EPW Approves EPA General Counsel Nominee
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved Jeffrey Prieto by a 12-8 vote. The nomination will now move to the full Senate for a confirmation vote. Most recently, Prieto served as General Counsel at the Los Angles Community College District. Prior to that position, Prieto served as the General Counsel with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Counsel at the Department of Justice Environment & Natural Resources Division.
EPA & Army Schedule Regional Outreach Sessions on Revising WOTUS
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of the Army (Army) have initiated consultation with states on the agencies’ effort to revise the definition of “waters of the United States.” This series of meetings expands on those efforts. The Navigable Waters Protection Rule was identified for review under Executive Order 13990. The agencies have completed their review of the rule and have decided to initiate a new rulemaking to revise the definition of “waters of the United States.”
On June 9, 2021, the agencies announced their intent to initiate a new rulemaking process that restores the regulations in place prior to the 2015 Clean Water Rule defining “waters of the United States,” amended to be consistent with relevant Supreme Court decisions. The agencies then intend to propose a second rule that builds upon that regulatory foundation with the benefit of additional stakeholder engagement.
EPA and the Army are hosting a series of dialogues with our state coregulators on September 29 (East Coast), October 6 (Central US), and October 20, 2021 (Western US) from 1-3 pm EDT. During these meetings, the agencies will provide an overview of this forthcoming rulemaking and states will have the opportunity to provide input about this action especially relating to state experiences implementing different regulatory regimes. The agencies have provided some specific questions to guide discussion.
Please note that these meetings are limited to participants from states, and staff from EPA and the Army. If you register, but are not affiliated with a state, EPA, or the Army, your registration will be denied. States may register up to three people for the meeting, but in order to promote dialogue one person should be designated as the primary voice for the state.
If you have any questions related to these dialogues, please contact Layne Piper with ECOS.
Eastern US – Wed., September 29
EPA Posts Presentations & Recordings from WOTUS Listening Sessions
On July 30, 2021, the EPA and the Department of the Army announced a schedule for initial public meetings to hear from interested stakeholders on their perspectives on defining “waters of the United States” and how to implement that definition as the agencies pursue this process. The public meetings were held as web conferences in August and September 2021. The agencies have now made the presentations and recordings from these listening sessions available here.
Monitoring Changes in Ocean and Coastal Chemistry
Ocean and coastal acidification can be a significant problem, as water chemistry changes due carbon dioxide absorption, nonpoint source pollution runoff, and biological activities that can reduce pH. As the waters acidify, calcium carbonate dissolves more quickly making it difficult for organisms that build the skeletons and shells including corals, oysters, sea urchins, and crabs. Acidification also detrimentally impacts small zooplankton that provide the foundation for the marine food chain.
“EPA has been collaborating with the National Estuary Program (NEP) and their partners to measure coastal acidification using autonomous, in situ monitoring sensors for dissolved carbon dioxide (pCO2) and pH in estuaries across the U.S. These state of the art sensors give scientists new insights into acidification in nearshore waters. To date, these sensors have been deployed in NEP study areas in San Francisco Bay (CA), Santa Monica Bay (CA), Tampa Bay (FL), Massachusetts Bay (MA), Casco Bay (ME), Barnegat Bay (NJ), Long Island Sound (NY), Coastal Bend Bays (TX), Puget Sound (OR), Tillamook Estuaries (OR), Mobile Bay (AL), and Indian River Lagoon (FL).”
In April 2021 EPA released a report that details the experiences of the NEPs from 2015 – 2020. In the report you will find “monitoring goals, deployment methods, data analysis, costs, preliminary results, lessons learned and the role of partnerships in their successes.” The report can be found here: Measuring Coastal Acidification Using In Situ Sensors in the National Estuary Program (pdf). More details on EPA’s efforts to address ocean and coastal acidification can be found here: What EPA is Doing to Address Ocean and Coastal Acidification | US EPA
New Citizen Science Quality Assurance Resources Now Available
Thank you to ACWA Members who reviewed materials and advised this effort!
