Federal Court Nullifies Clean Water Act General Permit for Pipelines and Other Linear Projects
A Montana federal court has vacated Clean Water Act (CWA) Nationwide Permit 12 (“NWP 12”) on the basis that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to uphold its obligations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) when it reissued NWP 12 in 2017. At issue in the Keystone XL case is NWP 12, which applies to pipelines, transmission lines, and cables that cross or discharge fill material into federally regulated waterways. The order, issued in Northern Plains Resource Council v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, No. 4:19-cv-00044-BMM (D. Mont.), held that the Corps failed to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (“the Services”) as required by Section 7(a)(2) of the ESA. For now, this means the Corps will not be able to approve additional projects under NWP12.
New Water Quality Criteria Search Feature: EPA’s Website for State-Specific Water Quality Standards Effective under the Clean Water Act
EPA recently added a criteria search feature to its website for State-Specific Water Quality Standards Effective under the Clean Water Act. This website compiles state, territorial, and authorized tribal water quality standards (WQS) that EPA has either approved or are otherwise in effect for Clean Water Act purposes. This compilation is continuously updated as EPA approves new or revised WQS.
The new criteria search feature provides users with an easier way to search numeric state criteria for various parameters without having to manually search through thousands of pages state WQS regulations. The search feature allows criteria to be queried by parameter/pollutant and compared across states. Click here to visit the website for more details.
PFAS: ITRC Releases Technical Documents, Training Videos, and Updated Factsheets
After three-years of hard work by an unprecedented 500-person team, several widely anticipated ITRC PFAS technical materials are officially available online.
Guidance Document: This ITRC guidance document provides an in-depth analysis of the complex world of PFAS, covering the following topics: Naming Conventions, History & Use, Firefighting Foams, Physical & Chemical Properties, Fate & Transport, Occurrence, Health Effects, Regulations, Site Risk Assessment, Site Characterization, Sampling & Analysis, Treatment Technologies, & Risk Communication. The 400+ page document also includes case studies and stakeholder perspectives, discusses technical challenges in addressing PFAS, and provides additional references to relevant scientific literature.
PFAS Training Modules: 10 training videos are integrated in this online document to support users’ understanding of the subject matter. The videos are 20-30 minutes long and each address a specific PFAS topic. The lecture-style videos are based on the widely successful and popular ITRC Classroom Training: Managing PFAS Contamination at Your Site, that has been presented around the country to thousands of environmental practitioners since 2018. The videos are free to access and can also be found on ITRC’s Youtube Channel.
PFAS Fact Sheets Updates: Along with the release of the PFAS Guidance Document, the ITRC team has updated the immensely popular PFAS Fact Sheets to ensure that the most up-to-date information is presented in these resources.
Coming Soon — PFAS Experts Roundtable: The ITRC PFAS team (comprised of over 500 environmental and public health professionals from federal, state, and local government, public and tribal stakeholder groups, private industry, and academia) will host roundtable discussions through EPA’s Clu-In site to provide environmental and public health professionals the opportunity to communicate with ITRC’s internationally recognized PFAS experts and ask their most pressing questions. The roundtable discussions will be organized by topics that correspond to the training modules. More information will be available on the ITRC Training page in May.
Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) is Accepting Alternative Funding Arrangement Proposals
The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) promotes coordination of NRCS conservation activities with partners that offer value-added contributions to expand our collective ability to address on-farm, watershed, and regional natural resource concerns. NRCS is currently accepting proposals for RCPP AFAs through 11:59pm Eastern on May 18th. A recording of a webinar for potential partners can be found here.
EPA Webinar: ECHO Training
EPA is holding an Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) webinar on Tuesday, April 28, 2020 from 1:30-2:30 PM Eastern. This webinar will explore how to access and use various water tools and reports available on ECHO, such as:
- Water Facility Search
- Detailed Facility Report
- Effluent Charts
- Water Pollutant Loading Tool
- Data Downloads and Web Services
These ECHO tools allow users to access and interpret EPA data for water pollutant discharges and facility compliance related to the Clean Water Act. These case studies will demonstrate how ECHO can be used for advance analyses of permitted water features.
Click here to register and save your spot.
EPA Webinar: Evidence Based Compliance Assurance Webinar Series
The EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance and EPIC at Johns Hopkins University are co-hosting an Evidence Based Compliance Assurance Webinar Series to help administrators understand how collaboration with academics can identify effective and measurable approaches to compliance. In each of the webinars, social and behavioral scientists from top research universities will present research findings on compliance monitoring, rule and permit design, reporting and transparency, and innovative enforcement. Following the presentations, participants will discuss program initiatives that can be put to the test through collaboration with academics.
The next webinar, titled “Compliance with Regulatory Intermediaries: Evidence from Lead Contractors in Maryland” will occur on Wednesday, April 22, 2020 at 2 PM Eastern. Click here to register or call in at +1 (443) 961-1483, Conference ID 196550818.
State Clean Water Programs Essential Personnel Designations and Impacts via COVID-19
To better understand COVID-19 impacts to Clean Water Programs, ACWA surveyed states and interstates in late March and early April to evaluate how, and under what protocols, program staff are designated as “essential” or “non-essential” workers. Highlights include:
- Generally, a subset of states designate staff per Clean Water Program area, while another subset designates staff per COOPs and types of state disaster declarations. Several types of statewide designations result in staff being reassigned to non-Clean Water Program COVID-19 response.
