Water Utility Employees Included in Phase 1-B of COVID Vaccination Program
The Department of Homeland Security recognizes water and wastewater utility staff and their suppliers and manufacturers as part of the “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce” (see page 15). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s phased approach for COVID-19 vaccinations recommends that non-health care essential workers, which include water utility staff, receive priority in Phase 1-B of the COVID Vaccination Program (see Section 4). EPA will continue to work closely with CDC and other federal agencies to ensure that the water sector continues to receive the most up-to-date information, and the agency recommends water utilities coordinate with their state and local governments and health departments regarding vaccination distribution planning.
EPA Offering Integrated Planning Technical Assistance
EPA has partnered with the Environmental Finance Centers at the University of Maryland and the University of North Carolina to help municipalities and states with integrated planning efforts. State permitting authorities can also receive assistance with reviewing integrated plans and the Environmental Finance Centers can evaluate affordability and review implementation schedules. The assistance is available from December 1, 2020 to August 31, 2021 and is open to municipalities and states permitting agencies.
Environmental Law Institute Releases Three Reports on Citizen Science and Environmental Agencies
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently asked ELI to explore and characterize this recent uptake of citizen science by environmental agencies and assess its uses in environmental protection programs. EPA asked ELI to characterize existing and new ways citizen science is being adopted by environmental agencies, define the best practices, and identify strategic steps that can be taken to support the use of citizen science for environmental decision-making. The findings can be found in three newly released reports:
- Citizen Science Programs at Environmental Agencies: Case Studies looks at 15 agency programs that actively involve the public to complement official agency action and establish a collaborative role in protecting the environment. While ELI sought to highlight a wide range of citizen science examples, the emphasis is on citizen science at environmental agencies and its uses in environmental protection programs, particularly in air and water programs.
- Citizen Science Programs at Environmental Agencies: Best Practices identifies best practices for environmental agencies that are interested in or actively pursuing citizen science. The best practices focus on generating reliable data, building a supportive network, and securing long-term commitment for citizen science programs with the intention of creating shared value for environmental agencies and the public. Each best practice is described in detail and supplemented with relevant examples from the case studies.
- Enabling Citizen Science Programs at Environmental Agencies: Recommendations to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency outlines the key issue areas and makes strategic recommendations to the U.S. EPA and other potential partners on how to facilitate the uptake of citizen science and sustain the use of citizen science across agencies and programs.
The papers are available for free download here.
USGS Releases a New Study Linking Groundwater to Upward Trends in Stream Nitrate Concentrations
Despite the tremendous effort invested in reducing the use of nitrogen, widespread decreases in nitrate loads in US rivers and streams remain elusive. A new study from the USGS provides more evidence that the culprit is the slow release to streams of nitrogen that has accumulated in groundwater and other storage areas, known as legacy nitrogen.
The study used a dynamic modeling technique to examine daily loads and concentrations of nitrate for 2002–2012 in 320 streams across the contiguous U.S. The study focused on winter low-flow conditions (January through March), when much of streamflow is contributed by upwelling groundwater or by point sources such as wastewater treatment plant effluent. Elevated nitrate concentrations (> 2 mg/L as nitrogen) typically were in areas with intensive use of nitrogen-containing fertilizer or in high-density metropolitan areas with wastewater treatment plant discharges.
Citation: Johnson, H.M. and Stets, E.G. Nitrate in streams during winter low-flow conditions as an indicator of legacy nitrate. Water Resources Research, https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2019WR026996.
PFAS Provisions Included in Proposed FY2021 NDAA
As lawmakers work towards passing the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act, actions related to PFAS are included in its Conference Committee report. Provisions include:
- A federal PFAS working group, chaired by the Office of Science and Technology Policy, to coordinate federal actions and a 20-year R&D strategic plan. This requires consultation with states, tribes, territories, localities, and other entities with PFAS expertise.
- Authorizing $1.4 billion for PFAS-related remediation; Prizes up to $5 million incenting development of non-PFAS foams, and a $5 million boost to the CDC study on the health implications of PFAS in drinking water directed by the 2018 NDAA.
- Enacting a moratorium on DOD incineration of materials containing PFAS or AFFF until the Secretary of Defense promulgates regulations that implement the requirements of the FY2020 NDAA and take into consideration the interim PFAS disposal guidance published by EPA.
- Directing DOD SERDP to promote and fund development of non-PFAS AFFF.
- Requiring mandatory immediate notification (that includes PFAS analyte and concentration) to agricultural facilities within 1 mile of DOD installations where PFAS has been detected in groundwater, drinking water sources, or is expected to be present. DOD must report on these notices to Congress annually.
- Directing the National Institute of Standards and Technology to study new gear developed for firefighters, to identify any gear containing PFAS; potential risks to the user; and potential risks to the environment via post-use disposal.
