water Day. World Water Day is an international observance created by the United Nations in 1993, designed to provide an opportunity to learn more about water related issues, be inspired to tell others, and take action to make a difference. World Water Day has been held annually since 1993. This year's theme for World Water Day is: Better Water, Better Jobs.
In recognition of World Water Day, The Corporate Environmental Lawyer blog will feature a series of blogs next week focused on water-related issues and developments. Please follow our blog to learn more about these important issues.
To learn more about World Water Day, visit the UN World Water Day Website.
On Wednesday, March 16, 2016, Jenner & Block partners E. Lynn Grayson and Allison Torrence will be speaking at a Chicago Bar Association CLE Seminar titled "Major Cases and Regulatory Changes in Environmental Law." Lynn Grayson will be presenting on proposed RCRA generator and pharmaceutical rules, and Allison Torrence, who is Chair of the CBA Environmental Law Committee, will be presenting on the U.S. v. Volkswagen Clean Air Act litigation.
The seminar is on Wednesday March 16, 2014 from 3–5 pm at the Chicago Bar Association, 321 S. Plymouth Court. A networking reception will be held at the CBA immediately following the seminar, from 5–6 pm.
For more information and to register for the seminar click here.
As required by the Hazardous Waste Electronic Establishment Act (Act), EPA’s efforts are ongoing to develop an e-manifest system. EPA issued its final rule in February 2014 (79 Fed. Reg. 7518, February 7, 2014) seeking to implement the Act’s requirement to create a national electronic manifest system and impose user fees as a means to fund its development and operation. Most recently, EPA has developed an e-manifest listserv to manage communications with the regulated community.
According to EPA, the listserv will: 1) provide stakeholders with program announcements and updates; and 2) facilitate e-manifest conversations among users and other stakeholders. There will be significant progress on the e-manifest program throughout 2016-2017, so participation in the listserv will be a good way to stay informed.
Interested parties may subscribe to EPA’s listserv at https://www3.epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/transportation/manifest/e-man.htm.
EPA conducted a webinar on developments with the e-manifest system in December 2015, and the presentation provides a good overview of the program and related schedule.
Along with the hazardous waste management changes for generators recently proposed by EPA, the e-manifest system will be another significant new development for thousands of companies regulated by RCRA and subject to hazardous waste manifest requirements.
On March 7, 2016, the Ninth Circuit granted Boeing’s petition seeking to appeal the remand to state court of an environmental class action lawsuit alleging the improper disposal of hazardous chemicals into soil and groundwater at a site in Auburn, Washington. This would be the second time that Boeing has appealed an order remanding the case back to state court. In the first go-around, the district court granted plaintiffs’ motion to remand, applying the single-event exception to removal under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA). Boeing appealed, and the Ninth Circuit concluded that the single-event exception to CAFA removal did not apply and directed the district court to examine plaintiffs’ separate argument in support of remand based on CAFA’s local-controversy exception. Under CAFA’s local-controversy exception, federal courts should decline to exercise jurisdiction over a class where at least two-thirds of the class are citizens of the state in which the complaint is filed and at least one defendant is a citizen of the filing state whose alleged conduct forms a significant basis of the asserted claims and from whom the class seeks significant relief.