Senate EPW Approves Mallory and McCabe
This week, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) voted approval of Brenda Mallory to head the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and Janet McCabe to be the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Deputy Administrator. Both votes were approved 11-9 with one Republican joining the Democrats on each vote.
Mallory, a graduate of Yale College and Columbia Law School, has served in several federal government roles, including as Acting General Counsel and Principal Deputy General Counsel at EPA. During the Obama administration, Mallory served as General Counsel for CEQ. After leaving CEQ, Mallory served 3 years as the Executive Director and Senior Counsel for the Conservation Litigation Project, a project supporting the protection of environmental and conservation values on public lands. More recently, Mallory has been working as Director of Regulatory Policy at the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC).
McCabe previously served as the Air Director of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management from 1999 to 2005, joined EPA in 2009 as the Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, and then served as Acting Assistant Administrator from July 2013 to January 2017. More recently, she has served as the Director of the Environmental Resilience Institute at Indiana University and was a professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. McCabe earned a Bachelor of Arts degree and Juris Doctor from Harvard University.
PFAS ELG: Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Published to Federal Register
Comments due May 16, 2021
In February 2019, EPA announced in the Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) Action Plan that the Agency was taking steps to evaluate if industrial sources warranted regulation to address PFAS discharges. After studying the available data regarding wastewater discharges from facilities that manufacture PFAS, EPA is publishing an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) to solicit data and information regarding manufacturers of PFAS and the presence and treatment of PFAS in discharges from this industrial category. EPA is also requesting information regarding PFAS formulators, which are facilities that produce a variety of PFAS products and materials from PFAS feedstocks. Both PFAS manufacturers and formulators are currently regulated under the OCPSF category. EPA will use any data and information obtained via public comment on the ANPRM to inform its decision about whether a proposed rulemaking may be necessary.
Access the ANPRM Federal Register Notice here.
EPA Announces $2.7 Billion to Improve Water Infrastructure
On March 22, 2021, EPA announced “[i]n honor of World Water Day, EPA is announcing the availability of $2.7 billion for State Revolving Funds (SRFs) to assist states, tribes and territories with infrastructure projects that help provide safe drinking water and protect surface waters in communities across the country. We’re also announcing a new $12 million grant program to help small, rural, and tribal wastewater utilities.”
There is approximately $1.1 billion in new money available for the Drinking Water SRF (DWSRF) and approximately $1.6 billion in new money available for the Clean Water SRF (CWSRF).
ITRC Strategies for Preventing and Managing Harmful Cyanobacterial Blooms Guidance Available
New ITRC guidance discusses key aspects of harmful cyanobacterial blooms management that waterbody managers and other interested parties should consider as they respond to these events. Along with the release of the Harmful Cyanobacteria Guidance Document, the team developed a series of downloadable sheets that provide descriptions of management strategies evaluated for effectiveness, advantages, limitations, relative cost, and regulatory and policy considerations.
- Monitoring for Cyanobacteria
- Risk Communication and Response Planning
- Management Strategies for Harmful Cyanobacterial Blooms
- Strategies for Preventing Harmful Cyanobacterial Blooms
- Recommendations and Future Needs
- Monitoring for harmful cyanobacterial blooms
- Strategies for managing harmful cyanobacterial blooms
- Strategies for nutrient management to prevent harmful cyanobacterial blooms
- Communicating and response planning for harmful cyanobacterial bloom
Complementing this eagerly-anticipated guidance document, ITRC’s HCB Team will be hosting live internet-based training sessions to accompany this new guidance. The first session will be on April 29, 2021 (1:00pm – 3:15pm EST), and will provide an in-depth look into Strategies for Preventing and Managing Harmful Cyanobacterial Blooms. Register here.
New Page Added to EPA Website for 5-Alt Plans
EPA has updated their website to include a page for “Alternative Restoration Plans” which is linked from the general “303(d) Impaired Waters and TMDLs” page.
This new page includes information on Alternative approaches, as well as links to accepted Alternative Restoration Plans (53 as of March 2021) and ELI’s compendium, which was developed through communications with state and territorial staff, “success stories” on EPA’s website, and information in state or territory Integrated Reports.
