ACWA Joins Coalition in Offering Potential Sec. 401 Process Improvements
ACWA, along with WGA, NCSL, ASWM, WSWC and CSG West, developed a set of potential section 401 process improvements to share with EPA and other federal agencies as they consider efforts to modify or reform state water quality certification authority under the CWA. The group developed a list of potential process reforms that would reduce the instances of certification delays or denials, while preserving the balance of state and federal powers in the implementation of the CWA. These recommendations are intended to provide federal regulatory bodies positive suggestions for measures that could strengthen the efficiency and efficacy of CWA Section 401 programs by clarifying responsibilities of parties regarding consultation and better defining information required by project proponents in the application process. These measures are intended to help promote better, more efficient permitting processes in a manner that is consistent with our clear and unambiguous position that state authority must be preserved under any federal action affecting the CWA Section 401 program. The recommendations also address several aspects of cooperative federalism and offer significant opportunities to strengthen the state-federal relationship.
Maui case heads to Supreme Court
This week, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund. The Supreme Court order states that the case will be limited to Question 1 presented in the petition: Whether the CWA requires a permit when pollutants originate from a point source but are conveyed to navigable waters by a nonpoint source, such as groundwater.
The Ninth Circuit decision on appeal in the Maui case established a specific test to determine when the CWA applies to discharges to groundwater. The Ninth Circuit explained that for a discharge of pollutants to groundwater to violate the CWA, (1) there must be a discharge of pollutants from a point source, (2) the pollutants must be “fairly traceable” from a point source to a navigable water such that the discharge is the functional equivalent of a discharge into a navigable water, and (3) the pollutant levels reaching a navigable water are more than de minimis. In their decision in Upstate Forever, et al., v. Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, the Fourth Circuit ruled similarly to the Ninth Circuit in Maui stating, “We do not hold that the CWA covers discharges to groundwater itself. Instead, we hold only that an alleged discharge of pollutants, reaching navigable waters located 1000 feet or less from the point source by means of groundwater with a direct hydrological connection to such navigable waters, falls within the scope of the CWA”. However, a split in the circuits was created when the Sixth Circuit ruled in Tennessee Clean Water Network v. Tennessee Valley Authority that The Tennessee Valley Authority was not responsible for contaminating the nearby Cumberland River with coal ash deposits via groundwater. The case was heard along with Kentucky Waterways Alliance v. Kentucky Utilities Company in August 2018.
According to Scotusblog.com, Maui will be heard during the Supreme Court term beginning in October 2019. ACWA will continue to monitor the scheduling of the oral argument and inform you when more information is released.
EPA Updates TSCA Inventory List
EPA released an update of the TSCA inventory list, which is the first major update in 30 years. This list contains only the chemicals that are being actively used in the United States. The EPA found that about half of the chemicals that were on the original list were no longer in use (40,655 of the 86,228 chemicals are in use). The updated list was a requirement under the updated TSCA. For more information please see EPA’s press release.
NAS Study: Improving the EPA Multi-Sector General Permit for Industrial Stormwater Discharges
Industrial stormwater is stormwater runoff that comes in contact with industrial manufacturing, processing, storage, or other industrial related materials onsite, which then runs offsite and enters drainage systems/receiving waters. As part of an EPA MSPG permit challenge settlement agreement, EPA agreed to request this NAS study review certain aspects of the industrial stormwater program, with an emphasis on monitoring requirements and retention standards. EPA intends to use the results of this study to inform its proposed updates to future MSGPs. As part of this report the committee recommends updating MSGP benchmark monitoring requirements and thresholds using a periodic review process to incorporate the latest science and monitoring information into each permit revision. Additionally, the committee recommends allowing more sophisticated monitoring methods, training, and support for enhanced data analysis tools within the MSGP. The committee recommends risk-based tiered monitoring requirements to improve the quality of data from the largest, high-risk facilities, while moderating the burden on the lowest-risk facilities. A pre-publication copy can be found here.
Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace Holds Water Quality Trading Report Webinar
This week, Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace hosted a webinar on a recent report from the National Network on Water Quality Trading (“NNWQT”), Breaking Down Barriers: Priority Actions for Advancing Water Quality Trading (Through its participation in the NNWQT, ACWA assisted in the creation of the report). The report provides an investigation into what is keeping water quality trading on the sidelines and proposes a detailed action agenda to help get water quality trading implemented in more watersheds across the United States.
Presenters included co-authors Willamette Partnership and Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace, providing a dive into the report’s findings while exploring the individual and collective actions needed to move forward with water quality trading and other market-based approaches to clean water. EPA Office of Water’s Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator also provided comment during the call, speaking on the recent EPA memorandum on water quality trading.
EPA’s NSmart Program Webinars
Save the date for EPA’s NutrientsSmart (“NSmart”) program kickoff webinars! The webinars were rescheduled for April 10, 2019, 1 – 2 pm EDT and April 11, 2019, 3 – 4 pm EDT. You can view the informational flyer here.
To register for the webinars, go here.
For some background, NSmart is a proposed voluntary program to recognize water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs), and their watershed partners, progress towards reducing nutrients in waterbodies. The EPA Office of Water and the NSmart Steering Committee are hosting an interest and information webinar to introduce a proposed voluntary recognition program for POTWs, WWRFs, communities, and other stakeholders and potential partners that have reduced or are working towards reducing nutrient loadings to streams, rivers, lakes, and other surface waters. As one of these stakeholders, we would like to provide you with background and answer your questions on the different ways to participate and be recognized as NSmart and gauge your interest in NSmart. We want to know how best to engage with you and make recognition valuable to you, your ratepayers, partners, and local communities.
