EPA Releases National Study of Nutrient Removal and Secondary Technologies Screener Survey to POTWs
EPA has initiated a multi-phase study to showcase nutrient removal at publicly owned treatment works (“POTWs”). The goals of the study are to establish a nationwide baseline for nutrient removal at municipal wastewater treatment plants, and to characterize lower cost options, such as repurposing existing equipment or changing operation and management practices, that result in improved nutrient control.
EPA released the initial screener survey questionnaire to POTWs on October 22, 2019. For more information, go here: https://www.epa.gov/eg/potw-nutrient-survey.
EPA Releases New ELG Plan
This week, EPA released Preliminary Effluent Guidelines Program Plan 14. The plan discusses the ongoing rulemaking and associated schedule for the Steam Electric Power Generating Category. EPA has concluded that no additional categories warrant new or revised effluent guideline regulations at this time. Preliminary Plan 14 provides updates on ongoing industrial category studies:
- Electrical and Electronic Components Category Detailed Study
- Oil and Gas Extraction Wastewater Management Study
- Petroleum Refining Category Detailed Study.
Other ongoing analyses discussed in Preliminary Plan 14 include an analysis and ranking of nutrient discharges in industrial discharges, and an analysis of available data on industrial sources and discharges of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These efforts aim to identify the extent to which these pollutants are discharged from industrial point sources.
Three new activities are introduced in Preliminary Plan 14:
- A new technology review process will help EPA gather information on current industrial wastewater treatment capabilities.
- A new economic screening analysis will enable EPA to establish an initial prioritization of industries based on economic factors.
- A PFAS Multi-Industry Study designed to identify industrial sources of PFAS in surface waters. This study was initially announced as part of EPA’s PFAS Action Plan.
Preliminary Plan 14 provides details on databases that EPA is developing in support of the Effluent Guidelines Program:
- The Effluent Limitations Guidelines Database will enable users to quickly, systematically, and comprehensively query existing ELG regulations.
- Additionally, EPA is continuing to populate the Industrial Wastewater Treatment Technology Database.
For additional information, please contact Phillip Flanders, Project Manager, at 202-566-8323.
EPA Announces New 5-Year Plan to Accelerate Restoration of the Great Lakes
EPA unveiled an updated and aggressive action plan under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). The GLRI Action Plan III will guide the actions of federal agencies and their many partners over the next 5 years to protect and restore the Great Lakes. The agency also announced $11 million in funding for grants to support GLRI projects in Michigan. Under GLRI’s former Action Plans I and II, GLRI accomplished the formal delisting of the Presque Isle Bay (Penn.), Deer Lake (Mich.), and White Lake (Mich.) Areas of Concern (AOCs) and moved a number of the remaining AOCs closer to delisting through the removal of numerous environmental impairments. GLRI resources have also been used for projects that have prevented more than one million pounds of phosphorus from entering the Great Lakes, reducing the excess phosphorus that contributes to harmful algal blooms in western Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay, and Green Bay. To read the GLRI Action Plan III and related information visit: https://www.glri.us/.
EPA’s WIFIA Program Invites 38 Projects to Apply for Water Infrastructure Loans
EPA announced that 38 new projects in 18 states are being invited to apply for Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans. Together, the selected borrowers will apply for WIFIA loans totaling approximately $6 billion to help finance over $12 billion in water infrastructure investments and create almost 200,000 jobs.
EPA’s WIFIA loans will allow communities across the country to implement projects to address national water priorities – including providing for clean and safe drinking water by reducing exposure to lead and emerging contaminants, addressing aging water infrastructure and developing water recycling and reuse projects. Specifically, eight of the selected projects are water reuse or recycling projects, 11 projects will reduce lead or emerging drinking water contaminants, and 33 will address aging infrastructure. EPA received 51 letters of interest from both public and private entities in response to the 2019 WIFIA Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA). Six prospective borrowers that submitted letters of interest in response to a previous WIFIA Notice of Funding Availability resubmitted them for 2019 and have been invited to proceed in the 2019 funding round. Eight borrowers who have already received a WIFIA loan or are in the process of closing a loan have been invited to apply for additional financing this round. WIFIA is also expanding its geographic scope by inviting entities from seven states that had not previously received WIFIA funding: Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, North Dakota, Utah, and Virginia. To learn more about the 38 projects that are invited to apply, visit: https://www.epa.gov/wifia/wifia-selected-projects.
EPA Proposes Routine CWA Analytical Methods Update Rule
This week EPA formally proposed, and began accepting public comments on, the 2019 Proposed Methods Update Rule (MUR). The Clean Water Act compels EPA to promulgate approved test procedures for the analysis of regulated chemical, physical, and biological components of wastewater. These test procedures, which are required for reporting by NPDES permittees, are typically codified at 40 CFR 136 and periodically updated.
