Final 2016 Effluent Guidelines Plan Released
EPA published a notice of the Final 2016 Effluent Guidelines Plan in today’s Federal Register. As this Plan explains, EPA has completed all previously identified effluent limitations guidelines and standards rulemaking actions. In addition, the Plan identifies one new rulemaking (and the associated schedule) for the Steam Electric Power Generating Point Source Category. At this time, EPA has concluded that no other industries warrant new or revised effluent limitations guidelines and standards.
The Plan also announces that EPA is initiating a new study to look holistically at the management of oil and gas extraction wastewater from onshore facilities. The focus of this study is not to look specifically at any one existing effluent guideline. Rather, EPA intends to engage with stakeholders to evaluate approaches to manage both conventional and unconventional oil and gas extraction wastewater from onshore facilities, including but not limited to an assessment of technologies for facilities that treat and discharge oil and gas extraction wastewater. Lastly, the Plan announces that EPA is continuing its study of the Electrical and Electronic Components (E&EC) Point Source Category and initiating a more detailed study of this category. The focus will be on changes within the industry since the 1983 rulemaking, particularly as these changes pertain to wastewater characteristics and wastewater treatment technologies.
EPA Seeks Input on Managing Wastewater from Oil and Gas Extraction
EPA announced that it is embarking on a new study to take a holistic look at how EPA, states, and stakeholders regulate and manage wastewater from the oil and gas industry. Large volumes of wastewater are generated in the oil and gas industry, and projections show that these volumes will only increase. Currently the majority of this wastewater is managed by disposing of it using a practice known as underground injection, where that water can no longer be accessed or used. The limits of injection are evident in some areas, and new approaches are becoming necessary. Some states and stakeholders are asking whether it makes sense to continue to waste this water, particularly in water scarce areas of the country, and what steps would be necessary to treat and renew it for other purposes. The focus of the agency’s study will be to engage with stakeholders to consider available approaches to manage wastewater from both conventional and unconventional oil and gas extraction at onshore facilities. EPA’s study will address questions such as how existing federal approaches to produced water management under the Clean Water Act can interact more effectively with state regulations, requirements or policy needs, and whether any potential federal regulations that may allow for broader discharge of treated produced water to surface waters are supported. EPA is particularly interested in working with its regulatory partners at the state level, who are at the forefront of the changing industry, and often manage complex water allocation programs under state law.
EPA is just starting the process to gather information for this study. In the coming months, EPA plans to reach out to stakeholders — including states, industry and NGOs — to facilitate conversations. Following this study, EPA will determine if future agency actions are appropriate to further address oil and gas extraction wastewater.
ACWA Participates in USACE Infrastructure Permit Streamlining Discussion
ACWA, along with stakeholders from ASWM, the Association of State Flood Plain Managers, the National Mining Association, the NAHB and others, participated in a discussion on the Administration’s Infrastructure Principles. During the discussion, Corps representatives discussed several areas of the Infrastructure Principles that would impact their programs including water resources development, inland navigation, WIFIA and permitting efficiencies to improve processes and deliver projects efficiently. The bulk of the discussion focused on the “One Agency, One Decision” principle outlined in the Administration’s proposal. Under the “One Agency, One Decision” principle establishing a coordinated and timely process for environmental reviews of major infrastructure projects. One lead Federal agency will be responsible for navigating each major infrastructure project through the entire Federal environmental review and permitting process, including section 401 water quality certifications. The principles also suggest CEQ issue revised regulations to streamline the NEPA processes, authorize federal agencies to use nationwide permits without additional USACE review, consolidate authority for section 404 wetlands jurisdictional determinations with USACE, eliminate EPA’s 404 veto authority. The USACE is taking input from interested stakeholders on the principles through an informal process. Comments can be submitted to CW.Infrastructure.Team@USACE.ARMY.MIL.
Federal District Court Judge upholds resumption of North Dakota WOTUS Challenge
Earlier this week, a federal district court judge upheld an order to re-start litigation over the merits of EPA’s 2015 Waters of the U.S. Rule in North Dakota. The suit brought by North Dakota was stayed for much of last year, until the Supreme Court ruled that district courts were in fact the proper venue for challenging WOTUS jurisdictional determinations. EPA and the White House argued that the North Dakota litigation should remain paused because their taking a position would prejudice their ongoing efforts to create a new replacement rule for the 2015 WOTUS rule. The judge, Chief District Judge Daniel L. Hovland, rejected this argument, explaining that the Supreme Court decided which courts were appropriate to hear these challenges with an expectation that the challenges would be heard and not unduly delayed further. If you have questions, feel free to contact Julian Gonzalez.
Upcoming Source Water Collaborative Webinar
The Source Water Collaborative (SWC) is pleased to announce a free webinar on Wednesday, May 9th from 2:00 to 3:00 pm (EST) entitled, “A Preliminary Look at the National Forests to Faucets Analysis 2.0 (F2F2).” During the webinar, Sally Claggett of the US Forest Service will share how they are updating the original Forests to Faucets analysis to quantify, rank, and illustrate the direct geographic connection between private and public forests, surface water drinking water supplies, and populations that depend on them. You can register for the webinar here.
Scholarships Available for 2018 ACWA Annual Meeting
ACWA offers a limited number of scholarships for state travel support to ACWA state members who would not otherwise be able to able to send a representative to an ACWA meeting. Preference will be given to member organizations that have not been able to send a representative to a Mid-Year or Annual Meeting in several years and Members who are seeking assistance to bring another staff member to the meeting who would not otherwise be able to attend. The scholarships will cover meeting registration fee, airfare, local travel, hotel and associated taxes. To apply for a scholarship, please contact Sean Rolland, Deputy Director, at email@example.com or (202) 465-7179. The deadline for submissions for the 2018 ACWA Annual Meeting is July 16, 2018.
ACWA Rules Chart
Twice a year, ACWA provides updates on key regulatory actions and activities that impact state clean water programs. The updated EPA Water Regulations, Guidance and Policy chart is now available here.
2018 Nutrients Permitting Workshop
If you are planning to attend the June 2018 Nutrients Permitting Workshop in Columbus, Ohio, you must make your hotel reservation by Friday, May 11, 2018. Please reserve your room at the Sheraton Columbus Hotel at Capitol Square ASAP!
New opportunities this week:
Arizona DEQ is looking to hire two positions to assist with the development of a state dredge and fill program that will fulfill the requirements for assumption of the Clean Water Act Section 404 program.
The Delaware River Basin Commission is hiring a Water Resource Modeling Manager in the Science and Water Quality Management Branch in New Jersey.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) Bureau of Water Resources (BWR) is seeking applicants for the position of Deputy Director, Municipal Services.
The State of Washington Department of Ecology is recruiting for a General Permit Engineer (Environmental Engineer 3) in the Water Quality Program.
Be sure to check out those and all other opportunities here.