Administration Repeals 2015 Clean Water Rule Defining “Waters of the United States”
This week, EPA and the Department of the Army published a final rule to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule: Definition of “Waters of the United States” (“2015 Rule”), which amended portions of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), and to restore the regulatory text that existed prior to the 2015 Rule. The agencies will implement the pre-2015 Rule regulations informed by applicable agency guidance documents and consistent with Supreme Court decisions and longstanding agency practice.
With this final rule, the regulations defining the scope of federal CWA jurisdiction will be those portions of the CFR as they existed before the amendments promulgated in the 2015 Rule.
To view the rule, go here: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2019-09/documents/wotus_rin-2040-af74_final_frn_prepub2.pdf. For more information, go here: https://www.epa.gov/wotus-rule/definition-waters-united-states-recodification-pre-existing-rules-pre-publication-version.
EPA Seeks Comment and Commitment on Draft National Water Reuse Action Plan
EPA announced the release of a draft National Water Reuse Action Plan (WRAP) at the 34th Annual Water Reuse Symposium in San Diego, California. This plan identifies priority actions and stresses the leadership and collaboration that is needed between governmental and non-governmental organizations to implement these actions.
Links to the draft and appendices may be found here:
Once the WRAP is on the federal register, there will be a 90-day comment period. The plan includes 46 action items, and EPA is looking for volunteers to lead certain actions through the comments.
5th Circuit Court Supports EPA on Steam Electric Rule Delay
On August 28, 2019 the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit handed down a unanimous decision supporting EPA’s authority to postpone for two years compliance dates associated with flue gas desulfurization (FGD) wastewater and bottom ash transport water. A consortium of environmental groups challenged EPA on this postponement. The court concluded “EPA had statutory authority to pass this tailored rule, the agency explained its decision adequately, its decision was reasonable, and it was thus neither arbitrary nor capricious.” The petition for review was denied. In September 2017, EPA announced plans to revisit and potentially revise some of the best available technology economically achievable (BAT) effluent limits found in the original 2015 Steam Electric ELG Rule. As part of this announcement, EPA had also decided to postpone two compliance dates, which the Court of Appeals has now affirmed was allowable. A copy of the decision can be found here.
EPA Seeks Comment on New Policy Proposals to Facilitate Market-Based Opportunities to Improve Water Quality
Last week, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced an important step to help promote the use of market-based approaches to efficiently and cost-effectively improve water quality across the nation. Speaking at the Chesapeake Bay Executive Council meeting, Administrator Wheeler announced several new policy proposals that could simplify and give more flexibility to states, tribes and stakeholders seeking to develop market-based programs or to generate or use nutrient reduction credits.
“EPA is proposing updates to our water quality trading policy that would help state and local partners take advantage of new technologies or develop market-based programs for improving water quality,” said EPA Administrator, Andrew Wheeler. “Building on efforts already underway at the state, local and tribal level, EPA is helping facilitate the use of innovative tools and technologies that will deliver critical water quality improvements at a lower cost.”
The action seeks comment on policy options related to one of the six market-based principles identified in EPA’s February 6, 2019 Water Quality Trading Policy memo—encouraging simplicity and flexibility in implementing baseline concepts. The proposal seeks comment on approaches to clarify and provide flexibility for nonpoint sources to generate credits for use in water quality trading.
Under the Clean Water Act, water quality trading is an option for those seeking compliance with a discharge permit. Under trading programs, permitted facilities facing higher pollution control costs may be able to meet their regulatory obligations by purchasing environmentally equivalent (or superior) pollution reductions from other sources at lower cost. While EPA has long interpreted the Clean Water Act to allow for pollutant reductions from water quality trading, the practice has not been used to its fullest potential.
EPA invites the public to consider the policy options presented in today’s notice and provide written comment on those options and others that may help promote market-based approaches to water quality improvements. EPA will host a public meeting to facilitate discussion on this important aspect of market-based programs, including water quality trading, that can be used to cost-effectively achieve water quality improvements.
For more information visit www.epa.gov/npdes/water-quality-trading.
On Feb. 6, 2019, EPA released the Water Quality Trading Policy memo to modernize the agency’s water quality trading policies to leverage emerging technologies and facilitate broader adoption of market-based programs. The memo identified five additional market-based principles that EPA encourages policy makers and stakeholders to consider in developing market-based programs:
- States, tribes and stakeholders should consider implementing water quality trading and other market-based programs on a watershed scale.
- EPA encourages the use of adaptive strategies for implementing market-based programs.
- Water quality credits and offsets may be banked for future use.
- A single project may generate credits for multiple markets.
