House Passes FY21 EPA Budget with a Boost
The House approved EPA’s fiscal year 2021 spending bill with a boost to overall agency funding by about 3 percent to almost $9.4 billion. The Environment-Interior Appropriations bill was joined in a “minibus” with funding for the Departments of State, Veterans Affairs, Agriculture and Interior, passing by 224-189. The bill provides $9.38 billion for EPA, an increase of $318 million over FY20, and $2.67 billion above the Administration’s request. It also includes language that would block finalization or implementation of several EPA rules, including repeal of the legal basis for changes to state water quality certification requirements and EPA’s science “transparency” rule. The bill also creates a $15 billion emergency fund for critical infrastructure investments, with the majority of funding going to shovel-ready water and wastewater projects. This supplemental fund would provide $10.2 billion for the Clean Water and Drinking Water state revolving fund (SRF) programs. The supplemental funding is separate from the legislation’s regular fiscal 2021 appropriations for the SRF programs, which is in line with appropriations in fiscal 2020. The EPA-Interior bill provides $12.9 million in additional funding for scientific and regulatory work by EPA on PFAS, efforts which had already received a $39 million boost in the current fiscal 2020 spending bill approved in December 2019. Other provisions include:
- Ensure that a proposed rule to categorize perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) as hazardous substances under the Superfund law isn’t scrapped in FY2020;
- Ban funds from being used to withdraw EPA’s preliminary regulatory determination to regulate PFOA and PFOS as drinking water contaminants under the Safe Drinking Water Act;
- Provide EPA an additional $2 million to study the relationship between PFAS exposure and susceptibility to Covid-19; and,
- Provide $2.5 million for the development of wastewater discharge limits for industries as part of EPA’s PFAS Action Plan to emphasize the need to include the chemical GenX, part of the PFAS family. The White House has issued a veto threat against the funding measure. The Senate has not yet taken up its appropriations bill discussions.
CCR Rule Updates Finalized
This week EPA provided access to a prepublication copy of the rule titled “Disposal of Coal Combustion Action: Docket No.: Residuals from Electric Utilities; A Holistic Approach to Closure Part A: Deadline to Initiate Closure.“
This rule finalized several changes to coal combustion residuals (CCR) program intending to implement the court’s vacatur of certain closure requirements, as well as adding provisions that enhance the public’s access to information about the management of coal ash at electric utilities. In particular this final rule “specifies that all unlined surface impoundments are required to retrofit or close, not just those that have detected groundwater contamination above regulatory levels.” The rule also “changes the classification of compacted-soil lined or clay-lined surface impoundments from lined to unlined, which means that formerly defined clay-lined surface impoundments are no longer considered lined surface impoundments and need to be retrofitted or closed.” A copy of the rule’s fact sheet can be found here. The rule also revises the due date for unlined surface impoundments must cease receiving waste and initiate closure or retrofit (by April 11, 2021). EPA also finalized revisions to the alternative closure provisions, granting some facilities additional time to develop alternative capacity to manage their waste streams. Finally, EPA is revising the annual groundwater monitoring and corrective action report requirements to make the data easier for the public to understand and evaluate and is revising the CCR website requirements to ensure that relevant facility information is available to the public.
EPA also signed a notice to reopen the public comment period for 7 days to gather further input on the Federal CCR permitting process. The proposal includes requirements for federal procedures, permit applications, content and modification EPA would implement this permit program in states that have not been approved to administer their own CCR permit program and in Indian Country. A copy of the prepublication notice can be found here.
For more information on these revisions, see: https://www.epa.gov/coalash.
House Passes WRDA 2020
H.R. 7575, the “Water Resources Development Act of 2020,” lays out a two-year road map for US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) projects. WRDA 2020 authorizes the construction of 34 pending Corps Chief’s Reports received since the enactment of WRDA 2018 and authorizes 35 feasibility studies for water resources development projects. The legislation also directs the Corps to complete five comprehensive river basin studies for the Great Lakes, the Upper Mississippi River, the Lower Mississippi River, the Lower Missouri River Basin, and the Sacramento River. The legislation also requires the Corps to undertake an inventory of water resources development projects and associated properties that are, or may be, contaminated with PFAS, and to develop a plan to remediate and limit potential human exposure to the contamination.
