2020 Water Quality Certification Rule Vacated
A federal district court issued a ruling In re: Clean Water Act Rulemaking late last week vacating the Sec. 401 Water Quality Certification rule. This is the third challenge to the Sec. 401 rule that found the 2020 rule arbitrary and capricious and the first that vacated the rule.
In the opinion, the Court noted that the Supreme Court’s 1994 ruling in PUD No. 1 of Jefferson County v. Washington Department of Ecology found that section 401 gives states broad authority in what they consider when reviewing requests to certify that a federal permit or license will not harm state water quality criteria. But, the revised 2020 rule takes the opposite position without adequately providing a reasonable explanation for the change. The judge also noted that vacatur of the 401 rule is appropriate because of the lack of reasoned decision-making and apparent errors in the 2020 rule’s scope of certification. Moreover, he found that the rule contravenes the structure and purpose of the CWA, and that the agency has signaled it could not or will not adopt the same rule upon remand. Therefore, the judge held that significant doubt exists that EPA correctly promulgated the rule.
The states argued the EPA’s new rule unlawfully violated the plain language, intent, and established case law interpreting the Clean Water Act. The states involved in the challenged included Washington, California, New York, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.
Build Back Better Framework
This week the White House released details regarding President Biden’s “Build Back Better Framework.” The main thrust of this initiative is to reinvigorate the economic engine by recognizing the importance of the middle class. The hope is that by creating millions of good paying jobs, more Americans will rejoin the labor force, the economy will grow, and other important related Democratic initiatives will flourish. This plan includes approximately $1.75 trillion of investments to combat climate change ($555 billion), extend health care benefits, and alleviate child poverty. More specifically, the Biden administration wants to:
- Offer universal and free preschool
- Reduce costs for childcare generally
- Deliver affordable health care for elderly
- Strengthen and reduce costs of Affordable Care Act
- Cut taxes for families
- Incentivize clean energy development and use
- Invest in natural solutions to climate change
- Close Medicare gap and expand hearing coverage
- Support affordable housing
- Advance immigration reform
- Ensure no one making $400,000 or less pays higher taxes
- Eliminate tax loopholes for corporations and the wealthy
Further details on this initiative can be found here. This framework highlights many, but not all, of the initiatives found in the H.R. 5376, the Build Back Better Act (BBB). It should be noted that many Democrats in the House of Representatives want to pass the BBB alongside a streamlined version of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) and the House has now given themselves until December 3, 2021, to get it done.
EPA Releases Finalized GenX Assessment
As part of EPA’s Strategic Roadmap to address PFAS, the agency has released the final human health toxicity assessment for Hexafluoropropylene Oxide (HFPO) Dimer Acid and its Ammonium Salt (referred to as “GenX chemicals”).
The assessment presents a review of the available human health effects information on GenX chemicals and updates information first published by EPA in 2018. The assessment focuses on oral exposure and critical effects/health outcomes including hematological, reproductive & developmental, kidney, immune, and cancer. The assessment primarily finds health effects to the liver.
EPA used new data and revised uncertainty factors to update the GenX chronic and sub-chronic reference doses (RfD), estimates of the amount of a chemical a person can ingest daily over a lifetime (chronic) or less (sub-chronic) that is unlikely to lead to adverse health effects. The chronic RfD for GenX is now 3×10^-6 mg/kg/day (0.000003), compared to 8×10^-5 mg/kg/day published as draft in 2018. By comparison, the GenX RfD value is 100x lower than EPA’s recently-published RfD for PFBS and lower than the PFOS and PFOA RfDs of 0.00002. However, EPA is currently undertaking a potential revision of the PFOS and PFOA RfDs based on new data.
States and health authorities can use values provided in the assessment to develop health-protective benchmarks based on oral GenX exposure via drinking and ambient water, fish tissue, and other media. EPA next plans to use the assessment values to develop a drinking water health advisory in Spring 2022.
