EPA Proposes Changes to MSGP
On Monday this week, EPA’s proposed updates to the Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) were published in the Federal Register. The comment period is 60 days and closes May 1, 2020. Comment can be submitted via Docket Number EPA–HQ–OW–2019–0372. If you think there would be value in having ACWA submit comments to EPA on this proposed permit, please contact Sean Rolland.
The proposed permit would replace EPA’s existing MSGP set to expire on June 4, 2020. EPA is proposing to issue this permit for five (5) years and seeks comment on the proposed permit and on the accompanying fact sheet, which contains supporting documentation. EPA encourages the public to read the fact sheet to better understand the proposed permit, which can be found here.
A summary of the proposed changes include permit streamlining, updates to eligibility criteria, requirements for public signage, Major Storm control measures, new monitoring requirements, updates to the Additional Implementation Measures triggers, and sector-specific pollution prevention requirements for fact sheets.
Watershed Index Online (WSIO) Updated for 2020
The EPA Healthy Watersheds Team is pleased to announce the completion of Version 2.1 of the Watershed Index Online (WSIO), a national library of watershed attributes used for comparing watershed characteristics anywhere in the conterminous United States. The newly updated WSIO incorporates 178 updated and 20 new HUC12 indicators and contains 436 HUC12 indicators in total. The improvements in the national watershed indicator library can be accessed from the WSIO website by downloading Excel or geodatabase versions of the HUC12 indicator library, through the WSIO Tool, or as a web service. All of the lower 48 US States have newly refreshed RPS Tools, which are now downloadable from the RPS website. For more information, please visit the RPS, HWP and WSIO websites (all three easily accessed from one healthy watersheds hub).
EPA Announces Supplement to Science Transparency Proposed Rule
EPA has announced supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking to the Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science proposed rule. This is not a new rule, but instead provides clarifications, modifications and additions to certain provisions published on April 30, 2018.
A link to the pre-publication of the supplemental notice may be found here. Once in the federal register, there will be a 30 day comment period. ACWA’s comment letter on the initial rule may be found here.
USDA Invites Input on Regional Conservation Partnership Program Rule
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) seeks public comments on its interim rule for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), which helps partners develop and implement unique conservation solutions that engage farmers, ranchers and forest landowners. The rule – now available on the Federal Register – takes effect on publication and includes changes to the program prescribed by the 2018 Farm Bill.
The 2018 Farm Bill made RCPP a stand-alone program with its own dedicated funding, simplifying rules for partners and producers. Additionally, the 2018 Farm Bill reduces the number of funding pools and emphasizes partner reporting of conservation outcomes. The updated program also expands flexibility for alternative funding arrangements with partners and availability of watershed program authorities to projects outside critical conservation areas.
NRCS invites comments on this interim rule through April 13. If you have not done so already and you think it would be worthwhile for ACWA to submit comments on this rule, please email Mark Patrick McGuire.
For more information, visit the RCPP website.
New Member Services Associate Starts at ACWA
Rosie Kay joined the ACWA team in March as a Member Services Associate. As the Member Services Associate, Rosie will be responsible for maintaining the Association’s web-based communication services like our website and Member 365. She will also assist with the publication of key ACWA products including the Weekly Wrap and the Annual Report. Finally, Rosie will also support development, planning and implementation of ACWA’s meetings and workshops. Rosie joins us from Basecamp Strategy, a digital fundraising company, where she was a Senior Content Creator. Prior to Basecamp Strategy, Rosie worked for Facebook and INVNT. She has also interned with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and several congressional offices. Rosie has a B.A. in Communications Studies from Northeastern University.
ACWA Nutrients Policy Committee Webinar – American Farmland Trust Soil Health Case Studies
Many farmers believe the scientific evidence that soil health practices improve soil and water quality. However, they are reluctant to change management techniques without knowing the costs and benefits of soil health practices.
In response to this, American Farmland Trust (AFT) began a study to quantify the costs and benefits of investing in soil health. AFT used a variety of methods to estimate the net economic benefits eight farmers experienced from investing in soil health practices. AFT also quantified the water quality and climate benefits of these practices. The result of the study was eight two-page case studies. To learn more, go here.
On Monday, March 23, 2020 from 3:00–4:00 pm Eastern, Michelle Perez, Water Initiative Director at American Farmland Trust, will present on these case studies and speak on the study’s findings relative to nutrients.
To register for the webinar, go here.