- The most common “essential” designations occur in compliance, enforcement, and permitting areas.
- In nearly 60% of states, the entire Clean Water Program is designated “essential.”
- Some variety of staff telework has been implemented across the board. However, a subset of state governments were not telework-ready (e.g. staff laptops, cloud-protected networks, staff telework policy, etc.) when guidance to telework was implemented. Program directors worked quickly to address those gaps.
A summary of results is available here: ACWA COVID-19 Essential Staff Designation Survey Results Summary.
Water Reuse Action Plan – NPDES Program – Call for Volunteers
There is substantial interest in demonstrating how NPDES permits can be written to avoid creating unnecessary impediments to wastewater reuse and stormwater capture and use. We’re seeking a few volunteers representing state NPDES agencies, local wastewater and stormwater permittees, and other interested stakeholders to help compile information to assist NPDES permittees and permit writers advance water reuse initiatives.
The Goal of this Action:
Develop a written resource document for NPDES permit writers and permittees to help inform them about permitting approaches for discharges associated with wastewater reuse or stormwater capture and use projects. The intent is to help enable consideration and implementation of water reuse practices within the appropriate authority of NPDES permits. We will also prepare a related slide deck and possibly other training or outreach materials.
We are convening a geographically diverse workgroup of volunteer representatives from permitting agencies, permit holders, and other stakeholders to compile issues and questions about how NPDES permits might intersect with water reuse operations, and provide written feedback and examples illustrating how these issues can be addressed in permitting under existing NPDES rules and policies. We are hoping to identify individuals with familiarity with permitting issues associated with reuse and capture projects.
Level of Commitment:
We are just now designing this effort and are still discussing our process and end-product(s). We anticipate identifying potential partners to assist this effort over the next month. We plan to hold 2-3 calls with the workgroup over the next 6 months to identify key questions/issues and compile examples of how permits have addressed reuse situations. We anticipate this will take perhaps 10-20 hours of your time outside of conference calls to compile key questions and examples. We hope to have a final product or products by the end of 2020. We expect the Action leads to do most of the work to prepare these work products; we hope the workgroup volunteers will help us identify the most important permitting issues and best illustrative examples to guide this action.
We hope to produce a comprehensive list of NPDES-related issues and questions that have arisen during development of reuse and capture projects. Action leaders will develop a written document providing information identifying key permitting concerns and questions permittees or permit writers have identified related to reuse project implementation, and information on potential approaches to address them. If resources permit, we may develop outreach and training materials to help permit writers and permittees better understand how to navigate permitting to advance water reuse initiatives.
OK, I’m Interested- What Do I Do Now?
Please contact ACWA’s Sean Rolland.
National Pretreatment Meeting Postponed
ACWA has officially postponed the National Pretreatment Meeting to 2021. In 2021, the meeting will still be collocated with NACWA at the same hotels in Nashville, Tennessee, the Holiday Inn Nashville Vanderbilt and the Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt University.
If you have not cancelled your hotel and airfare, please do so now or change your reservations for next year. We will resume planning and have more information once things return to normal.
Nutrients Permitting Workshop Postponed
ACWA has officially postponed the June Nutrients Permitting Workshop. Thank you for your patience as we worked through options for the June 2020 Nutrients Permitting Workshop due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you have not cancelled your hotel and airfare, please do so now. We will have more information on rescheduling once things return to normal.
Lower Columbia Basin Industrial Engineer – Washington Department of Ecology
Environmental Analyst III – TMDL Scientist – Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
MassDEP’s Watershed Planning Program has posted a requisition for another TMDL Scientist (Environmental Analyst III). The TMDL scientist will utilize their technical experience and expertise to assist in the development of total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) and other watershed assessment and planning projects. First consideration will be given to those applicants that apply within the first 14 days of the posting.
For more information, click here.
NPS/319 Webinar – NWQI Update
The NRCS has finalized and posted the NWQI Update for FY21. The release of the changes are attached.
The ACWA NPS/319 Workgroup will be holding a webinar on Tuesday, April 21, at 2:00 PM Eastern, which will feature presentations from NRCS and EPA regarding changes to the NWQI and the release of the FY21 Bulletin. A link to registration and the agenda may be found below, and a calendar invite will be sent out shortly.
You can register for the webinar here.
Contact Jasper Hobbs for more information.
ACWA Modeling Webinar – Overview of US EPA Homeland Security Research Program Stormwater Modeling Studies
On April 28th, 2020 at 2:00 PM Eastern, EPA will be presenting an Overview of US EPA Homeland Security Research Program Stormwater Modeling Studies.
The Center for Environmental Solutions and Emergency Response (CESER) in the Office of Research and Development at the US Environmental Protection Agency conducts research to enhance response capabilities and community resilience to man-made and natural disasters. Following an intentional or accidental release of a chemical, biological, or radiological (CBR) agent, tracking contaminant fate and transport is necessary for effective recovery. This presentation will highlight a number of laboratory, field, and modeling efforts being conducted in CESER to develop capabilities to accurately parametrize stormwater models for CBR agents. This includes rainfall simulator washoff studies of spores, SWMM modeling of radiological deposition across a city, and expansion of PySWMM to access additional water quality and pollutant data in SWMM5.
You can register for the webinar here.
Contact Jasper Hobbs for more information on ACWA’s modeling workgroup.