Citizen science encompasses a wide variety of projects—from community science activities to public participation in scientific research—and can answer important environmental and public health questions. Citizen-led projects can produce valuable information to answer these questions, but quality assurance during the data gathering process is critical.
To address this need, EPA created the Citizen Science Quality Assurance Handbook (EPA QA Handbook) to help citizen science groups systematically plan, carry out and document their projects through project plans. In collaboration with citizen science groups, federal, state, tribal and local agencies may expand their own data collection efforts by providing quality assurance guidance so the project data can be used for their intended purpose.
To facilitate the use of the EPA QA Handbook and support collaboration between citizen science groups and government agencies, Association of Public Health Laboratories worked with EPA to create the Citizen Science Quality Assurance Toolkit to optimize the value of citizen science data. Explore these resources to see how you can support the use of citizen science data in your own community to answer important environmental and public health questions.
Resources for Federal, State, Tribal and Local Agencies
- Working Together to Improve Citizen Science Data Quality: A Guide for Government Agencies
- Working Together to Improve Citizen Science Data Quality: A Webinar for Government Agencies
Resources for Citizen Science Groups
- Make Your Data Count Video Series
- Essential Elements of a Citizen Science Project Fact Sheet
- 5 Steps to Improve Citizen Science Data Quality Fact Sheet
- Make Your Citizen Science Project Count: Strategies to Produce Quality Data (Webinar)
Food & Water Watch: Snake River Waterkeeper Inc et al v USEPA
On September 16, 2021 the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued the following opinion regarding an EPA permit issued in Idaho:
- That EPA’s CAFO permit “lacked sufficient monitoring provisions to ensure compliance with the Permit’s “zero discharge” requirements for both production and land-application areas, and therefore, it was arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion, and not in accordance with the law.”
- That EPA’s CAFO Permit “had sufficient monitoring requirements for above-ground discharges from production areas. The CAFOs were required to perform daily inspections, and these mandated inspections were, in effect, monitoring requirements.”
- That EPA’s CAFO permit “had no monitoring provisions for underground discharges from production areas. Without a requirement that CAFOs monitor waste containment structures for underground discharges, there was no way to ensure that production areas comply with the Permit’s zero-discharge requirement.”
- That EPA’s CAFO permit “flatly prohibited discharges from land application areas during dry weather…[w]ithout a requirement to monitor runoff from irrigated CAFO fields, there was no way to ensure that a CAFO is complying with the Permit’s dry weather no-discharge requirement for land-application areas.”
The Court therefore granted the petition and vacated the permit. A copy of the decision can be found here.
Reclamation Releases Updated Projections of Colorado River System Conditions
Modeling results assist drought response planning in the Colorado River Basin
On September 22, Bureau of Reclamation released updated modeling projections of major reservoir levels within the Colorado River system over the next five years. These projections are used by Reclamation and water users in the basin for future water management planning. The new projections show continued elevated risk of Lake Powell and Lake Mead reaching critically-low elevations as a result of the historic drought and low-runoff conditions in the Colorado River Basin. Bureau of Reclamation also released updated presentations that utilize additional forecast information to improve public understanding of Reclamation’s future hydrologic projections. In keeping with its commitment to better inform all water users and the public regarding the hydrologic tools available, Reclamation has added in-depth information on its website about modeling and projections in the Colorado River system. A new interactive tool also allows users to explore projected reservoir conditions under a range of inflow forecasts.
At Lake Mead, projections indicate the chance of Lake Mead declining to elevation 1,025 feet (the third shortage trigger) is as high as 66% in 2025, and that there is a 22% chance of the reservoir elevation dropping to 1,000 feet the same year. At Lake Powell, the projections indicate the potential of falling below minimum power pool as early as July 2022 should extremely dry hydrology continue into next year. The Upper Basin experienced an exceptionally dry spring in 2021, with April to July runoff into Lake Powell totaling just 26% of average, despite near-average snowfall last winter. Total Colorado River system storage today is 39% of capacity, down from 49% at this time last year.