Nutrients Tracker Still Open for State Responses
The Nutrient Reduction Progress Tracker 2.0 – 2019 (the “Tracker”) is still open for states to respond.
For some background, the Nutrients Working Group (“NWG”), a partnership between ACWA, EPA, and ASDWA, began work in 2014 to identify a set of measures that demonstrate progress toward nutrient reduction in the nation’s waters. States recognized that while there was a national metric tracking state adoption of numeric nitrogen and phosphorus criteria for lakes, estuaries, and flowing waters, there was an opportunity to also measure the myriad of other approaches states take to reduce nutrient pollution.
The Nutrient Reduction Progress Tracker Version 1.0 – 2017 was the culmination of that effort. The NWG released a Report in March 2018 summarizing the data received.
The Nutrients Reduction Progress Tracker Version 2.0 – 2019 follows the 2017 version, seeking to both track state progress on nutrients pollution reduction efforts since 2017 and also seek more detail on state programs.
You may access the Tracker here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ACWATracker2019.
If you would like a fillable .pdf to assist in your efforts, you may access that here: Nutrient Reduction Progress Tracker 2.0 – 2019.
For assistance in filling out the Tracker, please consult ACWA’s FAQs here: Nutrient Reduction Progress Tracker 2.0 – 2019 FAQ.
If you have any other questions regarding this effort, please contact Mark Patrick McGuire or 202-756-0604.
2020 ACWA Mid-Year Meeting – March 17-18, 2020
Guaranteed lodging at the Hilton Old Town Alexandria has closed. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you need lodging.
To register for the meeting and view the most recent draft agenda, go here.
2020 National Pretreatment Meeting – May 11-13, 2020
The 2020 National Pretreatment Meeting will take place May 11-13 in Nashville, Tennessee. To view the draft agenda, go here. Monday, May 11 will be a series of training sessions from 1-5 pm; Tuesday, May 12 will be an all-day states and EPA-only meeting; and Wednesday, May 13 will be an all-day meeting partnered with NACWA at the Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt University.
To register, go here.
Lodging is available at the Holiday Inn Nashville Vanderbilt.
Save the Date! – ACWA Nutrients Permitting Workshop – June 2-4, 2020
ACWA’s next Nutrients Permitting Workshop will take place June 2–4, 2020 at the Best Western Premier Park Hotel Madison in Madison, Wisconsin. This is the fifth workshop in a series of seven. This workshop will focus on nutrients permitting flexibilities such as water quality trading and other market based methods, integrated planning, and more.
Attendees will include:
- State program staff involved in managing nutrients and permitting programs
- EPA Headquarters and Regional staff involved in nutrient and permitting program management
- Partnering state and federal agency staff that provide technical and/or regulatory assistance to the nutrient and permitting programs
- Invited guests
To register, go here.
Lodging is available at the Best Western Premier Park Hotel Madison. ACWA has secured a block of rooms for workshop attendees at the government rate of $131 (plus applicable taxes) for a single-person room. To secure your lodging at this rate, please make your reservations by May 2, 2020. To make your reservations, go to this link or call 1(800) 780-7234 and request the Association of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA) room block.
ACWA is able to organize this meeting because of a Cooperative Agreement with EPA. Included in the agreement are funds to assist with state travel. If you plan to request travel support from ACWA, please do your best to provide an estimate of the cost categories and total expenses (e.g., airfare, lodging, per diem, miscellaneous) you will need. Requests for travel support should be sent to Mark Patrick McGuire by Friday, March 27.
Save the Date! – 2020 National CAFO Roundtable – September 22-24, 2020
The 2020 National CAFO Roundtable will be held in Bismarck, North Dakota on September 22 – 24, 2020. The goal for this meeting is to support the implementation of animal agriculture programs nationwide by helping support states and EPA to further identify challenges and barriers to CAFO/AFO program implementation, sharing new technologies & best management practices, showcasing innovative state programs and initiatives, facilitating discussion on national program enhancements and improvements, identifying state resource needs including tools, training and guidance, and proposing solutions to challenges and barriers faced by the agriculture industry and other stakeholders. This meeting is specifically organized by state and federal regulators and attendees generally include state and federal program managers, permit writers, inspectors, and compliance staff involved in regulating AFO/CAFO programs. This meeting also attracts partnering state and federal agency staff that provide technical and/or regulatory assistance to animal agriculture facilities. The agenda for this meeting will be developed over the next two months. Further details about this meeting can be found on ACWA’s website.
