Administration Unveils Infrastructure Plan
President Biden unveiled a $2 trillion infrastructure plan that includes $111 billion investment in water infrastructure. The American Jobs Plan calls for 100% replacement of lead pipes and service lines to eliminate all lead pipes and service lines in the country. The plan calls for Congress to invest $45 billion in the EPA DWSRF and in Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN) grants. The plan also upgrades and modernizes America’s drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems, tackles new contaminants, and supports clean water infrastructure across rural America. The plan also will modernize these systems by scaling up existing, successful programs, including by providing $56 billion in grants and low-cost flexible loans to states, Tribes, territories, and disadvantaged communities across the country. The plan also provides $10 billion in funding to monitor and remediate PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in drinking water and to invest in rural small water systems and household well and wastewater systems, including drainage fields.
FERC Publishes Final 401 Water Quality Certification “Reasonable Period of Time” Rule
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) published a final rule establishing a categorical reasonable period of time for a state or tribal certifying authority to act on a water quality certification request for proposed natural gas and liquified natural gas projects. FERC is allowing certifying authorities up to one year after receipt of a request for water quality certification, filed in connection with a requested Commission-issued section 7 certificate of public convenience and necessity or section 3 authorization under the Natural Gas Act, to grant or deny the request.
SCOTUS Sides with Georgia
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week in the long-running case between Florida and Georgia. In Florida v. Georgia, the Court agreed with the recommendations of the Special Master rejecting Florida’s request for an order ensuring more freshwater flows to the Gulf Coast to protect the state’s oyster fisheries. The dispute centers around the Apalachicola-Chattahochee-Flint River basin, which straddles both states. Florida claims Georgia farmers use too much water, leaving insufficient freshwater for oysters fisheries in Apalachicola Bay. Georgia’s counter claims center on Florida’s own management decisions as the cause of the industry’s collapse. According to the Court, Florida failed to demonstrate that Georgia’s “alleged overconsumption caused serious harm to Florida’s oyster fisheries or its river wildlife and plant life.”
Regulators and utility managers agree about barriers and opportunities for innovation in the municipal wastewater sector
To better understand how environmental regulation fuels or hinders innovation, researches conducted a survey of wastewater utility managers and wastewater regulators. Survey results revealed broad agreement between the two groups that funding and capacity, regulatory relationships, and complexities and inconsistencies within the regulatory environment present key barriers to and opportunities for enabling increased innovation in the municipal wastewater sector. Notably, neither regulators nor utility managers viewed reducing regulatory stringency as a productive way to encourage the deployment of new technologies. Rather, survey results suggest improving relationships and communication, along with additional funding support for increased capacity of both utilities and regulators, would be a supportive way to encourage innovation in the municipal wastewater sector. A copy of the paper can be found here.
EPA Announces Changes to TSCA Program Determinations
Takeaway: when EPA concludes that one or more uses of a chemical may present an unreasonable risk to humans or the environment, or when EPA lacks the information needed to make a safety finding related to either a chemical’s uses and/or worker exposure and protections, the agency will issue an order to address those potential risks.
Press Release: EPA is conducting an evaluation of its policies, guidances, templates, and regulations under the TSCA new chemicals program to ensure they adhere to statutory requirements, the Biden-Harris administration’s executive orders, and other directives. The agency has identified several instances where the approach for making determinations and managing risks associated with new chemicals can more closely align with the requirements of TSCA to ensure protections for human health and the environment, including the use of significant new use rules (SNURs) and assumptions related to worker exposures.
EPA remains committed to meeting statutory deadlines for review and determinations on new chemicals submissions under TSCA section 5 and will continue to engage with submitters to ensure the agency is moving as expeditiously as possible to come to a resolution on their submissions. Additionally, EPA will provide timely communication for any changes to stakeholders and the public through the normal distribution lists used to announce TSCA developments.