To view the press release, click here.
To view the final human health toxicity assessment for GenX Chemicals and related materials, click here.
EPA Requests Nominees for Two Advisory and Review Committees
Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) Nominees for Participation in Two Chemical Reviews
EPA requests public nominations of scientific experts to consider for service as ad hoc reviewers assisting the SACC with two peer review topics anticipated for early 2022: The draft EPA TSCA Systematic Review Protocol; and the draft EPA TSCA Screening Level Approach for Assessing Ambient Air and Water Exposures to Fenceline Communities. Any interested person or organization may nominate qualified individuals to be considered prospective candidates for these reviews by following the instructions provided in this document. Individuals may also self-nominate. Please submit nominations here no later than November 17th, 2021.
Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC)
The BOSC is a federal advisory committee to the EPA Office of Research and Development that provides independent scientific and technical peer review, consultation, advice, and recommendations for each of its research programs.
Individuals and organizations can nominate themselves or others, respectively, using the nomination form on the BOSC website until November 12, 2021.
- Information on the BOSC can be found here.
- Information on ORD’s research can be found here.
- Details regarding areas of expertise sought, process for submitting nominations, and selection criteria can also be found in the relevant Federal Register notice published on October 18, 2021.
Please contact the BOSC Designated Federal Officer, Tom Tracy (email@example.com), with any questions or additional assistance.
Water Quality Standards Information Collection Request Renewal Proposed
The water quality standards regulation, consisting of 40 CFR part 131, establishes the framework for states and authorized tribes to adopt standards, and for EPA to review and approve or disapprove them. This ICR renews the WQS Regulation ICR, OMB Control Number 2040-0049, that currently expires in December, 2021. This ICR is for information collections needed to implement the WQS regulation, required to obtain or retain benefits ( e.g., relaxed regulatory requirements) under the WQS regulation, and requested on a voluntary basis to gather technical program information. This ICR also renews collection of WQS information by dischargers in the Great Lakes watershed required to obtain or retain certain benefits pursuant to the Water Quality Guidance of the Great Lakes System, 40 CFR part 132.
You can review a fuller description of the ICR’s estimated burden and submit comments on this extension proposal (no later than November 29, 2021) here.
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 notified and will reach out to you.
2021 Virtual Nutrients Permitting Workshop
This week, ACWA held a virtual Nutrients Permitting Workshop: Permitting for Restoration
This 3-day workshop had days dedicated to the restoration of lakes, rivers, and estuaries, featuring case studies from across the country by state staff and EPA. This workshop was attended by 194 state and federal staff. Meeting materials will be made available next week.
This workshop was 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.
Meetings & Webinars
Recorded Webinar: EPA PFAS Analytics Tool 3.0 Release and Demonstration
If you missed this webinar, watch the recording here.
Navigating Federal Funding for Green Infrastructure and Nature-Based Solutions Webinar
Tuesday, November 2, 2021
11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Eastern
Register Here (MS Teams)
During this webcast, members of the Green Infrastructure Federal Collaborative will discuss funding and technical assistance opportunities that advance the implementation of green infrastructure and nature-based solutions. Attendees will learn how federal programs are helping build vibrant and resilient communities with programs that support the design, construction, and maintenance of green infrastructure. Breakout sessions hosted by Collaborative members will provide attendees with the opportunity to pose questions and interact directly with relevant federal agencies.