Not included was a proposal to prohibit the EPA from applying 40 CFR 372.38 exemptions with respect to Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reporting. If adopted, the proposal would have prevented EPA from exempting facilities from reporting de minimus releases of certain PFAS in discharged chemical mixtures to the TRI, unless EPA raised the TRI reporting threshold of those PFAS-containing mixtures from 100 to at least 10,000 pounds. De-minimus means 1% of the chemical mixture for toxins and 0.1% of a chemical mixture for known carcinogens.
Interim Strategy EPA Issued NPDES Permits PFAS in Memo
This week EPA Assistant Administrator Dave Ross sent a memo to the 10 Regional Administrators outlining recommendations developed by an EPA workgroup to address PFAS in EPA issued NPDES permits. These interim strategy recommendations include:
- Include permit requirements for phased-in monitoring and best management practices, as appropriate, taking into consideration when PFAS are expected to be present in point source wastewater discharges.
- Include permit requirements for phased-in monitoring and stormwater pollutant control, as appropriate, taking into consideration when PFAS are expected to be present in stormwater discharges.
- Information sharing on permitting practices and the development of a permitting compendium, an information sharing platform, and continuation of the workgroup.
The workgroup recommends PFAS-specific communication, knowledge sharing, capacity-building, and training opportunities through the following deliverables:
|Build-out relevant NPDES permitting information on the EPA PFAS website and NPDES Permit Writers’ Clearinghouse.||June 2021|
Publish a PFAS permitting compendium that provides examples of permit conditions that have been developed and issued by states and EPA.
Third Quarter 2021
Host quarterly meetings of the Regional Coordinators workgroup.
Beginning January 2021
Broadcast two webinars for states and EPA Regions on relevant PFAS topics.
First Quarter 2021
Work with the Association of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA) to organize 2nd state listening session.
First Quarter 2021
A copy of the memo can be found here.
Meetings and Webinars
EPA Webinar: Flow Measurement
Date: December 8, 2020 | 1:o0-2:30 PM Eastern Time
Presenter: Louis Salguero, US EPA, Region 4 Athens, GA
Registration: Click here
Description: This webinar will cover some of the basics of how flow is typically measured at an NPDES discharge point. The information is applicable to the discharge from wastewater treatment plants or from industrial dischargers. The webinar will provide in class guidance on how various open and closed channel flow measurement devices function, how they are calibrated, and their respective applications. An onsite demonstration/inspection will be conducted on a parshall flume. This demonstration will include measuring the physical characteristics of the primary device and installing, operating, and evaluating the accuracy of the facility’s secondary device. A question and answer session will be held afterward to answer any questions.
Sponsors: US EPA’s Office of Compliance and the US EPA-Authorized State Reducing SNC with NPDES Permits National Compliance Initiative (NCI) Workgroup.
EPA Creating the Water Workforce of the Future Webinar Series — Technology Adoption: It’s All About the People
Date: December 9, 2020 | 11:00-12:30 PM Eastern Time
Registration: Click here
Every day, water service providers tackle complex challenges, such as aging water infrastructure, extreme weather events, water shortages, rising costs, increasing customer demands, and cyber security. Water sector utilities serve as “anchor institutions” in their communities and are implementing new and exciting technologies to address these pressing challenges. As utilities adopt these new technologies, they also need to invest in their most important resource: their staff. It is critically important that employees receive training and support to ensure the water workforce remains efficient and resilient.
Please join EPA and speakers from two leading organizations as they discuss the motivations, challenges, and benefits they are experiencing as they work with their own employees and others to ensure their people get the best support possible to meet the technology and water quality challenges of the 21st century.
This webinar is part of an ongoing webinar series sponsored by EPA, with support from other leading water associations.
International Joint Commission: 2020 Second Triennial Assessment of Progress Report on Great Lakes Water Quality
Date: December 10, 2020 | 2:00-3:00 PM Eastern Time
Registration: Click here
The International Joint Commission (IJC) will release its 2020 Triennial Assessment of Progress report on December 10, 2020. The report is an independent review of the Canadian and US governments’ progress in the past three years to restore and maintain the Great Lakes under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The IJC will host a virtual news conference to further discuss its report findings with the media; the webinar is open to all interested participants. This report recommends that both governments spend the next three years establishing a binational climate adaptation strategy, eliminating blue-green algal blooms from Lake Superior, better linking program activities to progress reporting, and improving public engagement.
Speaking on the conference:
- IJC US Chair Jane Corwin
- IJC Canadian Chair Pierre Béland
- Mari Veliz, Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority; Exeter, Ontario
- Valerie Damstra and Emma Holtan, Northland College; Ashland, Wisconsin
The virtual news conference will be simulcast at ijc.org and on the Facebook pages of the International Joint Commission and Detroit Public Television’s Great Lakes Now. After a 30-minute presentation including invited speakers from Wisconsin and Ontario, IJC Commissioners will take questions from the media and participants. The IJC will offer a French language virtual news conference the same day at 3:30 p.m. ET.
