Senate EPW Committee Holds WOTUS Hearing
This week, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing on the definition of Waters of the United States in the Clean Water Act. The hearing included testimony and Q&A from Todd Fornstrom, a farmer and President of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation, Doug C. Goehring, Commissioner of the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, and Richard Elías, Supervisor of District 5 of the Pima County Board of Supervisors in Arizona. To view a recording of the hearing, go here.
2016-2017 Biosolids Biennial Review
Under Section 405(d)(2)(C) of the Clean Water Act, every two years EPA is required to identify additional toxic pollutants that may occur in biosolids, and if sufficient scientific evidence shows harm to human health or environmental impacts, update regulations for those pollutants accordingly. As part of the 2016-2017 effort, 32 new articles were identified that provided relevant data for chemical pollutants that could occur in biosolids. Of those 32 articles, 15 articles identified 28 new chemicals in biosolids: seven polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs); nine parabens and metabolites; five brominated flame retardants (BFRs); three other flame retardants; two perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs); and two triclosan transformation products. In addition, potentially useful data on seven previously identified microbial pollutants were found: Cryptosporidium spp., Giardia spp., antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs)/antibiotic resistant bacteria (AR bacteria), Salmonella, Escherichia coli, human norovirus, and human adenovirus. The EPA expects to begin risk screening of pollutants found in biosolids once public review of its screening tool has been completed. A copy of the 2016-2017 Biennial Review can be found here.
EPA Press Release on Release of Modernizing Public Hearings for Water Quality Standard Document
EPA released a document entitled Modernizing Public Hearings for Water Quality Standard Decisions Consistent with 40 CFR 25.5. The document contains recommendations and suggestions on how states can incorporate modern technologies into their water quality standards public hearing process. ACWA was able to provide input and review the document as it was being developed. For more information please see the press release and the document itself.
FY2020-2021 National Program Guidances Released
This week EPA released the final FY2020-2021 National Program Guidance and Response to Comments for seven EPA Offices. These National Program Guidances are intended to communicate operational planning priorities, strategies, and key activities for advancing EPA’s FY2018-2022 Strategic Plan. EPA has indicated the new FY2020-2021 National Program Guidances better focus on program priorities, strategies, and activities to achieve both long-term performance goals and specifically articulate the 75 measures that will track program performance and progress. EPA also indicates they are “strengthening relationship with states, territories, federally recognized Indian tribes and local governments that are authorized to implement federal environmental program to ensure that we deliver on our shared commitment to a clean and healthy environment.”
OECA National Program Guidance
In the OECA NPG, EPA discusses collaboration with states, tribes, territories and local governments and “emphasizes use of the full range of the EPA’s compliance assurance tools…” EPA is also “working to augment the compliance assurance tool box to enhance efficiency, reduce burden on the regulated community, and improve environmental outcomes.” Beyond traditional efforts to collaborate with states, in 2018 EPA started tracking “State Assists”, which are those limited instances where the Region has expended “a meaningful level of effort to identify the violation, developed the injunctive relief, and/or helped the state take an action to remedy the violation.” EPA plans to also continue to provide training opportunities to state, local, and tribal investigators, inspectors, case development specialists, lawyers, and technical experts.
Two high priority strategic plan goals are also highlighted in the OECA NPG: 1) reduce the average time from violation identification to correction and; 2) increase the environmental law compliance rates. EPA has established standards for the timely completion and release of EPA inspection reports to facilities and the public and plans to finalize the June 29, 2018, Interim Policy on Inspection Report Timeliness and Standardization in FY2020. Regions are also tracking the number of civil judicial enforcement cases referred to the Department of Justice without a settlement or complaint filed after 2.5 years. EPA selected the CWA NPDES as the first program for initiating the effort to increase compliance rates, setting a goal of reducing the rate of significant noncompliance (SNC) in the NPDES program by 50% by the end of FY 2022.
For the water program, OECA also highlights other activities. For example, OECA will “strategically target pollution problems involving NPDES-regulated point sources with serious violations and potential water quality or human health impacts for compliance monitoring inspections and, where appropriate, enforcement actions.” EPA will also continue to promote adherence to the EPA’s NPDES CMS or an approved Alternative CMS. The OECA NPG also discusses data reporting and that “timely, accurate, and complete data is critical for the EPA and the public to analyze and understand the state of compliance with environmental regulations.” The State Review Framework was also mentioned and sets a goal of completing “85% of recommendations stemming from Round 3 reviews by the end of FY 2020.”
For more details on the OECA NPG, please visit EPA’s website.
