President Gives First State of the Union Address
On Tuesday, January 30, President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union Address. Regarding infrastructure, the president called for a $1.5 trillion bill from Congress combining both public and private investment stating, “I am asking both parties to come together to give us safe, fast, reliable, and modern infrastructure that our economy needs and our people deserve. Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment we need. Every Federal dollar should be leveraged by partnering with State and local governments and, where appropriate, tapping into private-sector investment—to permanently fix the infrastructure deficit.” The president also called for a streamlined permitting process to get approvals down to “no more than two years, and perhaps even one.”
Regarding regulatory reform, the president merely mentioned that his administration has “eliminated more regulations in our first year than any administration in the history of our country.”
To view the transcript of the address, go here.
Hawaii Wildlife Fund Wins Case
This week the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s summary judgment decision finding the County of Maui violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) by discharging pollutants from its wells into the Pacific Ocean. The Court concluded that the County’s four discrete wells were in fact “point sources” as defined by the NPDES program and did in fact discharge treated effluent into groundwater, through which the pollutants then entered a navigable water body. According to the County’s expert, the flow of effluent from the wells into the ocean is about 3,456 gallons per meter of coastline per day. Confirming what the 2nd and 5th Circuits have also said, that CWA does not necessarily require that a point source convey the pollutants directly into the navigable water. The Court did not find persuasive the County’s argument that the effluent injections into wells underground automatically exempted the County from NPDES permitting requirements. The Court went on to say the CWA provides fair notice of what was prohibited. A copy of the decision can be found here.
DOJ Limits Use of Guidance
This week the Department of Justice issued a memo which appears to limit the use of agency guidance documents in settlement agreements to make binding requirements that do not already exist under statute or regulation. In particular, the memo says this “Guidance policy also prohibits the Department from using guidance documents to coerce regulated parties into taking any action or refraining from taking any action beyond what is required by the terms of the applicable statute or lawful regulation.” The memo goes on to say “effective immediately, the Department may not use its enforcement authority to effectively convert agency guidance documents into binding rules.” A copy of the memo can be found here.
Senate Committee on Environmental and Public Works Held Oversight Hearing
EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, testified in front of the Senate Committee on Environmental and Public Works (EPW). This hearing was a general oversight hearing and the questions mainly focused on the Clean Air Act and Superfund Sites. Some of the majority party expressed thanks for repealing the Waters of the US rule. To see Administrator Pruitt’s written testimony, and to watch the hearing in full, please refer the the EPW website.
OECA Promotes Planning in Authorized States
Last week EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assistance sent guidance out to its Regions to “immediately begin the movement towards a more collaborative partnership between EPA and authorized States” to develop principles and best practices for state and EPA collaboration on inspections, enforcement, work planning, outcomes, and performance measurement. This document outlines a specific plan for allowing states with authorized or delegated programs to take the lead on environmental matters. “With respect to inspections and enforcement, the EPA will generally defer to authorized states as the primary day-to-day implementer of authorized/delegated programs, except in specific situations,” which are also articulated in the guidance document as well. By September 28, 2018 Regions will provide OECA with a progress report on the implementation of this guidance. A copy of the guidance can be found here.
EPA Releases Pre-Publication Final Rule Adding Applicability Date to 2015 Clean Water Rule
EPA has released the pre-publication text of their final rule titled “Definition of “Waters of the United States” – Addition of Applicability Date to 2015 Clean Water Rule.” This is EPA’s rule pushing back the implementation of the 2015 Clean Water Rule two years, which would:
1) Prevent the 2015 rule from becoming active and enforceable on the heels of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in National Association of Manufacturers v. Department of Defense which effectively invalidates the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals’ nationwide stay on the 2015 rule, and
2) Provide the administration with time to complete a new rule with a new, narrower definition of Waters of the United States.
You can find EPA’s page containing the pre-publication final rule here. It is expected to be published in the Federal Register in the coming week.
SRF WIN Act introduced in US Senate and US House of Representatives
Earlier this week, Senator Boozman (R-AR), Senator Booker (D-NJ), Senator Inhofe (R-OK) and Senator Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the $50 B “Securing Required Funding for Water Infrastructure Now Act” – the SRF WIN Act. ACWA has closely monitored the development of this proposed legislation, which would amend the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014 (WIFIA Act of 2014) and allow EPA to provide state infrastructure financing authorities additional opportunities to receive loans supporting drinking water and clean water state revolving funds. If you have questions or comments, contact Julia Anastasio or Julian Gonzalez.
