2018 Farm Bill Signed
This week, President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill.
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.
Federal Budget Agreement Uncertain
At the time of writing the Wrap, a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government running until next Congress is uncertain. Currently, 7 of 12 appropriations bills are not completed. This includes the EPA-Interior Appropriations Bill. Earlier this week it appeared Congress would pass a CR to fund the government until January 4th and let the new 116th Congress work toward finishing the appropriations bills. However, on Thursday December 20th, President Trump announced he would not sign a CR that did not include funding for border security; Currently, the House has passed a CR that contains this funding. It is unclear what the Senate will do. If Congress and the President cannot strike a deal on the budget by midnight tonight, the government will shut down.
EPA Releases NSmart Webinar Dates
NutrientSmart (also known as “NSmart”) is a proposed voluntary program to recognize water resource recovery facilities’ (“WRRFs”) and their watershed partners’ progress towards reducing nutrients in waterbodies. The EPA Office of Water and the NSmart Steering Committee are hosting an interest and information webinar to introduce a proposed voluntary recognition program for POTWs, WWRFs, communities, and other stakeholders and potential partners that have reduced or are working towards reducing nutrient loadings to streams, rivers, lakes, and other surface waters. As one of these stakeholders, we would like to provide you with background and answer your questions on the different ways to participate and be recognized as NSmart and gauge your interest in NSmart. We want to know how best to engage with you and make recognition valuable to you, your ratepayers, partners, and local communities.
The proposed program’s goal is to encourage and recognize the adoption of enhanced nutrient management practices by water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs) and their communities. It would also acknowledge work that has been done to date and facilitate further efforts through peer to peer communications, information sharing to members, and watershed approaches.
There are two opportunities to participate in the webinar:
- Monday, January 14, noon-1pm (EST)
- Wednesday, January 16, 3-4pm (EST)
*Please Note: when you select a date and time in Eventbrite, it should adjust to your local time.
Please register here and join us to learn more on how to get recognized for your hard work and nutrient reduction accomplishments.
If you have any questions about the event please reach out to EPA’s Mary Reiley.
Who should attend:
- Wastewater Utilities
- Other stakeholders interested in nutrient reductions to surface waters
Updated Aluminum Aquatic Life Criteria Released
The final updated aquatic life criteria for aluminum in freshwater this week. The new criteria considers the impacts of local water chemistry on aluminum toxicity to aquatic life. The EPA provided a calculator to automatically calculate the criteria using pH, total hardness, and dissolved organic carbon. Alternatively, there is also a look up table available in the appendix. For more information, please see the document in full. ACWA’s Monitoring, Standards, and Assessment Committee will also be holding a webinar for states on draft implementation materials on January 23rd. Please reach out to Frances Bothfeld for more information on the webinar.
ECOS Names New Executive Director
ECOS, the national nonprofit, nonpartisan association of state and territorial environmental commissioners, formally announced the selection of Donald S. Welsh as Executive Director. Appointed in 2013 by the Governor of Pennsylvania to the Citizens’ Advisory Council (CAC) to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Welsh has served since 2017 as its Chairman. Welsh also currently serves as a voting member of the Environmental Quality Board, which adopts environmental regulations in Pennsylvania. He was President & Chief Executive Officer of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council in 2009-2010. From 2001 until 2009, he served as the U.S. EPA Region 3 Regional Administrator. From 1995 until 2001, Welsh held several positions at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection including Deputy Secretary for State/Federal Relations. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania.
H.R. 7279 Water Infrastructure Improvement Act
A bipartisan coalition lead by Representatives Gibbs (R-OH) and Napolitano (D-CA) passed HR 7279 titled the “Water Infrastructure Improvement Act”, which would codify the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “Integrated Planning” initiative into federal law. This bill allows municipalities to prioritize water infrastructure projects to maximize environmental and health benefits, while working towards compliance with all aspects of the Clean Water Act (CWA). The language in this bill has historically been supported by the American Public Works Association (APWA), National Association of Counties (NACo), National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), National League of Cities (NLC), the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and several other municipality based organizations. The bill requires EPA or the state to notify municipalities of the availability of an integrated plan that could be incorporated into a permit and would allow compliance schedules that exceed one permit term. The bill also requires EPA to issue a report within 2 years that describes each integrated plan developed and implemented through permit, order, or consent decree going back to 2012. The bill requires EPA to create an Office of the Municipal Ombudsman that will provide assistance to municipalities related to identifying federal financial assistance, flexibilities under the CWA, and opportunities to develop integrated plans. This office will also ensure agency policies are being implemented by all offices within EPA. Finally, the bill specifically requires EPA to promote the use of Green Infrastructure. A copy of the bill’s language can be found here.