Use of SNURs
EPA will stop issuing determinations of “not likely to present an unreasonable risk” based on the existence of proposed SNURs. Rather than excluding reasonably foreseen conditions of use from EPA’s review of a new substance by means of a SNUR, Congress anticipated that EPA would review all conditions of use when making determinations on new chemicals and, where appropriate, issue orders to address potential risks. Going forward, when EPA’s review leads to a conclusion that one or more uses may present an unreasonable risk, or when EPA lacks the information needed to make a safety finding, the agency will issue an order to address those potential risks.
As has been the long-standing practice, EPA intends to continue issuing SNURs following TSCA section 5(e) and 5(f) orders for new chemicals to ensure the requirements imposed on the submitter via an order apply to any person who manufacturers or processes the chemical in the future. This ensures that other manufacturers of the same new chemical substance are held to the same conditions as the submitter subject to the TSCA section 5(e) or 5(f) order. A SNUR requires manufacturers to submit a significant new use notification to EPA for assessment before the chemical substance can be manufactured or processed for the new use described in the SNUR.
EPA now intends to ensure necessary protections for workers identified in its review of new chemicals through regulatory means. Where EPA identifies a potential unreasonable risk to workers that could be addressed with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and hazard communication, EPA will no longer assume that workers are adequately protected under OSHA’s worker protection standards and updated Safety Data Sheets (SDS). Instead, EPA will identify the absence of worker safeguards as “reasonably foreseen” conditions of use, and mandate necessary protections through a TSCA section 5(e) order, as appropriate.
EPA Office of Inspector General Report Available: “EPA Does Not Always Adhere to Its Action Development Process for Rulemaking”
Based on analysis of the progression of 58 selected rules through the rulemaking process, [EPA OIG] found wide variation in the EPA’s adherence to its ADP, ranging from 44 to 100 percent. Using a checklist to assess adherence, [EPA OIG] found approximately 81 percent adherence, 14 percent nonadherence, and 6 percent undetermined adherence to steps in the rulemaking process.
You can review the report, which overviews select rulemakings in various EPA program offices, 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!
Meetings and Webinars
US Department of State Webinar: Innovative Approaches to Water Resources Management in Adapting to Climate Change
Recordings and Presentations: Click here
This live webinar from March 25, 2021 highlighted innovative water management solutions to build water security and climate resilience with a specific focus on North America, Latin America and the Caribbean. Panelists exchanged ideas about data collection and analysis, green infrastructure, the water-energy-food nexus, financing, early warning systems, and impacts on individuals and communities. Nearly 300 participants from 34 countries around the world joined the event.
- Moderator: Felicia Marcus, the Landreth Visiting Fellow at Stanford University’s Water in the West Program
- Alexandra Moreira, Secretary General of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization
- Raul Munoz, Climate Change Adaptation Specialist at the Interamerican Development Bank
- Howard Neukrug, Professor of Practice at the University of Pennsylvania and former Commissioner and CEO of Philadelphia Water.
EPA Webinar: ICIS-NPDES – Introductory Q&A
Date: April 16, 2021 | 1:00-2:00 PM Eastern Time
Registration: Please see Monday March 29, 2021 email or contact Sean Rolland at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please join EPA Headquarters for an ICIS NPDES Q&A Webinar on April 16th, 2021, from 1:00pm – 2:00pm EST. The webinar will be an hour-long session of questions and answers with our panel of experts.
EPA Tools & Resources and Training Webinar: Proctor Creek Watershed Story Map
Date: April 21, 2021 | 3:00-4:00 PM Eastern Time
Registration: Click here
Part of EPA’s mandate is to restore and maintain watersheds and their aquatic ecosystems to protect human health, support economic and recreational activities, and provide healthy habitat for fish, plants and wildlife. Substantial coordination and informed decisions and actions at the local and state levels are required to ensure this success. EPA developed the Proctor Creek Watershed Story Map in collaboration with Proctor Creek residents and stakeholders in Atlanta, Georgia, to share important information about the Proctor Creek watershed and explore community-identified concerns. This presentation provides an overview of Story Maps (i.e., easy-to-use interactive online tools that combine maps with narrative text, images, and multimedia content) and how they can be used. Explore the Proctor Creek Watershed Story Map.
