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ORD Research Plan Stakeholder Meeting

In the field of water related research, EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) is one of the major players. Their priorities help influence the priorities of other groups conducting or sponsoring water research. This year EPA has a new scheme for prioritizing their research agenda that covers water research more broadly. The Safe and Sustainable Water Research Program (SSWR) eliminates separate prioritization for clean water and drinking water research and addresses research needs across all water programs. Research in other EPA program areas has been similarly organized with this integrated approach. ORD provided an update on SSWR for stakeholders (including ASDWA representatives) this week. The SSWR program has two major themes – Sustainable Water Resources and Sustainable Water Infrastructure Systems. The specific research projects are organized under a number of topics which were reviewed at the meeting.

  • Topic 1 – Sustainability and integrity of water resources
  • Topic 2 – Minimizing the environmental impacts of land use practices for sustainability of surface and subsurface water resources
  • Topic 3 – Climate
  • Topic 4 – Most effective and sustainable approaches that maintain and improve the natural and engineered water system
  • Topic 5 – Manage water infrastructure to produce safe and sustainable water resources

There is also cross cutting research on nutrients that includes the Air, Climate and Energy area as well as Sustainable and Healthy Communities. Some specialized research areas of interest to drinking water still remain separate in the new research structure. One is Human Health Risk Assessment which supports the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) health hazard and does response assessments that support regulatory determinations and MCL decisions. The other is Homeland Security research that considers identifying threats and managing response.

A special cooperative program with the US Army was also shared at the meeting. Called Net Zero, the program is aimed at improving the use of natural resources at Army installations, encompassing energy, water, and waste. Early pilot projects in the water area are beginning at Fort Riley (KS) and Joint Base Lewis-McChord (WA).