EPA OIG Reports on Title VI Program Funding Oversight
EPA Office of Inspector General Released (OIG) a report, Improved EPA Oversight of Funding Recipients’ Title VI Programs Could Prevent Discrimination, stating that the External Civil Rights Compliance Office (ECRCO) has “not fully implemented” an effective oversight system to track whether funding recipients are complying with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI bars those who receive federal funding from discriminating based on race, color or national origin when carrying out programs for the government. The OIG found that ECRCO does not proactively performance compliance reviews or collect information from funding recipients. The report found that websites for 43 out of 53 states’ and territories’ environmental agencies lacked some “foundational elements” of a Title VI program. State personnel, interviewed by OIG, explicitly stated they needed training and guidance to help them address discrimination complaints related to permits and cumulative impacts, the OIG says in making the development of such guidance at the top of its list of recommendations. The report also included six recommendations for the agency to improve its oversight: develop a plan to coordinate across agency program offices to develop guidance on permitting and cumulative impacts, use systematic compliance reviews, develop performance measures to assess its ongoing pilot program working with the states on foundational elements of nondiscrimination, address potential noncompliance with funding applicants, develop guidance on the use of data collection, and outline a plan to ensure that the staff take Title VI training. The report did find that ECRCO made significant progress in reducing a backlog of cases over four years.
EPA Releases Final TSCA Risk Evaluation for HBCD
EPA released the final risk evaluation for Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster (HBCD) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). In the final HBCD risk evaluation, EPA reviewed 12 conditions of use, including as a flame retardant in building materials, solder paste, recycled plastics, and automobile replacement parts. The HBCD risk evaluation contains the agency’s final determinations on which conditions of use present unreasonable risks to human health or the environment based on scientific data.
EPA found unreasonable risks to the aquatic environment from six conditions of use. The agency assessed the impact of HBCD on aquatic and sediment-dwelling species through surface water and sediment exposures, as well as to terrestrial species. After reviewing these data, EPA found the import, processing, recycling, commercial use, consumer use, and disposal of HBCD presents unreasonable risks to the environment. Additionally, EPA found no unreasonable risks to the general population; found no unreasonable risks to consumers; and, found unreasonable risks to workers and occupational non-users from the use and disposal of HBCD in building and construction materials. Learn more here.
EPA Highlights Progress Through Hypoxia Task Force
During the virtual Fall 2020 Hypoxia Task Force meeting, federal and state Task Force members highlighted actions to reduce excess nutrients, as well as discussed the benefits of new tools and approaches to improve surface water quality. EPA also presented on ways in which Task Force states could use EPA funds, such as SRF and Section 319 grants to support programs that help further reduce excess nutrients in surface water, including the use of 319 funds to purchase verified water quality credits.
USGS provided an update on new tools, including discussing its online SPARROW (SPAtially Referenced Regression On Watershed attributes) models and interactive mappers. USGS also highlighted a new website with data from the USGS National Water Quality Network updates information on nutrients, sediment, pesticides and streamflow in the Nation’s rivers annually. This new website will continue to provide information stream and river sites with long-term, consistent data on water-quality.
More information on the Hypoxia Task Force may be found here.
FY21 Appropriations: Continuing Resolution Signed to Avoid Government Shutdown
Last week, the House of Representatives passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) extending appropriations through December 11, 2020 to avert a government shutdown beginning at midnight on this past Wednesday. The Senate passed the CR with an 84-10 vote on Wednesday, just ahead of the midnight deadline. President Trump was unable to sign the short-term extension before midnight due to a campaign rally in Minnesota, but he signed the bill upon his return to Washington, D.C. early Thursday morning. The momentary lapse in funding did not affect any agency activities.
Appropriations discussions are expected to pick up in the lame duck session after election season has passed.
EPA COVID-19 Water Sector Survey
EPA began administering a voluntary online survey to a pre-identified, statistically representative sample of drinking water and wastewater systems to learn how the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) has affected drinking water and wastewater services, both operationally and financially, across the country. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and as communities recover and reopen, the services provided by water utilities have been vital to supporting public health and protecting the environment. This voluntary survey will facilitate the collection of useful information in a uniform format to guide the development of technical assistance which could help sustain water utility operations and to support planning for the future. EPA has prepared a fact sheet with additional information on the survey effort.
Introduction to Surface Water Quality Modeling – October 19-20
Due to the postponement of the 2020 Modeling Workshop, ACWA will be hosting a 2-day event: Introduction to Surface Water Quality Modeling, 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. The agenda may be found here.
You may register here. If you have any questions about this meeting contact Jasper Hobbs directly.
Please note that this series is for State, Tribal, and EPA 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 with registration links may be found on the workshop event page. If you have any questions about this meeting visit ACWA’s website or contact Jasper Hobbs directly.
ENVIRONMENTAL ANALYST (Lake Champlain Basin Program – CAC Coordinator)
The Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) coordinates and funds activities that protect and improve the natural and human resources of the Lake Champlain Basin. Partners in the program include the States of New York and Vermont, the Province of Quebec, NEIWPCC, the U.S. EPA, the U.S. National Park Service, and the International Great Lakes Fishery Commission. LCBP also collaborates with several other agencies and organizations at the federal, state, and local levels, including private firms and academic institutions. LCBP is a program partner of NEIWPCC.
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ASTSWMO RCRA Subtitle C Corrective Action 2020 and The Road Ahead Webinar Series: GenX and related PFAS in North Carolina
Date: November 5, 2020 | 1-2:30 PM Eastern Time
Registration: Click here
The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has been working to assess and mitigate PFAS emissions from the Chemours facility in Fayetteville, NC, for several years. PFAS compounds were first discovered in the Cape Fear River by EPA researchers. Various PFAS compounds, including HFPO Dimer Acid, or “GenX,” have since been discovered in surface water, rain, soil, sediment, fish, foam on surface water, and in private drinking water wells more than 12 miles from the facility. Join staff from the NC DEQ to learn more about the PFAS investigation in the area and how impacted resources are being addressed to protect human health and the environment.
NC DEQ Speakers:
- Julie Grzyb, Deputy Director, Division of Water Resources
- Julie Woosley, Hazardous Waste Section Chief, Division of Waste Management
- Michael Pjetraj, Deputy Director, Division of Air Quality
EE2020 Webinar on Community Science
Date: October 8, 2020 | 1-3 PM Eastern Time
Registration: Click here
The link to join the webinar will be distributed to registrants via email shortly before the webinar begins.
Community science, or the involvement of the public in expanding scientific knowledge and understanding, is becoming more and more widespread in environmental and public health programs at the local, state, and national levels. The use of community-collected data to help address environmental issues presents both opportunities and challenges for government agencies.
This session will showcase results from an EPA-funded project at the Environmental Law Institute that is assessing how different state and tribal environmental programs use community science. Panelists will review and discuss a diverse set of state and tribal case studies. The goals are to: 1) learn about different types of state and tribal community science programs that can serve as models; 2) analyze different program’s operations and best practices, and; 3) engage the audience in their ideas for how EPA, states and tribes can better partner on community science programs.
Visit the website to register and to find a more detailed agenda and information on our featured speakers.
For registration questions, please email: email@example.com.