Administration Unveils Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposure
EPA U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary, and U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) unveiled the Trump Administration’s Federal Lead Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures and Associated Health Impacts (Lead Action Plan). Developed through cross-governmental collaboration of the President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children (Task Force), which includes 17 federal departments and offices, the Lead Action Plan is a blueprint for reducing lead exposure and associated harms by working with a range of stakeholders, including states, tribes and local communities, along with businesses, property owners and parents.
The four goals of the Lead Action Plan are:
• Goal 1: Reduce Children’s Exposure to Lead Sources
• Goal 2: Identify Lead-Exposed Children and Improve their Health Outcomes
• Goal 3: Communicate More Effectively with Stakeholders
• Goal 4: Support and Conduct Critical Research to Inform Efforts to Reduce Lead Exposures and Related Health Risks
EPA is committed to developing an implementation plan – by March 2019 – that includes performance metrics for monitoring progress and demonstrating accountability for EPA activities identified in the Lead Action Plan. The agency also commits to providing periodic updates on the progress of these actions.
The Lead Action Plan will help federal agencies work strategically and collaboratively to reduce exposure to lead and improve children’s health. EPA and members of the Task Force will continue to engage with and reach out to community stakeholders such as non-governmental organizations.
2019 Waste to Worth (W2W) Conference
The upcoming 2019 Waste to Worth Conference will be held April 22-26, 2019 at the Graduate Minneapolis, 615 Washington Avenue SE, Minneapolis, on the University of Minnesota’s East Bank campus. The Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center, sponsor of the W2W conferences, is a network made up of professionals from across the U.S. (and Canada) with an interest and expertise animal agriculture and environmental stewardship. The mission for this group is to provide individuals involved in public policy issues, animal production, and delivery of technical services for animal agriculture with have on-demand access to the nation’s best science-based resources that is responsive to priority and emerging environmental issues associated with animal agriculture. These W2W conferences aim to bring together science, on-farm application, and solutions for the questions surrounding animal agriculture and environmental stewardship. Waste to Worth brings together the nation’s best science on animal agriculture and the environment with:
- Innovative outreach
- Opportunities to meet and network with outstanding people
- Mix with multidisciplinary specialists in a collaborative atmosphere
This is a winning recipe for turning waste into worth! For more information about this meeting please click here.
Legal Affairs Committee Call Summary
On Wednesday, December 19, ACWA’s Legal Affairs Committee held its final call of 2018. On the call, Sarah Fort of NRDC presented on Los Angeles Waterkeeper v. Pruitt, a case dealing with Residual Designation Authority (“RDA”), a Clean Water Act provision that can be exercised to regulate commercial/industrial/institutional stormwater discharges that “contribute to a violation of a water quality standard or is a significant contributor of pollutants to waters of the United States.” Also on the call, David Johnston and Brian Dudley of Massachusetts DEP prsented on the watershed permit for the Massachusetts towns of Brewster, Chatham, Harwich, and Orleans to address nitrogen pollution in Pleasant Bay, Cape Cod. For more information on this call and the Legal Affairs Committee generally, contact Mark Patrick McGuire.
No Wrap for Two Weeks
The Weekly Wrap will be taking a two week break while ACWA offices are closed for the holidays. We will resume the week of January 7, 2019.
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is hiring a Surface Water Program Manager. This position is responsible for the oversight and tactical decision making over a unit dedicated to investigating surface water pollution, identifying pollution sources, identifying and implementing watershed, stream, and lake restoration projects. Further responsibilities include close coordination with funding, land management, and project implementation entities; evaluating and documenting employee performance, coaching staff and developing a corporate culture of continuous improvement and the ADEQ way.
This position champions continuous improvement projects within the unit and recommends and implements program or operational improvements; assists in the development of goals and strategies; develops policies and procedures related to planning; ensures the unit operations meet established time lines and objectives; provides guidance and interpretation of federal and state laws/regulations related to complex regulatory situations.
Be sure to check out other opportunities on ACWA’s jobs page.