EPA and Army Propose New “Waters of the United States” Definition
This week, EPA released the pre-publication version of their proposed rule redefining Waters of the United States for purposes of the Clean Water Act. EPA released several documents related to the new rule:
- The rule text
- A press release,
- Several fact sheets:
- The full economic analysis for the proposed rule
- A resource and programmatic assessment
ACWA will be providing a summary of the new proposed rule in the days to come and discussing with members potential next steps as well. Stay tuned! If you have questions feel free to contact Julian Gonzalez.
USGS Study reveals links between Midwest land use, stressors, and stream ecology
A new USGS study explores the complex interactions that affect the health of fish, aquatic invertebrates, and algae in small Midwest streams. The study uses structural equation modeling, a powerful statistical technique, to investigate links between agricultural and urban land use, geologic history, and potential stressors to aquatic life—contaminants, nutrients, sediment, and streamflow alteration—and how they affect aquatic life.
The study found that fish, aquatic invertebrate, and algal communities each represent a critical aspect of Midwest stream health, that all three types of aquatic life are affected by several stressors, and that those stressors are different. Fish, for example, are most affected by the physical characteristics of the stream channel. Aquatic invertebrates, on the other hand, are also sensitive to chemical contaminants, such as insecticides and nutrients, and algae are sensitive to herbicides.
The extensive data required for the modeling were from the USGS Midwest Stream Quality Assessment, which characterized habitat, water and sediment chemistry, and biological communities in 100 Midwest streams in 2013. The assessment covered about 600,000 square kilometers in parts of 11 Midwestern states. The results of the modeling will aid scientists, managers, and policymakers in evaluating the effects of multiple chemical and physical stressors on stream biological condition and in developing effective policy responses.
For additional information on the study, contact Travis Schmidt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2018 Farm Bill Conference Report and Vote
This week, lawmakers unveiled the much-anticipated the 2018 Farm Bill conference report. The Senate passed the bill 87-13 and the House passed the bill 369-47. The bill now goes to the President for his signature. It is anticipated he will sign it early next week.
The legislation will cost $867 billion over 10 years. Regarding the conservation title, the Conservation Reserve Program will be increased from 24 million acres to 27 million acres, but rental rates will be lowered to 85% of the average county rental rate for general signup and 90% of the average county rate for continuous signup. USDA’s National Agricultural Statistic Service will be required to update rental rates annually under the bill.
The Conservation Stewardship Program (“CSP”) is maintained, but the bill removes annual acreage enrollments and payments. CSP also would be limited to $1 billion in budget authority while more funding is shifted to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.
EPA Streamlines Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals Regulations for Healthcare Sector
This week, EPA issue a final rule streamlining standards for managing hazardous waste pharmaceuticals in the healthcare sector. The final rule offers streamlined standards for handling pharmaceutical wastes to better fit the operations of the healthcare sector while maintaining protection of human health and the environment. In addition, as part of this rule, EPA is bolstering the protection of our nation’s waterways by prohibiting the “sewering” of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals. This will make our drinking and surface water safer and healthier by reducing the amount of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals entering our waterways by an estimated 1,600 – 2,300 tons annually. EPA has a long-standing policy of strongly discouraging the flushing of pharmaceuticals down the drain in any situation.
The rule provides flexibilities and benefits for hospitals, pharmacies, and doctor’s offices to safely manage hazardous waste pharmaceuticals. Also, under this final rule FDA-approved over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapies (i.e., gums, patches, lozenges) will no longer be considered hazardous waste when discarded, which will result in significant cost savings and burden reduction for the healthcare industry. In addition, the final rule eliminates dual regulation for hazardous waste pharmaceuticals that are also Drug Enforcement Agency controlled substances, further easing regulatory burden.
