State Associations Urge Congress to Robustly Fund Sec. 106
ACWA, along with ECOS, WSWC and ASDWA, sent a letter to Congressional leaders reminding them that in order to successfully implement the goals of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, state environmental programs need increased resources to administer their programs and support new infrastructure investments. Robust funding for PWSS Grant Program and for CWA programs is necessary to ensure states have the capacity to handle an increase in funding for water infrastructure, especially to the Clean Water and Drinking Water SRFs. Fully funding State and Tribal Assistance Grants (STAG) and similar programs will ensure that insufficient staffing and administrative resources do not cause delays or bottlenecks with projects moving to construction with the appropriate public health safeguards and environmental permits.
Public Release of Draft Selenium Technical Support Materials for Comment
This week, EPA released a set of four draft documents, collectively known as the Draft Selenium Technical Support Materials, for a 60-day public comment period. These documents provide implementation support for states and authorized tribes for the national recommended CWA S. 304(a) selenium aquatic life criterion for freshwater. The documents are related to (1) criterion adoption, (2) fish tissue monitoring, (3) assessing and listing waters under CWA section 303(d), and (4) NPDES permitting. In 2016, EPA published initial draft versions of the materials for public comment. Given the time elapsed since EPA’s release of the 2016 draft TSMs, and to maximize the opportunity for public engagement, the agency is releasing the new draft TSMs for another round of public input. Comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org until December 3, 2021.
View the draft TSMs on EPA’s Water Quality Criteria website here.
$21.7 Million to Support Small and Rural Water Systems
This week EPA announced availability of $21.7 million grant funding for training providers and technical assistance to support small wastewater and drinking water systems that are often located in rural communities. “Through this grant program, EPA is able to meet the specific needs of small drinking water and wastewater systems to help improve water quality that supports health, recreation, and the rural economy,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “Small towns and rural America are the backbone of our country and we must invest in the water infrastructure and the water workforce that support these communities.” Small water systems often face unique financial and operational challenges, workforce shortages, increasing costs, and declining rate bases. Eligible applicants include nonprofit organizations, nonprofit private universities and colleges, and public institutions of higher education. Applicants will have 60 days to apply.
For more information on the funding: FY 2021 Training and Technical Assistance to Improve Water Quality and Enable Small Public Water Systems to Provide Safe Drinking Water | US EPA
EPA Agriculture Advisor Rod Snyder
This week EPA announced appointment of Rod Snyder as EPA’s Agriculture Advisor to the Administrator. Administrator Regan said “Rod brings a wealth of experience and knowledge about how environmental issues intersect with agricultural stakeholders and rural communities.” And went on to further say, “It’s going to take all of us working together to tackle the climate crisis, advance environmental justice and build a sustainable future, and Rod is well-suited to bring our partners into the Agency’s work and ensure agricultural stakeholders have a seat at the table.” Mr. Snyder comes to this position as a nationally recognized for leadership on agricultural and environmental policy. He has worked for the National Corn Growers Association and CropLife America. As a longtime champion of agricultural solutions to climate change, he has previously organized farmer delegations to participate in UN Climate Summits in Paris and Copenhagen. Mr. Snyder holds a B.A. in Political Science from Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania and resides on his family farm in Shenandoah Junction, West Virginia.
Decision Issued by Ninth Circuit in Montana Water Quality Standards Variance Litigation
On October 6, 2021, the Ninth Circuit issued a decision favorable to EPA regarding EPA’s approval of Montana’s 2017 nutrient water quality standard variances. In doing so, the court reaffirmed EPA’s 2015 WQS variance regulations regarding reasonable consideration of cost when approving WQS variances and EPA’s variance construct to facilitate incremental environmental progress over the duration of the variance. The court upheld EPA’s approval of Montana’s variance because it included all of the necessary safeguards required by EPA’s regulations. This brings to conclusion a multiyear litigation regarding EPA’s approval of Montana’s WQS variance, which EPA notes was put in place to facilitate reductions in nutrient pollution toward achieving Montana’s numeric nutrient criteria.
You can read the opinion here.
EPA Publishes 2021 Climate Adaptation Plan
On October 7, 2021, EPA was among the federal agencies that released an agency-specific Climate Adaptation Action Plan. The plan describes steps EPA will take to address the impacts of climate change on communities across the Nation. EPA also launched a new Climate Adaptation web page that will act as a hub for climate adaptation resources from across EPA.
