External Civil Rights Compliance Office (ECRCO) Call Scheduled
ECRCO, which resides inside EPA’s Office of General Counsel, is responsible for enforcing several civil rights laws which prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age and retaliation by those that seek or receive federal funding from EPA. As noted by ECRCO “[a]ll applicants for and recipients of EPA financial assistance, including state and local governments as well as private entities, have an affirmative obligation to comply with federal civil rights laws, both as a prerequisite to obtaining EPA financial assistance and in administering their programs and activities.” It is important to note that where ECRCO finds a violation of Title VI has occurred, removal of all EPA funding will be the result.
On September 28, 2020 EPA’s Office of Inspector General issued a report critical of EPA’s oversight of funding recipients and antidiscrimination requirements. In response to this review, and in an internal September 2021 memo sent from OGC to OIG, OGC indicates they will be developing a number of new products and processes for improving how ECRCO fulfills its responsibilities, including the development of a cumulative impacts guidance document to assist investigators and others with determining whether environmental permitting decisions by EPA and states have been discriminatory.
This week ECRCO announced a call for October 27, 2021 from 4:00pm – 6:00pm eastern. Registration can be done here. Proposed agenda items for the meeting include, but are not limited to, a brief overview of EPA’s commitment to strengthening Title VI enforcement, stakeholder comments, questions, and recommendations regarding priorities for EPA’s external civil rights enforcement and compliance activities.
On Monday, EPA released its latest strategic plan on PFAS. The Roadmap lists strategic principles, guidelines, and key actions with timelines assigned to EPA media offices including Office of Water, Office of Land and Emergency Management, and Office of Air and Radiation. Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox testified on Wednesday before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works to address questions about the Roadmap, which can be viewed here.
EPA’s Roadmap webpage summarizes key actions to be carried out by each EPA media office, including these actions assigned to EPA Office of Water:
- Publish final recommended ambient water quality criteria for PFAS for aquatic life and human health to help Tribes and states develop standards, write permits, and assess cumulative impacts. (expected winter 2022 and fall 2024)
- Publish health advisories for GenX and PFBS based on final toxicity assessments to enable tribes, states, and local governments to inform the public and take appropriate action. (expected spring 2022)
- Restrict PFAS discharges from industrial sources through a multi-faceted Effluent Limitations Guidelines program to proactively establish national technology-based regulatory limits, including progress on the nine industrial categories in the proposed PFAS Action Act of 2021. (expected 2022 and ongoing)
- Publish the final toxicity assessment for GenX and five additional PFAS—PFBA, PFHxA, PFHxS, PFNA, and PFDA—to better understand their human health and environmental effects. (expected fall 2021 and ongoing)
- Leverage National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permitting to reduce PFAS discharges to waterways to reduce discharges of PFAS at the source and obtain more comprehensive information through monitoring on the sources of PFAS and quantity of PFAS discharged by these sources. (expected winter 2022)
- Publish improved analytical methods to enable 40 PFAS to be monitored in eight different environmental matrices, and to update methods for drinking-water monitoring. (expected fall 2022 and fall 2024)
- Enhance data availability on PFAS in fish tissue to better assess the impacts of PFAS on the aquatic environment and to inform federal, state, and Tribal efforts to set PFAS fish advisories. (expected summer 2022 and spring 2023)
- Finalize risk assessment for PFOA and PFOS in biosolids that will serve as the basis for determining whether regulation of PFOA and PFOS in biosolids is appropriate. (expected winter 2024)
EPA Releases Updated 2020 TRI Data
On Thursday, EPA made available updated 2020 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data about chemical releases, chemical waste management, and pollution prevention activities that took place during 2020 at more than 21,000 federal and industrial facilities throughout the United States and its territories. This dataset builds on the preliminary data released in July. It includes revised and late submissions from facilities, and additional data quality checks by EPA. The data released also include the first-ever reporting on the 172 PFAS added to TRI by the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). At this time, the data related to the PFAS added by the NDAA and received by the agency include a total of 91 TRI reporting forms for 43 discrete PFAS chemicals filed by 39 individual facilities. The data indicate facilities managed over 841,000 pounds of production-related waste of PFAS during 2020.
