EPA Recognizes Excellence and Innovation in Clean Water and Drinking Water Infrastructure
On Monday, EPA recognized 30 clean water and 25 drinking water infrastructure projects for excellence and innovation within the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) programs. These exemplary projects showcase water quality improvements and public health protections that can be achieved when the federal government, states, municipalities and local utilities work together. EPA’s Performance and Innovation in the SRF Creating Environmental Success (PISCES) program celebrates innovation demonstrated by CWSRF programs and assistance recipients. Each participating program nominated an innovative project that improved water quality, provided public health or economic benefits; and/or encouraged sustainability in the marketplace. Thirty projects by state or local governments, public utilities, and private entities were recognized by the 2019 PISCES program. To see the full list of 2019 PISCES recognized projects visit the EPA website: https://www.epa.gov/cwsrf/pisces.
PFAS (1): EPA Issues RFA on PFAS Impacts to Water in Rural, Agricultural Areas
On Friday, EPA announced that $4.8m will be made available for research on PFAS impacts to rural and agricultural areas, as part of research commitments made in the PFAS Action Plan and a February memo prioritizing action in rural and agricultural areas.
EPA seeks to understand occurrence, fate, and transport in water sources used by rural communities and agricultural operations and new/improved PFAS treatment methods suitable for small drinking and wastewater systems. Of note, specific research questions include:
- How do serial biosolids applications impact PFAS concentrations and accumulation over time?
- What are the impacts of factors such as soil type, crop type, and landscape traits, such as topography, that may influence PFAS concentration and accumulation?
- How do we treat and clean up PFAS from water, soil and biosolids used in agricultural settings?
In a busy week on the Hill, House legislation titled “PFAS Action Act” was amended and cleared the Energy & Commerce Committee. The bill originally designated PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under CERCLA, as EPA is currently in the process of considering; the amended version requires many other actions, including:
- EPA publish interim guidance within 1 year on the destruction and disposal of PFOA and PFAS or materials containing them, including landfill leachate; soil and biosolids; and membranes, carbon, and other wastes from water treatment processes.
- At the request of a state, requires federal facilities establish cooperative agreements within 1 year that utilize Congressionally-mandated terms related to testing and remediation of PFAS in waters and other media.
- EPA determine, within 5 years, how it will classify the remainder of PFAS (i.e. CERCLA, TSCA, etc.).
- Establish a PFOA/PFOS MCL.
- Ban manufacture of any perfluoroalkyl or polyfuoroalkyl substances.
It is not yet clear whether the package will move forward and replace PFAS provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), or scrapped in favor of PFAS provisions currently in the NDAA. The NDAA’s PFAS provisions currently include CERCLA designation of all PFAS as well as Clean Water Act amendments addressing PFAS discharges to drinking water source waters. Neither the NDAA or PFAS Action Act approach has the support of both chambers of Congress, though they have committed to acting on PFAS this year.
Separately, Department of Defense indicated that it will adapt to any PFAS cleanup limits established by EPA, even if more stringent than current DOD guidance. Currently, DOD’s CERCLA groundwater cleanup guidance aligns with EPA’s proposed groundwater cleanup guidance when both PFOA and PFOS are present at a site, but uses significantly less-stringent screening limits than EPA’s when only PFOA or only PFOS is detected. DOD said this week that the discrepancy is because EPA guidance is draft, and that any final EPA guidance, whether health advisory limit or groundwater cleanup guidance, would be adapted into DOD guidance.
On the same day, DOD indicated that its original estimate of 401 sites contaminated by PFAS was underestimated, with a more accurate number to be released in its interim PFAS task force report due later this month. DOD also launched a new website about its PFAS activities: https://www.defense.gov/Explore/Spotlight/pfas/.
Comment Period Extended: Water Quality Trading Notification and Request For Comment
EPA has extended the comment period for the notification and request for comment, Water Quality Trading Under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Program. Comments are now due December 18, 2019.
As a reminder, this 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, specifically discussing TMDLs, compliance schedules, variances, and in-lieu fee program options and considerations.
For more information visit www.epa.gov/npdes/water-quality-trading.
EPA FY 19 Environmental Justice Report Shows Notable Progress in Vulnerable Communities
On Wednesday, EPA released its Fiscal Year 2019 Environmental Justice Progress Report highlighting the agency’s progress in advancing environmental justice for minority, low-income, tribal, and indigenous communities across the country.
