EPA & USACE Announce Intent to Revise the Navigable Waters Protection Rule
This week EPA and the USACE announced their intent to revise the definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS). The agencies’ announcement came as the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a motion requesting remand of the rule the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) v. EPA, et al. This is one of many actions in the federal courts challenging the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. The action announced this week reflects the agencies’ intent to initiate a new rulemaking process that will restore the protections in place prior to the 2015 WOTUS implementation, and anticipates developing a new rule that will be guided by the following considerations:
- Protecting water resources and our communities consistent with the Clean Water Act.
- The latest science and the effects of climate change on our waters.
- Emphasizing a rule with a practical implementation approach for state and Tribal partners.
- Reflecting the experience of and input received from landowners, the agricultural community that fuels and feeds the world, states, Tribes, local governments, community organizations, environmental groups, and disadvantaged communities with environmental justice concerns.
The agencies are planning several stakeholder engagement opportunities to ensure that a revised definition of WOTUS considers essential clean water protections, as well as how the use of water supports key economic sectors. To learn more about the definition of waters of the United States, click here.
EPA Announces $10 Million Available for States, Tribes and Territories to Address Environmental Challenges
EPA is announcing the availability of Multipurpose Grant (MPG) funding to support states, Tribes and territories in addressing high-priority environmental issues, including PFAS, environmental justice and climate change. The multipurpose grants are intended to be used at state and Tribal discretion to complement those programs funded under established environmental laws and regulations. Recognizing that environmental challenges vary from region to region, the funding supports a wide range of initiatives. These may include: addressing contaminants such as PFAS and lead, advancing environmental justice, tackling climate change, improving air and water quality monitoring, testing for radon in schools, and conducting outreach and education activities.
Congress created the MPG program in 2016 to support high-priority activities of states, Tribes and territories to achieve our shared mission of protecting public health and the environment. Funds this year are available to 172 state agencies across all 55 states and territories and the District of Columbia. A total of $8.5 million is available for states, territories and D.C., and a total of $1.5 million is available for Tribes. EPA anticipates making awards by the end of the fiscal year.
For more information on eligibility, use of funding, process for award, and timelines, please reference the Multipurpose Grant guidance here.
Pre-publication Notice: TSCA S.8(a)(7) Reporting and Recordkeeping Requirements for PFAS
EPA intends to use information to inform: exposure assessments of new and existing PFAS under TSCA; Regulatory activities under SDWA (42 U.S.C. 300f et seq.), RCRA (42 U.S.C. 6901 et seq.), and CERCLA (42 U.S.C. 9601 et seq.); PFAS characterizations conducted to support contaminated site work and solid waste management programs; and federal agencies who administer other laws that, with this information, may prevent or reduce PFAS exposures per TSCA section 9(e).
A public comment period will open for 60 days upon publication to the Federal Register. EPA seeks feedback on identifying the types of PFAS subject to reporting and recordkeeping, the scope of environmental and health effects information to be collected, how the Agency may use CBI and non-CBI data collected, and other elements of the proposal.
Find a pre-publication copy of the notice here. The types of information EPA is proposing to collect begins on page 18; the facility types (by NAICS code) potentially subject to reporting requirements begins on page 4; and references defining the potentially applicable PFAS begins on page 12.
Markup of Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act
On June 9, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure discussed and voted on amendments to the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021 (HR 1915). The committee approved the Managers Amendment, and the bill passed out of committee 42-25. The committee also considered amendments brought forward by Representative Rouzer (NC-7), Representative Westerman (AR-4), and Representative Graves (LA-6), none of which were agreed to. One Graves amendment regarding permit extensions was withdrawn, following Chairman DeFazio’s commitment to continue the discussion.
ACWA Cybersecurity Survey
ACWA is looking to better understand the current baseline level of activities being employed by states to engage their NPDES permittees on cybersecurity risks and concerns. This survey is 8 questions long and should take no more than 10 minutes to complete. Please respond by Friday, July 2, 2021. You can access the survey here.
ACWA Outreach to States on NPDES Program Challenges
ACWA is requesting that states and interstates send in ideas for potential regulatory updates that would improve the NPDES program. ACWA’s plan is to share with EPA all of the ideas that come in (without attribution) as a conversation starter. To help ACWA explain how a regulatory update might help a state, and to help us with sorting, please send these ideas to Sean Rolland with the following example format:
Rule Change Topical Area
Priority Pollutant Scans
Short 1-2 Sentence Description
Where a facility has a long history of seeing no change in their monitoring and analysis, EPA should provide the permitting authority with flexibility to require fewer than 3 scans a year.
Association of Clean Water Administrators Leadership Education and Development System (LEADS)
What is it?
The ACWA Leadership Education and Development System (LEADS) is a new Board directed initiative intended to encourage participation in leadership activities and help future leaders in the organization improve their understanding of roles and responsibilities.
Who can participate?
All current state and interstate members and their staff interested in learning more about leadership in ACWA (Committee/Workgroup Chairs, Regional Board Members, Executive Officers) can volunteer to participate in LEADS.
How do I engage?