To view the most recent Colorado River system projections, visit 5-Year Probabilistic Projections (usbr.gov).
ACWA Hosts 2021 Virtual Water Quality Modeling Workshop
ACWA, in partnership with USEPA held 3-day virtual workshop on Water Quality Modeling this week.
This workshop featured 2 concurrent breakout tracks: one focusing on data visualization, and one covering open source scripting.
The Open Source track focused on reproducible data practices for TMDL development. This track featured presenters from States, EPA, and Tetra Tech, who walked attendees through the current landscape of data tools and resources, in order to increase familiarity and comfort with R and Python, and create and modify code for future use.
The Data Visualization track featured presentations on a suite of tools and resources from State presenters, as well as a detailed presentation on the Principles of Data Visualization. This track also included robust discussions on the current landscape of reaching the appropriate stakeholders and getting the best out of these resources in order to accurately and successfully represent complex data in a way that anyone can understand and engage with.
This workshop was attended by 253 State, Federal, and Tribal participants.
You may contact Jasper Hobbs for information on how to join ACWA’s Modeling Workgroup: email@example.com
Meetings and Webinars
2021 Virtual Nutrients Permitting Workshop
ACWA will be holding a virtual Nutrients Permitting Workshop: Permitting for Restoration
October 26-28, 2021, 1-5 PM EST.
This workshop is part of a series of meetings focused on nutrients permitting through a grant between EPA, ACWA, and WEF. The workshop series is intended to help support states and EPA to further identify obstacles to nutrient permitting program implementation, highlight opportunities for program improvement, showcase innovations, and assist with analysis of training, guidance, tools, and other support material needs.
This workshop will have days dedicated to the restoration of lakes, rivers, and estuaries.
Registration and a draft agenda may be found on ACWA’s events page.
You may contact Jasper Hobbs with any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Understanding the National Wastewater Surveillance System
September 29, 9-10 am Central Daylight Time | Register here
The Water Environment Federation (WEF), with support from the US Centers for Disease Control and in cooperation with the Oklahoma Water Environment Association, would like to invite you to attend a free, grant-funded virtual Cross-Sector Awareness Training for Preventing and Controlling Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Disease Threats with a focus on understanding the National Wastewater Surveillance System.
As we have seen from the COVID pandemic, response to an emerging disease requires coordination across different sectors, including public health, healthcare, emergency services, and water and wastewater systems. Because emerging and re-emerging infectious disease threats are a feature of human life, it is important to understand the interdependency of these sectors so that we can build sustained, resilient, cross-sector partnerships to efficiently respond to, or even prevent, future outbreaks.
The goal of this workshop is to increase awareness of the interdependencies between the water and wastewater, public health, healthcare, and emergency services sectors. While there are many such cross-sector interdependencies, wastewater-based surveillance is an excellent example of how the different sectors can work together toward a common goal. This training aims to build partnerships across sectors to improve understanding and application of wastewater surveillance.
Topics covered will include:
- A brief overview of the role and scope of the water and wastewater, health care and public health, and emergency services sectors and how they are interdependent on each other
- Detailed information on the status of the National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS), including:
- The goals and structure of the system, as well as how the system is funded
- How it’s possible for wastewater utilities and public health entities to get involved
- Case studies on how the wastewater data are being used to inform public health actions
We will also hear from:
- Shellie Chard (Water Quality Division Director at the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality) about a wastewater surveillance pilot in correctional facilities with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections
- Jason Vogel, PhD PE (Professor at the University of Oklahoma) about his team’s ongoing wastewater surveillance work
Valuing Aquatic Ecosystem Health at a National Scale: Modeling Biological Indicators Across Space and Time
Wed, Sep 29, 2021 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT | Register Here
EPA estimates the benefits of preserving aquatic resources using the water quality index, WQI. WQI metrics relate to human uses like recreation, but fails to fully capture aspects important to nonuse values of aquatic ecosystems, such as existence values. State preference surveys can quantify the nonuse values of waterbodies but require an appropriate index of biological health to be able to measure and compare biological condition.
