EPA to Modify CGP
EPA’s Construction General Permit (CGP), which covers stormwater discharges from certain construction activities, became effective on February 16, 2017. The National Association of Home Builders and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation filed suit on the permit in the D.C. Circuit. Related to discussions with these two groups, EPA intends to provide clarification of certain permit conditions. These proposed changes would clarify operator liability, clarify operator responsibilities when there are multiple operators at a site sharing stormwater controls, and would more closely align permit language the construction and development effluent limitation guidelines. EPA plans to proposed these changes in November/December 2018. While these changes are being proposed and finalized, the current 2017 CGP remains effective. As it becomes available, EPA will post more information on the Construction Stormwater website and in the Regulations.gov Docket Folder.
EPA Seeks Input on National Program Measures
Over the last year, EPA has established the EPA Lean Management System (ELMS) focusing on continuous improvement through the identification and solving of problems at the levels closest to the work. Lean Government helps improve the speed and quality of processes by eliminating wastes such as document errors, unnecessary process steps, and waiting time. ELMS sets ambitious performance measure targets and tracks progress against them to find and solve small problems before they become big problems.
As part of the ELMS effort, the Office of Water is working to establish a core measures (Summary of Core Measures process) that can be used to support ELMS, OW’s budget requests, and the National Water Program Guidance process. Focusing on a small and meaningful set of metrics will reduce reporting burden and clarify what is important to track at the national level. In the FY 2018-2019 National Water Program Guidance, the Office of Water currently has over 100 program measures that they are tracking (National Water Program Measures Review 7-13-18) and the Office is now looking to select a small and meaningful set of measures to track progress at the national level.
The Office of Water has developed a structured approach (Approach for Development of National Water Program Core Measures 7-13-18) for identifying a new refined set of measures. EPA is seeking input from states on the development of these core measures and is working with ACWA to develop a list of core measures through state/tribal input. The timetable provided by the Office of Water is aggressive and they are asking for state input by the end of August. Sean Rolland, Deputy Director, will be leading this effort for ACWA. Feel free to reach out to Sean directly if you have specific comments or concerns about this effort.
EPA Finalizes First Round of Revisions to Coal Ash Disposal Rule
EPA has finalized its first round of revisions to its 2014 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) coal ash disposal rule. On April 17, 2015, EPA promulgated national minimum criteria for existing and new coal combustion residuals (CCR) landfills and existing and new CCR surface impoundments. In March 2018, EPA proposed a number of revisions to the 2015 CCR rule and requested comment on additional issues. In this final notice EPA is acting to adopt two alternative performance standards that either Participating State Directors in states with approved CCR permit programs (participating states) or EPA where EPA is the permitting authority may apply to owners and operators of CCR units. Second, EPA is revising groundwater protection standards (GWPS) for four constituents which do not have an established Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL). Finally, the Agency is extending the deadline by which facilities must cease the placement of waste in CCR units closing for cause in two situations: (1) Where the facility has detected a statistically significant increase above a GWPS from an unlined surface impoundment; and (2) where the unit is unable to comply with the aquifer location restriction. The new provisions will take effect 30 days after the final notice is published in the Federal Register. Provisions from the proposed rule that are not addressed in this rule will be addressed in a subsequent action.
EPA Budget Passes House with Multiple Amendments
The House of Representatives approved the EPA FY19 spending bill, increasing the size of the proposed cut to EPA and proposing many policy riders, setting up negotiations with the Senate. The version of the budget legislation passed by the House would reduce EPA base funding $117 million below FY18 funding levels. Many policy rider amendments passed include one prohibiting government payment of attorney fees as part of settlements under environmental statutes including the CWA, an amendment limiting funding for implementation of Washington State’s revised Water Quality Standard, and an amendment preventing EPA “backstops” limiting water pollution penalties in the Chesapeake Bay. The Senate has tended toward more level funding for EPA and more skepticism toward policy riders than the House in the last few budget cycles. ACWA will continue to monitor the budgetary process as it unfolds in the Senate.