- Financing opportunities exist to assist with deployment of nonpoint land use practices.
The memo reiterates the agency’s support for water quality trading and other market-based programs to maximize pollutant reduction efforts and improve water quality. These actions are part of a larger collaboration with stakeholders across the country to better coordinate and focus federal resources on some of the nation’s most challenging water resource concerns, including addressing excess nutrients in waterways.
EPA Updates Strategic Plan to Emphasize Current Environmental and Policy Goals
EPA has posted an update to its FY 2018-2022 Strategic Plan. While the overall plan remains largely unchanged, the Agency has revised the language of the strategic goals in the plan to better reflect EPA’s environmental and policy goals.
The updated goal statements are:
- Goal 1: A Cleaner, Healthier Environment – Deliver a cleaner, safer, and healthier environment for all Americans and future generations by carrying out the Agency’s core mission.
- Previously stated as: Core Mission – Deliver real results to provide Americans with clean air, land, and water, and ensure chemical safety.
- Goal 2: More Effective Partnerships: Provide certainty to states, localities, tribal nations, and the regulated community in carrying out shared responsibilities and communicating results to all Americans.
- Previously stated as: Cooperative Federalism – Rebalance the power between Washington and the states to create tangible environmental results for the American people.
- Goal 3: Greater Certainty, Compliance, and Effectiveness – Increase certainty, compliance, and effectiveness by applying the rule of law to achieve more efficient and effective agency operations, service delivery, and regulatory relief.
- Previously stated as: Rule of Law and Process– Administer the law as Congress intended, to refocus the Agency on its statutory obligations under the law.
EPA’s FY 2018-2022 EPA Strategic Plan describes how the agency will accomplish its mission to protect human health and the environment, provide the measures we will use to evaluate our success, and communicate the Administrator’s priorities. The Agency uses the plan routinely as a management tool to guide the Agency’s path forward, tracking progress and assessing and addressing risks and challenges that could potentially interfere with EPA’s ability to accomplish its goals.
EPA originally issued its FY 2018-2022 Strategic Plan in February 2018. The previous version of the plan can be found at: https://www.epa.gov/planandbudget/archive. Significant changes to this version of the plan include removal of references to cooperative federalism and the rule of law.
EPA to Hold Water Modeling Workshop in Dallas, TX : October 29 – November 1, 2019
EPA’s Water Modeling Workgroup has announced a workshop on exploring and applying surface water modeling tools. This four-day workshop is for program staff from EPA, states, tribes, and territories who want to learn more about surface water quality modeling and how these tools can be used to support their program activities.
The workshop format includes a pre-workshop hands-on training (Monday, October 28 from 1:00 – 4:00 pm), morning plenary sessions, and four afternoon break-out session tracks (HSPF hands-on training track, WASP hands-on training track, model overview track, and model managers track). The workshop agenda is available here.
All workshop sessions will take place at the EPA Region 6 Office (Renaissance Tower, 1201 Elm Street, Dallas, TX). https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/visiting-epas-region-6-office-dallas
To attend, please register here.
If you have questions about the workshop, please contact Kellie DuBay: firstname.lastname@example.org
Environment Subcommittee Hearing on PFAS Contamination and the Need for Corporate Accountability
On Tuesday, September 10, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment, Rep. Harley Rouda, held a hearing on “The Devil They Knew: PFAS Contamination and the Need for Corporate Accountability, Part III.” This hearing was a follow up to the subcommittee hearing on July 24, 2019, which focused on the human impact of industrial contamination of PFAS chemicals and steps state governments are taking to hold industry accountable for their past efforts to conceal the science linking PFAS chemicals to health risks. To learn more, and to watch the hearing, go here.
SepticSmart Week 2019
SepticSmart Week 2019 is next week, September 16-20! EPA and the Decentralized MOU Partners are hosting a webinar dedicated to SepticSmart Week, highlighting state and local examples of outreach activities. The webinar will also feature an overview of SepticSmart Week including highlights from last year, and some of the outreach products you can use to celebrate the week in your communities.
To register for the webinar, please click the following link:
Five-Star Urban Grants Award $1.7 Million to Help Restore Urban Waters and Streams
On August 28, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), with support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), announced grants totaling $1.7 million under NFWF’s Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program. The grants support public-private partnerships that help restore wildlife habitat and urban waters across the country. To view the announcement, and to see the full list of 2019 projects, go here.