In a recent effort, EPA researchers identified an appropriate biological health index to be applied in a forthcoming national state preference survey that will estimate nonuse values of streams and lakes throughout the conterminous United States. Through literature review and focus groups, researchers compared two aquatic indices that are regularly used to quantify biological health by EPA’s National Aquatic Resource Surveys: 1) multimetric indices and 2) observed to expected ratio of taxonomic composition (O/E). This webinar will discuss this comparison, implications for estimating benefits of preserving aquatic resources, and forthcoming work to link O/E with water quality and habitat models, which would forecast changes in O/E resulting from future regulatory action.
Public Webinar on Ambient Water Quality Criteria to Address Nutrient Pollution in Lakes and Reservoirs
September 30 at 3:00pm EDT| Register Here
EPA is hosting a public webinar to help members of the public better understand the criteria and how they can be used. EPA recently published revised ambient water quality criteria under the Clean Water Act to address nutrient pollution in lakes and reservoirs. The agency’s criteria recommendations serve as important resources that states and authorized tribes can use to protect public health, pets, and aquatic life from certain adverse effects of excess nutrients, including harmful algal blooms. The recommended criteria are based on the latest science and replace EPA’s previously recommended criteria for lakes and reservoirs that were published in 2000 and 2001. EPA developed national statistical models that provide a flexible approach for identifying appropriately protective numeric nutrient criteria. States, territories, and authorized tribes can use the national models or incorporate local data into the national models to help develop numeric nutrient criteria that are consistent with national relationships while accounting for unique local conditions.
Following the webinar, EPA will post the presentation slides on EPA’s website.
EPA issues the 2021 PGP
Tuesday, October 5, 2021 from 2:30pm- 4:00pm EST. Register here.
EPA is issuing the 2021 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Pesticide General Permit (PGP) for discharges of pesticides to waters of the United States in areas where EPA is the NPDES permitting authority. The 2021 PGP regulates point source discharges of biological pesticides and chemical pesticides that leave a residue into waters of the United States. The 2016 PGP expires October 31, 2021 and will be replaced by the 2021 PGP. The 2021 PGP contains the same requirements and provisions as the current permit, with no substantive changes. The permit is published on Regulations.gov in Docket No. EPA-HQ-OW-2020-0005. The purpose of this training is to introduce EPA’s NPDES electronic-reporting Tool (NeT) for seeking coverage under the Pesticide General Permit (PGP). This training is for Decision-makers who are required to submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) under EPA’s 2021 PGP. **If you need any special accommodations for this webinar, please email Madeline LaPatra (email@example.com) by 9/27.
Putting the Brakes on Water Pollution: A story of industry and government collaboration for copper-free brakes
October 6, 2021, 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time | Register Here
In January 2015, EPA, states, and the motor vehicle industry signed an agreement to reduce the use of copper and other materials in motor vehicle brake pads. The agreement calls for reducing copper in brake pads nationwide to no more than 0.5 percent by weight by 2025. In addition to copper, this voluntary initiative reduces mercury, lead, cadmium, asbestiform fibers, and chromium-six salts in motor vehicle brake pads. The initiative will reduce runoff of these pollutants from roads into the nation’s streams, rivers, and lakes. The webinar will explore how this voluntary initiative and these partnerships developed, the roles of the signatories, and the progress made so far. Speakers will highlight lessons learned and considerations for organizations considering future voluntary source control partnerships.
- Rachel Urban, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- Laurie Holmes, Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association
- Leigh Merino, Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association
- Aaron Lowe, AutoCare Association
- Don Welsh, Environmental Council of the States
For more information about the copper-free brake initiative, visit Copper-Free Brakes. If you need reasonable accommodations or closed captioning for this webinar, please email firstname.lastname@example.org by September 22, 2021. This webinar will be recorded and posted at a later date; a notification with the URL will be sent to all registrants once it is available.
Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for Local and Tribal Governments
October 6, 1-2:30pm. Register here.
What do local and tribal governments need to know about EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI)? Join EPA, the Local Government Environmental Assistance Network (LGEAN), and the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) on Wednesday, October 6 at 1:00 pm EDT to learn more about how local and tribal governments can use the TRI to help protect community health and welfare.
Local governments use TRI data in many ways, from supporting emergency planning to informing siting and permitting decisions and aiding fenceline communities who may potentially be exposed to toxic chemical releases from nearby facilities. Additionally, facilities owned and/or operated by local and tribal governments―such as waste management facilities and locally owned utilities―may also be subject to TRI reporting requirements.
TRI Program staff will give an overview of the TRI, explaining which local and tribal government facilities may be subject to reporting requirements, and how officials can use the TRI to respond to community concerns.
This webinar is part of a series of webinars to mark the 35th anniversary of TRI and to help inform stakeholders about this valuable resource.
Chemical Transformation Simulator: To Predict PFAS Metabolites and Environmental Transformation Products
October 7, 2021 3-4 PM ET | Register for the Chemical Transformation Simulator training webinar!
The Chemical Transformation Simulator (CTS) is a publicly available web-based application that predicts how organic chemicals will transform in environmental and biological systems. Traditional exposure and risk assessments for human-made organic chemicals have only focused on chemicals in their manufactured form, but it is well known that many organic chemicals can be transformed in the environment. Organic chemicals can also be metabolized into new molecules when they are ingested by humans or ecological species. CTS Reaction Libraries predict the products that form from various environmental transformation processes. This training webinar will provide an overview of CTS, including a demonstration of the CTS workflows for predicting transformation pathways and physicochemical properties of organic chemicals. For more information visit EPA’s CTS website.
National Academies Virtual Workshop | Communities, Climate Change, and Health Equity: A New Vision
October 12, 11-4pm EST and October 14, 12-4pm EST | Register Here
As the climate crisis intensifies extreme weather events, increases global temperatures, and accelerates sea level rise, communities least able to respond are bearing the largest burden.
This two-day virtual workshop will bring together people with lived experience, environmental health experts, resilience practitioners, and climate scientists to outline the disproportionate impact that climate change has on communities experiencing health disparities and environmental injustice.
The workshop will address three critical questions: Where are we now? How did we get here? Where do we want to go? Speakers and participants will share their visions for the future and suggest specific policies decision-makers can implement today to address the intersecting crises of climate change and health inequity.
Visit the event webpage for more information. A full agenda will be posted soon. This workshop is public and free to attend.
EPA Webinar: Smart Sewer Systems and Smart Data Infrastructure
Register: October 14, 2021, 01:00 PM, Eastern Time
Register: Dec 7, 2021 01:00 PM, Eastern Time
Description: U.S. EPA is hosting a two-part webinar series on smart sewer systems and smart data infrastructure. Smart sewer systems use real-time monitoring and other advanced technologies to improve decision-making regarding capacity, management, and operation and maintenance programs. Smart data infrastructure is the ecosystem of technology tools and solutions focused on the collection, storage, and/or analysis of water-related data. Both webinars will highlight how communities have implemented these approaches to improve their sewer system management and decision-making.
Speakers: Reese Johnson from the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati, Ohio, and Kieran Fahey from City of South Bend, Indiana, will speak on October 14, 2021.
O.J. McFoy from the City of Buffalo, New York, Sewer Authority and Stacia Eckenwiler from City of Columbus, Ohio, will speak on December 7, 2021.
In-Depth Training Series on CREAT
To complement the Building Resilience and Adapting to Climate Change Impacts: Introductory Session webinar scheduled for September 21, 2021, EPA is also providing a detailed training on CREAT. This training will help drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater utilities:
- Begin to develop their own climate change risk assessment
- Identify and share information on adaptation strategies to build utility long-term resilience
- Share information on available resources for financing resilience and adaptation
SESSION 1: Tuesday, October 19, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. MST
This webinar provides a training overview, as well as details on the use of CREAT Module 1: Climate Awareness, which covers inputs of basic utility information to increase awareness of climate change impacts and CREAT Module 2: Scenario Development, which covers understanding utility risk and designing scenarios of threats based on climate change projection data.