EPA Webinar: Enhanced Aquifer Recharge: the Influence of Stormwater on Groundwater Quality and Aquifer Recharge
Date: April 28, 2021 | 2:00-3:00 PM Eastern Time
Registration: Click here
Registration is now open for EPA’s Water Research Webinar on Enhanced Aquifer Recharge: the Influence of Stormwater on Groundwater Quality and Aquifer Recharge. This webinar will be held on Wednesday, April 28 from 2:00-3:00pm ET, with an optional Q&A session from 3:00-3:15pm ET.
After registering for the webinar, you should receive an automatic reply with a link to test your computer’s compatibility with the webinar software. Please note that for this webinar, attendees can only listen with computer audio and will not be able to call into the webinar using a phone line. This change has been made to allow more people to attend the webinar.
EPA Biosolids Webinar Series: Introduction to Thickening Technologies
Date: April 28, 2021 | 2:00pm Eastern Time
Registration: Click here
Join the EPA Biosolids Program and speakers from the Water Environment Federation Solids Separation Subcommittee for a webinar on thickening technologies. The presentation will cover gravity/settling, floatation, and filtration/screening and the technologies associated with these thickening mechanisms.
EPA Tools & Resources Training Webinar: Watershed Management Optimization Support Tool (WMOST)
Date: April 29, 2021 | 3:00pm Eastern Time
Registration: Click here
EPA’s Watershed Management Optimization Support Tool (WMOST) is a decision-support tool to facilitate integrated water management at the watershed and community scales. It allows users to determine the most cost-effective suite of wastewater, drinking water, stormwater, and land conservation management practices to meet both water quantity and water quality goals. WMOST allows users to evaluate 11 stormwater control measures, nonstructural stormwater measures, four agricultural conservation practices, riparian buffer restoration, land conservation, water conservation, repair of infiltration/inflow to sewer lines, improved wastewater treatments, water reuse and aquifer recharge. This webinar will provide an overview of new WMOST capabilities and a demonstration of how to import data into WMOST, run optimizations, and review results. An approach to using WMOST for robust decision-making in the face of uncertainties in climate change predictions will be described, using three case studies as examples. For more information, please visit the WMOST web site.
Program Manager I – South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Control
Location: Richland County, SC
Apply by: April 11, 2021
This position is the Stormwater Permitting Section manager of the Bureau of Water for SC’s DHEC. To learn more and apply, click here.
General Nonpoint Source and Shellfish Specialist (Environmental Specialist 3) – Washington Department of Ecology
Location: Lacey, WA
Apply by: Open until filled
The Water Quality program within the Department of Ecology is looking for a Senior Nonpoint Source Water Quality Specialist in our Southwest Regional Office in Lacey, WA.
In this position, you will help reduce land use impacts on water quality and shellfish by meeting and working with landowners and other government and tribal partners. You will help identify and respond to water quality issues, nonpoint source pollution, and shellfish bed closures. To learn more and apply, click here.
Senior Nonpoint Source Water Quality Specialist (Environmental Specialist 4) – Washington Department of Ecology
Location: Vancouver, WA or Lacey, WA
Apply by: Open until filled
The Water Quality program within the Department of Ecology is looking for a Senior Nonpoint Source Water Quality Specialist in our Southwest Regional Office. The location of this position is flexible, and may be in Vancouver, WA or Lacey, WA depending on where the successful candidate resides.
In this position, you will implement projects for water quality improvement initiatives including Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Alternative projects, and livestock and tillage assessments. Your area of focus with be the Lower Columbia River and Pacific Ocean watersheds. To learn more and apply, click here.