EPA considers the 2019 MUR updates to be routine and is proposing adoption of the revisions to improve data quality, update methods to keep current with technology advances, and provide the regulated community with greater flexibility. EPA is proposing: (a) revised EPA methods; (b) new or revised methods published by voluntary consensus standard bodies, such as ASTM International and the Standard Methods Committee; (c) new or updated methods developed by the U.S. Geological Survey; (d) methods reviewed under the Alternate Test Procedures program; and, (e) minor changes to quality assurance and quality control within individual methods. EPA is accepting public comments on the proposal through December 23, 2019. To learn more, visit EPA’s MUR website or the Federal Register. Public comments can be submitted at Regulations.gov, Docket Number EPA-HQ-OW-2018-0826.
Webinar Title: Troubleshooting Noncompliance at the Smallest Wastewater Treatment Plants – Part 2 of 2 (Solids Separation and Disinfection)
Time: November 13, 2019 1-2:30 Eastern
Audience: Wastewater Treatment Plant Operators, Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) technical assistance providers, permit writers and compliance staff from states, tribes and US EPA. While all plant operators may find this useful, it is geared more toward smaller systems with flow of less than 1 million gallons per day.
Presenter: Jon van Dommelen, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Compliance Assistance Unit. US EPA NDPES Expert Q&A
Support: Louis Salguero from US EPA Region 4’s Municipal Compliance Assistance Section.
Description: US EPA is presenting a series of technical assistance webinars to highlight best practices for addressing noncompliance at small waste water treatment plants. This training, which is for owners and operators of small wastewater treatment plants, was originally presented in 2016 by Ohio’s Package Plant Initiative. That initiative focused on small mechanical treatment systems that were in significant noncompliance with their NPDES permits. Attendees will learn how to fine-tune their systems and troubleshoot common non-compliance issue using cheap, easy, and effective process control tools and methods to return their wastewater treatment plants to compliance. This is the second of two webinars on this topic, that will cover separation issues (suspended solids noncompliance), disinfection issues (fecal coliform/E. coli and residual chlorine noncompliance). The first Part, presented on October 17, included an introduction to Ohio’s Package Plant Initiative and explained conversion problems (i.e., ammonia noncompliance).
References: Activated Sludge Process Control and Troubleshooting Training Manual, which includes a self diagnostic troubleshooting chart: https://epa.ohio.gov/Portals/29/documents/CAU/Activated%20Sludge%20Process%20Control%20and%20Troubleshooting%20Manual.pdf
New Environmental Analyst Hired at ACWA
This week, ACWA welcomed Jake Adler to our staff as an Environmental Analyst. Jake will focus primarily on Monitoring, Standards and Assessment work, as well as activities associated with the recently released Water Reuse Action Plan.
Jake comes to us from EPA where he was a Water Technology, Innovation and Sustainability Research Fellow in the Office of Science and Technology. In this position he served as a project manager on the Water Reuse Action Plan and performed research on wastewater resource recovery, green infrastructure, advanced monitoring technologies, and emerging wastewater management and regulatory approaches. Prior to EPA, Jake worked in the City Manager’s Office in Loveland, CO. Jake received his undergraduate degree from Colorado State University in 2014 and holds a Masters in Political Science, Environmental Policy and Public Administration.
ACWA Cooling Water Steam Electric Conference Call
This week the State/EPA Cooling Water Steam Electric Workgroup held a call to hear more about the Electric Power Research Institute’s research priorities. EPRI is a 501(c)3 non-profit that conducts energy and environment research, development, and demonstration projects for the benefit of the public in the United States and internationally. EPRI has collaborated with the electricity sector and its stakeholders since 1972 and their membership has grown to represent 90% of the electric utility revenue generated in the United States and extends to participation in more than 35 countries.
The focus area for this call was on EPRI Fish Protection Research. Types of research they have done in the past include hydraulic zone of influence, impingement and entrainment databases, closed cycle cooling costs, benefits, environmental impacts, evaluating technology alternatives, engineering practicability and biological benefits certain technologies (traveling screens, fine-mesh, coarse-mesh, and wedgewire screens, barrier nets, behavioral deterrents), variable speed drives and flow reduction, use of DNA for identification, social costs and benefits, and biological modeling (equivalent adults, biomass foregone, lost fisheries yield, etc.).
