OECA Finalizes Memorandum to Enhance Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Partnerships with States
In January 2018, OECA issued an Interim Guidance that discussed improving collaboration between the EPA and states on enforcement and compliance assurance. Over the last 18 months EPA has gained experience implementing this interim guidance and has taken public comment on the policy. The final guidance, signed by Assistant Administrator Susan Bodine on July 11, withdraws and replaces the original Interim Guidance. The policy memorandum is divided into three sections: 1) Details requirements for joint planning and effective communication between EPA and states to promote shared accountability; 2) Indicates primary role of states in implementing authorized programs, while acknowledging EPA’s responsibilities when the state does not have the economic or technical capability to take timely and appropriate action and where EPA should take direct federal action; and 3) Sets out the process by which issues that arise under the policy will be elevated. A copy of this 7 page memo can be found here.
Federalism Consultation Begins for VIDA
The consultation period for the recently passed Vessel Incidental Discharge Act will be from July 9th-September 9th 2019. VIDA requires EPA and the USCG to develop two federal rules to address commercial vessel discharges:
- EPA to develop regulations establishing national discharge standards of performance within two years of enactment of VIDA; and
- The USCG to develop corresponding implementing, monitoring, and enforcement regulations two years thereafter.
Upon completion of USCG implementing regulations, VIDA requirements will preempt state and local law. The EPA held a regulatory briefing this week. The slides provided during this session are available here. At any point during the Federalism Consultation Process (July 9 – September 9, 2019), states or local governments may submit comments.
ACWA and ASDWA Submit Comments on the Water Reuse Action Plan
ACWA and ASDWA submitted a joint comment letter on EPA’s draft Water Reuse Action Plan (WRAP). On February 27, 2019, David Ross, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Assistant Administrator for Water, announced that the Agency will facilitate development of the WRAP. The WRAP seeks “to better integrate federal policy and leverage the expertise of both industry and government to ensure the effective use of the Nation’s water resources.” The WRAP is due out in early September. ACWA and ASDWA plan on working with the EPA to ensure States’ opinions and concerns are taken into consideration during the development of the WRAP. The full comment letter is available here and the Federal Register notice is available here.
EPA’s Watershed Management Optimization Support Tool Webinar Series to Begin in Late July
EPA’s Office of Research and Development plans to host a weekly webinar series for water quality professionals to learn how to apply EPA’s Watershed Management Optimization Support Tool v. 3.01 (WMOST). These webinars are designed for those interested in applying WMOST to their own watersheds and communities of interest. More info on WMOST may be found here.
To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the words “WMOST training 2019” in the subject line (preferably by 7/17/19), and include your name, email, and affiliation. These trainings are expected to begin in late July.
Environmental Groups Animal Agriculture Litigation
Last week EPA was sent a letter from several environmental groups notifying the agency of their intent to sue for “failure to perform nondiscretionary duties required by the Clean Water Act…”. In particular, under 33 U.S.C. sec 1314(b) and (g) respectively, EPA failed to annually review, and if appropriate, revise effluent limit guidelines and pretreatment standards for Meat and Poultry Products. This includes slaughterhouses, packing houses, meat cutters and processors, and rendering facilities. As part of the regulatory review, the environment groups indicated they believe that because small facilities have been excluded from updates to the ELGs, approximately 38% of all Meat and Poultry Products facilities that discharge to waters of the U.S. meet standards that are 44 years old. And while EPA in a 2004 rule update “acknowledged that no regulations existed for indirect dischargers, EPA has yet to promulgate any pretreatment standards for the Meat and Poultry Product industry.” The environmental groups point to the “Final 2016 Effluent Guidelines Program Plan,” released May 2, 2018 which concluded more data was needed, yet EPA has failed to act on this conclusion.
Also last week, several environmental groups filed a complaint challenging EPA’s assertions that “exempts Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (“CAFOs”) from reporting toxic releases of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide emanating from animal waste into the air under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (“EPCRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 11004 et seq., and the new Rule – proposed after Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit and finalized just weeks ago – codifies this impermissible exemption.” The July 1 complaint builds on an existing lawsuit that challenges EPA’s publishing of guidance related to animal waste emissions reporting. The environmental groups contend that while Congress passed a provision in the 2018 funding authorization package directing the EPA to exempt livestock reporting requirements from the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, there was no such exemption under EPRA.
Federal Financing For Nutrient Reductions Webinar Posted
The video and audio recording of the June 26 webinar, Federal Financing for Nutrient Reductions: Private Sector Financing Solutions for Nutrient Reductions, is now available here: https://www.epa.gov/waterfinancecenter/innovative-financing-strategies-reducing-nutrients. You will need to scroll down past the June 12 webinar to see the June 26 recording. You can also download a PDF of the slide deck there.
The recording and slides from the July 10 webinar will be posted within a couple of weeks.
Supreme Court Groundwater Case Argument Scheduled
The United States Supreme Court will hear arguments in Hawaii Wildlife Fund v. County of Maui on November 6. 2019. An issue in the case is whether the Clean Water Act’s permitting program applies to pollution that gets into federally regulated surface water after moving through groundwater. In Maui, treated wastewater made its way to the Pacific Ocean after initially being sent into disposal wells.
EPA has argued the Clean Water Act applies only to surface water and pollution that is directly discharged into it. But environmentalists have argued the landmark environmental law applies to any pollutant in surface water, regardless of how it got there.
Annual Meeting 2019 August 27 – 29, 2019
Go now, and reserve your lodging at the Hyatt Regency Austin. Call 877-803-7534 to reserve your lodging by phone and ask for the Association of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA) block of rooms, or reserve online here. Cut-off date for guaranteed rooms and rate is August 5, 2019.
Early Bird Registration for Annual Meeting 2019 located in Austin, Texas at the Hyatt Regency Austin – Lady Bird Lake is available. To register, go here. This year’s theme is “Navigating and Targeting Water Quality Priorities.” To view the latest draft agenda, go here.
All Annual Meeting activities are included in your registration. Please remember to confirm your attendance.
2019 National NPDES Permit Writers Workshop – September 2019
Meeting SOLD OUT !! ACWA is no longer able to accept new registrations. If you have any questions, please contact Sean Rolland.
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.