ACWA Supports Robust USGS Streamgage Funding for FY2022
ACWA recently joined a broad coalition of groups in urging Congress to fully fund the USGS Streamgage Networks. The Streamgage Networks provide vital information to quantify and manage the nation’s critical water supplies and infrastructure. The group seeks funding levels for Federal Priorities Streamgages at $28.7 M for FY 2022 to begin to address the critical shortfall for the FPS network and to reinstate gages discontinued since 2016. Additionally, the group requests $33M to support Cooperative Matching Funds for Streamgage Network. Finally, the coalition seeks $28.1 M to enable additional pilot basins to be added to the NGWOS program and to allow USGS to continue to modernize water data delivery systems that benefit all water users across the nation. An increase of $3.6M in FY2022 over FY2021 amount of $24.5 would allow USGS to stay on the planned NGWOS implementation track – Operation & Maintenance for the Delaware River Basin network, complete capital monitoring investments in the Upper Colorado River basin, implement about 65% of monitoring investments in Illinois River basin, begin preliminary work in Basin #4 and continue critical NWIS modernization activities.
CISA Issues Emergency Directive on Pulse Connect Secure
On April 20, 2021, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued Emergency Directive 21-03: Mitigate Pulse Secure Product Vulnerabilities . Although the Emergency Directive only applies to Federal Civilian Executive Branch agencies, CISA strongly encourages state and local governments, critical infrastructure entities, and other private sector organizations who use Pulse Connect Secure products to review the Emergency Directive and the Activity Alert.
CISA has observed active exploitation of vulnerabilities in Pulse Connect Secure products, a widely used SSL remote access solution. Successful exploitation of these vulnerabilities could allow an attacker to place webshells and other malware on the appliance to gain persistent system access into the appliance operating the vulnerable software. CISA has no knowledge of other affected Pulse Secure products (including the Pulse Secure Access client).
CISA has determined that this exploitation of Pulse Connect Secure products poses an unacceptable risk to Federal Civilian Executive Branch agencies and requires emergency action. This determination is based on the current exploitation of these vulnerabilities by threat actors in external network environments, the likelihood of the vulnerabilities being exploited, the prevalence of the affected software in the federal enterprise, the high potential for a compromise of agency information systems, and the potential impact of a successful compromise.
CISA has published Activity Alert AA21-110A providing further details and resources.
USGS Study Predicts Levels of Algal Bloom Toxins from Readily Available Measurements
What is already known on this topic? Toxic cyanobacterial blooms, a serious public health issue, often produce more than one toxin. Existing approaches to predict toxin occurrence in freshwater lakes and reservoirs, however, focus only on a single toxin—microcystin—and even predictions of microcystin rely on costly, labor-intensive laboratory measurements.
What is added by this report? This paper presents the first attempt to predict levels of mixtures of multiple cyanotoxins in freshwater lakes and reservoirs. The cyanotoxin mixture predictions produced no false negatives, meaning that the approach successfully predicted all occurrences of cyanotoxin mixtures above the drinking-water guideline. Further, the report includes two predictive models that are based on readily available measurements such as wind speed.
What are the implications for water availability? Cyanotoxins can harm humans, animals, and ecosystems. Estimates of cyanotoxin levels that are based on readily available measurements are particularly desirable for near-real-time predictions. Although the predictive method in this study was developed for Kabetogama Lake in Voyageurs National Park, the method may be applicable to other lakes or beaches.
Emerald-green harmful algal blooms have become an all-too-familiar summertime sight in many U.S. lakes and reservoirs. A new study successfully predicts when mixtures of the toxins produced by these blooms in Kabetogama Lake, Voyageurs National Park, will exceed drinking-water guidelines.
Scientists developed a statistical approach (model) to use both readily available measurements, such as wind speed, and laboratory measurements, such as cyanobacteria toxin gene counts, to predict levels of a single toxin and—for the first time—a mixture of toxins. Models are based on data from water samples collected from Kabetogama Lake during May–September over 2 years.
Predictions from models for a single toxin and for a toxin mixture matched measured toxin values equally well, and the toxin-mixture models produced no false negatives, i.e., they did not fail to predict an exceedance of the drinking-water guideline when such an exceedance actually occurred.
