EPA Rescinds Rule on Agency Guidance Documents
EPA issued a final rule rescinding the previous Administration’s rule Promoting the Rule of Law Through Improved Agency Guidance Documents, in accordance with E.O. 13992, Revocation of Certain Executive Orders Concerning Federal Regulation. The previous rule required the agency to take additional notice and comment steps before finalizing guidance documents and created an agency guidance documents website to increase transparency and clarity for regulated stakeholders. The final rule rescinding the Trump Administration rule will go into effect upon publication in the Federal Register. EPA will continue procedures for public transparency and involvement in the development of agency actions, including soliciting stakeholder input on guidance of significant interest, as needed. Additionally, the final rule includes procedures enabling stakeholders to request that EPA issue, amend or repeal agency guidance.
EPA Proposed 2022 CGP – Notice of Publication
On May 12, 2021, EPA published the Proposed 2022 Construction General Permit at Federal Register: NPDES 2022 General Permit for Stormwater Discharges From Construction Activities. Publication marks the start of the 60 public comment period which ends July 12, 2021. The proposed permit, once finalized, will replace the existing 2017 CGP that will expire on February 16, 2022. EPA proposes to issue this permit for five (5) years, and to provide permit coverage to eligible operators in all areas of the country where EPA is the NPDES permitting authority, including Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, most Indian country lands, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and protectorates except for the U.S. Virgin Islands, and certain federal facilities. EPA seeks comment on the proposed permit and on the accompanying fact sheet, which contains supporting documentation. EPA plans to host at least one public webcast during the week of June 14, 2021 that will provide an overview of the proposed 2022 CGP and an opportunity for participants to ask questions. Details regarding the webcasts and post webcast recording will be found here.
EPA’s Trash Free Waters and Stormwater Programs Release Trash Stormwater Permit Compendium
EPA’s Trash Free Waters and Stormwater programs’ new Trash Stormwater Permit Compendium is now available!
The Trash Stormwater Permit Compendium is the latest in a series of Compendia developed by EPA as technical resources for stormwater permit writers. The primary purpose of the Trash Stormwater Permit Compendium is to provide stormwater permit writers with examples and information they can use to develop effective trash-related provisions for MS4 permits. The Trash Stormwater Permit Compendium is also a useful tool for stormwater management planners, watershed planners, and others interested in how to insert effective trash measures into their planning documents.
For further information on or questions about this Compendium, please feel free to contact Romell Nandi, Trash Free Waters national program lead, at email@example.com
EPA Announces Additional Environmental Justice Grant Funds and Extended Deadline
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced the potential availability of additional Environmental Justice (EJ) grant funds of up to $10.5 million under the Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving (EJCPS) Cooperative Agreement Program and the Environmental Justice Small Grants (EJSG) Program for projects focusing on air quality and drinking water quality. The deadline has been extended to June 1, 2021. A pre-application assistance call is also being held on May 12th, details below.
Approximately 100 projects, under the EJSG program for up to $75,000 for one-year projects, and 46 EJCPS projects, for up to $200,000 for two-year projects, can potentially be awarded nationwide. This potential additional funding is specifically targeted for additional air quality and safe drinking water workforce training projects and will be added to the approximately $6 million of EJ funding detailed in the original funding announcements. The original EJ funding is still available for a wide range of projects addressing the many environmental issues impacting underserved communities, including special consideration to the following focus areas from the original funding announcements:
- Addressing COVID-19 concerns faced by low-income communities and communities of color
- Climate Change and Natural Disaster Resiliency outreach and planning
- New applicants to either grant funding opportunity
- Ports Initiative to assist people living and working near ports across the country
- Small non-profits
Applicants interested in either funding opportunity must submit grant proposal packages by June 1, 2021, to be considered for the available funding. Applicants should plan for projects to begin on October 1, 2021.