SESSION 2: Thursday, October 21, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. MST
This webinar provides details on the use of CREAT Module 3: Consequence and Assets, which covers outlining potential consequences and cataloging critical assets and Module 4: Adaptation Planning, which covers how to inventory current actions that develop resilience and how to design adaptation plans.
SESSION 3: Tuesday, October 26, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. MST
This webinar provides details on the use of CREAT Module 5: Risk Assessment, which covers assessing risk from a changing climate and evaluating adaptation plans. Additionally, the webinar includes a presentation on resources for financing adaptation options.
SESSION 4 (Optional): Tuesday, November 9, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. MST
This webinar provides an opportunity for attendees to ask questions related to climate change, risk assessment, financial resources, or any other items, as well as more details on financing adaptation options.
As part of the training, you will complete short homework assignments that reinforce skills for conducting your own climate change risk assessment. To prepare for the training you are encouraged to attend the Building Resilience and Adapting to Climate Change Impacts: Introductory Session Webinar for Drinking Water and Wastewater Utilities (September 21, 2021). If you cannot attend, we encourage you to view a recording of the Introductory Session Webinar once it is available on EPA’s CRWU website.
Freshwater Explorer: Interactive Map of Water Quality
October 20, 2021 3-4 PM ET | Register for the Freshwater Explorer webinar!
EPA’s Freshwater Explorer is an interactive mapping tool for visualizing water quality. States, tribes and other groups contribute water quality information to a database through the Water Quality Exchange (WQX). To make it easier to visualize these data, EPA scientists developed this interactive web-based mapping tool. Freshwater Explorer provides information about background and observed conductivity, a measure of salt content, for freshwater streams, lakes and wells in all 50 US states, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Salts can harm aquatic life and can be indicative of the presence of other pollutants. Data for nutrients will be added in 2022. Attend the EPA Tools & Resources Webinar to learn more about the EPA Freshwater Explorer!
Senior Water Quality Environmental Engineer | Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Location: Pendleton, OR
Closing Date: October 17, 2021
You will be responsible for providing review of plans and specifications, facility plans, and operations and maintenance manuals for complex wastewater pollution control facilities. You will also answer technical questions from staff and the regulated community and collaborate with statewide Water Quality engineers within the program on major engineering policy and implementation issues. Working in concert with other DEQ staff, you will fill an engineering role for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) program in the Eastern Region of DEQ. CWSRF work includes the review of change orders/addenda; construction cost reviews; readiness for bidding and construction; and Value Engineering reviews. Your work will ensure that the CWSRF program projects are built in accordance with the terms of the loan and in compliance with state and federal regulations and guidance. You will also issue permits for and conduct compliance inspections of facilities with complex wastewater permits to ensure protection of public health and the environment and take necessary enforcement action if non-compliance is determined.
For more information, click here.
Environmental Analyst – Permit Writer | NEIWPCC
Location: Albany, NY
The candidate will work within the NYS Department of Environmental
Conservation – Division of Water (DOW), Bureau of Water Permits and serve as a State
Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) Permit writer. Candidate will work on
municipal and/or industrial wastewater discharge SPDES permit renewals/reviews within
Source Water Protection areas to ensure SPDES permits are up-to-date and include effluent
limitations necessary to protect public water supplies.
For more information, click here.
Nonpoint Source Management Chief | EPA Headquarters
Location: Washington, DC
Closing Date: October 1, 2021
Lead and manage the programmatic work of the Branch including developing short and long term strategic planning to support the mission; executing policy, programmatic and technical workplans; using data and other information to guide development, implementation, and management of technical work; directing progress against budgets and spending actions; ensuring overall program plans are carried out effectively.
For more information, click here.