“Under the Trump Administration, at EPA, we remain committed to ensuring that environmental justice is integrated into EPA’s programs and activities to strengthen environmental and public health protections for low-income, minority, indigenous, and disadvantaged communities that are more likely to live near contaminated lands or be disproportionately impacted by environmental hazards,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
The FY 2019 Report describes how the Agency is working to meet the needs of vulnerable communities to address disproportionate environmental impacts, health disparities and economic distress, including, but not limited to, the following examples:
- Selected 50 new small EJ grants recipients in FY 2019 to receive $1.5 million in grant funding, with half of the grants going to communities located in or impacting Opportunity Zones.
- Provided technical assistance to communities affected by Superfund sites so that they could meaningfully contribute to the cleanup process, including 43 communities that received Technical Assistance Grants (TAGs) and 37 communities that received support through the Technical Assistance Services for Communities (TASC) Program.
- Collaborated with state partners to develop online trainings on approaches to integrate EJ in state policies and programs, reaching over 4,000 people representing government agencies in all fifty states, Puerto Rico, Guam and the District of Columbia.
- Provided trainings and technical assistance to approximately 40 states agencies and organizations, as well as local agencies and tribes, across all ten EPA Regions, on how to proactively address their civil rights obligations.
You can read about these and many other accomplishments including EPA making notable progress in accelerating the remediation of Superfund sites to address environmental risk, in the FY 2019 Report.
Senate Passes Spending Bill
ACWA Staff will be away from the office over the holiday.
Watersheds Committee Call – 11/21/19
The Watersheds Committee continued its series of webinars focusing on the 303(d) VISION with a discussion of the Prioritization and Assessment goals. This webinar featured examples of how states tackled these goals and focused on “what has worked” and “what can be improved” through the VISION process so far. Next month’s call will continue this trend with a discussion of the Alternatives goal.
ACWA is collecting any resources and shareable materials on these topics. If you have something you are willing to share, please contact Jasper Hobbs.
ACWA joins Coalition Letter on 401 Certification
On Tuesday, ACWA joined a coalition of state associations to send a letter to Chairman John Barasso (R-WY) and Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-DE) on S. 1087, the Water Quality Certification Improvement Act of 2019. The coalition letter was spearheaded by the Western Governors Association and includes ten other associations, including ACWA. You can view the letter here.
2020 National SNC NCI Symposium – January 2020
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 next week. Further details about this meeting can be found on ACWA’s website. https://www.acwa-us.org/event/2020-national-snc-nci-symposium-dallas-texas/
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 a national meeting specifically organized by state and federal regulators for EPA and state program staff representatives. Attendees include state managers, permit writers, inspectors, 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/
Mid-Year Meeting 2020 – March 17 – 18, 2020
Reserve your lodging for Mid-Year, use group code MWC, reserve online here.
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.
Arizona Department of Water Resources
ADWR is seeking a Water Resources Specialist III for the Surface Water Section. This position is responsible for the processing, expediting and approving and/or rejecting surface water right applications and claims in accordance with Department policies, rules and procedures and State and Federal statutes and rules. The person in this position will also research, compile, analyze, interpret and integrate water resource management data through a variety of sources and other program areas; participate in complex inter-departmental projects that requires multi-disciplinary expertise and written and oral reports and letters. This includes investigating and resolving water resource management issues of a complex, sensitive and visible nature and preparation of reports with recommendations that may impact multiple water resource management program areas. For more information and how to apply, go here. This position will close on December 13, 2019.
ADWR is also seeking a Water Resources Specialist IV for the Surface Water Section. This position is responsible for the processing, expediting and approving and/or rejecting surface water right applications and claims, with an emphasis on instream flow and sever and transfer applications. Responsible for ensuring adherence of surface water right applications and claims to Department policies, rules and procedures and State and Federal statutes and rules. The person in this position will also research, compile, analyze, interpret and integrate water resource management data through a variety of sources and other program areas; participate in complex inter-departmental projects that requires multi-disciplinary expertise and written and oral reports and letters. This includes investigating and resolving water resource management issues of a complex, sensitive and visible nature and preparation of reports with recommendations that may impact multiple water resource management program areas. For more information and how to apply, go here. This position will close on December 13, 2019.
District Department of Energy & Environment
The DC Department of Energy and Environment is hiring a Supervisory Environmental Protection Specialist (Assoc Director). This position is located in the Natural Resources Administration, Regulatory Review Division. The incumbent in this position serves as the Associate Director, with responsibility for the day-to-day operation and administration of the division, which includes the Water Resource Protection and Mitigation Branch and the Building Permit and Plan Review Branch. To review and apply for the position, visit the District’s career website at https://careers.dc.gov and in the search area please enter 9073. This position will be closing December 8, 2019.
Nebraska Department of Environmental Energy is seeking candidates to fill a Nonpoint Source Project Manager position in its Lincoln, Nebraska location. This position closes November 26, 2019. For information regarding this opportunity, go here.