Interested applicants are also encouraged to participate in a pre-application assistance call on May 12, 2021 (en inglés y español) from 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm EST. Join the call here (Zoom Meeting ID: 161 703 5327).
More information on this call and recordings of past assistance calls are available here.
For more information on EPA’s environmental justice grants, funding, and technical assistance programs, click here.
$9.6 Million in BEACH Act Grants
This week EPA announced $9.6 million in funding available for beach water quality monitoring and public notification programs for thirty states, five territories, and four Indian Nations. In particular, these funds will be used to maintain and operate public notification systems, identify local pollution sources, monitor beaches for fecal indicator bacteria, and report results. EPA has awarded just over $195 million in BEACH Act grants since 2002. For more information on the BEACH Act grants go here.
Radhika Fox Addresses EPW Ahead of Confirmation
On May 12, 2021, Radhika Fox testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, ahead of her confirmation vote for EPA Assistant Administrator for Water. Some of the highlights:
- Fox’s top priorities for the Office of Water: water affordability, funding infrastructure improvements, and addressing PFAS contamination.
- Under Fox’s leadership, the Office of Water will focus on strengthening the capacity of states and tribes, and will factor water affordability into all infrastructure investments.
- Fox identified issues in the 2015 and 2020 versions of WOTUS, and assured committee members that the Office of Water wants to establish enduring WOTUS language that can withstand administration changes.
- The Office of Water plans to initiate listening sessions this summer and regional roundtables in the fall, which will help OW engage with the water concerns of communities across the country and factor in those concerns when redefining WOTUS.
- Fox was recently asked by Michael Regan to co-chair the EPA’s PFAS Executive Council.
EPA Announces Winners of PFAS Destruction Challenge
Today, EPA announced the winners of the Innovative Ways to Destroy PFAS Challenge, intended to encourage the development of new approaches, technologies, or combinations of technology that had the potential to destroy PFAS. The challenge sought detailed plans for non-thermal technologies to destroy PFAS in concentrated aqueous film forming foam (AFFF).Challenge winners will have the opportunity to submit their winning design concepts to DoD’s SERDP/ESTCP programs for further testing.
EPA thanks its challenge partners – DoD’s SERDP/ESTCP environmental research programs, ECOS/ERIS, Colorado DPHE and Michigan EGLE.
Learn more here and see the press release here.
EPA OIG Assesses Trash Pollution, Notes Challenges and Recommendations for EPA and States
This week, EPA Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report assessing tools under CWA that may address trash and plastic reductions in waterways. The report interviewed EPA, state CWA program staff, and MS4 permittees, and outlined the successes of NPDES and MS4 permits in addition to non-regulatory trash reduction strategies. The OIG recommended EPA assess and mitigate “regulatory and nonregulatory obstacles facing states and municipalities” and maintain its “support of trash-reduction activities.” Such state obstacles include:
- Establishing measurable criteria to achieve WQS addressing trash pollution, which may be constrained by lack of EPA narrative and/or numeric water quality criteria and assessment methodology guidance relating to trash;
- Lack of TMDLs for impaired waters, which may be constrained by lack of EPA technical resources to assist states establishing or implementing TMDLs and related tools under CWA; and,
- Lack of sufficient trash controls/requirements written into MS4 permits, which may be constrained by insufficient federal funds to support trash-related BMPs as well as the lack of an EPA-provided mechanism to incorporate BMPs into MS4 permits.
EPA concurred with OIG’s recommendations, listed below. EPA’s office-specific corrective actions and their estimated completion dates can be found in Appendix B and C of the report, beginning on page 12.
- Evaluate the obstacles to implementing the CWA to control trash in US waterways and provide a public report describing those obstacles.
- Develop and disseminate strategies to states and municipalities for addressing the obstacles identified.
- Support state and local municipalities’ efforts to control trash through National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits for MS4s by publishing guidance documents such as the Trash Stormwater Permit Compendium and the U.S. EPA Escaped Trash Assessment Protocol.
