Last Chance to Register for the Variance Face-to-Face Workshop
The Variance Face-to-Face Workshop will be held November 16 – 17, 2017 in Washington, DC. The workshop will be a venue for face-to-face information sharing between the state water quality standards staff and EPA. For more information on this meeting and a draft agenda, please see the website. ACWA is now opening up registration for states that want to send two attendees. This is a space-limited event and we will register attendees on a first come first serve basis. For more information on travel support and to register for this workshop, please contact Frances Bothfeld. The last day to register has been extended to October 26, 2017.
GAO Releases Report on Water Quality Trading
On Monday, October 16, The Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) released a report on water quality trading. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) had requested GAO examine nutrient credit trading programs and draft a report. The report describes (1) the extent to which nutrient credit trading programs have been used and what the outcomes of the programs have been, (2) how states and EPA oversee nutrient credit trading programs, and (3) what key factors stakeholders view as affecting participation in nutrient credit trading. GAO reviewed EPA documents and interviewed EPA officials to gather information on trading programs. GAO then selected a nongeneralizable sample of three programs with the most trades in 2014 (based on the most recent available data); reviewed program documents; and interviewed EPA, state, and program officials and other stakeholders about the programs.
To view the report, go here.
Registration is LIVE for the ACWA Nutrients Permitting Workshop in December
ACWA’s Nutrients Permitting Workshop will take place December 5-7, 2017 in Boise, Idaho at the Riverside Hotel. To register, go here. For room reservations, contact the Riverside Hotel at 1-888-606-0563 or 1-208-343-1871 and ask for the Nutrient Permitting Meeting group rate. To view the most recent draft agenda, go here. For more information, please contact Mark Patrick McGuire.
Administrator Pruitt Signs POTW NESHAP Final Rule
On Monday, October 16, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt signed the final rule revising the POTW NESHAP (40 CFR Part 63, subpart VVV). EPA did not take final action on the more significant items from the initial proposal, namely the HAP fraction standard for existing sources, changing applicability, pretreatment requirements, or any standards for collection systems. A prepublication copy and a fact sheet outlining the contents of the rule are available here.
This week, EPA announced the release of the Hydrologic and Water Quality System (HAWQS) which is an interactive web-based tool that looks at quantity and quality modeling using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT, which is an internationally recognized public domain model). HAWQS will provide users with maps, pre-loaded input data, outputs that include tables, charts, graphs, raw output data, and a user guide. It also features online development, execution, and storage of a user’s modeling projects. HAWQS is intended to expand EPA’s water quality decision support tools by providing a modeling system that can simulate the effectiveness of alternative regulatory, policy, and management decisions for protecting water quality across large geographic areas. EPA supports and provides project management and funding for HAWQS, with the Texas A&M University Spatial Sciences Laboratory providing ongoing technical support including system design, modeling, and software development. More information on HAWQS can be found here and access to HAWQS can be found here.
Sue and Settle
On Monday, October 16, Administrator Pruitt issued an agency wide memorandum and directive communicating his desire to end regulation through litigation, also known as “sue and settle.” In this document, Directive Promoting Transparency and Public Participation in Consent Decrees and Settlement Agreements, he notes that settlement agreements create new “priorities and rules outside the normal administrative process.” The directive also describes how EPA has regularly excluded intervenors, interested stakeholders, and affected states from the settlement discussion process. The directive also articulates a process whereby EPA will publish notices of intent to sue and the complaint/petition for review, directly notify affected states/regulated entities, engage with these affected stakeholders on the pending lawsuit, and seek concurrence with affected parties before settling. EPA’s policy going forward will also be to exclude payment of attorney’s fees and costs to any plaintiff or petitioner. The memo titled Adhering to Fundamental Principles of Due Process, Rule of Law, and Cooperative Federalism in Consent Decrees and Settlement Agreements further articulates and supports the importance of transparency, due process, the rule of law, and cooperative federalism. In particular, the memo noted that sue-and-settle tactics “undermined cooperative federalism by excluding states from meaningfully participating in procedural and substantive Agency actions” and that EPA should “welcome participation of affected states and tribes, regulated communities, and other interested stakeholders” in advance of finalizing settlement agreements and consent decrees. More details can be found here.
New Job Opportunities
Be sure to check out ACWA’s job opportunities page. These are external job postings sent to ACWA by our member agencies. There are new opportunities this week in Arizona, Washington, and Massachusetts.
ACWA Watersheds Committee Monthly Call: Statewide TMDLs
Thursday, October 26, 2017, 2:30 – 4:00 pm Eastern
For call-in and agenda information, contact Julian Gonzalez