Fish related reports just published this last year include:
- Survival of Ichthyoplankton Entrained or Excluded on Fine-mesh Screens at Monroe Power Plant
- Fifth Thermal Ecology and Regulation Workshop Proceedings
- Air Bubble Curtains for Early Life Stage Fish Entrainment Reduction, Proof-of-Concept Testing
- Effect of Intermittent Traveling Water Screen Operation on Impinged Fish Survival
- Biological Feasibility of Routing Fish Returns to Thermal Discharges
- Partial-depth Guidance of Alosine Downstream Migrants
Ongoing research topics:
- Field Evaluation of Continuous vs. Intermittent Screen Rotation on Fish Survival
- Traveling Screen Fish Returns to Thermal Plumes
- Entrainment Survival vs. Fine-mesh Screen Survival
- Reconciling BIC with Modern Ecological Principles
- Must and May Factor Analysis at Facilities <125 MGD
- Thermal Preferences of Fish Inferred from Field Observations
EPRI is currently identifying new topics for research and is interested in hearing from state regulators on areas of interest. If you have such an idea, or want a copy of this presentation, please contact Sean Rolland.
ACWA Submits Comment Letter on 401 Certification Proposed Rule
This week, ACWA submitted its comments responsive to EPA’s proposed rule, Updating Regulations on Water Quality Certification. You can view ACWA’s letter here. ACWA’s letter was drafted with the assistance of many ACWA members in order to reflect the national perspective. Thanks to all of those who assisted in this effort.
Save the Date! – 2020 National SNC NCI Symposium
The 2020 National SNC NCI Symposium will take place January 22-24, 2020 in Dallas, Texas. The goal of this meeting will be to help support states and EPA regions with their efforts to identify and implement activities and actions associated with reducing noncompliance, with particular emphasis on significant non-compliance (SNC). As most of you know, EPA is undertaking a new National Compliance Initiative with the goal of reducing the rate of SNC with an additional focus on identifying and addressing the worst SNC violators. Potential session topics at this meeting may include improving data quality, reducing DMR nonsubmittal, improved understanding of incomplete DMR data transfer, getting permit limits into ICIS, focusing in on small POTW challenges and opportunities for improvement, an overview of current resources available, identification of future training tools and needs, with a large portion of the presentations dedicated to highlighting state and regional SNC success stories. The agenda is currently under development and a draft should be available by late October. Please contact Sean Rolland if you are interested in attending this meeting. More details on availability of potential travel support will be available in the coming weeks.
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/
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.
The ACWA room block at Embassy Suites Alexandria Hotel is full. If you need to make a hotel reservation, contact Mark Patrick McGuire for other hotel options in the area.
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 is currently recruiting folks to joined a planning committee to help craft the meeting agenda. Contact Mark Patrick McGuire if you are interested.
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Oregon DEQ is hiring for a Water Quality Program Analyst (Program Analyst 3). This position will provide leadership and coordination for the program development and improvement efforts associated with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit issuance, Water Quality Standards, Water Quality Assessments, and Total Maximum Daily Load programs. You will focus on those tasks and activities that are cross-program in nature, identifying solutions and programmatic approaches that result in more efficient program operations and effectiveness. You will build collaborative partnerships by developing relationships and strategies with internal water quality subprograms, internal implementation staff, regulated entities, community organizations, and other water quality stakeholders. You will also assist with strategic program implementation and planning for staff and managers; develop materials for training and documentation to ensure staff and managers have documented information regarding procedures, policies, and program decisions; and help evaluate and establish priorities based on the current needs and objectives to accomplish set goals and milestones. We will be accepting applications through November 3. For more information and how to apply, go here.
The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) is in search of a Manager, Media & Communications. This position will serve as NACWA’s main point of contact with all media outlets, cultivates relationships with media to advance NACWA’s advocacy goals, plans and implements media campaigns. NACWA is a premier trade association representing the nation’s public clean water utilities and this position plays a vital role in the execution of the Association’s strategic advocacy. For more information and how to apply, go here.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is currently seeking candidates to fill its State Program Administrator Principal, Water Quality, working title, Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan Coordinator position at its St. Paul location. This lead position will be responsible for managing the development, implementation and evaluation of the State of Minnesota’s Nitrogen Fertilizer Management plan (NFMP) which directs the response to preventing and mitigating high levels of nitrate in groundwater from inorganic fertilizer sources. Policy development, public facilitation and practical problem solving using both voluntary and regulatory approaches will be required. Nitrates from agricultural sources are one of the greatest threats to groundwater quality in Minnesota and response activities have the potential for affecting the methods and economics for row crop farming which is a primary economic driver for much of rural Minnesota. This position will have a direct impact on both the technical methods and economic aspects of row crop farming in Minnesota. This position closes November 18, 2019. To apply, go here.
Washington Department of Ecology currently has several open positions available.
Be sure to check out other opportunities on ACWA’s jobs page.
ACWA Informational Webinar with EPA on National Study of Nutrient Removal and Secondary Technologies
Monday, October 28, 2019, 2:00 – 3:00 PM EST
For call in information, contact Mark Patrick McGuire