Acting Administrator Wheeler Testifies Before Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
Acting Administrator Wheeler testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works this week. The hearing was more cordial than previous hearings with his predecessor with praise for his first 25 days as acting administrator from both the majority and minority parties. Acting Administrator Wheeler used the opportunity to affirm his priority to President Trump’s EPA agenda.
Senator Barrasso Introduces the Water Quality Certification Improvement Act of 2018
Senator Barrasso introduced the Water Quality Certification Improvement Act of 2018 on July 31st. The bill amends section 401 of the Clean Water Act to clarify the scope of review for a water quality certification. This bill would limit states when providing 401 certification. Senator Barrasso believes some states are using 401 certification to purposefully delay projects for political reasons and not substantial water quality reasons. Acting Administrator Wheeler stated that he was committed to examining the water quality certification process.
Representative Shuster Releases Draft Infrastructure Bill
Representative Shuster (PA 9) released a draft infrastructure bill last week. The majority of the bill focuses on highway infrastructure and transportation. However, it also included language similar to President Trump’s executive order which establishes “discipline and accountability in the environmental review and permitting process for infrastructure.” Additionally, the draft bill amends section 401 of the Clean Water Act to ensure that states may only consider water quality requirements when providing 401 certification for a project. Lastly, the draft bill includes language to reauthorize WIFIA, 106 funding, 319 program, and CWSRF.
Representative Mast Introduces Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act Reauthorization Bill
Representative Mast (R- FL 18) introduced legislation (H.R. 6645) to reauthorize the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research Control Act (HABHRCA) on August 1st. This bill would reauthorize HABHRCA for 5 years and increase annual funding by $22 million (subject to appropriations). HABHRCA originally became law in 1998 and was reauthorized in 2004, and 2014 and required NOAA and the EPA to advance scientific understanding of HABs and hypoxia events. For more information see the NOAA HABHRCA website.
EPA’s National Study of Nutrient Removal and Secondary Technologies Questionnaire Coming Soon
In 2016, EPA initiated a multi-phase study to showcase nutrient removal at publicly owned treatment works (POTWs). The goals of the study are to establish a nationwide baseline for nutrient removal at municipal wastewater treatment plants, and to characterize lower cost options, such as repurposing existing equipment or changing operation and management practices, that result in improved nutrient control. EPA is making final preparations for the first phase of its study, an online interactive screening questionnaire. This form will collect basic information about nutrients from all facilities nationwide, focusing on treatment plant characteristics and technology in place.
The EPA is planning to distribute its electronic questionnaire during the last week of September 2018. POTW operators and plant managers should look for letters and emails in September inviting them to participate in the survey. Additional information, including an unofficial copy of the survey, will be made available at epa.gov/eg/national-study-nutrient-removal-and-secondary-technologies. Once the survey is initiated, EPA will have a helpline available to assist respondents in completing the questionnaire. For further information, contact the EPA project manager Paul Shriner.
EPA Closes Two WIFIA Loans
EPA closed its third and fourth WIFIA loans this week. EPA will provide $135 million in financing to the Orange County Water District in California to expand its existing 100 million gallons per day (MGD) Groundwater Replenishment System to produce an additional 30 MGD drought-proof drinking water supply for its service area. When completed, the project is intended to reduce approximately 40 MGD of secondary effluent from being discharged into the ocean and increase the recharge of the groundwater basin. The WIFIA loan will finance nearly half of the overall $282 million investment and save Orange County Water District up to $16 million. The project will also create 700 construction jobs. To learn more about this project, visit the water district’s website or read the Orange County Water District factsheet. EPA will also provide $699 million in financing to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to replace its existing, outdated solids treatment facilities with new biosolids digester facilities. The new facilities will produce up to 24,000 dry tons of Class A biosolids annually by 2045. The WIFIA loan will finance nearly half of the overall $1,427 million investment and save the San Francisco Public Utility Commission up to $398 million. The project will also create 3,300 construction jobs. To learn more about this project, visit the utility’s website or read our San Francisco Public Utilities Commission factsheet. EPA’s WIFIA team is now reviewing submissions to select projects for our second funding round. Stay tuned for our announcement of selected projects in the fall of 2018. Additional information about the WIFIA program is available at https://www.epa.gov/wifia.
