Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Passes Congress
Congress passed a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, with a final vote of 228-206. The legislation passed the Senate in August but was stalled in the House as Democrats tried to negotiate a deal on a separate $1.9 trillion economic package. The BID invests more than $50 billion through EPA’s highly successful water infrastructure programs. The package includes:
- $20+ billion for safe drinking water
- $15 billion in dedicated funding to replace lead pipes
- $12+ billion to ensure clean water for communities
- $1.8 billion to protect regional waters
- $135 million for additional water improvements
To learn more, listen to Assistant Administrator Radhika Fox explain what this means for EPA.
Corps Suspends Coverage Under 16 Nationwide Permits
The Corps suspended coverage under the Nationwide permits that were finalized at the end of the last Administration. According to the Sacramento District Office: “November 4, 2021 – Due to the decision of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California on October 21, 2021, to remand EPA’s 2020 401 WQC rule with vacatur, the Corps of Engineers is not finalizing permit decisions that rely on a 401 WQC or waiver under EPA’s 2020 rule at this time. The Corps is working to provide more refined guidance that provides a way forward that allows us to finalize permit decisions.” See here for more information.
The Corps is waiting for guidance from EPA and the Department of Justice on how to comply with water quality certification requirements for pending permit actions (including NWP verifications) in light of the vacatur of EPA’s 2020 water quality certification regulation. Until that guidance is provided by EPA, the Corps has paused making permit decisions for individual permits and for the 16 NWPs that were issued in January 2021 for activities that may involve discharges that require water quality certification or waiver. As soon as the Corps receives that guidance from EPA, it is likely that we will post a statement summarizing that guidance on the Corps’ web site.
Extension of Comment Period to January 3, 2022: Selenium Criteria Technical Support Materials
On October 4, 2021, EPA released a set of four draft documents, collectively known as the Draft Selenium Technical Support Materials, for a 60-day public comment period. EPA is issuing a 30-day extension to this comment period. Comments can be emailed to EPA at firstname.lastname@example.org through January 3, 2022.
These documents provide implementation support for states and authorized tribes for the national recommended CWA 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. View the draft TSMs on EPA’s Water Quality Criteria website here.
Department of Energy Announces $500,000 for Winners of the Water Resource Recovery Prize
This week, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced two grand prize winners of the Water Resource Recovery Prize. In this two-phased competition, DOE sought novel, systems-based solutions and technologies that improve efficiency and lower the cost of wastewater treatment, while recovering valuable resources from municipal wastewater.
DOE estimates that wastewater treatment plants purchase about $2 billion of electricity each year and face more than $200 billion in future capital investment needs to meet water quality objectives. One offset to these costs and impacts are recoverable resources in wastewater, including energy that can be used onsite to reduce or eliminate net energy demand, energy sold for offsite use, nutrients that can be used as fertilizer, and water that can be locally reused.
Six Phase 1 teams from Utah, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Texas, and Washington were selected to compete in Phase 2 of the competition, where they presented treatment technology system configurations and business plans with the goal of lowering the cost of treatment by extracting additional value from wastewater. Only small- and medium-sized facilities (flows of up to 50MGD) were eligible to participate. Two teams were selected as the Phase 2 winners and will receive $250,000 to continue developing their proposed solutions:
- SoMax BioEnergy: The Borough of Phoenixville Wastewater Treatment Plant, in partnership with SoMax BioEnergy, is implementing Hydrothermal Carbonization as a means of biomass conversion and resource recovery. The Borough utilizes biosolids and local food wastes to efficiently create renewable energy that powers their wastewater treatment and creates excess energy that will be used to reach their goal of using 100 percent renewable energy by 2035.
- Genifuel Not Waste: The project involves operation of a Hydrothermal Processing system to recover energy in wastewater solids as renewable oil and natural gas. The proposed project will be located at the Anacortes Wastewater Treatment Plant in Anacortes, Washington. The proposed system would recover over 90 percent of the carbon in the sludge stream to produce approximately three barrels of 100 percent renewable biocrude per day for subsequent downstream conversion into drop-in fuels, and a gas product which can be either used as-is or upgraded for direct injection into a natural gas pipeline.
You can view materials and videos about the six Phase 2 submissions and learn more about the competition here. The Prize was funded by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) and administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
FY2022 NOAA Great Lakes Fish Habitat Restoration Regional Partnership Grants Funding Opportunity
NOAA is announcing the availability of up to $10 million in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding for new NOAA Great Lakes Fish Habitat Restoration Partnership Grants. NOAA seeks proposals for projects that restore Great Lakes habitats and lead to significant and sustainable benefits for Great Lakes native fish species.
Since 2010, NOAA Fisheries has supported 85 projects through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. These projects have restored more than 4,600 acres of habitat and opened almost 500 stream miles for fish passage. Projects selected through this funding opportunity will help continue work to support the multiple benefits the Great Lakes provide by:
- Supporting valuable fisheries and coastal resources
- Improving the quality of our water by restoring coastal wetlands
- Providing recreational opportunities for the public’s use and enjoyment
- Increasing the resilience of Great Lakes communities
NOAA will accept proposals with a federal funding request of between $300,000 and $30 million total over a 3-year award period from non-federal partners. Proposals are due January 12, 2022. Visit the NOAA Fisheries website to learn more about the NOAA Great Lakes Fish Habitat Restoration Partnership Grants funding opportunity. Potential applicants are also welcome to attend a public webinar on Wednesday, November 17, to learn more about this opportunity.
Meetings and Webinars
Free Training Webcast | “Keys to Success: Water Reuse in Small and Disadvantaged Communities”
Date: November 15, 2021
Time: 12-1 PM EST
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
Date: Nov 17, 2021
Time: 12-1 PM EST
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
Date: December 7, 2021
Time: 1 – 2 PM EST
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
Date: November 17, 2021
Time: 3-4 PM EST
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.
One Health Webinars for States
Date: November 17 (Part 2)
Time: 4-5 PM EST
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)
Financing Nutrient Management Improvements in Underserved Communities
Date: November 17, 2021
Time: 12 – 3 PM EST
You are invited to participate in an EPA/USDA-hosted forum (3 hours) on financing nutrient management projects in underserved communities. The workshop will provide an opportunity for participants to learn from and engage directly with staff from federal finance programs that finance nutrient management projects across the country. Representatives from both EPA and USDA will identify available funding opportunities for communities’ specific needs, explain the application and monitoring process and requirements, and provide real-world examples of how funding from EPA and USDA can be used together to co-fund projects. Workshop participants will gain insights and practical information to support upcoming projects and better understand their financing options.
EPA Tools & Resources Training Webinar: Finding EPA Resilience Resources with the Environmental Resilience Tools Wizard
Date: December 1, 2021
Time: 3-4 PM EST
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.
Water Resources Professional III (SWQB Produced Water Project Manager) — New Mexico Department of Environment
Location: Santa Fe, NM
Closing Date: Open until filled
This position will serve as a Surface Water Quality Bureau technical and regulatory lead for implementing the New Mexico Produced Water Act with respect to the treatment and potential fit-for purpose use of produced water outside the oil and gas field. The employee will be the Bureau’s in-house produced water expert and Water Protection Division representative to ensure the protection of groundwater and surface water quality in New Mexico.
Learn more and apply here.