State Environmental Justice Webinar on Rural Water Issues and California’s Human Right to Water
Learn about the policies, analytical tools and resources being used to implement California’s Human Right to Water law. US EPA’s State EJ Training Webinar on “Rural Water Issues: Progress and Challenges in Implementing California’s Human Right to Water” will take place on October 8 at 1:00-2:30 pm EDT. It will focus on how California is developing and implementing a Human Right to Water Framework to secure safe, accessible and affordable drinking water for overburdened and disadvantaged communities, particularly those in rural areas. The webinar will discuss progress and challenges, including those related to climate change.
The panel will include:
- E. Joaquin Esquivel, Chair, California Water Resources Control Board;
- Susana De Anda, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Community Water Center; and
- Dr. Carolina Balazs, Research Scientist, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, CalEPA.
2020 National Stormwater Roundtable Planning
This week, ACWA staff sent out a request email to states, interstates, territories and EPA asking for topical ideas for the 2020 National Stormwater Roundtable agenda. If you are interested in presenting at the meeting or serving on the Agenda Planning Committee, please contact Sean Rolland. Likewise, if believe travel support would help your state be able to send someone to the meeting, please send in a travel request by September 27, 2019 with an estimate of costs for each category (airfare, hotel, food per diem, local travel, etc.). Once all of the requests come in, ACWA will determine how much support each state can receive. For more details on 2020 National Stormwater Roundtable, please visit our website at https://www.acwa-us.org/event/2020-national-stormwater-roundtable/.
Version 2.0 of Nutrients Tracker Released to States
ACWA is proud to announce the official release of the Nutrient Reduction Progress Tracker 2.0 – 2019 (the “Tracker”).
For some background, the Nutrients Working Group (“NWG”), a partnership between ACWA, EPA, and ASDWA, began work in 2014 to identify a set of measures that demonstrate progress toward nutrient reduction in the nation’s waters. States recognized that while there was a national metric tracking state adoption of numeric nitrogen and phosphorus criteria for lakes, estuaries, and flowing waters, there was an opportunity to also measure the myriad of other approaches states take to reduce nutrient pollution.
The Nutrient Reduction Progress Tracker Version 1.0 – 2017 was the culmination of that effort. The NWG released a Report in March 2018 summarizing the data received.
The Nutrients Reduction Progress Tracker Version 2.0 – 2019 follows the 2017 version, seeking to both track state progress on nutrients pollution reduction efforts since 2017 and also seek more detail on state programs.
ACWA asks that your state complete the Tracker on SurveyMonkey by December 6, 2019. ACWA will then review the results and publish a report by March 2020. As you will see in the Tracker, some answers are to be provided by EPA. ACWA will distribute EPA’s data for state review upon availability.
You may access the Tracker here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ACWATracker2019.
If you would like a fillable .pdf to assist in your efforts, you may access that here: Nutrient_Reduction_Progress_Tracker_2.0_-_2019.
For assistance in filling out the Tracker, please consult ACWA’s FAQs here: Nutrient_Reduction_Progress_Tracker_2.0_-_2019_FAQ.
If you have any other questions regarding this effort, please contact Mark Patrick McGuire or 202-756-0604.
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. There are only 10 rooms left in the ACWA room block, so please get make your reservations ASAP!
2020 National Stormwater Roundtable – February 2020
The 2020 National Stormwater Roundtable will be held in San Antonio, Texas on February 4 – 6, 2020, supports implementation of federal and state municipal, industrial, and construction stormwater programs nationwide by sharing best management practices, showcasing innovative state programs and initiatives, highlighting new technologies, facilitating discussion on national program enhancements and improvements, identifying state resource needs including tools, training and guidance, and proposing solutions to challenges and barriers faced by the regulators and other stakeholders. The Stormwater Roundtable is national meeting specifically organized by state and federal regulators for EPA and state program staff representatives. Attendees include state managers, permit writers, inspectors, and compliance staff involved in regulating stormwater, EPA Headquarter and Regional staff involved in stormwater regulation, and partnering state and federal agency staff that provide technical and/or regulatory assistance to the stormwater program. Future updates for this meeting can be found on ACWA’s webpage – https://www.acwa-us.org/event/2020-national-stormwater-roundtable/
2020 National Pretreatment Meeting – SAVE THE DATE!
The 2020 National Pretreatment Meeting will take place May 11-13 in Nashville, Tennessee. Though the agenda is currently in development, tentatively, Monday, May 11 will be a series of training sessions from 1-5; Tuesday, May 12 will be an all-day states and EPA-only meeting; and Wednesday, May 13 will be an all-day meeting partnered with NACWA at the Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt University.
ACWA Legal Affairs Committee Quarterly Call
Thursday, September 26 at 2:00 pm Eastern
For agenda and call-in information, contact Mark Patrick McGuire