ECHO Biosolids Facility Reports Now Available
This week EPA released the Biosolids Facility Report on the Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) tool. Facilities in the 42 states where EPA implements the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) federal biosolids program submitted Biosolids Annual Reports electronically this year as EPA continues to look for opportunities to reduce the burden of paper reporting. Reports were due February 2018. The data presented in ECHO via the Biosolids Facility Search results are now available. This new report provides integrated Biosolids Annual Report data with other biosolids enforcement and compliance data in a single report. Users can navigate to the report after identifying a facility by selecting “CWA Program Area Reports” under “Related Reports” found in the Facility Summary section of the Detailed Facility Report, or by selecting the “W” icon where Report icons are available within ECHO. If you have questions or comments on the report, please direct those to Courtney Tuxbury.
EPA Announces PFAS Community Engagement Event in North Carolina
On Tuesday, August 14, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a PFAS community engagement event in Fayetteville, North Carolina. This community engagement event allows EPA to hear directly from North Carolina communities, state, local, and tribal partners to take action on PFAS.
The North Carolina community engagement event will consist of two sessions – a public listening session and PFAS working session – to hear from the public; provide tools to assist states, tribes, and local communities in addressing challenges with PFAS in the environment; and understand ways EPA can best support the work that’s being done at the state, local, and tribal level. The community engagement event is open to the public and press. If you are interested in attending the event, please register here: https://www.epa.gov/pfas/forms/pfas-community-engagement-fayettevile-nc. Those interested in speaking should also select the option to speak while registering.
WHAT: North Carolina Community Engagement
WHEN: August 14, 2018 Working and Listening Session
WHEN: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM (EST)
WHEN: Listening Session
WHEN: Starts at 3:00 PM (EST)
WHERE: Crown Ballroom
WHERE: 1960 Coliseum Drive
WHERE: Fayetteville, NC 28306
PFAS is a group of man-made chemicals that have been widely used in everyday products since the 1940s. But PFAS compounds also can enter the environment, raising concerns about the potential environmental and health risks. Addressing PFAS is a national priority. At the National Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. in May, EPA announced four actions:
- EPA will initiate steps to evaluate the need for a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for PFOA and PFOS. We will convene our federal partners and examine everything we know about PFOA and PFOS in drinking water.
- EPA is beginning the necessary steps to propose designating PFOA and PFOS as “hazardous substances” through one of the available statutory mechanisms, including potentially CERCLA Section 102.
- EPA is currently developing groundwater cleanup recommendations for PFOA and PFOS at contaminated sites and will complete this task by fall of this year.
- EPA is taking action in close collaboration with our federal and state partners to develop toxicity values for GenX and PFBS by this summer.
EPA has conducted similar engagements with communities impacted by PFAS in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, and has one scheduled in Colorado. These events are critical to understand ways the Agency can best support the work that’s being done at the state, local, and tribal levels. Using information from the National Leadership Summit, community engagements, and public input provided by the docket, EPA plans to develop a PFAS Management Plan for release later this year.
To learn more about PFAS, please visit: www.epa.gov/pfas
Save the Date! SepticSmart Week 2018
September 17-21, 2018
Each year, EPA holds SepticSmart Week with outreach activities to encourage homeowners and communities to care for and maintain their septic systems. During SepticSmart Week, EPA seeks to inform homeowners on proper septic system care and maintenance, assist local agencies in promoting homeowner education and awareness, and educate local decision makers about infrastructure options to improve and sustain their communities. Numerous resources are available on EPA’s SepticSmart Week webpage.
ACWA Submits Cost-Benefit Analysis Reform Comment Letter
On Wednesday, August 1, ACWA submitted its comment letter on EPA’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking – Increasing Consistency and Transparency in Considering Costs and Benefits in the Rulemaking Process. Though the ANPRM focused on benefit and cost analyses across EPA programs, ACWA’s comments focused specifically on analyses related to the Clean Water Act. To view the letter, go here.
ACWA Participates in WEF Stormwater Institute STEPP Consortium Meeting
ACWA staff participated in the July 25-26 WEF Stormwater Institute sponsored “STEPP” (Stormwater Testing and Evaluation for Products and Practices) work team meeting in Alexandria, Virginia. The STEPP initiative is spearheaded by the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the Water Research Foundation (WRF) and involves stakeholders from state governments, federal governments, associations, and industry developing and evaluating different possible frameworks and implementation plans for a potential national stormwater technology verification system. ACWA is involved (as well as ECOS) in order to ensure the state regulatory agency perspective is shared as STEPP moves forward. For more information, you can read the 2016 Framework Report released by WERF here.
Annual Meeting 2018
Please contact Julia Anastasio or Annette Ivey, if you are planning to attend. It is preferred that you register now. If you plan to register on site. It is important to let us know now, so we can ensure you are included in our meeting count. To register go here.
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 Marriott 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.
EPA Metals CRADA Briefing
Tuesday, August 7th, 3:00-3:45 PM EST
Contact Frances Bothfeld for more information