DOJ Limit CWA Enforcement when Overlaps State
In a memo released this week by the Department of Justice, Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark indicated DOJ will avoid pursuing civil enforcement cases under the CWA that overlap with state actions. The memo notes that the current administration “has updated the Justice Manual to require Department attorneys to actively coordinate with state and local authorities as well as other components in the Department to ensure the federal government does not “pile on” when state, local, or other federal enforcement actions are sufficient.” Mr. Clark also discusses use of federal discretion in a manner consistent with “Congresses underlying policy decisions, Department guidance, and -ultimately- fundamental constitutional principles of federalism and due process.” He notes that the Environment & Natural Resources Division has a long history of working cooperatively with states and the purpose of the memo is to set forth the Division’s policy when a state has previously instituted a civil penalty proceeding under an analogous state law arising from the same facts. The memo highlights a number of relevant factors associates with when the Division might deviate from the default policy including where the state is not diligently prosecuting, relying on the prior state action would amount to unfair windfall for the defendant, the state has requested in writing that the federal government pursue action, the state has been unable to collect its penalty, federal action is necessary to protect important federal interests, the action would only seek federal injunctive relief, or there are other exceptional circumstances justifying federal involvement. The memo goes on to note that “nothing in this guidance should be understood as a narrowing of federal enforcement options.” A copy of the memo can be found here: https://www.justice.gov/enrd/page/file/1297781/download.
NAS, EPA, DoD, USDA, HHS to Convene Workshop on PFAS Research
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will coordinate a workshop to review federal research on PFAS this Fall. A workshop proceedings report will summarize findings on federal coordination of research related to PFAS quantification, toxicity, fate transport and exposure, treatment, and disposal. Read the press release here.
ACWA 2021 Board of Directors & Leadership Election Results
ACWA is pleased to release the results of the 2020-2021 ACWA Board of Directors election. During this year’s election cycle, ACWA members in good standing were asked to select the President, Vice President, and Treasurer, as well as regional representatives for ACWA’s odd-numbered regions.
As we welcome our new ACWA Leadership and Regional Representatives, ACWA would also like to thank the members of the nominating committee: Susan Sullivan, Melanie Davenport, Allison Woodall, Jennifer Wigal, and Mary Anne Nelson for identifying a great slate of candidates. Second, ACWA would like to express our thanks and appreciation to those Board of Directors members whose terms are ending for their dedication and service to ACWA: Allison Woodall (TX), Tiffani Kavalec (OH), Krista Osterberg (AZ) and Susan Sullivan (NEIWPCC). 36 out of 56 states/interstates voted in this year’s election.
2020-2021 Board of Directors and Regional Representatives:
President: Tom Stiles (KS)
Vice President: Andy Gavin (SRBC)
Treasurer: Amanda Vincent (LA)
Past President: Melanie Davenport (VA)
Region 1: Tracy Wood (NH)
Region 2: Carol Lamb-Lafay (NY)
Region 3: Lee Currey (MD)
Region 4: Jennifer Dodd (TN)
Region 5: Adrian Stocks (WI)
Region 6: Shelly Lemon (NM)
Region 7: Chris Wieberg (MO)
Region 8: Karl Rockeman (ND)
Region 9: Karen Mogus (CA)
Region 10: Mary Anne Nelson (ID)
Interstates: Evelyn Powers (Interstate Environmental Commission)
2020 National CAFO Roundtable – Virtual Meeting
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 Eastern Time. 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 non-regulatory 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.
ACWA Modeling Workshop – Postponed to Fall 2021
After much discussion with our planning team, ACWA has made the decision to postpone the modeling workshop scheduled for October, 2020. We feel attendees will benefit greatly from the ability to meet in person, especially those attending the hands-on training sessions. The ACWA Modeling Workshop will now be held September 19 – September 24, 2021, in Chicago, IL.
This workshop is designed to support state agency staff involved in, and who wish to be involved in, water modeling to aid in the implementation of state 303(d) programs.
This year, a 2-day Modeling 101 webinar series will be held, starting Monday, October 19. It is designed as an introductory course for those new to modeling or interested in a refresher.
