EPA/State/Tribal Webinar Series on Water Quality Certification Rule Changes
The EPA is hosting a three-part webinar series for states and tribes to learn about the final rule and implementation considerations. Please note that this webinar series is open to states and tribes only. Webinar presentations will be recorded and posted on EPA’s CWA 401 website at here, and webinars will include time for Q&A.
Registration for the webinar series is available here, or you can register for individual webinars using the links below. If you have any questions about the webinar series, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
State and Tribal Webinar 1
Date: August 25, 2020, 3:30-5:00 PM Eastern Time
Registration Link: Click here
This webinar focuses on when a water quality certification is required, pre-filing meeting requests and certification requests, and the reasonable period of time for certification decision-making.
State and Tribal Webinar 2
Date: September 1, 2020, 1:30-3:00 PM Eastern Time
Registration: Click here
This webinar focuses on the scope of analysis for certification decisions and the required elements of certification decision documents.
State and Tribal Webinar 3
September 9, 2020, 3:30-5:00 PM Eastern Time
Registration: Click here
This webinar focuses on the neighboring jurisdiction notification and coordination process under CWA section 401(a)(2), as well as enforcement of certification conditions and modifications to certifications.
OIG Report on EPA’s BEACH Act Reporting
In 2018, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) reported that EPA had failed to submit the required reports to Congress describing the BEACH Act program’s progress. A copy of the 2018 OIG report can be found here. While EPA indicated they felt the report was no longer required, OIG indicated submitting reports would “inform Congress and the public about efforts to implement the act, the need for additional water quality indicators, and the need for improved monitoring methodologies.” The OIG also provided several other recommendations, including that the agency “(1) review and update, as appropriate, the controls for ensuring that mandated reports are identified, tracked and submitted and (2) update the reporting process, especially for elevating and resolving disagreements about report content.” EPA ultimately submitted a Beach Report to Congress in July of 2018.
More recently, on August 13, 2020, the OIG released a follow-up report that criticized EPA’s efforts in 2018, claiming the July 2018 Report to Congress did not fully meet the reporting requirements in the Beach Act, did not meet the requirements of the Plain Writing Act of 2010, and did not adhere to federal internal control principles. In particular, the report “does not evaluate federal and local efforts,” failed to use plain language to list “recommendations for additional water quality criteria and improved monitoring methodologies,” and failed to note “who needs to take action or what the barriers to implementation are.”
OIG supplied several recommendations including that EPA “develop and adopt a written strategy to verify that future BEACH Act reports to Congress fully meet the reporting requirements of the BEACH Act, expectations that federal agencies comply with the Plain Writing Act, and federal internal control principles.” The OIG report also noted that the EPA disagreed with the recommendations which remain “unresolved with resolution efforts in progress.” A copy of this OIG report can be found here.
OIG to Review EPA’s Efforts to Control HABs
The Office of Inspector General plans to begin an evaluation regarding the EPA’s efforts to address harmful algal blooms (HABs). The OIG’s objective is to evaluate how the EPA is exercising its authority under the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water acts to address HABs and thus protect human health and the environment. The evaluation is included its Fiscal Year 2020 Annual Plan and will address the top management challenges for the Agency as identified in EPA’s FYs 2020–2021 Top Management Challenges report, which includes overseeing states implementing EPA programs, complying with internal control (data quality), and communicating risks.
Member Organization Roster Updates
As part of ACWA’s ongoing efforts to keep our member roster up-to-date, all primary contacts for each state and interstate member organization should have received an email with an attached roster of employees. If you have not already reached out with changes to your roster and employee’s Committee and Workgroup assignments, or if you did not receive an email with instructions, please contact Rosie Kay at email@example.com.
2020 National CAFO Roundtable – September 22-24
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 101 Webinar Series – October 19-20
Due to the postponement of the 2020 Modeling Workshop, ACWA will be holding a 2-day Modeling 101 webinar series, starting Monday, October 19. This series is designed as an introductory course for those new to modeling or interested in a refresher.
Sessions will take place through GoToWebinar, and registration links will be posted at a later date.
2020 Virtual Nutrients Permitting Workshop – October 26 – 29
ACWA’s next Nutrients Permitting Workshop, the fifth in a series of seven, will take place virtually. Sessions will take October 26-29, from 1:00-5:00 PM Eastern Time. This workshop will focus on nutrients permitting flexibilities such as water quality trading and other market-based methods, integrated planning, and more.
Sessions will take place through GoToWebinar, and a draft agenda and registration links will be posted at a later date.
You can find more information on the workshop event page as it is made available.
ECHO Dashboard of the Week
NPDES Data Sharing Dashboard
Summary: The 2015 NPDES Electronic Reporting Rule (“NPDES eRule”) requires authorized NPDES programs to electronically share the required minimum set of NPDES data (see Appendix A, 40 CFR part 127) with EPA in a timely, accurate, complete, and nationally-consistent manner fully compatible with EPA’s national NPDES data system (ICIS-NPDES). See 40 CFR 127.1(b) and 127.23. EPA created this dashboard to focus on how well EPA Regions and states are doing in sharing some of these NPDES program data with ICIS-NPDES. The initial release of the dashboard tracks the “completeness” aspect of these NPDES data elements [i.e., are these data present or absent in EPA’s NPDES data system (ICIS-NPDES)]. EPA worked collaboratively with states to improve the functionality of the dashboard and the quality of the data supporting the dashboard. EPA plans to build additional charts and data visualizations over time to make it easier to evaluate implementation of the NPDES eRule. EPA will continue its collaboration with states prior to any new enhancements of this dashboard.
NPDES eRule Implementation: Phase 1 (States: Facility and Permit Info)
Status: This dashboard is currently posted to ECHO Gov. EPA is working on a new view to better identify the reports that NPDES-regulated entities must file (i.e., “NPDES Data Group” data).
Scope of Dashboard: Same as the “NPDES eRule Readiness and Reporting Dashboard.” The forthcoming view of “NPDES Data Group” data will include all individually permitted facilities.