7 Tips to Stay Healthy This Holiday Season

The holiday season is upon us, and while it is indeed a joyous and festive time of year, it can also be a difficult one. We have put together some tips for maintaining physical and mental health during this bustling time.

xmas cookiesEat frequently.
We all know the holidays are a time for cookies, cakes, and candy canes, and enjoying the tastes of the season is part of the festivities. However, overindulging in sweet treats can lead to weight gain, lethargy, and illness. Try to eat small, healthy meals, including lean protein and a variety of vegetables, every 3-4 hours; that way, you’ll stay satisfied all day and be less likely to overeat those tempting trifles. And when you do indulge, keep the portion to one serving: enjoy a small piece of cake, one cookie, or a single truffle. By maintaining balance, you won’t feel deprived and will still keep your diet and health in check.

Get enough sleep.
A good night\’s sleep does a lot more than just banish those pesky under-eye circles. A full night’s sleep – 7-9 hours per night – boosts memory, aids in disease prevention, allows the body to make necessary repairs to itself, assists in maintaining a healthy weight, increases creativity, and helps the body resist illness. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Adequate sleep, once greatly overlooked, is now touted as one of the most important factors in maintaining overall health. So go ahead, hit the snooze button. Your body and mind will thank you.

worcester skate2Stay active.
Let’s face it, the chilly, short days and frenetic schedule this time of year make squeezing in daily exercise a challenge. However, staying active year-round helps stave off illness and disease, boosts metabolism, supports mental health, and helps maintain a healthy weight. Some tips for exercising around the holidays include joining a gym (they always have specials this time of year), skiing, iceskating, working out with your smartphone or tablet (there’s an app for that!), or signing up for a fitness class. Be creative! Even choosing to take the stairs, wash your windows, or to park at the opposite end of the parking lot at work will help you sneak in extra daily activity.

Stress is one of the largest factors in contributing to illness, disease, and weight gain. The holidays are particularly difficult for many people due to a variety of stressors, such as harried schedules, crowded shopping centers, and familial and monetary worries. Don’t let the holidays stress you out! Practice breathing techniques, take a yoga class, relax with a cup of peppermint tea, or meditate. These are simple, yet effective measures in reducing stress and allowing you to enjoy the season. And speaking of ways to de-stress…

Practice positive thinking.
It is so simple, and really pays off. Consistent positive thinking does take some conscious effort, but with a little practice, it will become second nature – and you’ll be on your way to a much calmer and happier outlook. Somebody cut you off on the highway? Be grateful you weren’t in an accident. Heating oil delivery costs are through the roof? Be thankful for that roof. Be mindful of everyday aggravations, and find a way to turn them into moments of gratitude.

woman with water glass smilingDrink your water.
This one is our favorite! Adequate water consumption – half your body weight in ounces per day – offers a myriad of health benefits, including disease prevention, heightened metabolism, weight maintenance, illness prevention, mental clarity, and joint health. In addition, staying hydrated gives you shiny hair, strong nails, and healthy skin. Providing clean, safe water is something we are passionate about here at Tata & Howard. We hope you will drink your water and enjoy the many benefits it has to offer this holiday season. And last but not least…

While the adage “It takes 43 muscles to frown and only 17 to smile” is largely an old spouse’s tale, the premise behind it holds firm: smiling and spreading cheer is easy and infectious. So give it a try, along with our other tips, and enjoy the happiest, healthiest holiday season possible!

US Senate Unanimously Passes HR3588: Community Fire Safety Act

Fire Hydrant 10

On December 17, the US Senate unanimously passed HR3588: Community Fire Safety Act to exclude fire hydrants, including their pipes, fittings, fixtures, solder, and flux, from the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act. The bill, which passed the US House of Representatives by unanimous vote on December 2 and has garnered broad bipartisan and water industry support, now heads to the White House for signature.

“The American Water Works Association applauds the Senate for its swift action in passing the Community Fire Safety Act,” said AWWA Executive Director David LaFrance. “Our elected leaders have done a great service for their communities, and we are optimistic that President Obama will sign the bill into law. We also are grateful to the many voices in the water community and beyond who joined with AWWA in bringing this issue to Congress over the past few weeks. Their willingness to raise their voices has made all the difference.”

LaFrance added: “The Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act was not intended to cover fire hydrants. Our elected leaders have arrived at a common-sense decision that will save valuable time and resources for water utilities and equipment manufacturers, costs that ultimately would be borne by water consumers.”

EPA Backs Away from Lead-free Hydrants Rule


Facing oppoposition from fire and water officials, the EPA is backing down on the need for lead-free fire hydrants.

hydrantThe Environmental Protection Agency is backing down from an effort that urges municipalities to install lead-free fire hydrants because of opposition from fire officials, water authorities and members of Congress.

U.S. Sens. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, and Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh Valley, were among four senators working on bipartisan legislation that would exempt fire hydrants from EPA requirements restricting the use of lead in certain types of water infrastructure by Jan. 4.

Late Friday, EPA officials said they won’t pursue their plans.

