EPA Announces the Release of the How’s My Waterway App
EPA has announced the release of the How’s My Waterway App.
From their press release: “EPA’s new How’s My Waterway provides unprecedented transparency that our partners and the public can use to learn about water, explore data and find out what’s happening to improve the health of our waters. This new tool was created in partnership with states and water stakeholders and will facilitate next steps in our collective efforts to continue providing clean water for recreation and safe drinking water for communities across the nation. Map-centric and mobile-friendly, How’s My Waterway works on all different screen sizes – from desktop computers and tablets to mobile phones. The tool provides users with an easily accessible and understandable summary of water quality at the community, state, and national level.”
Reminder: Navigable Waters Protection Rule – State and Tribal Webinar Series
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army published the final Navigable Waters Protection Rule defining “waters of the United States” in the Federal Register on April 21, 2020; the rule will become effective on June 22, 2020. The final rule will replace the Step One Rule published in October 2019.
The EPA and Army are hosting a series of webinars in June and July specifically for states and tribes to learn about the final rule and implementation considerations.
All webinars will be held from 2-4 PM Eastern Time and include time for Q&A.
State and tribal officials can register for the webinar series here, or for individual webinars listed below. Please register with your state or tribal email address, if available, so that attendance is limited to participants from state and tribal government agencies and affiliated member organizations. The webinars, but not the Q&A sessions, will be recorded. If you have any questions about the webinar series, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tributaries, Ditches, Flow Regime, and Assessment
Date: June 23, 2020 | 2-4 PM ET
Registration: Click here
This webinar focuses on the definitions of tributary, ditch, flow regimes, and key implementation issues including regional Streamflow Duration Assessment Methods (SDAMs). (Note: while SDAMs will be discussed, states and tribes can find more detailed information here.
Adjacent Wetlands, Lakes, Ponds, and Impoundments
Date: June 30, 2020 | 2-4 PM ET
Registration: Click here
This webinar discusses the definitions of adjacent wetlands and jurisdictional lakes, ponds and impoundments, as well as implementation considerations.
Exclusions and More
Date: July 7, 2020 | 2-4 PM ET
Registration: Click here
This webinar discusses the Navigable Water Protection Rule’s 12 categories of exclusions (features that are not “waters of the United States”) and will include time for discussion of any areas not otherwise addressed in the webinar series.
Senate Approves Great American Outdoors Act
This week, the Senate Passed S. 3422, or the “Great American Outdoors Act.” If enacted, S. 3422 would permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a longtime source of resources for local, state, and federal conservation and recreation projects. The LWCF would be set at $900M annually, rather than LWCF allocations being subject to the annual Congressional appropriations process. It would also create a separate “National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund,” funded by land and water energy development fees, to address public lands and waters maintenance backlogs. Find the bill text here.
EPA OIG Exploring EPA’s COVID-19 Response, Challenges Faced by the Agency
This week, the EPA OIG released an interim report, “Top Pandemic-Related Challenges Facing the EPA.” In it, the OIG “has identified some initial challenges to the EPA’s ability to achieve its mission, as well as to the EPA’s internal operations related to COVID-19 emergency relief and response efforts.” The challenges to EPA identified in the report will guide OIG’s full assessment of COVID-19-related risks to EPA’s ability to achieve its mission of protecting human health and the environment.
State, Tribe, and Territory Program Implementation is one such risk to EPA’s mission achievement, as well as Risk Communication to the Public and Enforcement and Fraud Risks. You may read the draft, and access similar reports for each federal agency, here.
2020 National CAFO Roundtable – Virtual Event
This week, ACWA announced that the 2020 National CAFO Roundtable would be held virtually. “After receiving feedback from 30+ states and interstates, we have decided that it is in everyone’s best interest to conduct the 2020 National CAFO Roundtable online instead of in-person.” Sessions for this will be held virtually in the afternoons September 22 – September 24 from 12:30-5:00 PM ET. ACWA invites states and interstates to share this meeting information with other state agencies. A draft agenda and meeting registration link are available on ACWA’s website. This meeting is not open to the public, but there will be several nonregulatory guests invited to present. To ensure the meeting is as accessible as possible, there will be no registration fee. If you have any questions about this meeting, please contact Sean Rolland.
ACWA Seeking CWA Section 401 Questions
On June 1, 2020, EPA finalized the “Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Rule” to implement the water quality certification process consistent with the text and structure of the Clean Water Act (CWA). The final rule establishes procedures that promote consistent implementation of CWA Section 401 and regulatory certainty in the federal licensing and permitting process. The final rule also provides an analysis of the statutory text, legislative history, and relevant case law informing implementation of CWA Section 401. More information on CWA 401 is available on EPA’s website. You can also review a set of presentation slides that EPA provided.