OW National Program Guidance
The OW NPG explains how the Administration has focused on identifying opportunities to improve how the EPA delivers environmental and public health results to the American public. In support of this priority, EPA has been working to implement the EPA Lean Management System (ELMS) for more than a year. Through its ELMS efforts, the EPA is tracking, measuring, and improving vital Agency processes, such as reducing the Agency’s backlog in issuing permits.
Recently, the Office of Water undertook an effort to streamline the 100+ performance measures for the national water program. Through outreach, consultation, and coordination with states and tribes in August 2018, the Office of Water sought to better understand state and tribal priorities and seek input from states and tribes on the most targeted set of performance measures for the national water program. With stakeholder input, the EPA identified 29 core measures that will be tracked. These core measures represent a more concise set of measures than the Office of Water has tracked in the past. This narrower set of measures focuses on key Office of Water processes and procedures. They will be tracked on a regular basis with the goal of identifying and introducing program and process efficiencies across the national water program.
Other focus areas include regulatory certainty, infrastructure, and workforce development.
Also, the FY 2020-2021 NWPG has been streamlined to focus on achieving the long-term performance goals laid out in the FY 2018-2022 EPA Strategic Plan and Assistant Administrator priorities that support the Agency’s drinking water, infrastructure, and watershed health goals within the strategic plan. The ‘Grant and Loan Guidance’ section has remained, but is streamlined in scope and format. In effect, the EPA provides guidance only on those programs with grant or loan components.
To view the OW NPG, go here.
ASDWA Submit Comments on EPA’s Draft Recommendations for PFOA and PFOS in Groundwater
The Association of State Drinking Water Administrators (ASDWA) submitted a comment letter with on EPA’s Draft Interim Recommendations for Addressing Groundwater Contaminated with Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). The letter reemphasized the need to investigate actions for additional PFAS chemicals, to develop guidance to address PFOA nad PFOS in surface water, and more.
New Environmental Program Manager Hired at ACWA
ACWA has hired a new Environmental Program Manager, Jasper Hobbs. Jasper comes to ACWA after almost three years as an Environmental Analyst at the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission. Jasper has extensive experience with the Clean Water Act and holds a B.A. in Earth Science from Boston University and a M.S. in Geology from Kansas State University. Jasper will start at ACWA in July.
ACWA ASDWA Water Reuse State Regulators Summit – September 8th 2019
ACWA and ASDWA will be holding a Water Reuse State Regulators Summit prior to Annual WateReuse Symposium. The goal of this workshop is for states to discuss barriers and research needs and for state to state information sharing on water reuse. There is no registration fee associated with this summit and states can register for the WaterReuse Symposium for a discounted rate. To register for this summit or for more information please email Frances Bothfeld.
ACWA Nutrients Permitting Workshop – November 2019
Registration for the November 2019 Nutrients Permitting Workshop located in Alexandria, Virginia at the AlexRenew facility November 5-7, 2019 is live. To register, go here. The workshop will focus on identifying challenges and building solutions regarding water quality standards and permitting for nutrients. To view a draft agenda, go here.
Lodging is available at the Embassy Suites Alexandria Hotel. To reserve your lodging, call direct 703-684-7900 or 1-800-EMBASSY and ask for the Association of Clean Water Administrators group of rooms, or reserve online here.
Annual Meeting 2019
Registration for the August 2019 Annual Meeting located in Austin, Texas at the Hyatt Regency Austin – Lady Bird Lake, August 27 – 29, 2019 is live. To register, go here. This year’s theme “Navigating and Targeting Water Quality Priorities” To view a draft agenda, go here.
Lodging is available at the Hyatt Regency Austin. To reserve your lodging, call 877-803-7534 and ask for the Association of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA) group of rooms, or reserve online here. Cut-off date for guaranteed rooms and rate is August 5, 2019.
ACWA offers 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 465-7179.
Washington Department of Ecology
The Department of the Ecology is looking for a Lead Permit Writer and Facility Manager (Environmental Specialist 4) in the Water Quality Program area. To view and apply for this position, go here.
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
MassDEP seeks applicants for the position of Environmental Analyst IV (EA IV), TMDL Coordinator, within the Bureau of Water Resources (BWR). Under supervision of the DEP Watershed Planning Program (WPP) TMDL Section Chief or designee, the TMDL Coordinator will assist in supporting water quality modeling and interpretation of results for draft and final TMDL projects. TMDLs or alternative plans will be developed to guide both water quality protection measures as well as restoration efforts to ensure management interventions will comply with Water Quality Standards. For more information, see the job posting or visit MassDEP’s website.
How’s My Waterway Workgroup
Wednesday, June 19, 2-3:00 pm ET
For more information, contact Katie Foreman