Although models using readily measured variables did not explain as much variability in the measured cyanotoxin data as models that also incorporated laboratory measurements, models that use data that can be measured in real-time may be more useful as early-warning indicators. Such models could help resource managers alert visitors to when boating, fishing, and swimming could result in skin contact, ingestion, or inhalation of tiny water droplets containing cyanotoxins.
Although the models were developed for Kabetogama Lake, the approach used could be applicable to other lakes or beaches where harmful algal blooms occur. The research was supported by the U.S. Geological Survey–National Park Service Partnership Program and the USGS Ecosystems Mission Area.
Study Citation: Christensen, V.G., Stelzer, E.A., Eikenberry, B.C., Olds, H.T., LeDuc, J.F., Maki, R.P., Saley, A.M., Norland, J., and Khan, E. Cyanotoxin mixture models: Relating environmental variables and toxin co-occurrence to human exposure risk. J. Haz. Mat., 415 (2021) 125560. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2021.125560
Access the study data here.
OIG Report – Improved Review Process for Regions 3 and 5
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) evaluated EPA’s review of state NPDES permits to verify consistency with requirements under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The OIG focused on Region 3 and Region 5 based on Hotline complaints. OIG also selected Region 10 to broaden the geographical representation across the country. OIG found that Regions 3 and 5 did not follow all relevant oversight guidelines while reviewing permits.
EPA employs two types of review of state NPDES permits: 1) real time review, where EPA staff review draft or proposed permits and identifies any issues regarding the permit’s consistency with federal requirements and communicates these issues back to the state – EPA can also object to the draft or proposed permit if it identifies significant issues, and 2) Permit Quality Review, where EPA assesses whether a previously issued state-issued NPDES permit met the applicable CWA and regulatory requirements.
OIG indicated in their report that Region 3 did not adequately perform its oversight responsibilities to ensure that 286 mining permits reissued by the State of West Virginia to reflect revisions made to its water quality regulations in 2015 met CWA’s anti-backsliding provisions. Region 5 also did not adequately perform it oversight responsibilities when evaluating a draft permit for a Minnesota mining and processing facility. Despite having concerns, Region 5 did not provide written comments to Minnesota.
Disposition of OIG’s five recommendations can be found in the highlights or full report.
EPA Seeking Candidates for Science Advisory Board (SAB)
The U.S. EPA is seeking nominations of a diverse range of qualified candidates to be considered for appointment to its Science Advisory Board (SAB). The SAB is a chartered federal advisory committee that provides independent, expert advice to the EPA Administrator on a range of environmental science, engineering, environmental justice, and economic issues. Nominations are due May 3, 2021.
EPA invites you to nominate yourself or other qualified candidates for membership on the SAB. Nominations to the SAB should be made using the web nomination form under the “Public Input on Membership-Nominations of Experts” category at the bottom of the SAB home page.
If selected, candidates may be asked to also participate on one of the following standing committees of the SAB:
- Agricultural Science Committee
- Chemical Assessment Advisory Committee
- Drinking Water Committee
- Radiation Advisory Committee
- Environmental Economics Analysis Committee
- Climate Science Committee
- Environmental Justice Science Committee
Standing committees take the initial lead in evaluating specific peer review actions where SAB feedback is requested. More information about the membership application, nomination, and selection process can be found on the SAB home page and in the following Federal Register Notice.
Should you have questions about the nomination process or the broad charge to the SAB, please do not hesitate to contact email@example.com. Thank you in advance for your consideration.
Administration Announces Interagency Working Group to Address Drought and Resilience
This week, members of the Biden Administration’s third National Climate Task Force were briefed on the drought conditions in the western CONUS by the US Department of Commerce and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. After the meeting, National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, the National Climate Task Force Chair, requested that the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior form an Interagency Working Group to address the needs of drought impacted communities, and explore opportunities to improve resilience to droughts and other severe climate impacts. Current and projected flows and supplies in western river basins such as the Colorado, Klamath, and Rio Grande are at or near historic lows.
A readout of the meeting is available here.