ACWA is working with our EPA partners to schedule a states-only call to review the changes and answer state questions on the new certification rule. To assist with this effort, we are seeking any questions regarding implementation of the new Water Quality Certification Rule so EPA can be prepared to respond when a states only call is scheduled. For example, we are collecting questions on the requirements for certification requests, how state water quality criteria will be viewed when analyzing the appropriateness of conditions, what components are necessary in a denial, how enforcement of conditions will occur, and more.
Please send your questions to Julia Anastasio.
Watersheds Committee Call – Examples of Alternatives
Date: Thursday, June 25, 2020 | 2:30-4:o0 PM ET
This month’s Watersheds Call will feature 2 presentations on how states are incorporating alternatives into their 303(d) programs.
- North Carolina is using five alternative approaches to TMDLs. NC is using the following Integrated Reporting Categories 5r (5-alt), 4r (straight to implementation), 4t (TMDL), 4b (local implementation with assurances), 4c (pollution?), and 1nc (natural conditions assessment). The webinar will discuss how NC uses these IR categories with different Assessment Unit/Parameter combinations that are 303(d) listed. We will also demo the various mobile/web-based applications and story maps for developing Watershed Action Plans (WAP) and our workflows for bringing older plans into the new WAP format for tracking implementation and improving outreach and education with stakeholders.
- In Texas, the 303(d) Vision provides flexibility for the use of alternative plans instead of Total Maximum Daily Loads in order to address priority waterbodies. TCEQ’s TMDL and Nonpoint Source Programs and the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB) partner with local stakeholders to develop alternative plans called Watershed Protection Plans (WPPs). WPPs go through a watershed-based planning process and are required to meet EPA’s 9-minimum elements as described in EPA’s “Handbook for Developing Watershed Plans to Restore and Protect Our Waters.” This presentation will provide an overview of the WPP development process and provide examples of alternative plans that have been accepted by EPA.
Contact Jasper Hobbs for registration information.
RCAP Onsite/Decentralized Wastewater System O&M Webinar
Date: Tuesday, June 23, 2020 | 1:00 – 2:30 PM ET
Registration: Click here
The Rural Community Assistance Program (RCAP) is presenting a webinar providing an overview of onsite and decentralized wastewater system operation, maintenance, and management. Attendees will learn common system configurations, maintenance issues, and management procedures from technical assistance providers in the field.
EPA Webinar: Introduction to ECHO
Date: Tuesday, June 23, 2020 | 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM ET
Register: Click here
EPA’s next Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) webinar will provide an overview of the data in ECHO and guide users through using the site to answer environmental compliance and enforcement questions. The focus of this session will be a collection of short, step-by-step demonstrations geared toward new and infrequent users. We will demonstrate the capabilities of the ECHO Facility Search to answer questions such as:
- How do I search for a specific facility?
- How do I search for facilities in my community?
- How do I search for facilities releasing a pollutant?
EPA Webinar: DMR Integrity Screening Tool Webinar
Date Change: Tuesday, June 30, 2020 | 1:00 – 2:30 PM ET
Registration: Contact Sean Rolland for more details
EPA’s Office of Compliance is creating a beta tool, called the DMR Integrity Screening Tool, that uses statistical algorithms to detect whether submitted effluent values may have been misreported. The algorithms screen NPDES discharge monitoring reports for a variety of misreporting indicators.
Here is some information about piloting a project: “The DMR Integrity Screening Tool would be made available via ECHO Gov – for the states that join in our beta testing period. We expect to have it ready to launch by the end of August. At that time, we’d like to begin field testing it with up to nine states that have volunteered. The goals of the pilot will be to:
- Evaluate how effective the screening algorithms are at finding misreporting, especially serious or intentional misreporting.
- Improve the tool to make it as useful as possible for states in planning and carrying out their NPDES inspections.
- Ensure that ICIS-NPDES data can be used in a uniform way to track success rates for audits/inspections selected from the Tool.
- Develop best practices for investigating when misreporting is suspected.
OC will conduct training for participating states on how to use the tool to choose targets for inspection. For us to adequately measure whether the algorithms work in a way that supports expansion of the tool to all states, we will ask participating states to report out on findings at targeted facilities. During our national webinar, we will explain the project in detail and answer questions so states can decide whether they want to participate. If you have questions about DMR Integrity Screening, please reach out to Andrew Schulman.”
EPA Public Webinar: Draft Numeric Nutrient Criteria Recommendations for Lakes and Reservoirs
Date: June 30, 2020 | 2:00 PM EDT
Webinar Link: Click here
Join by Phone: 866-609-7191
EPA recently released draft recommendations for developing numeric nutrient water quality criteria for lakes and reservoirs for a 60-day public comment period that ends on July 21, 2020. When finalized, the Agency’s criteria recommendations will serve as important resources that states and authorized tribes can use to protect public health, pets, and aquatic life from certain adverse effects of excess nutrients, including harmful algal blooms. EPA’s public webinar will help members of the public better understand the draft document before they submit their comments.
Following the webinar, EPA will post the slides here.