WQS ICR Renewal Notice
The WQS regulation, consisting of 40 CFR part 131, establishes the framework for states and authorized tribes to adopt standards, and for EPA to review and approve or disapprove them. EPA is proposing to renew an existing ICR for information collections needed to implement the WQS regulation, required to obtain or retain benefits (e.g., relaxed regulatory requirements) under the WQS regulation, and periodic requests for voluntary WQS information from states and tribes to ensure efficient and effective administration of the WQS program and further cooperative federalism. The renewed ICR includes changes to the ICR’s information collection burden estimates.
Comments close May 24th, 2021. Find the Federal Register Notice here.
EPA Seeking Feedback on Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic (PBT) Chemicals under TSCA S. 6(h)
Comments due May 17, 2021
As required under TSCA, EPA issued five final rules on January 6, 2021 to reduce exposures to certain chemicals that are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT). These chemicals build up in the environment over time and can therefore have potential risks for exposed populations, including the general population, consumers and commercial users, and susceptible subpopulations (such as workers, subsistence fishers, tribes and children).
In March 2021, EPA announced a 60-day public comment period to collect additional input on these final rules. Additionally, EPA issued a temporary 180-day “No Action Assurance” indicating that the agency will exercise its enforcement discretion regarding the prohibitions on processing and distribution of PIP (3:1) for use in articles, and the articles to which PIP (3:1) has been added in order to ensure that the supply chain of these important articles is not interrupted while EPA continues to collect the information needed to best inform subsequent regulatory efforts and allow for the issuance of a final agency action to extend the March 8, 2021, compliance date as necessary.
- Learn more about the public comment period and “No Action Assurance.”
- Read the final rules.
- Federal Register Notice
EPA Releases New Fertilizer Modeling Tool
The Fertilizer Emission Scenario Tool for CMAQ (FEST-C v1.4.1) is a Java-based interface system that facilitates the integration of agriculture, atmosphere, and hydrology simulations at large scales through the current release of the Spatial Allocator (SA v4.3.2) Raster Tools system. With an adapted Environmental Policy Integrated Climate (EPIC) model for grassland and crop production, the system is primarily used to simulate daily soil carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P) cycles on agricultural lands with atmospheric conditions and management practices including fertilization and irrigation. The FEST-C interface with simple tool buttons guides users through EPIC simulations and output extractions to generate the required input for CMAQ bi-directional NH3 modeling. In addition to its application for air quality modeling, the system has been enhanced to integrate with the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) for watershed hydrology and water quality assessment. FEST-C enables the extraction of SWAT-ready input files with nutrient and water runoff from agricultural lands and weather and N deposition from atmospheric models for simulating nitrogen fate and transport in watersheds.
Access the tool here and learn more here.
U.S. Department of Energy Awards $27.5 Million to 16 Teams Working to Decarbonize U.S. Water Infrastructure
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced awards totaling $27.5 million for 16 water infrastructure projects. Modern technology has the potential to reduce energy use in aging water infrastructure, particularly in wastewater treatment, which demands up to 2% of domestic electricity use each year. These projects, operating in 13 states, have the potential to reduce carbon emissions and water-treatment costs while improving water quality and equity of distribution nationwide. Each team will work to bring new water and wastewater-treatment technologies from the applied research and development stage to commercial readiness. The 16 projects selected by DOE—led by teams from universities, water utilities, manufacturers, national laboratories, and small and minority-owned businesses—will help provide sustainable water sources and affordable treatment options to industry, municipalities, agriculture, utilities, and the oil and gas sector. They are based out of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, and Virginia. Learn more here.
EPA Announces $12m in Technical Assistance Funding
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is requesting applications for $12 million in competitive funding for projects to provide training and technical assistance for small, rural and tribal wastewater utility systems and onsite septic systems.
The closing date and time for receipt of application submissions is May 17, 2021, by 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time (ET) in order to be considered for funding. Application packages must be submitted electronically to EPA through Grants.gov (https://www.grants.gov/) no later than May 17, 2021, in order to be considered for funding.