Pursuant to President Biden’s Executive Order 14008, EPA’s 2021 Climate Adaptation Action Plan lays out several priorities for the agency to implement in the coming months and years, including:
- Integrating climate adaptation and consideration of climate impacts into EPA programs, policies, rulemaking processes, and enforcement activities;
- Consulting and partnering with Tribes; state, local, and territorial governments, and other federal agencies; community groups; scientists and adaptation experts; businesses; and other stakeholders to increase the resilience of the nation, with a particular focus on advancing environmental justice; and
- Implementing measures to protect the agency’s workforce, facilities, critical infrastructure, supply chains, and procurement processes from the risks posed by climate change.
The plan contains seven overarching goals related to environmental media (i.e., air, water quality, ) and obligations and principles (i.e., enforcement and compliance, Environmental Justice), each linked multiple performance goals and sub-objectives; as well as cross-Agency strategies (i.e., strengthened Tribal, State, and Local partnerships). Goals and objectives directly related to surface waters and drinking water are found on pages 46-56. For example, EPA intends to increase by an additional 41,000 square miles the area of watersheds and surface waters meeting water quality standards that previously did not meet standards (via the July 2021 baseline of 425,198 square miles meeting standards) by September 2026. EPA lists 13 specific strategies it will pursue to achieve that goal.
The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and Office of Management and Budget seek public input on all agency climate adaptation plans. Members of the public may submit comments via the docket here. (Docket ID: CEQ–2021–0003) until Nov. 6, 2021. CEQ also will hold a virtual convening this fall with national organizations who have expertise in climate adaptation and resilience or have expressed interest in agency plans.
For more information on the Climate Adaptation Action Plan, click here.
For more information on Executive Order 14008, click here.
EPA Releases Compendium on Wastewater Surveillance Supporting COVID-19 Response
EPA recently released the report A Compendium of U.S. Wastewater Surveillance to Support COVID-19 Public Health Response. EPA created this compendium to document efforts across the country to support the surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 through wastewater sampling and to guide those interested in implementing wastewater surveillance in the future by elaborating on funding, project management, results, and potential actions to prevent the continued spread of COVID-19. To support this goal, the compendium documents the efforts of federal, state, local, and tribal agencies—as well as associations, universities, and the private sector—throughout 2020 and into early 2021 to explore federal and other funding sources, develop and implement wastewater surveillance for SARS-CoV-2, and provide information on program implementation through case studies.
You can access the compendium here.
NAS Establishes Committee to Improve Accessibility and Inclusion in Field, Laboratory, and Computational Science
An ad hoc planning committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will organize and convene a series of conversations that explore leading practices for improving accessibility for people with disabilities in disciplines that conduct field and laboratory research. The conversations will include:
- Framing the discussion (e.g., Which disabilities should be the focus for these initial conversations? How do people with different types of disabilities experience field and laboratory work? What has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic? What are the most common challenges?)
- Overcoming barriers to full participation by people with disabilities in field and laboratory research;
- Accommodations including, but not limited to, assistive technologies, support, or modification of duties that are most promising for increasing accessibility;
- Commonalities and differences among solutions that address accessibility issues in field and laboratory work;
- Scaling up individual successful practices into generalizable practice;
- The potential for mentoring or other support networks for improving the inclusion of people with disabilities; and
- Institutional policies and the cultural changes necessary to ensure that leading practices for accessibility and inclusivity in field and laboratory science are sustainable.
New Environmental Justice Committee Seeks Volunteers
The Environmental Justice Committee was formed in 2021 to focus on the issues surrounding environmental justice and equity and state surface water programs. The Committee will serve as a forum for state to state and state to federal discussion and information and best-practices sharing on the latest developments/ tools in environmental justice and equity.
Committee participation is open to ACWA Members or their designee. The committee will meet quarterly.
ACWA Monitoring Standards and Assessment Committee November Call: Financial Capability Assessment
The MSA Committee will meet November 9th from 3-4:30pm EST. Contact Jake Adler for more information.
Meetings and Webinars
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.
Enforcement and Compliance History Online Webinar- State Dashboards
Tuesday, October 12, 2021, 1:30-2:30 PM | Register here
This webinar will explore how to use ECHO state dashboards. The state dashboards show a visual depiction of enforcement and compliance data as it relates to agency performance. We will cover examples of using the dashboards for several programs, which include:
- Drinking Water
- Hazardous Waste
Additionally, we will explore how to utilize the modernized state dashboard functionality, highlighting new and updated interactive features.
PFAS in Biosolids Under a Land Application Scenario: Biotic Weather, Leaching, and Transport
Thursday, October 14 | 1pm-2pm ET | Register Here
This Water Research Foundation webcast is free and open to the public.