Evaluating the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Permit Systems
This week ECOS share with state media associations version 1.0 of a report titled A Framework of Sample Metrics for Evaluating the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Environmental Permitting Systems. This report was developed at the direction of the E-Enterprise Leadership Council to “provide useful information for project teams that are seeking to improve the processes employed by the US EPA for programs in which US EPA is the lead permitting agency.” Recommendations for use of the document include (1) a recognition that the metrics identified are merely intended as examples as part of a larger framework; (2) potential metrics can be organized into broad categories such as timeliness, quality, quantity, process complexity, cost, outputs, and system impacts; (3) problem identification should be a first step in determining the value of a specific metric and how the metric fits in the overall process; (4) only a handful of metrics should be applied at any one time and there can be significant costs associated with long term data collection; (5) not all metrics are absolutely necessary or help you answer the most important questions; (6) sample metrics are only intended to focus on measures of effectiveness of the permitting system and not any other components within the program; (7) that permitting systems have several specific purposes; (8) and that well-functioning permitting systems will deliver benefits such as improved environmental outcomes, enhanced economic and societal conditions, and increased public confidence; (9) this framework is intended to help but not replace a standard set of measures for statistical analysis of individual process steps (see sample use cases); (10) nor is the framework intended to serve as a set of “standard public reporting measures.” A copy of this document can be found here.
House Approves EPA Stormwater Infrastructure Funding Study
This week, the House of Representatives approved legislation requiring EPA to create a stormwater infrastructure task force that would produce a report on ways to improve the availability of both public and private sources of funding for stormwater infrastructure for purposes of meeting CWA requirements. The task force would be given 18 months to research and produce this report. The bill, H.R. 3906, was introduced by Representative Denny Heck (D-WA), and provides more details on goals of the research by the task force, and whom the task force will be comprised of (federal, state, and local government as well as private and nonprofit representatives). The bill also details some longer-term goals including the creation of several stormwater centers of excellence spread throughout the country to conduct research and develop manuals and best practices compilations and testing/evaluation protocols. Finally, the bill would also authorize EPA grants for innovative stormwater projects.
EPA Seeking Abstracts for 2019 National Water Quality Monitoring Conference
EPA has issued a call for abstracts for the 11th National Water Quality Monitoring Conference, taking place in Denver, Colorado, March 25-29, 2019. EPA describes this event as “the premier forum for monitoring and data management professionals to gather and share monitoring knowledge and information.” Abstracts are due on August 15th, 2018 and if you would like to submit an abstract or attend the conference, contact EPA here.
Don’t Forget to Vote: ACWA Board of Directors Elections
Elections for the 2018-2017 ACWA Board of Directors is currently underway. ACWA members should have received a notice with a link to the ballot from Sean Rolland, Deputy Director. Only “Members in Good Standing” are eligible to participate in ACWA elections. A Member in Good Standing means a state, territorial or interstate water pollution control administrator whose state dues have been paid for the previous fiscal year and whose agency has not filed a notice to withdraw from the Association. Please contact Sean Rolland if you have any questions about the elections process.
2018 Annual Meeting
Early bird registration rate ends COB July 20th!
Lodging at the Courtyard by Marriott Portland City Center is now Full. If you need lodging please visit this link for other hotel options.
2018 National CAFO Roundtable
The 2018 National CAFO Roundtable will be held in Boise, Idaho from Tuesday, September 25 to Thursday, September 27, 2018. A copy of the draft agenda for this meeting can be found on the 2018 National CAFO Roundtable events page. If you are with a state or interstate and have attended ACWA meetings in the past, we recommend you login to Member365, go to the Events Calendar, and register from there. If you do not remember your login credentials, please contact Member Services. If you are with EPA or another organization, or you have never attended an ACWA event in the past, then please use the public registration link, found here. Registration for the meeting is free, registration for the field trip is $25.00 and is limited to 45 seats. If you intend to go on the field trip, we highly recommend you register ASAP and select the “Field Trip Workshop” option. Please direct all meeting registration questions to Katie Foreman. Be sure to also book a room at the Riverside Hotel.
November Nutrients Permitting Workshop
The next 2018 Nutrients Permitting Workshop will be held November 6 to November 8, 2018 in Gulfport, Mississippi at the Courtyard Marriot Gulfport Beachfront, 1600 East Beach Blvd., Gulfport, Mississippi. Secure your lodging now using the group code G-3657 to receive the group rate when making either online reservations or reservations over the phone. You can call the hotel direct at 228-864-4310. To register and for more information, go here.
The agenda is currently in development, however, the meeting will focus on the relationship between TMDLs and permitting for nutrients.
For more information on the meeting, please contact Mark Patrick McGuire.
ACWA Watersheds Committee Call
Thursday, July 26 2018
2:30 – 4:30 PM ET
For more information, contact Julian Gonzalez
ACWA 319/Nonpoint Source Workgroup
Wednesday, July 25 2018
2:30 – 4:30 PM ET
For more information, contact Julian Gonzalez