2016 Selenium Criterion Document Revised
This week, EPA is posting a 2021 Revised Selenium criterion document that corrects a footnote in the 2016 Aquatic Life Criterion for Selenium in Freshwater to clarify conditions under which the water column value supersedes the fish tissue value. EPA intended footnote 4 specifically to apply to situations with increased selenium inputs. The original 2016 selenium criterion makes this clear on page xvi of the 2016 executive summary, and on pages 101-102 and page 126 of the criterion document. EPA corrected footnote 4 to ensure that the original meaning of this footnote is clear. The change can be found in the second sentence of footnote 4 of the criterion table (pages xv and 99). Footnotes 2 and 3 also reflect that footnote 4 was corrected.
Please contact Kathryn Gallagher (Gallagher.firstname.lastname@example.org), Branch Chief of the Ecological Risk Assessment Branch/ Health and Ecological Criteria Division/Office of Science and Technology/Office of Water, with any questions on this revision.
The 2021 Revised Criterion is available here.
EPA Life Cycle Assessment of Nutrient Treatment Costs Published
Human-caused nutrient enrichment of waterbodies from excessive nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) is one of the most pervasive environmental issues facing the United States. In many watersheds, municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) can be major point sources of nutrients. Recent efforts to derive numeric nutrient criteria to protect the designated uses of waterbodies have resulted in limits that may be challenging to meet for most WWTPs in the United States with the treatment configurations currently in place. However, many stakeholders have expressed concern that there may be significant undesirable environmental and economic impacts associated with upgrading treatment configurations, as these configurations may require greater use of chemicals and energy, release more greenhouse gases, and generate greater volumes of treatment residuals for disposal. These impacts can be assessed using holistic, systematic approaches such as life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) and life cycle cost analysis (LCCA). These approaches provide a “cradle-to-grave” analysis of the environmental impacts and benefits as well as the economic costs and benefits associated with individual products, processes, or services throughout their life cycle.
This week, EPA released the report, “Life Cycle and Cost Assessments of Nutrient Removal Technologies in Wastewater Treatment Plants.” The report uses LCIA and LCCA approaches to assess cost, human health, and ecosystem metrics associated with nine distinct wastewater treatment configurations designed to reduce the nutrient content of effluent from municipal WWTPs. The report finds clear trade-offs in cost and potential environmental impact between treatment level configurations. The report also demonstrates the value of a life cycle approach to assessing the costs and benefits of particular wastewater treatment configurations and informing decision-making about wastewater treatment technology adoption.
You can access the report directly here. The report also lives on EPA’s Reports on Nutrient Pollution resource webpage here. ACWA has been briefed on the report. Please contact Dr. Mario Sengco directly for more information.
State of the Climate in 2020 Report Published
Compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate in 2020 is based on contributions from 530 scientists from 60 countries and reflects tens of thousands of measurements from multiple independent datasets. It provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, notable weather events, and other data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments located on land, water, ice, and in space.
The following variables are characterized using spatial and temporal data in the report:
- Surface atmosphere: air pressure, precipitation, temperature, water vapor, wind speed and direction
- Upper atmosphere: Earth radiation budget, temperature, water vapor, wind speed and direction
- Atmospheric composition: carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases, ozone
- Ocean physics: ocean surface heat flux, sea ice, sea level, surface salinity, sea surface temperature, subsurface salinity, subsurface temperature, surface currents, surface stress
- Ocean biogeochemistry: ocean color
- Ocean biogeosystems: plankton
- Land: albedo, river discharge, snow, fire, fraction of absorbed photosynthetically active radiation, groundwater, ice sheets and ice shelves, lakes, soil moisture
Findings for 2020 include:
- Greenhouse gases were the highest on record at 412.5 ppm, the highest measurement (via direct measurement or ice core sampling) in 800,000 years of data.
- Global surface temperature was near-record high at 0.97-1.12°F, placing 2020 in the three warmest years since recordkeeping began and the warmest recorded without an El Niño event.
- Sea surface temperatures were third-highest on record and the warmest recorded without an El Niño event.
- Global upper ocean (from the surface to 700 meters deep) heat content was record high. Warmer upper ocean waters can drive stronger hurricanes and increase melting rates of ice sheet glaciers.
- Global sea level was highest on record. For the ninth consecutive year, global average sea level rose to a new record high and was about 91.3 millimeters higher than the 1993 average, the year that marks the beginning of the satellite altimeter record.
- Oceans absorbed a record amount of CO2.The ocean absorbed about 3.0 billion metric tons more CO2 than it released in 2020. This is the highest amount since the start of the record in 1982 and almost 30% higher than the average of the past two decades.
- Tropical cyclones were well-above average overall. The North Atlantic hurricane basin recorded a record 30 named storms, surpassing the previous record of 28 in 2005.
- The contiguous United States reported its fifth-warmest year and Alaska reported its coolest year since 2012, although it was still warmer than Alaska’s 1981–2010 average. The annual temperature for Alaska has increased at an average rate of 0.50°C per decade over the past half century.
Meetings and Webinars
ACWA Monitoring Standards and Assessment Committee’s September 15 Call
MSA’s next call is planned for September 15th from 1-3pm EST. Contact Jake Adler for registration information.