Public Engagement Highlights: Week of March 18 – 22, 2013

Highlights from EPA’s Office of Public Engagement

March 18 – 22, 2013

Table of Contents:

1. Secure Pesticides and Chemicals during Poison Prevention Week

2. EPA Marks March 18-24 as Fifth Annual Fix a Leak Week

3. EPA Announces University Challenge to Find Innovative Uses for Toxics Data

4. Agreement Reached with the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas to Improve Sewer and Stormwater Systems

5. EPA Celebrates Women’s History Month: Women in Science are Cool!

1. Secure Pesticides and Chemicals during Poison Prevention Week/More than 145,000 reports made each year to poison centers involving pesticides and disinfectants

This week is National Poison Prevention Week (March 17 – 23, 2013) and we ask your help to raise awareness on the dangers of poisonings and how to prevent them as poisonings continue to be a significant cause of illness. According to the recently published poison center data, more than 145,000 calls to poison centers involved pesticides and disinfectants, and close to half of these exposures involved children five years or younger.

The key to reducing poisoning exposures is to read the label carefully, use all household chemicals and pesticides according to label directions, and to keep them in their original containers, stored out of children’s reach. Here are some of the ways you can help us get this important message out to parents and caregivers:

Thank you for your help in getting the word out about poison prevention.

2. EPA Marks March 18-24 as Fifth Annual Fix a Leak Week/One in every 10 homes has a leak that is wasting at least 90 gallons of water per day

Fix a Leak Week provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of finding and fixing household leaks. EPA’s partnership program WaterSense encourages Americans to check and replace leaky plumbing fixtures and sprinkler systems, helping households save more than 10,000 gallons of water per year and as much as 10 percent on utility bills. For the full news release:

To kick off this year’s festivities, WaterSense hosted its second annual Fix a Leak Week Twitter party on Monday, March 18, and the online conversation will continue throughout the week. A Twitter party is a virtual gathering with everyone tweeting about the same topic using a “hashtag,” a phrase you include to make sure your tweets are seen. Celebrating with us is as easy at 1-2-3!

1. Join the party. Log into your organization’s or individual Twitter account anytime this week. If you do not have a Twitter account, you can create one by visiting

2. Continue the conversation. Using the hashtag #fixaleak, “tweet” messages of 140 characters or less in length to promote fixing leaks, share your organization’s plans, and engage your followers about Fix a Leak Week. Don’t forget to send @EPAwatersense ( your Fix a Leak Week event photos through Instagram or Twitpic.

3. Pass it on. If you read or see something you like about Fix a Leak Week, retweet it to your followers or to @EPAwatersense with the hashtag #fixaleak to share the buzz.

Need some inspiration? Use the following tweets and custom shortened URLs that link to the WaterSense pledge, ways to fix leaks, and the Fix a Leak Week page to get started:

  • [We’re/I’m] celebrating Fix a Leak Week! Pledge to nip those drips March 18-24. #fixaleak
  • Check, twist, and replace your way to fewer leaks and more water savings. #fixaleak
  • Did you know minor leaks account for more than 1 trillion gallons of water wasted each year in U.S. homes? #fixaleak

Check out this week’s post “Around the Water Cooler: Is Your Toilet Leaking?” on our It All Starts With Science blog:

Finally, you can also check out the list of events happening in communities across the country ( and follow WaterSense on Facebook for tips on simple ways to save water at home ( Learn more about fixing leaks, find a certified irrigation professional, or search for WaterSense labeled plumbing and irrigation products:

3. EPA Announces University Challenge to Find Innovative Uses for Toxics Data

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today launched the TRI University Challenge, a new initiative designed to use academic partnerships to find innovative uses for Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data. TRI gives all Americans access to information about toxic chemicals in the environment as a tool to better protect health and the environment.

“For more than 20 years, individuals, organizations and communities have relied on TRI as a powerful tool for environmental protection,” said Malcolm D. Jackson, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Environmental Information and Chief Information Officer. “Now, EPA is encouraging students and professors to submit ideas for new projects that will increase the knowledge, use, and understanding of TRI data.

EPA will accept TRI University Challenge applications between March 18 and May 13, 2013 for projects that will begin this fall. Two informational webinars about the challenge are planned for April.

Institutions whose project proposals are selected will become TRI University Challenge partners. Partners gain practical experience collaborating with EPA to understand and solve local environmental challenges and may receive national recognition for their efforts. While no monetary assistance is available as part of this challenge, partners will receive direct support and guidance from EPA TRI experts.

Priority will be given to projects related to one or more of the following four topics: pollution prevention and sustainability, stakeholder engagement, technology and data mashups, and environmental education.

TRI helps industry, government, non-governmental organizations and the public make environmentally responsible decisions .by providing them with information about toxic chemical releases into the air, water and land.,

More information on the Challenge, webinars and sample project ideas:

More information about the Challenge:

More information about TRI:

4. Agreement Reached with the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas to Improve Sewer and Stormwater Systems / Settlement will ensure reductions in raw sewage overflows and stormwater flooding in the most impacted neighborhoods

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice announced that the Unified Government of Wyandotte Co. and Kansas City, Kan., has agreed to a settlement to address unauthorized overflows of untreated raw sewage and to reduce pollution levels in urban stormwater.

The settlement, lodged in federal court in Kansas City, Kan. requires the Unified Government to implement improved operation and maintenance programs for its sewer system, perform initial work to address sewer overflows, and implement an improved Storm Water Management Plan. The Unified Government will also develop a proposed overflow control plan for the sewer system by September 2016 for approval by EPA. Unified Government’s implementation of that plan, once approved, will be embodied in a subsequent judicial settlement.

“EPA is working with cities to find effective, affordable solutions to control raw sewage and stormwater overflows,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “The settlement allows the Unified Government to tackle their most important water quality problems first, while preparing a long-term approach to keep local waterways protected in the future.”

For the full news release:

More information about the settlement:

More information about EPA’s national enforcement initiative:

More information about Integrated Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater Plans:

5. EPA Celebrates Women’s History Month: Women in Science are Cool!

March is Women’s History Month and this year’s theme is Women Inspiring Innovation through Imagination. This month we are profiling EPA women scientists, engineers, special agents, and more who are striving to make the planet a cleaner, safer, and more sustainable place to live. We honor women both past and present, who have changed all of our lives for the better through their work protecting human health and the environment.

Read interviews of EPA women scientists as they share their research, how they discovered their passion for science or engineering, and give advice for anyone who is interested in pursuing their dreams.

One extraordinary edition to our highlight for Women’s History Month is Andrea Abat, a Special Agent for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency since 1997. Andrea first became familiar with environmental issues as an Army Officer stationed in Germany since her unit generated hazardous waste in the process of making field maps. She later became an Emergency Response Contractor responding to serious environmental disasters. In this capacity, she often worked alongside EPA special agents, an involvement which sparked her interest in environmental crime investigation and ultimately led to her becoming a special agent herself.

Andrea firmly believes that there is nothing more gratifying than the work she does right now. Check out her inspiring video:

and to learn more about EPA’s criminal enforcement program, go to

Another series titled Women of EPA Diving Science highlights the work women do in the U.S. EPA Scientific Diving Program (EPA Divers). Click on the photos to learn more about these superstar diving scientists and discover their passion for underwater research.

To learn more about EPA Divers:

Office of Public Engagement

Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education

Office of the Administrator / U.S. Environmental Protection Agency / Tel 202-564-4355 / PublicEngagement



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