Access the full report here.
2021 ACWA Annual Meeting Update
In light of the continuing uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the ACWA Board of Directors has decided to move the 2021 ACWA Annual Meeting (August 3-5, 2021) from a face-to-face event to an all-virtual event. We feel as though this is the best decision in light of the continuing uncertainty regarding travel.
Additional meeting details and the agenda can be found on the ACWA website, and will be updated in the coming weeks.
Meetings and Webinars
EPA Small System Series: Harmful Algal Blooms and Algal Toxins
Date: May 25, 2021 | 2:00 – 3:00 PM Eastern Time
Registration: Click here
Presentation 1: How Cyanobacteria Work: Converting Sunlight Into Usable Energy. Cyanobacteria are widely known for their toxin producing and bloom-forming capabilities. Although cyanobacterial blooms can be a threat to public and ecosystem health, they are also globally important producers of oxygen. This presentation will give a detailed introduction of photosynthesis in cyanobacteria. It will also explore how the photosynthetic processes differ between cyanobacteria and plants and will provide some explanation as to why cyanobacteria seem to thrive in conditions that would hinder the growth of green algae. (Presentation by Anna Boegehold, EPA’s Office of Research and Development)
Presentation 2: Cyanotoxins in Oregon: Transitioning to Mandatory Monitoring for Susceptible Sources. In 2018, when a large system detected cyanotoxins above the EPA health advisory level in treated water, Oregon moved from a voluntary cyanotoxin sampling program to mandatory monitoring. This presentation will cover how Oregon transitioned from the voluntary program to mandatory monitoring for cyanotoxins at susceptible sources and will discuss what the regulations require, statewide results, issues encountered, and what resources have been created to assist public water systems. Attendees will learn about the risk of cyanotoxins and what system operators can do to minimize this risk. (Presentation by Kari Salis, Oregon Health Authority)
About the Presenters
- Anna Boegehold, Ph.D., EPA’s Office of Research and Development Anna is a research scientist working with EPA’s Office of Research and Development, Center for Environmental Solutions and Emergency Response/ Water Infrastructure Division under contract through Oak Ridge Associated Universities. She began with EPA in November 2019 and has been working on projects to evaluate cyanotoxin removal through drinking water treatment and investigating in vitro biomarkers of infectious Legionella strains. Anna is broadly interested in aquatic contaminants and ecotoxicology and holds a Ph.D. in biology from Wayne State University, where she studied the relationship between cyanobacteria and invasive mussels.
- Kari Salis, P.E., Oregon Health Authority Kari is the Technical Services Manager with Oregon Health Authority’s Drinking Water Program, where she has worked for 26 years. She has been the Technical Services Manager for the last 11 years and, in her previous role, she worked as a regional engineer for 15 years. Prior to joining the Oregon Heath Authority, Kari worked with rural water systems during her service with the Peace Corps in Nepal.
Biosolids Part 2: Wastewater Treatment Sludge Disposal Methods (Land Application, Incineration, Surface Disposal)
Date: May 27, 2021 | 1:00 – 2:30 PM Eastern Time
Registration: Click here
The EPA Biosolids Rule recently celebrated its 28th birthday. As such, many initial practitioners of the rule have retired or moved on. In Part 2 of the Biosolids series, learn about disposal practices from on-the-ground practitioners of Biosolids management. We will discuss Land Application, Incineration, and Surface Disposal practices. Come learn from active biosolids managers from across the U.S.
About the Presenters:
- Brad Tingley has worked for the Des Moines Metro WRF for 25 years as a Biosolids Application Operator. He has been involved in all aspects of the land application program including site selection, rate calculation, hauling and applying solids, post application data collection, managing GIS application mapping and building “as applied” reports for the farm operators.