Next Generation Compliance: Preventing Widespread Violations that Threaten Climate Goals
Cynthia Giles recently published the final article of four-part series that focused on Environmental Regulation for the Modern Era. The final article is titled “Next Generation Compliance: Preventing Widespread Violations that Threaten Climate Goals” and it looks at three near term climate rules – electric generation (focus on energy efficiency), transportation (focus on the renewable fuel standard), and methane from oil and gas – and how EPA can avoid implementation failures by building strong compliance into the rules.
A copy of the article can be found here.
ACWA Legal Affairs Committee Quarterly Call
The next quarterly call of the ACWA Legal Affairs Committee will be held on May 20th from 2:00-3:00 PM Eastern Time. Two recent cases will be discussed:
- SOUTHERN APPALACHIAN MOUNTAIN STEWARDS v. RED RIVER COAL COMPANY, INCORPORATED (4th Cir): The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit held that Red River Coal Company’s compliance with its Clean Water Act permit shielded Red River from liability under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act.
- In re Petition of Assateague Coastal: The Assateague Coastal Trust (ACT) challenged the State’s CAFO permit arguing that it failed to account for one of the industry’s largest pollution streams: ammonia emissions. Petitioners demonstrated that a significant amount of ammonia, a form of nitrogen, emitted from the industry dramatically impacted local water quality, with cumulative downstream effects. The Court agreed that Maryland’s law goes beyond the minimum protections of the federal CWA and clearly intends to regulate gaseous emissions that impact water quality. The Court’s analysis determined that Maryland law is unambiguous: ammonia emissions are “pollutants” that continuously “discharge” from CAFOs and deposit onto “waters of the State,” and, therefore, require regulation under Maryland’s general discharge permit for CAFOs. To read a blog post on the matter, click here.
If you are interested in registering for the call, please contact Julia Anastasio for a registration link.
Meetings and Webinars
EPA Webinar: Flood Resilience for Small Water and Wastewater Systems, and Seasonal Noncommunity Water Systems
Date: April 27, 2021 | 2:00 – 3:00 PM Eastern Time
Registration: Click here
- Flood Resilience for Small Water and Wastewater Systems will provide information that can help small utilities evaluate the flooding thread, identify vulnerable assets and consequences, and select effective mitigation strategies and financing options.
- Seasonal Noncommunity Water Systems — Regulatory Challenges, Requirements, and Case Studies from Minnesota will focus on challenges and requirements of seasonal groundwater and surface water noncommunity systems and will also provide example case studies.
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.
- David Goldbloom-Helzner, EPA Water Security Division
- Nate Karp, Minnesota Department of Health
- Eric Freihammer, Minnesota Department of Health
- Ernie Jorgensen, Minnesota Department of Health
EPA Webinar: Technical Assistance Webinar Series: Improving CWA-NPDES Permit Compliance at Small Wastewater Treatment Systems
Biosolids Part 1: Overview of Wastewater Treatment Sludge and Clean Water Act Regulatory Structure
Date: April 29, 2021 | 1:00 – 2:30 PM Eastern Time
Registration: Click here
Biosolids Part 2: Wastewater Treatment Sludge Disposal Methods (Land Application, Incineration, Landfilling)
Date: May 27, 2021 | 1:00 – 2:30 PM Eastern Time
Registration: Click here
EPA Webinar: Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center: Forest Resilience Bond Webinar
Date 1: April 29, 2021 | 1:00 – 2:15 PM Eastern Time
Date 2: May 6, 2021 | 12:30 – 1:45 PM Eastern Time
Registration: Register for ONE of the two webinar sessions by clicking here for Day 1 and Day 2
EPA’s Water Finance Center recently published an in-depth technical report on the first Forest Resilience Bond. This new financing structure funds a portion of a forest restoration project on the Tahoe National Forest in California’s North Yuba River watershed. The report is part of a series of reports undertaken by the Water Finance Center to provide readers with technical understanding of emerging water finance mechanisms and serve to scale their use as appropriate.
You are invited to attend a 75-minute webinar that will discuss the project and report. This webinar features a moderated panel with speakers who will share their experiences and expertise. There will also be time for Q+A.