GAO Releases Report on Water and Wastewater Workforce
This week, the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) released a report on the future of the American workforce in water and wastewater jobs. GAO was asked by the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations, Ken Calvert (R- CA), to review workforce needs within the drinking water and wastewater industry. GAO reviewed workforce projections, relevant laws and regulations, agency documents, and industry studies and interviewed federal, local, and industry officials. GAO also conducted interviews with a non-generalizable sample of 11 water utilities, selected by size, location, and indications of workforce needs. To view the report, go here.
American Dental Association Webinar on Dental Amalgam Rule
On Wednesday, January 31, the American Dental Association held a webinar on the Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards for the Dental Category (the “Dental Amalgam Rule”) that became effective in 2017. To view the rule, go here. To view a recording of the webinar, go here.
Hypoxia Task Force holds Winter 2018 Meeting
This week, the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force held its 2018 meeting in Arlington, Virginia. The meeting consisted of updates from the various Task Force committees, and presentations on Field to Market’s work on nutrient pollution and Iowa’s new cover crop/crop insurance program. The Task Force also held a lengthy roundtable discussion with members of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (“NASDA”) on how the Task Force could collaborate on nutrient pollution. For more information on the Task Force and its work, go here.
2018 Mid-Year Meeting
Early Bird Registration is extended to February 12, 2018
Why wait? Register Now! for the 2018 Mid-Year Meeting and receive the early bird rate! This meeting is planned as a day and a half state and EPA round table discussion, and is a closed meeting for ACWA members and invited guests. State attendees will kick off the morning with a states only discussion and then we will welcome our partners from EPA, Office of Water to join us at noon and stay with us for the remainder of the meeting. Our goal is to generate a conversation among the states and EPA. Go here to reserve your lodging accommodations. To register and pay for your registration, go here. If you encounter problems logging into ACWA’s new AMS system, Member 365, go here for more information, or email Katie Foreman. If you encounter issues paying for your registration, contact Annette Ivey. View the updated draft agenda here.
ACWA is offering a limited number of scholarships for state travel support to ACWA state members who would not otherwise be able to send a representative to an ACWA meeting. Preference will be given to member organizations that have not been able to send a representative to a Mid-Year or Annual Meeting in several years and Members who are seeking assistance to bring another staff member to the meeting who would not otherwise be able to attend. The scholarships will cover meeting registration fee, airfare, local travel, hotel and associated taxes.
To apply for a scholarship, please contact Sean Rolland, Deputy Director, at email@example.com or (202) 465-7179.
The deadline for submissions for the 2018 ACWA Mid-Year Meeting is February 20, 2018.
2018 National Pretreatment Meeting
Event and hotel registration for this meeting is live! The 2018 National Pretreatment Meeting will be held April 17-18, 2018 in Silver Spring, Maryland at the Tommy Douglas Conference Center (“TDCC”), 10000 New Hampshire Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20903. If you plan to attend the meeting, you must register. Please do so by Monday, April 2, 2018. To register for the meeting, go here.
Lodging is available on site at TDCC at rates of $209 for single room and $249 for a double room (plus tax). To reserve a room, please call 240-645-4000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please ask for the Association of Clean Water Administrators block of rooms when making your reservation. If you choose to stay at TDCC as part of the ACWA room block, complimentary breakfast and dinner are included with your room. The deadline for the room block is Monday, April 2, 2018. For more information on TDCC, go here.
For more information on the meeting, please contact Mark Patrick McGuire.
ACWA 319 Workgroup Survey on NPS Management Program Plans
Last Friday ACWA sent a survey out to members of the ACWA 319/Nonpoint Source Workgroup aiming to compile very basic information (dates and links) on state nonpoint source management program plans, and to gauge interest in having webinars to facilitate state-to-state information sharing on putting them together. 31 individuals/states have filled it out so far. If you are on the workgroup and have not filled out the survey, we would appreciate it if you could complete the survey some time next week. Thanks!
If you have questions, contact Julian Gonzalez.
Stormwater Workgroup Call
Wednesday, February 7 at 12:00 pm Eastern
For more information, contact Sean Rolland.
Legal Affairs Committee Quarterly Call
Thursday, February 15 at 1:00 pm Eastern
For more information, contact Mark Patrick McGuire.