Members of the public can use the 2020 TRI data to identify how many facilities that reported to EPA’s TRI Program operate in a given geographic area and where they are located, as well as which chemicals facilities have released or otherwise managed as waste and in what quantities. EPA has conducted various data quality reviews to help verify the submitted data. EPA’s full analysis of the 2020 data will be published early next year in the reporting year 2020 TRI National Analysis, and will examine different aspects of the data, including trends in releases, other waste management practices, and pollution prevention activities. The TRI National Analysis will include discussion on the quantities of the PFAS that were released to the environment, recycled, burned for energy recovery or treated; source reduction activities implemented on PFAS; the facilities and sectors that disclosed this information; and the communities in which these activities took place. The National Analysis will provide insights regarding the seemingly limited scope of the reporting, including the types and number of facilities reporting and specific PFAS reported.
Additionally, as part of the recently released PFAS Roadmap, EPA plans to enhance PFAS reporting under the TRI by proposing a rulemaking that would, among other changes, remove the eligibility of the de minimis exemption. The de minimis exemption allows covered facilities to disregard certain minimal concentrations of non-persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals in mixtures or trade name products. This proposal would make unavailable the de minimis exemption with regards to providing supplier notifications to downstream TRI facilities.
Because PFAS are used at low concentrations in many products, the elimination of the de minimis exemption will result in a more complete picture of the releases and waste management quantities for these chemicals.
The 2020 data are available in the online TRI tools and data files, including the location-based TRI factsheets. Explore the Data here.
Matt Rowe joins Jeff Manning as Co-chair, ACWA Water Resources Management Committee
Matthew Rowe, Assistant Director of Maryland Department of the Environment’s (MDE) Water and Science Administration, has joined North Carolina’s Jeff Manning as Co-chair of the WRMC. Matt takes the helm from Dr. Erica Gaddis, Director of the Utah Division of Water Quality, who now serves as the ACWA Board of Directors’ Region 8 Representative. ACWA extends its deep appreciation to Dr. Gaddis for her work with the WRMC to date, and looks forward to Matt and Jeff’s joint leadership.
At MDE, Matt helps oversee ~300 staff implementing state and federal water programs regulating public drinking water systems, wastewater, stormwater, wetlands, and compliance, as well as water quality monitoring, standards development, TMDL and non-point source management programs, with a focus on Chesapeake Bay restoration and building climate resiliency into Maryland’s water programs. Matt also serves the Chesapeake Bay Program partnership in support of the Principals’ Staff Committee and as co-chair of the Conowingo WIP Steering Committee, on the board of the Chesapeake Bay Trust, and is a certified Climate Change Professional. Prior to MDE, Matt worked in streams research at the University of Maryland, as a field biologist with the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, as a research fellow with EPA’s National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, and as an engineering technician in the private sector.
ACWA Comments on Preliminary ELG Program Plan 15
On October 14th, ACWA submitted comments to EPA regarding Preliminary Effluent Guidelines Program Plan 15 (Preliminary Plan 15). In the letter, ACWA makes recommendations related to EPA’s proposed revisions to ELG Point Source Categories (PSCs) including Meat and Poultry, Steam Electric Power Generating, and several PSCs linked to PFAS discharges. ACWA recommends EPA include loading data via Toxics Release Inventory in its PFAS data analysis, proceed with its proposed revisions to Meat and Poultry and Steam Electric Power Generating PSCs, and pursue more ELG revisions for PFAS than proposed. ACWA also:
- Requests PFAS discharge prioritization guidance for states;
- Justifies, as requested by EPA, the revision of a suite of PSCs for PFAS due to (1) PFAS’ treatability with available technologies, (2) current untreated discharges to POTWs and surface waters, and (3) known and suspected toxicity of priority PFAS analytes and legacy groups of PFAS; and,
- Urges EPA to begin developing PFAS ELGs in the interim as the Agency awaits future PFAS discharge data and the conclusion of several EPA studies.
ACWA also makes recommendations related to the Plan 15 prioritization methodology and how Environmental Justice can be incorporated into the ELG Program.
You can read the letter here.
Meetings & 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: email@example.com
Recorded Webcast || PFAS in Biosolids Under a Land Application Scenario: Biotic Weather, Leaching, and Transport
This Water Research Foundation webcast focuses on Assessing Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substance Release from Finished Biosolids (project 5042). Dr. Erica McKenzie first describes the ongoing efforts to understand what factors influence PFAS partitioning between biosolids and surrounding water; specifically, how PFAS partitioning changes as the biosolids are biologically weathered, and the transformation of precursor PFAS observed during this process. In the second part of the presentation, Dr. Charles Schaefer presents findings from the completed microcosm study that assessed vertical transport of PFAS through a soil column, simulating land application of biosolids.
