ECOS Status of State Environmental Agency Budgets
ECOS published its report on the Status of State Environmental Agency Budgets (EAB), FY2016 – FY2019 this week. The report notes that state environmental agency funding rose 18.9%, or a total of $2.56B, in 46 states and one territory over the reporting period. Based on data collected from the 46 participating states and Puerto Rico, ECOS reports that each of the three main funding sources increased, on average, during the four-year period. Because the budget of the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) is significantly larger than that of any other EAB and experienced substantial expansion during this period, the report presents calculations with and without CalEPA amounts.
Overall, general funds constituted approximately 11.5% of state EABs and rose 7.9% or $93M without CalEPA figured in. Federal government funding comprised around 27.5% of state EABs, and that total increased 8.2% or $226M without CalEPA. Finally, the largest major funding source – fees and other support – contributed nearly 61% of budgets and increased 14.1% or $832M without CalEPA. The report notes that states depend on federal funding to do shared work and to fulfill commitments to their communities. Federal funds remain an important source of support to implement authorized or delegated programs. ECOS hopes that, given the expected negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on state budgets in FY20-21, the report will serve as a useful benchmark for future budget planning in less extraordinary circumstances. The full report may be found here.
COVID-19: New CDC Water Worker Website and Resources Available
CDC and EPA have worked to make a new coronavirus website for sanitation and wastewater workers available this week. The site is part of an integrated effort to provide worker safety and support information specific to various categories of essential and non-essential workers, to help those workers stay informed and access updated FAQs and resources.
EPA also regularly updates its coronavirus website, which provides information on drinking water and wastewater. In addition to information for the general public, this website includes resources for state, local, and tribal agencies and intergovernmental associations.
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.
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.
EPA Seeking Nominations to NDWAC
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is inviting nominations from a diverse range of qualified candidates to be considered to fill vacancies on the National Drinking Water Advisory Council. This announcement solicits nominations to fill five vacancies with three-year appointments from December 2020 through December 2023. EPA is seeking nominees who are from appropriate state and local agencies concerned with water hygiene and public water supply; representatives of private organizations or groups demonstrating an active interest in the field of water hygiene and public water supply, including nominees associated with small, rural public water systems; and from the general public. For more information about the candidates that EPA is seeking and other details, please see the full announcement here.
ACWA Letter to EPA on Proposed Rule on Significant Guidance
This week, ACWA, ECOS, ASDWA, and numerous other organizations submitted comments on EPA’s proposed rule to establish administrative requirements and procedures guidance documents determined to be significant. In general, ACWA supports transparency in developing guidance documents and is in agreement that guidance documents are not legally binding and should refrain from including mandatory language such as “shall,” “must,” “required” or “requirement.” ACWA also agrees that not all guidance should go through the traditional rulemaking notice and comment process. Some of the biggest concerns raised related to a lack of recognition of the unique role of states and the need to be included in the guidance process, lack of clarity around the definition for “significant guidance,” and the likely need for more than 30 days to comment. A copy of ACWA’s letter can be found here.
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.
No Weekly Wrap the Week of June 29, 2020
ACWA will not produce a Weekly Wrap next week due to the shortened holiday week.
This year, the 2020 National CAFO Roundtable will be held virtually in the afternoons of 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 visit the website or contact Sean Rolland directly.