Please send questions and comments to EPA’s Mary Reiley.
ATSDR Announces site for PFAS Exposure Studies
The Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR) selected communities near DOD facilities to PFAS exposure studies. ATSDR will randomly select participants in eight communities near DOD sites in West Virginia, Colorado, Alaska, Massachusetts, Texas, New York Delaware, and Washington. The goal of these exposure studies is to examine the relation between PFAS exposure and health outcomes. ATSDR is planning on expanding this study in future years. For more information, please see the CDC press release.
USGS Releases New Web Tool for Exploring Levels and Sources of Dissolved Solids in U.S. Streams
USGS released a web tool that maps dissolved solids in streams and rivers across the continental United States. The tool visualizes concentrations, loads and yields of dissolved solids data from the SPARROW model. The tool can also help identify major sources of dissolved solids in streams and rivers.
Mid-Year Meeting 2019
Guaranteed hotel room rate and availability extended to February 27th. Reserve Your Room Now!
Early Bird Registration is available and ends February 28th
Planning is underway for the upcoming 2019 Mid-Year Meeting. The agenda for the Mid-Year Meeting is still under development and is subject to refinement.
This meeting is planned as a day and a half meeting. State attendees will lead discussions relevant to states priorities. Members are encouraged to attend. Go here to reserve your lodging accommodations. Call direct 703-837-0440 or 1-800 HILTONS and ask for the ACWA Mid-Year Meeting 2019 group rate. Meeting registration can be found here. Members and invited guest, if you encounter problems logging into Member 365, go here. View the draft agenda here.
ACWA is also offering travel scholarships to the 2019 Mid-Year Meeting. We have funding for 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. If you are interested in applying for a scholarship, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
2019 National NPDES Permit Writers Workshop
The State/EPA 2019 National NPDES Permit Writers Workshop will be held September 17-19, 2019 in Washington, DC. This meeting is intended to help support states and EPA to showcase permit writer innovations, assist with analysis of training, guidance, tools, and other support material needs, improve administrative efficiencies, clarify roles and responsibilities, build stronger linkages to WQS & TMDLs, modernize permit terms and data management, discuss program performance measures, and identify program areas where targeted technical assistance would be most beneficial. For more information, contact Sean Rolland or see our website.
ACWA Nutrients Permitting Workshop Registration is LIVE!
Registration for the November 2019 Nutrients Permitting Workshop located in Alexandria, Virginia at the AlexRenew facility November 5-7, 2019 is now live. To register, go here. The workshop will focus on the relationship between water quality standards and nutrients permitting. 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.
IMPORTANT NOTE: We ask that members registering to meetings please use your state email addresses and login credentials provided. If someone is registering on your behalf that does not have an account in Member365 make sure that they have access to your login credentials so as not to create conflicting or overlapping information within the system.
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
MassDEP seeks applicants for the position of Director of the Watershed Planning Program (WPP). The Director oversees all aspects of MassDEP’s activities pertaining to surface water quality standards, surface water quality monitoring and assessment, associated data management, development of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), and watershed planning. The work of Watershed Planning Program is highly-technical, and the Director ensures that the Program activities are carried out in accordance the Federal Clean Water Act and associated regulations and guidelines, as well as in accordance with grant agreements with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Duties include steering program activities to ensure success, identifying and implementing efficient and innovative approaches, overseeing unit personnel as well as contracts with external parties, and effectively communicating with internal and external stakeholders. This position will be based in MassDEP’s Worcester Office. For more details, see the position description.
Iowa Department of Natural Resources
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is hiring a Professional Engineer, licensed in Iowa or eligible for reciprocity, for an Environmental Engineer Senior position within the Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Section of the Water Quality Bureau. The position will lead in implementing Iowa’s water quality standards by coordinating and helping to provide timely and technically sound wasteload allocations (WLAs) for new and existing dischargers and wastewater construction permits. For more details, see the position description.
Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is recruiting for the position of Deputy Administrator, Environmental Protection in the Office of Water Resources. The Deputy Administrator will assist the Administrator, in the planning and administration of Groundwater and Freshwater Wetlands Protection Programs and directly supervise the Water Quality Certification/Stormwater Program. Duties include working directly with Program Supervisors and managing a staff of engineers and scientists responsible for performing technical reviews for land development permits and other activities that may impact Waters of the State. The Deputy Administrator serves as a key member of the Office of Water Resources team. For more details, see the position description.
Utah Department of Environmental Quality
The Utah Department of Environmental Quality is seeking an Administrative Operations Director. This position will report directly to the Executive Director of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality and be responsible for the coordination and management of facilities and administrative services within the department. For more details, see the position description.
UDEQ is also seeking a TMDL Coordinator to develop, coordinate, lead and write TMDLs, TMDL Alternatives or other plans to protect and enhance water quality specifically for impaired waterbodies. The ideal person for this position will possess at least 3 years of experience with TMDLs and/or watershed planning, the ability to coordinate, communicate and maintain highly professional relationships with local, state and federal agencies and stakeholders, the ability to practice effective project management for all water quality projects conducted by internal staff and contracted to external entities, and knowledge of Clean Water Act, Utah Water Quality Act, Utah’s Administrative Rules, and associated guidance that govern water quality programs in Utah. For more details, see the position description.
Introductions to Standards and Criteria Webinar
March 21st 1pm-3pm EST
Contact Frances Bothfeld for a registration link
February Watersheds Committee Call
February 28, 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM ET
Contact Julian Gonzalez for more information