INECE Webinar: Looking Ahead: The Role of Citizen Science in Compliance and Enforcement Programs
Date: December 11, 2020 | 10:00 AM-12:00 PM Eastern Time
Registration: Click here
This webinar will provide perspectives on the role community science will play as technology evolves, data sources become more widely available to citizens, communities seek a bigger role in determining their environmental future, government resources remain under stress in the post-pandemic era, and equity issues play a bigger role in decision-making. Speakers include:
- Shannon Dosemagen, Director, Open Environmental Data Project
- Philip Osano, Centre Director, Stockholm Environmental Institute Africa
- Nancy Stoner, President, Potomac Riverkeeper Network
- Keith Talley, Louisville Air Pollution Control District
- Uta Wehn, Associate Professor of Water Innovation Studies, IHE Delft Institute for Water Education
EPA ECHO Webinar: The Hazardous Waste Facility Search and Hazardous Waste State Dashboard
Date: December 15, 2020 | 1:30-2:30 PM Eastern Time
Registration: Click here
During this webinar, we will explore and demonstrate how the Hazardous Waste Facility Search provides RCRA-specific evaluation, compliance, enforcement, and penalty data through step-by-step examples and practical use cases. We will answer questions such as:
- How can I find Hazardous Waste compliance information for facilities in my community?
- How can I identify facilities with TRI (Toxics Release Inventory) land releases or waste transfers?
- How can I use ECHO to prepare for a hazardous waste facility inspection?
- How can I use the new Hazardous Waste Dashboard to understand compliance and enforcement activities in my state?
EPA Tools & Resources Webinar: Detection of SARS CoV-2 in Wastewater to Inform Public Health
Date: December 16, 2020 | 3:00-4:00 PM Eastern Time
Registration: Click here
Widespread studies conducted national and globally indicate that genes specific to the SARS-CoV-2 virus can be detected in wastewater. The ability to collectively sample both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals has lead dozens of state, cities and universities to actively monitor wastewater to inform public health decisions. This webinar will focus on EPA ORD’s collaborative research efforts to reduce uncertainty in wastewater monitoring, including method development within our lab, application in sewersheds with distinctive levels of industrial and stormwater impacts within the Cincinnati Metropolitan Sewer District, and development of a wastewater surveillance system in Ohio in support of the State Department of Health.
EE2020 Webinar Series: Deploying Drones for Environmental Results
Date: December 17, 2020 | 1:00 – 2:30 PM Eastern Time
Registration: Click here
The link to join the webinar will be distributed to registrants via email shortly before the webinar begins.
Drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are taking environmental agency programs to new heights! States, tribes, and EPA are generating better environmental results and improving worker safety by deploying drones in emergency response, compliance monitoring, mapping, sampling, and other activities. Join us to hear more about these soaring efforts, techniques for managing all the new data, and lessons learned on the ground and in the sky.
The link to join the webinar will be distributed to registrants via email shortly before the webinar begins. For registration questions, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Montana Storm Water Conference – Abstract Deadline Extended to December 11th
Date: May 3 – 5, 2021
Location: Missoula, MT
Submit an Abstract! Topics range from stream and watershed health to climate change and resilience. This conference is about you and how you improve storm water systems – share what works (or doesn’t work).
- Stream and Watershed Health (can include stream restoration and monitoring)
- BMPs, GI, and LID
- Climate Change and Resilience
- Community Planning/Outreach (can include, but not limited to, taking a holistic approach to community planning (zoning, etc.); community involvement/outreach; and public/private partnerships.)
- Tools for Program Implementation (stories of successes and/or challenges as well as resources and technologies)
- Watershed Management and Regulatory Framework Updates
- Contractor Training
Abstracts can be submitted here:
Call for Abstracts – MT Storm Water Conference
Emerging Government Strategies for Citizen Science (Webinar Recording)
This webinar explores how environmental agencies are using, supporting, and interacting with citizen and community science efforts. The recording of the November 20th, 2020 webinar is available here.
- Jay Benforado, Chief Innovation Officer, US EPA
- Cynthia Barzuna, Especialista Derecho Ambiental y Urbanistico, SETENA
- John Kennedy, Director, Virginia DEQ Office of Ecology
- George Wyeth, Visiting Scholar, Environmental Law Institute
Environmental Quality Programs Specialist II – Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy
Location: Lincoln, NE
Closing Date: December 7, 2020
The Environmental Quality Program Specialist II position contributes to the fulfillment of the agencies mission to protect, preserve, and enhance Nebraska’s air, land, and water resources. Specifically, this position is tasked with nonpoint source water quality grant project management through the Department’s Clean Water Act Section 319 Nonpoint Source Management program.
For more information, click here.