- Learn more here
- View the funding opportunity on Grants.gov at EPA-OW-OWM-20-02
- View a PDF version of the Request for Applications
ACWA Member Shellie Chard’s Senate Testimony on Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure
Last week, the Senate Fisheries, Water and Wildlife Subcommittee held a hearing titled “Examining the Challenges Facing Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Projects.” Former ACWA President and current ASDWA Past-President Shellie Chard, who also serves as Water Quality Division Director at Oklahoma DEQ, was called to testify. In her testimony, she provided six recommendations to the subcommittee:
- Water and wastewater systems must become more resilient to significant weather events and changes in climate.
- Innovation and flexibility in implementation of water policy and regulation is important.
- Funding for research and development for cost effective treatment technologies must be expanded.
- Workforce training is needed.
- Funding for infrastructure programs must be increased.
- Funding for Public Water Supply Supervision (PWSS) must be increased.
When questioned by members of the subcommittee, Shellie had the chance to expand upon some of these points. She was specifically asked about considerations for small systems and disadvantaged communities, creative advancements in water management, possible increases in pollution due to relaxed regulations at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and more.
To watch the hearing, click here. To read Shellie’s full testimony, click here.
2021 ACWA Mid-Year Meeting Recap
Thank you for joining us at this year’s Mid-Year Meeting! ACWA is deeply appreciative of all panelists and participants for making both days such great successes. If you are interested in learning more about any of our speakers, please click here for a list of bios. If you would like to revisit any presentations from the meeting, please click here for Day 1 and click here for Day 2.
To ensure that ACWA continues to provide high-quality services for our members, we are gathering feedback on the Mid-Year Meeting that will be essential to the planning of future meetings and workshops. Please take a moment to fill out our post-meeting survey and share your thoughts directly with our staff by clicking here!
2021 ACWA Membership Survey Takeaways
Thank you to those who participated in ACWA’s 2021 membership survey! We appreciate your time, feedback, and continued engagement. Many respondents raised ideas for improvements and suggestions for future areas of focus, which ACWA will keep in mind going forward. Some top takeaways are highlighted here:
- The top 6 CWA programmatic issues members identified were:
- Waters of the U.S./Navigable Waters Protection Rule
- NPDES program implementation and permit updates
- Nutrients issues across all programs
- TMDL development, prioritization, implementation, and legal challenges
- eReporting, SNC, and ICIS modernization
- WQS, criteria, variances, and associated litigation
- A minor group of respondents (7.32%) indicated that they had noticed a change in ACWA’s services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read the full summary of the survey’s results here.
Meetings and Webinars
NEIWPCC Webinar: CWSRF for Soil Health and NPS
Date: March 29, 2021 | 1:00-3:30 PM Eastern Time
Registration: Click here
Participants: All are welcome! Federal, State, Tribal, and municipal government staff, private sector professionals, nonprofits and watershed organizations. Please feel free to share broadly.
Agenda: Hear from Don Waye at EPA Headquarters who will provide a national overview of the obstacles and opportunities for using CWSRF for nonpoint source reduction activities such as addressing nutrients from agriculture. Then Dwight Wilcox will share insights from Minnesota’s Agricultural Best Management Practices Loan Program in advocacy of using SRF for NPS projects. Lastly, Amanda Reed of the Kansas Dept. of Health and Environment will speak to their funding of interseeders for large scale soil health and other ways the state has utilized SRF for NPS projects.
For more information, please click here.
If you have any questions or would like to be added to the email list for NEIWPCC’s NPS- or SRF-related meetings and events, please contact James Plummer at email@example.com
Reminder: National Recreational Water Quality Workshop April 6-8, 2021
Dates: April 6-8, 2021
Registration: Click here
This virtual format, 3-day workshop will be a forum for recreational water quality managers, stakeholders, researchers and public health officials at all levels to share information and ideas about implementing a successful recreational water program. The focus of this workshop is on two common challenges in ambient recreational waters: fecal contamination and harmful algal blooms.
Natural Resources Specialist – Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality
Location: Cheyenne, WY
Apply by: Continuous; Opening Data 3/10/2021
This position assists with the development and implementation of Wyoming’s Harmful Cyanobacterial Bloom (HCB) Program and assists with developing Wyoming’s surface water quality standards. Learn more and apply here.