Save the Date! – 2020 ACWA Modeling Workshop – October 20-23, 2020
ACWA will be holding a Modeling Workshop on October 20-23, 2020 at the EPA Region 5 facilities in Chicago, Illinois. This workshop aims to build off of last year’s EPA-led workshop in Dallas. We have a great planning team of state and EPA representatives working hard to put together an agenda. There will also be a Pre-Conference Workshop on Monday, October 19 designed as an introductory course for those new to modeling or interested in a refresher.
Lodging is available at the Palmer House Hilton. ACWA has secured a room block for workshop attendees at the per diem rate of $229 (plus applicable taxes). To secure lodging at this rate, please make your reservations by October 5, 2020. To register, go here and use the group code: ACW.
Please stay tuned for more information regarding travel, lodging, and content, and contact Jasper Hobbs with any questions.
MassDEP seeks applicants for two positions of Senior Wetlands Analyst in the Wetlands and Waterways Division within the Bureau of Water Resources (BWR). Under supervision of the Wetlands Program Chief, the Senior Wetlands Analyst will conduct and oversee project review, permitting, compliance, and enforcement for major public infrastructure projects pursuant to the Wetlands Protection Act (WPA) and Water Quality Certification (401WQC) regulations. The major projects portfolio includes large complex transportation improvements for roadways/highways, bridges, railways, and airports; other statewide transportation initiatives (e.g. multi-use trails); statewide utilities improvements (e.g. power and energy infrastructure) and other major infrastructure and statewide projects. The position will develop Wetlands Variance decisions for Commissioner approval and will assist with developing and implementing permitting strategies suitable for major projects (e.g. “Design-Build” and long linear projects spanning multiple towns or other statewide projects). To ensure successful management of a large portfolio, the Senior Wetlands Analyst will promote coordination and communication with project proponents; oversee the work of MassDEP staff to ensure review and permitting timelines are met; and liaise as needed with other MassDEP programs (e.g. Chapter 91 Waterways) and Regional Offices and other local, state, or federal resource agencies. First consideration will be given to those applicants that apply within the first 14 days. For more information and to apply, go here.
The second position is the Environmental Analyst IV. This position may also assist with other MASSDOT-related efforts, including coordination with other MassDEP programs (e.g. Chapter 91 Waterways), other resource agencies, and local Conservation Commissions; and participation in relevant Program initiatives and Policy development. This position is based in MassDEP’s Boston Office at One Winter Street. For more information and to apply, go here.
The Washington State Department of Ecology is looking for a Municipal Facility Management Engineer (Environmental Engineer 2) to join their Northwest Regional office (NWRO) in Bellevue, WA. This position helps domestic wastewater treatment plants meet regulatory requirements that protect public health and the environment from pollution. This position reviews engineering reports and designs documents for municipal wastewater and reclaimed water facilities, develops discharge or reclaimed water permits for these facilities, conducts inspections, and participates in enforcement and financial assistance activities. For more information and to apply, go here.
Supporting States on Landfills with Elevated Subsurface Temperatures and Resilience to Flood Impacts
Wednesday, March 18, 2020, 3pm Eastern – This webinar, hosted by the Regional Sustainability and Environmental Sciences Research (RESES) Program, will provide a brief overview of RESES and highlight two projects on elevated temperature landfills and resilience to impacts from riverine flooding. In the first project, EPA is working with the state of Ohio to explore the use of Landsat thermal imaging to detect landfills with elevated subsurface temperatures. If successful, the tested methodology will allow EPA Region 5 and Ohio to quickly diagnose landfills with subsurface reactions and take steps to mitigate the issue, as well as review historical data to identify reactions that have occurred in the recent past. In the second project, EPA is working with Louisiana and local stakeholders in Ouachita Parish, which was heavily impacted by historic flooding that damaged the Ouachita River. This project uses a Structured Decision Making approach to assess community sustainability goals and how best to prepare for future extreme events. Register for the webinar here.
EPA Biosolids Program: Risk Assessment Primer
Thursday, March 19, 2020, 2pm Eastern – The Clean Water Act requires EPA to establish numeric limits and management practices that protect public health and the environment from the effects of chemical and microbial pollutants during the use or disposal of sewage sludge. EPA reviews sewage sludge regulations every two years to identify additional toxic pollutants that occur in sewage sludge and set regulations for those pollutants if sufficient scientific evidence indicates that they may harm human health or the environment. Learn more about EPA’s biosolids program.
If you’re interested in attending this webinar, please contact Jake Adler.