To learn more about the LEADS initiative, please contact Sean Rolland to get access to a short questionnaire. Upon completing the questionnaire, participants will be provided access to a new Member365 Workspace, which holds materials developed expressly for the ACWA LEADS program.
What if I have more questions?
After reviewing the materials, should a participant have more questions and/or be interested in further discussing future leadership opportunities in ACWA, a volunteer advisor with experience in that leadership role will be notified and will reach out to you.
Meetings and Webinars
EPA Webinar: Intro to ECHO Webinar – June 15
Join EPA for its next Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) webinar on Tuesday, June 15, 2021, 1:30-2:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time. During this webinar, EPA will provide an overview about the data in ECHO and guide users through how to use ECHO to answer environmental enforcement and compliance questions. The focus of this webinar will be a collection of short, step-by-step demonstrations geared toward new and infrequent users. We will demonstrate the capabilities of the ECHO Facility Search and other features to answer questions such as:
- How do I search for a specific facility?
- How do I search for facilities in my community?
- How do I search for facilities releasing a pollutant?
- How do I find visual depictions of data that track both facility and regulatory agency performance?
Federal/State/Partners Workshop: Standards to Support an Enduring Capability in Wastewater Surveillance for Public Health
All are welcome to attend a workshop co-hosted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), entitled “Standards to Support an Enduring Capability in Wastewater Surveillance for Public Health.”
This virtual workshop will take place over three days:
- Monday June 14, 2021, 10 AM to 3 PM (ET)
- Tuesday June 15, 2021, 10 AM to 3 PM (ET)
- Friday June 18, 2021, 10 AM to 3 PM (ET)
The workshop will bring together experts from academia, federal and local government, industry, and supporting trade and standards organizations with metrology experts to identify and prioritize barriers and potential standards to overcome those barriers and help support a robust, comparable wastewater surveillance capability across the nation.
More information about this free workshop, including registration and poster submission information, is available online:
Questions about the workshop can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
EPA’s Scientific Integrity Biennial Stakeholder and Partner Meeting
Tuesday June 15, 2021, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. ET
This meeting is an opportunity for you to hear about EPA’s scientific integrity efforts and to comment on, or ask questions about, scientific integrity at the Agency.
To attend the meeting, please register here.
Please note, the meeting will be open to the first 1,000 attendees to join. This meeting is open to all stakeholders and partners
EPA Tools & Resources Webinar: Community Exposure for COVID-19
June 16, 2021 at 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET
EPA researchers have been working on a variety of projects to learn more about SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to help states, tribes and communities make sound public health decisions. This webinar will discuss research that sheds light on community exposure of SARS-CoV-2, including virus detection in wastewater, standardized methods for quantifying the virus in wastewater, development of salivary antibody assays, and transmission of the virus through airborne particles.
NASEM Webinar: “Climate Conversations: Infrastructure”
Thursday, June 17 | 3:00 PM-4:00 PM ET
Join us for a conversation on the role of infrastructure and engineering in building a climate resilient future. Mariette DiChristina (Boston University) will moderate a conversation with John L. Anderson (President of the National Academy of Engineering) and Thomas P. Bostick (former Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) about the different kinds of infrastructure and systems susceptible to climate impacts, the wide range of engineering solutions that can play a role in building a resilient and net-zero future, and the ways to help prepare the next generation of engineers for such a monumental task.
The conversation will be webcast on the Climate Conversations webpage on Thursday, June 17, 2021 from 3-4 pm ET. Closed captioning will be provided.
Climate Conversations: Pathways to Action is a new monthly webinar series from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that aims to convene high-level, cross-cutting, nonpartisan conversations about issues relevant to national policy action on climate change.
EPA Water Research Webinar on Road Salts and Freshwater: “Salinization Syndrome: An Emerging Water Quality Threat”
Wednesday, June 30th from 2:00-3:00pm ET
To register, please click here.
Streams throughout the US and worldwide have increased in salinity due to multiple processes, including road salt and human-accelerated weathering of impervious surfaces, reductions in acid rain, and other anthropogenic legacies. This freshwater salinization, in turn, mobilizes chemical cocktails via ion exchange and other biogeochemical processes.
This webinar will examine fate and transport of salts and chemical cocktails, describe the litany of environmental impacts, and discuss the use of real-time sensor data to characterize trends of nutrients and metals using long-term data from urban streams in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Finally, presenters will discuss approaches to managing this growing environmental and health problem.
Environmental Analyst III – Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Location: Worcester, MA
Closing Date: Open until filled
MassDEP’s Watershed Planning Program (WPP) has posted a requisition for a Watershed Specialist & Outreach Coordinator (Environmental Analyst III) to provide critical support to WPP’s Nonpoint Source (NPS) Program in efforts to reduce adverse impacts of NPS pollution on water quality. MDEP is seeking candidates with technical experience and expertise related to NPS pollution to assist in watershed planning to protect and restore waterbodies, provide technical assistance to partners with planning for NPS pollution control measures and best management practices, and conduct outreach to strengthen collaborative efforts to mitigate NPS pollution. This position will remain open until filled. However, please note that first consideration will be given to applications received by June 16th.
For more information, click here.