AA Wheeler Releases Memo on State Oversight of Federal Programs
The 2018-2022 EPA Strategic Plan identifies cooperative federalism (Goal 2) as a fundamental priority for the agency with a stated objective (Objective 2.1) to enhance shared accountability between the EPA, state, local and tribal co-regulators in the implementation of federal environmental programs. To address one key aspect of this shared accountability, the Agency Reform Plan on Tailoring State Oversight includes steps to establish a comprehensive approach to evaluate co-regulator implementation of federal programs to “help states maintain strong performance and ensure a level playing field.” The purpose of these efforts is to provide certainty in oversight for the EPA and its co-regulators. The new policy is the result of continuing discussions on implementing ECOS’ Cooperative Federalism 2.0 principles.
EPA Final Regional Office Realignment Plan
EPA released a final regional office realignment plan in response to President Trump’s March 2017 Executive Order 13781, Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch. The EPA’s Reform Plan contains 11 projects, including Examining EPA’s Field Presence. After reviewing information presented by the Field Presence Workgroup, the agency concluded that greater consistency in the EPA’s regional organizational structure is needed to increase visibility into regional office operations. When the regional offices are organizationally aligned with headquarters, the agency believes they will be better able to streamline decision-making for accountability and performance. To do so, the Agency proposes to establish a standard organizational structure for its regional offices that is intended to:
- Increase coordination between EPA National Programs and their regional counterparts as we work to meet our strategic goals and objectives;
- Improve the consistent implementation of EPA regulations and policies;
- Allow for better resource allocation to more effectively carry out the agency’s mission;
- Facilitate the agency’s overall operational excellence; and
- Provide greater transparency for EPA customers.
Currently, every regional office has a different structure. The proposed new standard structure for every regional office includes the following:
Regional Administrator, Deputy Regional Administrator, and the following divisions:
- Air and Radiation;
- Administration and Resource Management (to include Office of Administration and Resources Management, Office of the Chief Financial Officer and Office of Environmental Information functions);
- Enforcement and Compliance Assurance;
- Land and Redevelopment (to include Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention and Brownfields functions);
- Superfund and Emergency Management;
- Laboratory Services and Applied Science; and
- Regional Counsel (to include the Freedom of Information Act program).
The plan maintains our 10 regional offices. This reorganization does not move staff geographically, reduce or demote staff, downsize/close/move regional offices or laboratories, or make any changes to specific regional or geographic programs.
EPA Recognizes Excellence and Innovation in Clean Water Infrastructure
EPA recognized 30 clean water infrastructure projects for excellence and innovation within the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) program. EPA’s Performance and Innovation in the SRF Creating Environmental Success (PISCES) program celebrates innovation demonstrated by CWSRF programs and assistance recipients. Thirty projects by state or local governments, public utilities, and private entities were recognized by the 2018 PISCES program:
- Delaware: City of Wilmington – Renewable Energy and Biosolids Facility
The City of Wilmington’s wastewater treatment facility received a $36 million CWSRF loan to construct a renewable energy and biosolids facility for its treatment plant. This new facility captures previously flared methane gas from the plant’s anaerobic digester and gas from a nearby landfill and uses it to generate four megawatts of electricity.
- Kansas: Dodge City Biogas Reuse to Motor Fuel Project
The Dodge City South Wastewater Treatment Plant developed a reuse project to clean and pressurize its excess biogas into a high-quality natural gas that can be sold on the market as motor vehicle fuel. The methane fuel produced is expected to have an annual production amount equivalent to 3.5 million gallons of gasoline.
- New Jersey: South Monmouth Regional Sewerage Authority – Pump Station Resiliency Initiative
Along with FEMA assistance, CWSRF funds were used to build three resilient pump stations that service several coastal communities that have recently experienced extreme weather events. Two of these pump stations are fully operational mobile units that can be disconnected during a severe storm and hauled to a safe location and the third pump station replaced an older station that was in a 100-year flood zone.
- Oregon: City of Prineville – Crooked River Wetlands Complex
The City of Prineville used CWSRF funding to design and construct the 120-acre Crooked River Wetlands Complex, which will help meet the effluent limits in the City’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) wastewater permit. The Wetlands Complex has miles of trails open for public use and an outdoor classroom used by local schools.
- Texas: Wichita Falls – Permanent Reuse Project
The City of Wichita Falls is using a $33.5 million CWSRF green project reserve loan with over $252,000 of principal forgiveness to build a permanent reuse project that will deliver indirect potable reuse water from the River Road Wastewater Treatment Plant to Arrowhead Lake. This permanent reuse project will help the City meet Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (TPDES) discharge requirements and will provide a long-term solution that will assist the City in meeting their source water needs.