No Weekly Wrap Next Week (Week of August 3, 2020)
ACWA Members and Staff will be focused on the 2020 ACWA Annual Meeting next week. The Weekly Wrap will resume the week of August 10, 2020.
ECHO Dashboard of the Week
To assist EPA and states with implementing the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Electronic Reporting Rule (“NPDES eRule”), EPA has created several dashboards within the Enforcement Compliance History Online (ECHO) website related to the conversion to electronic reporting and the related data sharing requirements. The data used in populating these dashboards are updated each weekend from ICIS-NPDES. To help promote these dashboards, ACWA will be highlighting a new one each week.
DMRs with No Data Indicators (NODIs)
Summary: Explore no data indicators (NODIs) reported on discharge monitoring reports (DMRs) from monitoring periods starting from January 2016, including NODI Code Z added April 2020 for COVID-19. This dashboard can help identify and view trends in NODIs and users can drill-down to view data at the DMR value level. A no data indicator (NODI) is a unique code/description that indicates the reason that “No Discharge” or “No Data” was reported on a DMR. A NODI can be reported on a DMR when a permittee does not have a numeric DMR value to report for a parameter for an entire monitoring period. Each no data indicator has a validation flag that determines if the NODI is considered an acceptable or unacceptable reason for not reporting required data as a numeric value. This validation flag is a simple evaluation mechanism so manual evaluation is not required for all DMRs and determines if a DMR non-receipt violation will be generated by the reported NODI.
NPDES eRule Implementation: Phase 1 (States: Facility and Permit Info; Permittees: DMRs)
Status: This dashboard is currently posted to ECHO Gov. EPA solicited comments from states and is currently in the process of updating the dashboard to respond to these comments.
Scope of Dashboard: This dashboard covers all NPDES-regulated entities (all permit types, majors and non-majors).
WEBINAR: Interested in Building and Improving Municipal Stormwater Programs?
Wednesday, Aug 12, 2020 | 1:00 PM EDT
Over the past 2 years EPA has been working with the National Municipal Stormwater Alliance and national stormwater experts to develop online tools and information to assist communities in building stormwater program capability. The product of these efforts is “Building Excellence in Stormwater Management”- a web-based resource funded by EPA and maintained by NMSA. The guide draws upon diverse experiences of local communities in developing successful programs and addresses key program challenges and elements identified by stormwater program managers and regulatory agencies across the country. This free web-based resource is now available for use at http://ms4resource.nationalstormwateralliance.org/ .
Please join the National Municipal Stormwater Alliance and EPA for “National Municipal Stormwater Alliance: An Introduction to the National MS4 Online Resource”. Register now at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3401337429983063055
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
Please feel free to share information about this webinar and online resource with colleagues interested in stormwater program development and operations! If you have questions, please contact Seth Brown at email@example.com.
NEIWPCC: 2020 NATIONAL SRF TRAINING WEBINAR SERIES – Climate Resiliency and Adaptation for Water Infrastructure
Tuesday, August 4, 2020 | 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm ET
Cost : FREE
NEIWPCC is excited to announce the details for the first entry in our National SRF Training Webinar Series!
This webinar will focus on Climate Resiliency and Adaptation for Water Infrastructure. The speakers from Regions 1 and 2 will address a national audience of water and waste water infrastructure financing professionals. We will have case studies from New Hampshire on sustainability programs for wastewater projects as well as funding partnerships and incentives to help achieve program goals. Speakers from Maine will give presentations on the implementation of climate adaptation plans as well as a technical case study from work completed in Brownville, ME. Also, this webinar will have a presentation from New York on changes to water infrastructure projects following Hurricane Sandy. Our webinar speakers will also take questions from attendees during our Q&A session.
Sharon L. Nall, P.E., Supervisor; Planning, Protection and Assistance Section Wastewater Engineering Bureau, Water Division | New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
Brandy M. Piers, P.E., Senior Environmental Engineer, Bureau of Water Quality Management | Maine Department of Environmental Protection
James Lord, P.E., Senior Project Engineer | Dirigo Engineering
William A. Brizzell, Jr., P.E., Deputy Director, Division of Engineering and Program Management | NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation