House Democrats Release Clean Water for All Act
Several prominent House Democrats introduced a bill, the Clean Water for All Act, which would prohibit the implementation of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule narrowing the definition of waters of the United States. The purpose of the bill is to reaffirm Congress’ commitment to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation’s waters, as called for in the Clean Water Act (CWA) and to overturn the Trump administration’s WOTUS rule. The legislation directs the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to develop a new rule within two years of enactment to prevent degradation of surface water quality, increased contaminant levels in drinking water sources, increased flooding-related risks to human life or property, and disproportionate adverse impacts on minority or low-income populations.
EPA Releases Final Draft of Oil & Gas Produced Water Study
This week, EPA released “Summary of Input on Oil and Gas Extraction Wastewater Management Practices Under the Clean Water Act.” The report is an update to EPA’s May 2019 draft report summarizing input from stakeholders regarding management of produced water from onshore oil and gas extraction activities. The final report provides updated information reflecting input received from states, tribes and stakeholders, summarizes current methods of produced water management, and describes applicable Effluent Limit Guidelines under CWA. EPA’s study goal was to evaluate approaches to manage oil and gas extraction wastewaters generated at onshore facilities, and to better understand any potential need for, and any concerns over, additional discharge options under the CWA for onshore oil and gas wastewater. EPA indicates it is still determining what, if any, next steps should be taken regarding produced water management under CWA.
The final report and related information is available here.
Water Environment Federation Releases Two Supplemental Resources on COVID-19
This week, Water Environment Federation (WEF) released “Coronavirus and Water Systems” and “Residuals and Biosolids Issues Concerning COVID-19 Virus“. Both resources are intended to provide clarity related to potential concerns regarding wastewater management and the virus that causes COVID-19, as well as an overview of existing science and downloadable graphics. These resources supplement “The Water Professionals Guide to COVID-19” developed by the Waterborne Infectious Disease Outbreak Control (WIDOC) working group at WEF.
The publications provided several key takeaways: while research is ongoing, no link has been identified between wastewater or biosolids management and infection of COVID-19; nor has infective (i.e. fully intact and potentially infectious) virus in wastewater systems been discovered. Both publications recommend a precautionary approach be taken by wastewater professionals, including strict adherence to OSHA, state, and jurisdictional Personal Protective Equipment guidance.
Coalition of States Challenges EPA COVID-19 Enforcement Discretion Policy
New York and eight other states filed a challenge against EPA’s COVID-19 Implications for EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Program policy, arguing the policy exceeds the agency’s authority and ignores statutory mandates to enforce environmental laws. The lawsuit challenges OECA’s guidance stating that the agency would exercise enforcement discretion if companies are unable to report or monitor pollution releases because the pandemic has disrupted their operations. The policy applies retroactively to March 13 and includes no end date. The states joining New York include California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Vermont and Virginia.
EPA Tools & Resources Training Webinar: CompTox Chemicals Dashboard
June 3, 2020, 3:00 to 4:00 PM Eastern Time
EPA’s Computational Toxicology (CompTox) Chemicals Dashboard is a “first-stop-shop” for chemistry, toxicology and exposure information for over 875,000 chemicals. This information is available to support federal agencies, state environmental and health agencies, international governmental agencies and industries make decisions about chemicals related to human health and the environment. Data and models within the Dashboard also help with efforts to identify chemicals of most need of further testing. Data and enhancements to functionality are added with each new release of the Dashboard.
This training webinar will provide an overview of the Dashboard for new users as well as demonstrating new functionality and data for veteran users. The first part of the webinar will provide a general overview of the CompTox Chemicals Dashboard including what it is used for, why it was developed, and who can benefit from using it. The second portion of the webinar will be a step-by-step tutorial on how to use the Dashboard followed by a Q&A session.
For more information, go to the CompTox Chemicals Dashboard webpage.
To join this webinar, please register here.
Association of Clean Water Administrators Leadership Education and Development System (LEADS)
What is it?
The ACWA Leadership Education and Development System (LEADS) is a new Board directed initiative intended to encourage participation in leadership activities and help future leaders in the organization improve their understanding of roles and responsibilities.
Who can participate?
All current state and interstate members and their staff interested in learning more about leadership in ACWA (Committee/Workgroup Chairs, Regional Board Members, Executive Officers) can volunteer to participate in LEADS.
How do I engage?
To learn more about the LEADS initiative, please contact Sean Rolland to get access to a short questionnaire. Upon completing the questionnaire, participants will be provided access to a new Member365 Workspace, which holds materials developed expressly for the ACWA LEADS program.
What if I have more questions?
After reviewing the materials, should a participant have more questions and/or be interested in further discussing future leadership opportunities in ACWA, a volunteer advisor with experience in that leadership role will notified and will reach out to you.
Watersheds Committee Call
May 21, 2020, 2:30 – 4:00 PM Eastern Time
This call will act as a lead-in for the 2020 National CWA 303(d) Training Workshop. Following a brief overview of this year’s workshop, Jeff Berckes (Iowa DNR) and Rosaura Conde (EPA HQ) will lead a CWA 303(d)/VISION 101 presentation. For further agenda and call-in information, contact Jasper Hobbs.
EPA Early Warning SNC Dashboard Webinar
May 19, 2020, 2:00 – 4:00 PM Eastern Time
Registration: Contact Sean Rolland
EPA is hosting a webinar to help states better track the compliance status of individually permitted NPDES facilities with the updated NPDES Early Warning SNC Dashboard. The NPDES Early Warning SNC Dashboard allows users to view SNC statuses for the last official quarter, subsequent unofficial quarter, and current quarter in progress (“real-time status”). Real-time statuses indicate whether a facility would be in SNC if nothing changed for the rest of the current quarter, or whether a single additional effluent violation could cause SNC (“warning”).
This national training webinar for the NPDES Early Warning SNC Dashboard will help states better understand and use this complex and powerful tool. The first hour of this training will be an introduction to the Dashboard and the second hour will focus on conducting more advanced analysis. During the training, users will be doing exercises in the Dashboard.
Checklist for those planning to attend:
1. Ensure you are able to access the NPDES Early Warning SNC Dashboard prior to the training. You will need to use the Dashboard for this training and we will only be able to provide very limited assistance to those who encounter trouble accessing the Dashboard during the training.
2. Familiarize yourself with the NPDES Early Warning SNC Dashboard prior to the training event. Familiarity with the dashboard will ensure you get the most out of this training session.
EPA Research on SARS-CoV-2 in the Environment Webinar
May 27, 2020, 2:00 – 3:00 PM Eastern Time
Registration: Click here
This research will help states & territories, tribes, and local governments, including public health agencies, guide homeowners, business owners, and others reduce the risk of exposure. This webinar will highlight research EPA is working on with CDC including the following:
- Environmental Cleanup and Disinfection: EPA researchers are assessing the use disinfectants on many different surfaces and objects. They will also determine the best environmental sample collection methods and the limits of detection for SARS-CoV-2. To determine the effectiveness of these approaches, researchers are also developing a method to quickly analyze surface samples for the live virus, both before and after the disinfection process. Strategies to decontaminate PPE will also be developed.
- Wastewater Virus Detection: Researchers are studying whether SARS-CoV-2 can be detected in wastewater. This work will focus on understanding viral loads, or how much of the virus is present, whether it is in an infectious state, and how it moves through the wastewater system. This information could help public health agencies by acting as an ‘early warning system’ and can identify if there is an outbreak in a specific community.
- Salivary Antibody Assay Development: Researchers are developing an easy, non-invasive, and reliable antibody assay as a tool for public health agencies to help determine the true rate of infection across the country.