Request for Nominees for the Advisory Committee on Water Information (“ACWI”)
The U.S. Department of the Interior (“Interior”) through USGS is seeking nominations for individuals to be considered as Committee members and/or alternates to serve on the Advisory Committee on Water Information (“ACWI”). The ACWI represents the interests of water-information users and professionals in advising the Federal Government on Federal water-information programs and their effectiveness in meeting the Nation’s water-information needs. Membership represents a wide range of water resources interests and functions. The ACWI has a maximum of 35 members. Members will represent the interests of water oriented organizations and will be selected from among, but not limited to the following groups: Federal agencies, professional water-related associations, State and county water-related associations, academia, private industry, water utility associations, civil engineering societies, watershed and land conservation associations, ecological societies, lake, coastal, and ocean associations, environmental and educational groups. The Committee functions solely as an advisory body, and in compliance with the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. Nominations should include a resume providing an adequate description of the nominee’s qualifications, including information that would enable the Department of the Interior to make an informed decision regarding meeting the membership requirements of the ACWI and permit the Department of the Interior to contact a potential member. No individual who is currently registered as a Federal lobbyist is eligible to serve as a member of the ACWI. The Federal Register notice has additional details on applying.
NPDES Updates Rule
This week, OMB completed review of Phase I of the NPDES Updates Rule. Earlier this year, it was announced that EPA was dividing this rule into two Phases, with the first expected to be finalized by the end of the calendar year. Phase I of the rule is expected to include many of the noncontroversial provisions such as definitional updates, application requirements for vessels and pesticides, updated application forms, and revised public notice requirements to allow for web based notification. EPA has not yet indicated a schedule for Phase II of the rule. A copy of the original proposal can be found here.
Construction General Permit Update
This week, EPA proposed for comment a modification to the 2017 NPDES Construction General Permit (“CGP”), which covers stormwater discharges from construction activities where EPA is the permitting authority. The comment period for this proposal is 45 days, beginning December 12, 2018 and closing on January 28, 2019. The proposed modifications include updating the “operator” definition; clarifying individual operator responsibilities; and better aligning several C&D ELG and New Source Performance Standards requirements with the ELG text. Both the National Association of Home Builders (“NAHB”) and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (“CBF”) filed petitions for review of the permit in the D.C. Circuit Court–the litigation has been held in abeyance while the EPA pursues this permit modification. The proposed modification would replace the existing language, but would not affect any other terms and conditions in the 2017 permit. This permit modification would not directly affect state-issued CGPs.
ACWA Alum Aunkst Director Chesapeake Bay Program
EPA announced the selection of Dana Aunkst as the new Director of EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program.
Aunkst has extensive environmental and regulatory experience from working 33 years in private industry and local and state government. During his tenure at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) which began in 2002, Aunkst served in executive level positions as Deputy Secretary and Acting Secretary. As the Deputy Secretary for Field Operations, he directed the operations of six regional offices in implementing the full array of state and federal environmental regulations. As Executive Deputy Secretary for Programs, Aunkst directed the activities of more than 2,000 professional and technical staff engaged in all aspects of environmental protection. While serving as Deputy Secretary for Water, he oversaw programs for surface and groundwater quality, soil and water conservation, public water supply withdrawals, sewage facilities planning, point source sewage and industrial discharges, flood protection and stream improvements. In this position, Aunkst led the change to resuscitate Pennsylvania’s Chesapeake Bay restoration effort by authoring the 2016 Pennsylvania Chesapeake Bay Reboot Strategy. Aunkst holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from Penn State University and is a licensed professional engineer in Pennsylvania. His appointment will be effective December 23, 2018.
EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program coordinates activities and implements strategies for meeting the restoration goals of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, which covers 64,000 square miles across New York, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
Ohio EPA is looking for an Environmental Engineer 3 in its Southeast District. Job duties include supervising the review and processing of permit to install (“PTI”) applications along with detail plans and other supplemental information for construction of wastewater treatment facilities to serve residences (in Special Sanitary Districts) and commercial, municipal or industrial developments; supervising the drafting of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) permits and the writing of briefing memoranda and correspondence regarding discharges to waters of the State; providing support for the Compliance/Enforcement program activities; and coordinating work activities of division with other division supervisors to ensure annual goals are accomplished. To view the announcement, go here.
Be sure to check out other opportunities on ACWA’s jobs page.
Water Resource Management Committee Call
Monday, December 17, 2018, 2-3:30 pm ET
Contact Julian Gonzalez for more information.
Legal Affairs Committee Quarterly Call
Wednesday, December 19, 2018 at 2:00-3:00 pm ET
Contact Mark Patrick McGuire for more information.
Watersheds Committee Call
Thursday, December 20, 2018, 3-4:30 pm ET
Contact Julian Gonzalez for more information.