You can access the recording by registering for the webinar here.
Roundtable Discussion for Utilities on A Compendium of U.S. Wastewater Surveillance to Support COVID-19 Public Health Response
Date: October 26, 2021
Time: 11AM – 12:30PM EST
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (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.
EPA is hosting a roundtable discussion based on the compendium to better understand the role and needs of wastewater surveillance for utilities and underserved communities. The discussion includes experts selected to represent a range of stakeholders. Over the 90-minute facilitated meeting, panelists will discuss and provide input for three main topics:
- Dissemination of information on wastewater surveillance to utility stakeholders
- Use of wastewater surveillance to provide targeted outreach to underserved communities
- Gaps and opportunities from the utility perspective
You are invited to listen and to disseminate the information to your members on the interactive roundtable discussion and provide your feedback.
For any questions related to this announcement, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming PFAS Analytic Tools Version 3.0 Training
October 26, 2020
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.
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.
EPA Virtual Forum on the Federal Funding Sources for Monitoring and Treatment of Harmful Algal Blooms
Date: November 9 and 10, 2021
Time: 1-4PM EST
EPA’s Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center (WIRFC) is hosting a virtual forum that will take place over two consecutive half-day sessions. During this virtual forum, participants from federal agencies will provide an overview of the federal funding programs related to harmful algal blooms (HABs), the funding allocation/application process for those programs, and how inland and coastal communities can use the programs to address HABs challenges.
The goals for this forum are to:
- Provide information to participants on federal sources available to fund the prevention, monitoring, and treatment of HABs;
- Hear about real-world examples of communities that have successfully used these funding sources for HABS related projects; and,
- Allow participants to share perspectives with federal agencies on their experiences, challenges, and successes accessing funding for HABs.
Please email email@example.com with any questions.
Free Training Webcast || “Keys to Success: Water Reuse in Small and Disadvantaged Communities”
November 15, 2021
Please join water reuse expert Dr. Bruce Macler (EPA, retired), Pete Tjemsland (Sequim, Washington Public Works Department), and David Smith (Assistant Water Division Director, EPA Region 9) as they explore what it takes for smaller and resource-challenged communities to be successful in developing and implementing wastewater reuse and stormwater capture and use projects.
Permitting Water Innovation: Improving Permitting Processes to Support New Water Management Technologies and Strategies
Nov 17, 2021
This free webinar will present findings and insights from recent research, water reuse actions, and specific case studies to explore how water permitting affects our ability to implement water recycling, energy recovery, nature-based solutions, and other innovative water management approaches. Presenters will explore whether and how changes in water permitting processes and dynamics can help advance water innovation and overcome barriers to implementation.
EPA Webinar: Smart Sewer Systems and Smart Data Infrastructure
Register: Dec 7, 2021 01:00 PM – 2:00 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: O.J. McFoy from the City of Buffalo, New York, Sewer Authority and Stacia Eckenwiler from City of Columbus, Ohio.
Municipal Permit and Compliance Specialist | Washington Department of Ecology
Location: Lacey, WA
Closing Date: October 28, 2021
This position’s specialty will be to serve as the permit and compliance specialist within a team of nine water quality specialists in the Southwest Regional Office. You will assist our staff and our permittees in interpreting and maintaining compliance with the state’s water quality regulations and permit requirements. This work will include investigations into compliance concerns and making thoughtful recommendations for appropriate corrective actions. You will ensure that our enforcement actions are developed and carried out with the purpose of educating and improving behavior, while being mindful of the impacts to our regulated communities.
For more information, click here.
Instrument Repair/Installation Tech (2 positions) | Washington Department of Ecology
Location: Lacey, WA
Closing Date: October 28, 2021
In this Environmental Specialist position, you will provide general shop and field support for the design, purchasing, fabrication, installation, troubleshooting, and repair of real-time telemetry water quality and streamflow monitoring equipment. You will also provide field support for the collection and processing of discrete water quality samples, and the measurement of stream flows.
For more information, click here.