- California: Lake Merced Green Infrastructure
- Colorado: Santa Rita Water Reclamation Facility
- Florida: Minuteman Causeway Stormwater/Streetscape Improvements
- Idaho: Nampa Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade
- Kentucky: Lincoln County Sanitation District Junction City to Hustonville Sewer
- Maine: Lewiston-Auburn Water Pollution Control Authority Anaerobic Digestion
- Massachusetts: Grafton Wastewater Treatment Plant Improvements
- Ohio: Avon Lake Lateral Loan Program
- Oklahoma: Atoka Reservoir Dam Rehabilitation
- Pennsylvania: Fritz Island Solids and Liquids Treatment Plant Upgrade
- Alabama: City of Cullman – Wastewater Treatment Plant Improvements
- Alaska: City of Kodiak – Compost Facility
- Georgia: Peachtree City – Lake Peachtree Dam Spillway
- Louisiana: City of West Monroe – West Monroe Solar Panel Farm
- Maryland: City of Cumberland – Combined Sewer Overflow Storage Facility
- Michigan: City of East Lansing – Headworks Upgrades and Outfall Retrofit into a Relief Interceptor
- Minnesota: City of Afton – Stormwater Green Infrastructure and Advanced Wastewater Treatment
- Missouri: City of Liberty – Design-Build Wastewater Treatment Facility
- New Mexico: Village of Cuba – Solids Handling and Effluent Reuse
- Rhode Island: City of Newport – Wellington Avenue CSO Treatment Facility Upgrade
- South Carolina: Renewable Water Resources – Reedy River Basin Sewer Tunnel
- Vermont: Town of Waterbury – Wastewater Treatment Facility Upgrade
- Virginia: Harrisonburg-Rockingham Regional Sewer Authority – Biogas Recovery and Reuse Project
- Washington: City of Bellingham – Squalicum Creek Water Quality and Biotic Integrity Improvements
- West Virginia: Town of Pennsboro – Wastewater System Improvement Project
Learn more about each of the 2018 PISCES recognized projects at https://www.epa.gov/cwsrf/pisces
Free Septic System Webinar on CECs
The UMN Onsite Sewage Treatment Program along with the Minnesota Department of Health are offering a free septic system and private well education webinar. The next webinar is scheduled for November 15, 2018 from 1:30 to 3:30. This class will cover the basics of how septic systems function, well water testing, and how to help protect your well from contamination sources. It will also provide property owners information on chemicals of emerging concern (CEC) including pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and the potential impact on ground and surface water. Information on proper maintenance of both septic systems and private drinking water systems will be covered to help property owners protect their investments and the environment. Register Here.
NEIWPCC Posts Story Maps Webinar
In late October, the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Compact (NEIWPCC) held a webinar featuring presentations by Pennsylvania DEP staff detailing the creation and implementation of both ESRI Story Maps and more technical Open Source Code Reports currently available for use by States and other organizations. The webinar was recorded and is now available for anyone to view. Viewers will learn about the skills, software, and resources needed to create a story map or code based digital report in order to transition fully towards electronic reporting. You can access the presentation slides and/or the webinar itself here.
EPA, New Mexico Release Draft White Paper on Produced Water, Open for Comment
The State of New Mexico and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have released a draft white paper which addresses state and federal regulatory management of produced water, along with opportunities to treat and reuse the water to help alleviate water scarcity issues across the state. The white paper is now available for public review and input.
In July 2018, the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD); Environment Department; and the Office of the State Engineer entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the EPA. The purpose of the MOU is to assess and clarify the existing regulatory landscape related to the way produced water from oil and gas extraction activities may be reused, or as appropriate treated and made available for non-oil and gas applications in New Mexico.
EMNRD has created a website (http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/wastewater/index.html) to detail progress being made and facilitate stakeholder input with links to the signed MOU and the draft white paper. Comments may be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org until December 10, 2018.
“This is an important step forward in assessing all available resources, to provide safe water to water-scarce communities in New Mexico,” said EPA Office of Water Assistant Administrator David P. Ross. “The work we are doing in collaboration with New Mexico promotes our goal of re-visioning wastewater as a resource.”
ACWA hosts final Nutrients Permitting Workshop of 2018
This week, ACWA held the final Nutrients Permitting Workshop of 2018 in Gulfport, Mississippi. The workshop focused on the relationship between permitting for nutrients and TMDLs. Representatives from 27 states attended along with representatives from EPA Headquarters and 5 Regions. Topics included breaking down barriers between TMDL and permitting programs, CAFOs and MS4s, reassessing and reevaluating TMDLs, politics and public perceptions of TMDLs and permits, small systems, variances and compliance schedules, and water quality trading. Thanks to all those who participated live or via stream. Presentation slides will be made available in the coming weeks.
ACWA’s next Nutrients Permitting Workshop will be held November 5-7, 2019 in Alexandria, Virginia and will focus on the relationship between permitting for nutrients and water quality standards. Stay tuned for more information.
ACWA Water Resource Management Committee Focus Area for 2018-2019
The ACWA Water Resource Management Committee has historically held webinars on a varied range of issues including green infrastructure, resilience, flooding, water security, water re-use, and more. One area the committee will focus more on this year is drought and water quantity management. If you, your state, or your staff are interested in particular drought/water quantity issues, or have particular expertise, please contact Frances Bothfeld to have your staff on the roster as we begin announcing webinars/calls and more.
EPA “How’s My Waterway” App Rollout Call for States
Thursday, November 15, 1-2:30 pm EST
Contact Julian Gonzalez for more information
319/Nonpoint Source Workgroup Call
Thursday, November 29, 3-4:30 pm EST
Contact Julian Gonzalez for more information
Legal Affairs Committee Quarterly Call
Wednesday, December 19, 2-3:00 pm EST
Contact Mark Patrick McGuire for more information