- Levi Fuller is the Wastewater Treatment Operations Superintendent for Dublin San Ramon Services District (DSRSD). Levi serves as a Water and Wastewater instructor with BACWWE (Bay Area Consortium for Water and Wastewater Education) and is the current chair of the Staff Pre-paredness Committee of BAYWORK — involved with work force development for water and wastewater utilities.
- Bruce Bartel is the Treatment Manager at NEW Water in Green Bay, WI. Bruce has been with NEW Water for 36 years and has operated and managed all of the treatment processes. He is a Past President of the Wisconsin Wastewater Operators Association and has received the association’s Koby Crabtree Award, which recognizes excellence in technical support provided to others in the field of wastewater treatment.
EPA Environmental Justice and Systemic Racism Speaker Series: Featuring California EPA’s Pollution and Prejudice Project
Date and Time: June 10, 2021 | 12:00 – 1:00 PM Eastern Time
Registation: Click here
This session of the EPA’s Environmental Justice (EJ) and Systemic Racism Speaker Series will focus on California EPA’s (CalEPA) Pollution and Prejudice Project. CalEPA is a leader among government agencies advancing environmental justice. At CalEPA, understanding the role of government in perpetuating institutional and structural racism is essential to its work. Through the Pollution and Prejudice project, CalEPA’s racial equity team designed a set of tools to explore the connection between racist land use practices of the 1930s and the persistence of environmental injustice. Understanding how environmental conditions are informed by legacy land use practices helps CalEPA to ensure equitable access to clean air, water, and land for all Californians through policy development and implementation.
- Yana Garcia, Deputy Secretary for Environmental Justice, Tribal Affairs and Border Relations, CalEPA
- Jaimie Huynh, Environmental Scientist, CalRecycle
- Moderated by Charles Lee, Senior Policy Advisor for Environmental Justice, USEPA
The first five sessions will focus on redlining and current environmental challenges. Future topics will include: Title VI and civil rights program, EJ research and analysis, rural inequities, and others. Suggestions are welcomed. Registration information for each session forthcoming.
For more information, please visit the series webpage or contact Charles Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Sabrina Johnson (email@example.com).
EPA Region 6 Stormwater Conference: Call for Presentations
USEPA Region 6, in partnership with the City of New Orleans, the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans, Jefferson Parish, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, and the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s) and States in Region 6, are requesting submittal of presentation abstracts for the 23rd Annual EPA Region 6 Stormwater Conference to be held August 8-12, 2021, in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Abstracts due May 17, 2021.
For additional information, please visit:
Water Quality Invoicing Specialist – Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Location: Portland, Oregon
Closing date: May 18, 2021
The Water Quality Division has a critical role in achieving the Department’s mission by developing policy, implementation tools, and implementation priorities for improving and protecting the quality of water in Oregon’s waterways. The Water Quality Division works cooperatively with the Department’s three regional offices and the Laboratory to deliver programs and services that protect and enhance the quality of the waters of the state to protect public health and the environment.
To learn more and apply, click here.
EPA Water Reuse Policy, Technology & Regulation Research Opportunity
Location: Washington, DC
Closing date: July 7, 2021 (Applications reviewed on rolling basis prior to closing date)
Two research opportunities are currently available at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Water (OW), Office of Policy Management and Engagement (OPME) located in Washington, DC. The National Water Reuse Action Plan identifies specific actions EPA and its partners are taking to help strengthen the security, sustainability, resilience, and equity of our nation’s water resources. The participant will be exposed to regulatory, policy, technical, and research experiences related to technology, innovation, and policy. The participant will develop a sound understanding of: (1) water resources management, including the critical challenges facing the U.S. and world; (2) gain an understanding of technology and innovation initiatives currently being implemented, with an emphasis in water reuse; (3) water sector stakeholders; and (4) water-related research/practitioner skills. Examples of research projects could include: (1) assessing state and local water reuse programs and policies; (2) research on workforce training needs; (3) identifying effective communication techniques to the public; and (4) research treatment performance.
To learn more and apply, click here.