White House Memo – Regulatory Relief to Support Economic Recovery
On August 31, 2020, OMB sent a memo to federal agencies providing guidance on how to implement Executive Order 13,924 Regulatory Relief To Support Economic Recovery. This memo compiled a list of best practices for assisting agencies with their review of processes and procedures. The memo says government should bear the burden to prove an alleged violation of law and agencies should “ensure that members of the regulated public are not required to prove a negative to prevent liability and enforcement consequences” and agencies should read statutory or regulatory ambiguities related to violations and penalties “in favor of the targeted party in enforcement.” The memo goes on to say administrative enforcement should be prompt and fair. Agencies should seek approval before entering into a tolling agreement that would extend the statute of limitations and should apply “limiting principles to the duration of investigations” should “notify the party when the investigation is closed and, when the agency has made no finding of violation, so state.” Agencies should also “consider and appropriately adopt estoppel and res judicata principles” to eliminate multiple enforcement actions for a single body of operative facts.
The memo also says agency adjudicators should not engage in ex parte communications with investigators/enforcement staff and agencies should develop reporting and disclosure structures for violations of such requirements. The memo also declares that “[a]ll rules of evidence and procedure should be public, clear, and effective” and processes should “eliminate any unfair prejudice, reduce undue delay, avoid the needless presentation of cumulative evidence, and promote efficiency.” Likewise, all “[p]enalties should be proportionate, transparent, and imposed in adherence to consistent standards and only as authorized by law” and enforcement actions should be free of government coercion and free of unfair surprise. Finally, the memo said that agencies should “identify, collect, and periodically make publicly available decisional quality and efficiency metrics regarding adjudications under bureaucratic, judicial, and split enforcement models.” A copy of the memo can be found here.
EPA Releases Final Steam Electric Rule
This week, EPA announced final revisions to the “steam electric rule.” The final rule modifies the 2015 version of the regulation by “leveraging newer, more affordable pollution control technologies and taking a flexible, phased-in implementation approach.” EPA claims the update will save the U.S. energy sector “$140 million annually, while reducing pollution by nearly a million pounds per year over the 2015 rule.” The newly finalized rule revises requirements for two waste streams: flue gas desulfurization (FGD) wastewater and bottom ash (BA) transport water. Key revisions include:
- Changing the technology-basis for treatment of FGD wastewater and BA transport water.
- Establishing new compliance dates.
- Revising the voluntary incentives program for FGD wastewater.
- Adding subcategories for high-flow units, low-utilization units and those that will cease the combustion of coal by 2028 and finalizing requirements that are tailored to facilities in these subcategories.
EPA did not choose to impose broad limits on the release of bromides as many water utilities had requested. EPA believes bromide issues are best handled locally.
A prepublication copy of this rule and associated fact sheet can be found here.
Rescheduled EPA/State/Tribal Webinar Series on Water Quality Certification Rule Changes
EPA is postponing the CWA Section 401 State and Tribal Webinar #2 from September 1 to September 8, 2020. Please note that State and Tribal Webinar #3 will still be held as scheduled on September 9, 2020.
If you have already registered for the webinar (#2) that’s being rescheduled, you will soon receive an updated calendar invitation. We apologize for the inconvenience; in the unfortunate event that you cannot attend at the new date and time, the webinar presentation recordings and webinar slides will be posted on the EPA website shortly after the event. In the meantime, please continue to send questions to CWA401@epa.gov. The effective date of the final Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Rule is September 11, 2020.
State and Tribal Webinar 2
Date: September 8, 2020, 3:00-4:30 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.
Feedback Requested: If you participated in the first webinar and have feedback to share, please let Julia Anastasio know. Specifically, was it useful? Did it answer all your questions about the topics it covered? Were the hypotheticals presented useful? What questions do you still have? Please prioritize your list of questions by how critical the information is to your work implementing the rule. Your feedback may help us encourage changes to the way they craft the third webinar content.
New USGS website provides water quality information for U.S. streams and rivers
A new USGS website provides water-quality concentrations, loads, and trends in streams and rivers across the United States. Site data is sourced from the USGS National Water Quality Network—110 stream and river sites with long-term, consistent data on water-quality. Use the website to access annually updated information on nutrients, sediment, pesticides, and streamflow. These data are collected to assess the status and trends of water-quality conditions at large inland and coastal river sites as well as in small streams in urban, agricultural, and undeveloped basins. Learn more about trends in the quality of the nation’s streams and rivers here.
No Weekly Wrap Week of 9/7
Due to the Labor Day holiday, there will not be a Weekly Wrap next week.
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, in partnership with EPA’s Water Quality Modeling Workgroup, 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. This series will cover a variety of topics, including: modeling principles, model selection, data needs, how to get data, and overviews of the different model types. Sessions will take place through GoToWebinar. Please note that this webinar series is for State, Tribal, and Federal staff.
2020 Virtual Nutrients Permitting Workshop – October 26-29
ACWA’s next Nutrients Permitting Workshop, the fifth in a series of seven, will be held virtually. Sessions will take place 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 soon. You can find more information on the workshop event page as it is made available. If you have any questions about this meeting visit ACWA’s website or contact Jasper Hobbs directly.
Massachusetts DEP – Environmental Analyst: External Monitoring & Data Coordinator
MassDEP’s Watershed Planning Program (WPP) is responsible for assessing waterbodies for attainment of surface water quality standards and/or impairment of designed uses using data collected by both DEP programs and non-DEP (external) groups. The WPP seeks applicants for an External Monitoring & Data Coordinator (Environmental Analyst IV). This position will help to improve the quality and quantity of data available to WPP for use in assessments and other Clean Water Act programs, assist with streamlining assessment-related decision-making, and strengthen WPP’s partnerships with external groups engaged in water quality monitoring.
First consideration will be given to those applicants that apply within the first 14 days. For more information, click here.
Best Management Practices for POTW Compliance:
Critical Elements of Successful Wastewater Treatment
EPA Webinar: Best Management Practices for POTW Compliance: Crititical Elements of Successful Wastewater Treatment – Part 2 (Creating and implementing effective SOPs, managing your WWTP to promote compliance and efficiency, and finding technical assistance programs and resources)
Presenters: Jake Albright PG Environmental, Heather Himmelberger PE, Director Southwest Environmental Finance Center
Date: September 15, 2020 from 1-2:30 PM Eastern Time
Registration: Click here
Audience: The primary audience for these webinars are wastewater treatment plant owners, managers, and operators. Others who will find the webinar informative include: Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) technical assistance providers, permit writers, and compliance staff from states, tribes, and EPA.
During Part 2, Mr. Albright will walk participants through topics related to program management and implementation, guided by the importance of a holistic asset management approach. Then, Heather Himmelberger will provide examples from her broad experience helping plant operators implement asset management programs, including:
- Creating and implementing effective standard operating procedures;
- Managing your WWTP to promote compliance and efficiency;
- Overall importance of asset management in compliance;
- Knowing what you have, what condition it’s in, and how long it will last;
- Informing decision making;
- Tips for developing an effective preventive maintenance program
- Finding technical assistance and resources
To get the most benefit from the webinar, attendees are encouraged to review these background materials:
Ohio EPA Activated Sludge Process Control and Troubleshooting Guide
EPA Fiscal Sustainability Plan Guidance
Asset Management KAN Work!
Asset Management IQ
Asset Management Switchboard