ACWA Hosts Successful Variance Workshop
ACWA hosted a Variance Workshop with the EPA. There were 30 attendees from 28 states. They were joined by EPA staff from both the regions and headquarters. The day and a half workshop focused on factors to justify variances, determining and documenting the highest attainable condition, streamlining and improving state and tribal water quality standards variance process, and improving optics and messaging for water quality standards variances. ACWA is continuing to foster a community of practice by starting a variance workspace, allowing participants to share information and documents, exchange ideas and ask questions on ACWA’s online member platform. If you are interested in joining this workspace and participate in conversations with peer states, contact Frances Bothfeld.
Prevent the Discharge of Chemicals
Under §311(j)(1)(c) of the Clean Water Act Congress directed the executive branch to establish “procedures, methods, and equipment and other requirements for equipment to prevent discharges of oil and hazardous substances from vessels and from onshore facilities and offshore facilities, and to contain such discharges, prevent and contain discharges of oil and hazardous substances from onshore facilities.” On February 16, 2016 EPA signed a settlement agreement with environmental groups and agreed within 18 months to propose a CWA rule addressing hazardous discharges from onshore facilities. As part of the settlement agreement, EPA was provided the option to extend the proposed rule time frame by 10 months if the agency issued an information collection request to gather further data.
EPA has developed a short survey to be sent to states, tribes, and territories requesting information on Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act facilities. Currently, EPCRA data is required to be submitted to state/tribal/territorial authorities but is not required to be submitted to EPA. This is a voluntary submission effort intended to help EPA better understand the types and amounts of chemicals being stored onsite, determine the universe of facilities that could potentially be covered by spill prevention regulations, and provide insight as to the scale and types of impacts a regulation might have on facilities.
Several state and local emergency response officials are requesting that EPA drop the ICR effort and focus on updating the existing facility Risk Management Plan (RMP) program to address water issues. It is believed EPA can both gather the necessary data and meet the goals of a spill prevention program by updating the RMP. These individuals also believe EPA can currently pull data from the National Response Center, which keeps track of spills and releases, or EPA can pull industry wide hazardous chemical data using NAICS. A number of environmental groups submitted a joint letter supporting the ICR approach but advocating the current set of questions were not comprehensive enough. “The questions in the proposed ICR seek basic information necessary to understand the threats hazardous-substance spills pose to our communities: where these harmful chemicals are stored; in what quantity; how often spills are occurring; and what laws currently apply to help prevent spills. They do not, however, go far enough.”
If your state water program is developing a position on this initiative, ACWA would be interested in hearing about it. Please contact Sean Rolland.
ACWA beginning collaboration with EPA on Urban Waters Federal Partnerships Programs
ACWA staff are working to collaborate with EPA’s Urban Waters Federal Partnership (UWFP) program. Specifically, ACWA is considering a number of potential projects all centered around the role of states and state staff in successful UWFP pilots, and how that role can be strengthened in both existing UWFPs and in areas where new pilots are being considered or developed. If you are state staff with experience in the UWFP programs or are otherwise interested, feel free to contact Julian Gonzalez, as we are currently in the early brainstorming stages of seeing how we can leverage ACWA member knowledge and experience to analyze and reinforce states’ role in such projects. For more information on UWFP in general, see EPA’s webpage here.
EPA Funding Update
Senate appropriators released a fiscal 2018 spending bill for U.S. EPA and the Interior Department. This bill would provide funding at $149.5 million below FY17 enacted but $400 million above the House Appropriations Bill. Click here for the updated budget chart which includes the Senate Committee recommendations. This bill will now go to full committee, which has not been scheduled. For more information contact Julian Gonzalez.
EPA Plans Additional Federalism Outreach for WOTUS
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army are inviting state, local and tribal partners to a webinar on their progress toward updating the definition of “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS). This webinar is limited to tribes, states and local governments, their associations, and other federal agencies. ACWA has been invited to participate, as have individual states and other relevant state associations. EPA indicated that they will provide updates on the recently proposed rule to change the effective date of the 2015 Clean Water Rule, as well as both “step 1” and “step 2” (i.e. the proposed rule to repeal the 2015 rule, and the development of a new jurisdictional rule, respectively). Lastly, they will update participants on trends and feedback gathered from the public stakeholder listening sessions held over the last two months.
ACWA MSA Call: Development of User Perception Surveys to Protect Water Quality from Nutrient Pollution: A Primer on Common Practices and Insights
Wednesday, December 20th, 2:30-4:00 pm ET
For more information please contact Frances Bothfeld.
ACWA Watersheds/TMDL Modeling Workgroup Call
Thursday, December 21st, 2:30-4:00 pm ET
More information will be sent to committee members soon.