- April 29, 2021, 1:00-2:15pm EST: https://forms.office.com/r/9YRuHZtzqX
- May 6, 2021, 12:30-1:45pm EST: https://forms.office.com/r/MCTwA735MB
Reminder: National Water Reuse Action Plan Webinar, “Resilience through Collaboration”
Date: April 29, 2021 | 2:00 – 3:30 PM Eastern Time
Registration: Click here
Speakers and panelists include:
- Radhika Fox, EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Water
- Felicia Marcus, William C. Landreth Visiting Fellow at Stanford University’s Water in the West Program
- Gilbert Trejo, El Paso Water, WateReuse President (moderator)
- Pinar Balci, New York City Department of Environmental Protection
- Mike Markus, Orange County Water District
- Melissa Klembara, U.S. Department of Energy
- Brandi Honeycutt, Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment
- Paula Kehoe, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Chair of the National Blue Ribbon Commission for Onsite Non-potable Water Systems
This webinar will celebrate the first year of the National Water Reuse Action Plan, including accomplishments to date and anticipated 2021 outcomes. It will also feature a lively discussion with leaders from across the water sector about the future of reuse and its importance as a tool to address the impacts of climate change and meet local water demands. The virtual event will be complemented by the release of a progress report that provides a “year in review” and forecasts anticipated WRAP-related efforts and outputs.
This webinar is hosted by EPA in collaboration with the WateReuse Association and other water sector partners.
Announcing Trainings for the EPA Sanitary Survey App for Marine and Fresh Waters
Date 1: April 28, 2021 | 2:00 – 3:30 PM Eastern Time
Date 2: May 12, 2021 | 2:00 – 3:30 PM Eastern Time
Date 3: May 25, 2021 | 2:00 – 3:30 PM Eastern Time
Date 4: May 26, 2021 | 3:00 – 4:30 PM Eastern Time
Registration: Register for one of the webinar sessions by clicking here for Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4
Recently, EPA announced the release of its improved Sanitary Survey App for Marine and Fresh Waters. Anyone can easily use the App to collect and share data on potential sources of fecal pollution and information on potential harmful algal bloom (HAB) events in local surface waters, including recreational waters. EPA is conducting virtual training sessions on how to use the App and access the saved data from the sanitary surveys.v
For more information, please visit EPA’s website or send an email to EPA_SanitarySurveyApp@epa.gov.
EPA Announces White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC) 2021 Public Meetings Series
Date 1: April 28, 2021 | 2:00 – 6:00 PM Eastern Time
Date 2: May 13, 2021 | 2:00 – 6:00 PM Eastern Time
Registration: Click here for Day 1 and Day 2
The EPA has confirmed dates for the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC) public meetings. The meetings are open to the public. Members of the public are encouraged to provide comments relevant to the specific issues being considered by WHEJAC.
Registration is REQUIRED. Please see more information here.
When registering, please provide your name, organization, city and state, and email address for follow up. Please also indicate whether you would like to provide public comment during the meeting, and whether you are submitting written comments at the time of registration.
Individual registration is required for each of the virtual public meetings. Registration for the meetings is available through the scheduled end time of each meeting day. Registration to speak during the public comment period will close 11:59 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time, one (1) week prior to meeting date.
Agenda: The meeting discussion will focus on several topics including, but not limited to, the discussion and deliberation of draft recommendations to the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality and the White House Interagency Council on Environmental Justice from the Justice40 Work Group, Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool Work Group and Executive Order 12898 Work Group.
Public Comment Period: The meeting will have a public comment period starting at approximately 5:00pm (ET). Written comments can also be submitted for the record. The suggested format for individuals providing public comments is as follows: name of speaker; name of organization/community; city and state; and email address; brief description of the concern, and what you want the WHEJAC to advise CEQ to do. Written comments received by registration deadline will be included in the materials distributed to the WHEJAC prior to the meeting. Written comments received after that time will be provided to the WHEJAC as time allows. All written commenters should use this webform to submit comments, and email any additional materials to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions: Please contact Karen Martin at email@example.com or by phone 202-564-0203.