There are many sources of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to water resource recovery facilities. Wastewater treatment and biosolids stabilization processes do not effectively degrade PFAS, and notable concentrations can be found in biosolids. Therefore, there are questions regarding the fate and transport of PFAS that originate in land-applied biosolids. This webcast will focus on Assessing Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substance Release from Finished Biosolids (project 5042). Dr. Erica McKenzie will first describe the ongoing efforts to understand what factors influence PFAS partitioning between biosolids and surrounding water. Specifically, the research team has been conducting laboratory experiments to understand how PFAS partitioning changes as the biosolids are biologically weathered; additionally, transformation of precursor PFAS are observed during this process. In the second part of the presentation, Dr. Charles Schaefer will present findings from the completed microcosm study that assessed vertical transport of PFAS through a soil column, simulating land application of biosolids.
Erica McKenzie, PhD, College of Engineering, Temple University
Charles Schaefer, PhD, Director, Bellevue Research and Testing Laboratory, CDM Smith
Lola Olabode, MPH, BCES, Research Program Manager, The Water Research Foundation
Upcoming PFAS Analytic Tools Version 3.0 Training
October 26, 2020, from 2:30 to 4:00pm Eastern. Please click here to register.
EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance is proud to announce Version 3.0 release of PFAS Analytic Tools – an application for Federal, state, local, and tribal agencies to analyze spatial and temporal data related to Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in the United States.
It has been quite some time since we have offered states training on the PFAS Analytic Tools. Therefore this webinar is an opportunity for training new state agency staff on the tool, and for those already familiar, there will be a demonstration of new enhancements, such as:
- Identifying occurrences in relation to areas of potential environmental justice concern
- National Water Information System (NWIS) data flow enhancements
- Transfers and disposal of PFAS from RCRAInfo’s e-manifest data system
- Toxics Release Inventory on releases and transfers
- Expanding the Industries Sectors to include Fire Training Sites and Part 139 Airports
- Spills data called into the National Response Center
***Please register using your EPA, state, or local government email address – this webinar is for governmental employees only, please only share with those in your organization. “This webinar contains non-public law enforcement techniques, procedures or guidelines – confidential, do not distribute outside your organization.”
For those not able to make the training, we plan to record it and post it here.
EPA Webinar: Smart Sewer Systems and Smart Data Infrastructure
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.
EPA Tools & Resources Webinar: Freshwater Explorer
October 20, 2021 3-4PM ET | Register Here
EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) hosts this monthly public webinar series to translate EPA research and share research resources and information that are useful, practical/applied and available to meet research needs of states/territories and other entities, such as tribes, local governments, and communities.
Attendees have the option of receiving a certificate of attendance. Acceptance of certificates is contingent on organization requirements—EPA cannot guarantee acceptance. Closed-captioned recordings of the webinars are provided for later viewing and as a training resource.
Data in Action: Real-World Applications of the Toxics Release Inventory
October 20, 12:00-1:00 p.m. EDT | Register Here
For more than three decades, individuals and organizations have relied on the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) as a powerful tool for protecting human health and the environment. Join EPA for a webinar on Wednesday, October 20 at 12:00 pm EDT to celebrate the TRI 35th anniversary and hear from three researchers about how they have used TRI in their work in the fields of environmental justice, public health equity, corporate environmental performance, and more.
- Michael Ash, Co-Director of the Corporate Toxics Information Project at the University of Massachusetts Amherst
- Michael Petroni, Environmental Health Policy Scientist
- Kevin Smiley, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Louisiana State University
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.
Technical Assistance Webinar: Optimize Your Wastewater Treatment Plant: Save Energy and Reduce Nutrient Discharge
Thursday October 21, 2021, 1:00-2:30pm Eastern Time | Register Here
In this webinar attendees will learn: to better understand the activated sludge process; to identify activated sludge process goals; to know the primary data requirements for activated sludge; to recognize common operator errors; to reduce air supply to save energy and money; and to reduce nutrient loadings to receiving waters. The webinar will be featuring Dr. Larry W. Moore, Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering at the University of Memphis.
EPA has also published a new website to announce EPA Office of Compliance’s future technical assistance webinars and archive past webinars here. Check back frequently to find the most recent recordings.