“In response to the feedback received through that process, EPA concluded that fire hydrants are not widely used as a potable source of water and that the guidance should be revised to exclude fire hydrants if Congress doesn’t take action to do so before the January deadline,” EPA spokeswoman Julia Valentine said in a statement.

The fire hydrant rule, announced in October, was part of the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act, a 3-year-old piece of legislation. Throughout the fall, fire departments and water authorities nationwide urged the EPA to change course. Fire hydrants, they said, contain little lead in their metal parts or paint.

Some fixtures, such as shower valves, are exempt from the regulations. The legislation passed by the House of Representatives and under consideration in the Senate would add fire hydrants to the list of exemptions.

Casey and Toomey have said the measure would be “too costly and burdensome.” The Senate was expected to pass the bill sometime before the new year, according to Toomey’s office.

The rule would apply only to hydrants installed after Jan. 4.

At West View Water Authority, project manager George Koleck said hydrants contain few lead-containing metal parts. Yet the authority would have had to replace 30 hydrants in storage, purchased for about $1,800 apiece.

“If the EPA is telling us we have to use no lead, brass or bronze parts in repairing fire hydrants, that means we have to throw out our current inventory and purchase new items,” Koleck said.

In addition, manufacturers might not have lead-free products available, meaning any repairs or retrofitted hydrants would have to be shipped to the factory to comply with regulations.

“We test for lead in our water and we’re well below the standards,” Koleck said. “We’re for safe water, and we’ll do what’s required and necessary, but sometime these regulations are a little more overboard.”

Melissa Rubin, spokeswoman for the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority, said the agency has about 50 hydrants stored to replace broken ones.

If the no-lead regulation had taken place, Rubin said it would have cost the agency $132,000 to replace its stored hydrants.

Melissa Daniels is a Trib Total Media staff writer.

Copyright 2013 Tribune Review Publishing Company, All Rights Reserved

Proposed Legislation to Exclude Fire Hydrants from the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act

hydrantOn Monday, December 2, the US House of Representatives unanimously voted to override a controversial October 22, 2013 EPA ruling that included fire hydrants in the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act. This Act, slated to take effect January 4, 2014, would require all new fire hydrants and their accompanying pipes, fixtures, and fittings to be lead-free.

The bill, cosponsored by Congressmen Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), garnered sweeping bipartisan support, an unusual occurrence when it comes to EPA rulings. Named the Community Fire Safety Act, HR 3588, the bill also received broad support from the water industry, including the American Water Works Association, Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, Association of California Water Agencies, National Association of Water Companies, and National Rural Water Association.

“This commonsense legislation eliminates an unintended consequence of a recent law enacted to enhance public health. No one is getting a steady supply of drinking water from the fire hydrant at the end of their street, so we should not add to the heavy burden our local governments with constrained budgets already experience,” said Rep. Tonko. “We need to remove lead from our drinking water, but we do not need to regulate fire hydrants to achieve this worthy and important goal,” he continued. “When Congress passed the amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act three years ago, I doubt anyone intended to have EPA regulate hydrants.”

Advocates of the Community Fire Safety Act are strongly urging individuals to contact their senators in support of this legislation, and to ask that the Act be voted into law. If the Act fails to pass, community water utilities will be stuck holding millions of dollars of brand new, non-compliant fire hydrants – with no means of procuring the required lead-free hydrants.

“Water utilities have made it clear that they have two choices come January 4: fail to comply with federal law, or leave gaps in critical fire hydrant service,” commented Rep. Johnson. “No one should ever face that choice.”

To contact your senator, please visit https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

The Criticality of Water: EPA Aims to Bring Awareness to the Nation

heron and fishWater: our world’s most precious resource. We need water for food production, manufacturing, livestock, tourism, electric power, energy resource extraction, mining, forestry, and recreation. Water is critical to a thriving economy, and is essential either directly or indirectly in every aspect of our lives. So why aren’t we doing more to protect it?

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is hoping to change that. The Importance of Water to the US Economy, an EPA report addressing the intrinsic value of water, was issued earlier this month. The 37-page report discusses the vital role water plays in all aspects of our economy, and why we urgently need to address the sustainable management of our nation’s water resources. This report also supplies additional evidence for the expanded Clean Water Act jurisdiction expected to pass in 2014, which you can read about here.

The reality is that sustainable management will not only necessitate increased EPA jurisdiction to ensure protection of our nation’s finite water resources, but will also come with a pricetag. Aging infrastructure – some built around the time of the Civil War – continues to fail at an alarming rate, and EPA’s Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment: Fifth Report to Congress, issued in June of this year, estimated that $384 billion would be necessary simply for the maintenance of our nation\’s tap water systems through 2030.

Yet people continue to balk at rising water and sewer prices, even in the wake of such compelling evidence. General Manager of the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water) George S. Hawkins, whose job includes convincing residents of the necessity for rate increases, explains in a way that allows no room for argument: “People pay more for their cellphones and cable television than for water. You can go a day without a phone or TV. You can’t go a day without water.”

