EPA Emergency COVID-19 Impact Study
EPA is developing an emergency survey to gauge the current and anticipated economic and operational challenges faces by the nation’s drinking water and wastewater system during the coronavirus (COVID-19) national health emergency.
A goal of the information collection is to assess whether water sector utilities have sufficient resources to continue operations and provide safe drinking water and wastewater treatment during the COVID-19 national emergency. An equally important goal is to collect information that would facilitate planning for a rapid response, if necessary. It is anticipated that respondents will consist of community water systems (CWSs) and publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) of all sizes (including American Indian and Alaska Native Village utilities), and that utilities with both drinking water and wastewater services may be included in the survey. The survey will be administered on-line and consists of questions that address workforce, supply chain, financial, and analytical impacts. EPA has drawn a statistically representative sample of approximately 4,650 systems to participate in the survey and is also close to finalizing the questions and the on-line survey form. More information on each of those topics will be provided prior to its release. EPA expects to encumber the bulk of the effort associated with the survey including, but not limited to: drawing the sample, sending the survey to systems, responding to requests for technical assistance, and processing the data. In addition, EPA is currently developing a factsheet and responses to frequently asked questions in case any of your staff receive questions, and will provide those when they are final.
As an overall note, the COVID-19 water sector survey will be conducted very quickly. EPA hopes to administer the online survey in early September and recipients will have approximately two weeks to respond. More information on this emergency survey will be forthcoming, but if you have any questions, feel free to email EPA at COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org.
Army Corps Releases Changes to NWP
On August 3, 2020, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced a proposal to renew and revise its 52 nationwide permits and issue five new nationwide permits. The proposal notes that it follows President Trump’s Executive Order 13783, Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth, which was issued on March 28, 2017, and instructed federal agencies to review existing regulations that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources. The modifications generally pertain to changes in thresholds for requiring pre-construction notifications or Corps approvals, elimination of linear foot thresholds for certain NWPs, and expansion of criteria for using certain NWPs. The corps identified nine nationwide permits to be revised according to Executive Order 13783 and is proposing to reissue its remaining nationwide permits so all nationwide permits remain on the same five-year approval cycle. The nationwide permits currently in effect were issued in 2017 and are not set to expire until March 2022. The corps’ proposal includes the issuance of five new nationwide permits, to pertain to:
- electric utility line and telecommunications activities
- utility line activities for water and other substances
- water reclamation and reuse facilities
- seaweed mariculture activities
- finfish mariculture activities
The current proposal also recommends splitting out NWP 12 into three parts:
- oil and natural gas pipelines
- electric utility lines and telecommunication lines
- utility lines conveying water, sewage and other substances
The corps states that it is separating out the current activities that NWP 12 authorizes to “address the differences in how different linear projects are constructed, the substances they convey, and the different standards and best management practices that help ensure those NWPs authorize only those activities that have no more than minimal adverse environmental effects.” After the publication of the Federal Register notice, Corps district offices will send letters to Clean Water Act Section 401 certifying authorities to request water quality certification for those NWPs that may result in a discharge from a point source into waters of the United States. The certifying agencies will have 60 days to act on the certification request. The corps has released a pre-publication version of the notice on its website and anticipates publishing a formal Federal Register notice in the coming weeks. It is likely the comment period will be 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.
ACWA is evaluating whether the association should submit comments on the modified and new NWP. Please email Julia Anastasio to share your thoughts or concerns regarding the proposal.
Call For Abstracts for the 12th National Monitoring Conference is Open
The 12th National Monitoring Conference is scheduled for April 20–22, 2021 in Providence, Rhode Island. This conference provides opportunities for water stakeholders – federal, state, tribal and local water professionals, nonprofits, academia, and volunteer citizen scientists – to network, develop new skills and partnerships, and exchange information.
The NWQMC is requesting abstracts for oral presentations, posters, and extended sessions covering topics related to rivers and streams, lakes, wetlands, coastal waters and estuaries, groundwater, nonpoint source work, and TMDLs. Abstracts are due September 24, 2020.
More information may be found here.
USDA Announces RCPP Funding and Webinar
USDA has announced funding for the next round of Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) projects. Applications for funding are due by November 4th, through the RCPP portal.
On August 27, 2020 from 3:00 – 4:00 PM Eastern Time, NRCS will host a webinar with general program information for RCPP applicants.
A full overview of the RCPP project and how to access the webinar may be found here.
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 email@example.com.
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.
ACWA, ASDWA Comment on EPA’s Draft Lake Numeric Nutrient Criteria 304(a) Guidance
On August 20, ACWA and ASDWA submitted substantive comments on the Draft Ambient Water Quality Criteria Recommendations for Lakes and Reservoirs of the Conterminous United States: Information Supporting the Development of Numeric Nutrient Criteria (Draft LNNC) released for public comment in May, 2020. The Draft LNNC uses national-scale lake water quality data to develop probabilistic models of lake and reservoir conditions. Based on these conditions, a stressor/response methodology is provided for deriving nutrient criteria protective of drinking water, recreation, and aquatic life uses based on certain effects of some types of algal growth.
ACWA and ASDWA noted their general support of the Draft LNNC’s stressor/response, risk-based approach to replace the existing reference condition approach to lake and reservoir numeric nutrient criteria (NNC) development. However, ACWA and ASDWA found it difficult to determine whether the Draft LNNC methodology would more precisely and efficiently derive NNC without further clarity from EPA. ACWA and ASDWA noted states’ concerns about the underlying statistical modeling and application of national-scale data to develop lake-specific criteria, and requested further clarification and resources from EPA to enhance states’ scientific and technical evaluation and potential adoption of the new NNC methodology.
Read the substantive comment letter here. Previously, ACWA, ASDWA, and ECOS submitted comments to request a comment period extension, which EPA granted.
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, 2020. 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. If you have any questions about this meeting visit the website or contact Jasper Hobbs directly.
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, 2o2o 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. If you have any questions about this meeting visit the website or contact Jasper Hobbs directly.
ECHO Dashboard of the Week
NPDES eRule Phase 2 Implementation Dashboard
Summary: EPA is working collaboratively with states to implement Phase 2 of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Electronic Reporting rule (NPDES eRule). This dashboard provides information on the progress in converting general permits and program reports to electronic submissions (Phase 2 of the NPDES eRule) as well as EPA’s coordination with states that are using EPA’s NPDES electronic reporting tool (NeT). EPA and states should use this dashboard to track the conversion of general permits and program reports to electronic reporting. States provide regular updates to EPA as they build their own electronic reporting tools.
NPDES eRule Implementation: Phase 2 (States: Tracking Conversion to Election Reporting for General Permits and Program Reports)
Status: This dashboard is currently posted to ECHO. EPA updates the dashboard with updated information provided by states.
Scope of Dashboard: The dashboard focuses on NPDES general permits and program reports.