Using EPA’s EnviroAtlas and Recovery Potential Screening Tools to Support Sound Decision Making
Thursday, October 21, 1 p.m. –3 p.m. Eastern | Click hereto register
EPA’s EnviroAtlas and the Healthy Watersheds Program’s Recovery Potential Screening (RPS) Tool are decision-support tools that assist users in determining where and how to take action to ensure successful ecosystem management. Well-informed planning is crucial to restoring and protecting watersheds to ensure benefits to society and the environment. Please join EPA’s Watershed Academy for this webcast to view a live demo of EnviroAtlas and the Recovery Potential Screening (RPS) Tool and to hear how these tools can be used. This webcast will provide an overview and demonstration of these user-friendly, accessible, data-rich tools. This demonstration is meant to:
- Provide a basic demonstration on how to use these two EPA tools
- Explore environmental indicators on a diverse range of topics and showcase new tool updates
- Highlight environmental justice-relevant data and functionalities
- Offer examples to apply the data and information to inform decision making and inform strategies
- Help users learn directly from users who have found these tools helpful in their organization
- Annie Neale, EnviroAtlas Lead, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Jessica Daniel, EnviroAtlas Outreach & Stakeholder Engagement Lead, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Emily Cira, Recovery Potential Screening (RPS) Lead, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Andrew Somor, Recovery Potential Screening (RPS) Expert, The Cadmus Group LLC
- Brett Wiley, Environmental Specialist, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
Effects of Total Nitrogen and Total Phosphorus on Chlorophyll a Concentrations in Flowing Waters
October 27, 2021 | Register here
Nitrogen pollution and phosphorus pollution are major stresses on stream and river ecosystems globally. Despite general acceptance of nutrient pollution as a problem, understanding the ways that biological communities respond is complicated, in part because conditions in streams and rivers are quite variable. For example, chlorophyll a, a pigment in primary producers, is used to estimate algal biomass and is a widely used measure of biological response to nutrient pollution. However, the response of chlorophyll a to nutrients can depend on environmental context. A compilation and synthesis of research about biological responses to nutrients across environmental contexts is needed to support environmental decisions, including the identification of streams and rivers with unhealthy biological communities and the setting of targets for maintaining or reviving healthy ecosystems.
EPA scientists conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 105 published studies to examine the response of primary producers (as measured by sestonic and benthic chlorophyll a) to total nitrogen and total phosphorus concentrations in the water column of streams and rivers, and how that response is affected by other environmental factors. This webinar will discuss the results of this research, implications for environmental decision-making, and forthcoming efforts to expand the analysis to other biological responses.
About the Presenters:
Caroline Ridley, Ph.D. is an ecologist in EPA’s Office of Research and Development, Center for Public Health and Environmental Assessment. She develops and applies methods for synthesizing literature-based evidence in support of air and water quality decisions that protect biological communities.
Sylvia Lee, Ph.D. is a biologist in EPA’s Office of Research and Development, Center for Public Health and Environmental Assessment. Her research interests include ecological assessments, development of biological indicators of water quality, and the ecology and systematics of diatoms.
IPDES Compliance Officer — Idaho Department of Environmental Quality
Location: Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Closing Date: October 14, 2021
The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is hiring an Idaho Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (IPDES) compliance officer for our Coeur d’Alene Regional Office. This position serves as the regional inspector for the IPDES program and is instrumental in DEQ’s ability to provide effective implementation of the program, service to permit holders, and ensure compliance with permit requirements.
Learn more here.
Engineering Manager — Idaho Department of Environmental Quality
Location: Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Closing Date: October 18, 2021
The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is hiring an engineering manager for our Coeur d’Alene Regional Office. This position manages the regional implementation of DEQ’s Drinking Water, Wastewater, and Idaho Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Programs and reviews engineering plans and specifications for the Coeur d’Alene Regional office. The position provides oversight and leadership for regional staff, serves as the primary point of contact for the regulated community, and oversees regional program budgets.
Learn more here.
Ground Water Analyst — Idaho Department of Environmental Quality
Location: Lewiston, Idaho
Closing Date: October 18, 2021
The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is hiring a ground water analyst for our Lewiston Regional Office. This position is responsible for all field work and data quality assurance for ground water monitoring, nitrate priority area monitoring, and source water protection efforts within the region.
Learn more here.
Executive Director and Secretary — Upper Colorado River Commission
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Closing Date: November 15, 2021
The UCRC is an interstate water administrative agency established by action of five state legislatures and Congress with the enactment of the 1948 Upper Colorado River Basin Compact. As chief administrative officer, the Executive Director/Secretary is responsible for carrying out the policies, directives, and authorizations of the UCRC, and performs all duties and functions relative to the position of Secretary as required by the Upper Colorado River Basin Compact and the By-Laws of the UCRC.
Learn more here.