Indeed, Mr. Hawkins.

EPA Releases Draft Report in Preparation for Expanded Clean Water Act Jurisidiction

globe water hands smallThere is no question that clean water remains our nation\’s most valuable natural resource. It is not only necessary for providing drinking water and maintaining public health, but also for manufacturing, farming, fishing, tourism, recreation, and energy development. And while the need for an abudant supply of clean water impacts us all, the methods used by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect our nation’s waters has come under heated debate.

In 1972, in an effort to protect our nation’s water supply, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enacted the Clean Water Act (CWA), which defined “Waters of the United States.” The Act provided protection to these defined streams, lakes, rivers, wetlands, and other waterways from the high levels of pollution to which they were being subjected. Since 2001, some of these waters and wetlands have lost federal protection due to misinterpretations and confusion over Supreme Court rulings in regard to which waterways fall under CWA jurisdiction. Citing our nation’s imperative need for clean water, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) determined that clarification of CWA jurisdiction was necessary.

The Report
On August 24, 2013, the EPA solicited public comment on a new draft science report titled Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence. Public comments received by November 6, 2013 will be provided to the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), an independent peer review panel, prior to their December 16-18, 2013 meeting. The purpose of this draft science report is to provide compelling scientific evidence in support of a joint EPA/Corps rulemaking to increase protection of US water by clarifying the authority of the CWA. This clarification has been requested by many entities including members of Congress, state and local officials, industry, agriculture, environmental groups, and the public.

EPA and the Corps’ primary focus is jurisidiction over our nation’s network of smaller waters – waters that feed larger ones, and, according to EPA, need protection in order to keep our water safe from upstream pollutants. In addition, EPA and the Corps are including protection for non-drinking water wetlands, maintaining that these wetlands provide community benefits, such as pollution containment and filtering, water storage, flood safety, as well as economic benefits for US businesses, including energy producers and farmers, who rely on ample sources of clean water.

The EPA states, “This draft science report presents a review and synthesis of the scientific literature pertaining to physical, chemical, and biological connections from streams, wetlands, and open-waters to downstream waters such as rivers, lakes, estuaries, and oceans. This review of more than 1,000 peer-reviewed publications summarizes the current scientific understanding of the connectivity of small or temporary streams, wetlands, and certain open-waters, evaluated singly or in aggregate, and the mechanisms by which they affect the function or condition of downstream waters. The goals of the report are to (1) provide a context for considering the evidence of connections between rivers and their tributary waters, (2) summarize current understanding about these connections and associated downstream effects, and (3) discuss factors that influence the degree of connectivity or the magnitude of a downstream effect.”

The draft science report makes three initial conclusions:

  1. All streams, regardless of their size or how frequently they flow, are connected to and have important effects on downstream waters. These streams supply most of the water in rivers, transport sediment and organic matter, provide habitat for many species, and take up or change nutrients that could otherwise impair downstream waters.
  2. Wetlands and open-waters in floodplains of streams and rivers and in riparian areas (transition areas between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems) are integrated with streams and rivers. They strongly influence downstream waters by affecting the flow of water, trapping and reducing nonpoint source pollution, and exchanging biological species.
  3. Additional information is necessary for wetlands and open-waters located outside of floodplains and riparian areas before determining that they do not directly impact downstream waters.

The proposed rule maintains existing exemptions and exclusions, including those pertaining to agriculture and the production of food, materials, and fuel, as detailed below:

  • Agricultural stormwater discharges
  • Return flows from irrigated agriculture
  • Normal farming, silvicultural, and ranching activities
  • Upland soil and water conservation practices
  • Construction and maintenance of farm or stock ponds or irrigation ditches
  • Maintenance of drainage ditches
  • Construction or maintenance of farm, forest, and temporary mining roads
  • Prior Converted Cropland, including the role of USDA
  • Waste Treatment Systems

In addition to existing exclusions, the rule also proposes the following new exemptions:

  • Non-tidal drainage, including tiles, and irrigation ditches excavated on dry land
  • Artificially irrigated areas that would be dry if irrigation stops
  • Artificial lakes or ponds used for purposes such as stock watering or irrigation
  • Areas artificially flooded for rice growing
  • Artificial ornamental waters created for primarily aesthetic reasons
  • Water-filled depressions created as a result of construction activity
  • Pits excavated in uplands for fill, sand, or gravel that fill with water

In short, the report finds that all of the nation’s streams and most of its wetlands are connected and have biological, chemical, and physical impact on our nation’s rivers and lakes, and therefore fall under CWA jurisdiction.

EPA has stated that their final report will take into consideration all public comment as well as the findings of the independent peer review from their upcoming December meeting. When finalized, this report will provide scientific evidence on the connectivity of almost all of our nation’s waters, and will in turn pave the way for broad CWA jurisdiction, including over private property. While protection of our nation’s waters needs to be of primary focus, greatly expanded CWA jurisdiction will increase permitting burdens and significantly impact landowners across the country.