- Federal Emergency Management Agency – Sarah Watling, Bradley Dean, Charley Carson, Josh Human
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Matt Chasse
- Natural Resources Conservation Service – Russel Ames, Kevin Farmer
- S. Army Corps of Engineers – Mindy Simmons
- S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Jorge Morales, B. Cory Schwartz, Seema Thomas
- S. Economic Development Administration – Naomi Friedman
- S. Environmental Protection Agency – Wynne Miller, Robyn DeYoung, Ellie Flaherty, Karen Fligger, Michael Goralczyk, Santina Wortman, Samantha Rachko, Jacob Burney
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
EPA Tools & Resources Webinar: Food Waste Research
Wednesday, November 17 from 3-4 PM ET
Over one-third of the food produced in the United States is never eaten, wasting the resources used to produce it and creating a myriad of environmental impacts. Reducing wasted food presents opportunities to increase food security, feed the world’s growing population more sustainably, preserve water availability and quality, and address climate change. This presentation will highlight the latest research on the environmental impacts of U.S. food waste and the potential benefits of meeting the EPA/USDA goal of halving food waste by 2030, as reported in EPA’s forthcoming “From Farm to Kitchen: The Environmental Impacts of Food Waste” report. This presentation will also highlight findings of EPA’s recent “Emerging Issues in Food Waste” report series.
EPA Tools & Resources Training Webinar: Finding EPA Resilience Resources with the Environmental Resilience Tools Wizard
Wednesday, December 1 from 3-4 PM ET
The Environmental Resilience Tools Wizard is a curated, online repository of EPA tools and resources designed to build community resilience to disasters. The wizard is designed to be used by state, tribal, and local environmental and emergency management agencies. It contains publicly available resources produced by EPA that address how to reduce disaster risks to the environment and human health. This webinar will provide an overview of the environmental dimensions of disasters and of building resilience and walkthrough examples of how to conduct searches and evaluate the results.
One Health Webinars for States
One Health is a collaborative, multisectoral, and trans-disciplinary approach – working at local, regional, national, and global levels – to achieve optimal health and well-being outcomes recognizing the interconnections between people, animals, plants and their shared environment. In other words, it is a systems approach that considers contributions of the environment, animals, humans, and plants in a holistic manner.
Many Departments and Agencies have adopted this approach to better understand the linkages between human, animal, and plant health and the environment. By taking these factors into consideration, better and more relevant data and decision support tools can be developed and used to address specific issues, such as those related to the environment, environmental health, fish and wildlife, as part of a system that influences the outcome.
EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD), the
Environmental Council of the States (ECOS), the Association of State and Territorial Health officials (ASTHO), and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) invite states to informational webinars to learn more about One Health. The webinars discuss the importance of the One Health Initiative and the role of different health professionals within the One Health framework.
- Part 1: One Health: Environmental perspective (EPA and ECOS)
- Part 2: One Health: Environmental Health perspective (ASTHO)
and Natural Resource perspective (AFWA)
Surface Water Quality Standards Coordinator | Kansas Department of Health and Environment
Location: Topeka, Kansas
Closing Date: November 9, 2021
The Kansas Dept of Health & Environment is hiring an environmental specialist to serve as the coordinator of the Kansas Surface Water Quality Standards (KSWQS). The position offers the opportunity to oversee the review of KSWQS while revising and adopting standards, as appropriate, by way of the triennial review in accordance with 40 CFR 131 and Section 303 of the Clean Water Act. Duties include analyzing environmental datasets, performing, and presenting on independent research, writing technical reports in support of agency positions, and supporting the NPDES Water Quality Certification Program. This position is responsible for directing KSWQS regulations packages through State and USEPA processes. If you like to learn while working in a setting that encourages independent reasoning combined with the support of an experienced team, please consider applying.
For more information, click here.
Nutrient Reduction Strategy Data Analyst | Iowa State University
Closing Date: November 11, 2021
This position will work with Iowa State University faculty and staff, state and federal agency staff and NGO staff to gather, compile and analyze social and biophysical indicators that lead to reduced nutrient loss and improved water quality. Position responsibilities include; collaborating with Iowa State University, agency and NGO personnel, secondary data collection and management from state and federal sources, script-writing, and trend analysis of farming and conservation practices, water quality monitoring data, public and private resource commitments, organizing and analyzing survey data, estimating calculated nutrient loads and developing summary reports and data-visualization dashboards.
For more information, click here.