EPA Administrator Sends Governors’ Letter on BID
EPA Administrator Michael Regan sent a letter to governors‘ offices this week on the water infrastructure funding provisions of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal. The letter urges governors to target the funds they are now receiving toward disadvantaged communities, to prioritize lead-line replacement in communities with the highest lead levels, and to prioritize addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in communities with water contamination. The letter also includes the estimated 2022 state allotments of BIL funds through the SRFs.
Senate EPW Republicans Introduce Water Quality Certification Legislation
Senate EPW Republicans released draft legislation codifying the Trump Administration’s Water Quality Certification rule. The legislation codifies the Trump Administration’s 2020 Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Rule (401 Rule). The legislation is designed to increases the transparency and efficiency of the CWA Section 401 certification process in order to promote the timely review of infrastructure projects while continuing to ensure that Americans have clean water for drinking and recreation. Specifically, the Section 401 Certification Act:
- Specifies statutory and regulatory timelines for a state’s review and action on a Section 401 certification-requiring final action to be taken within one year of receiving a certification request.
- Clarifies the scope of Section 401, including that 401 certification is limited to a project’s actual potential impacts on waters.
- Explains EPA’s roles under Section 401.
- Reaffirms the agency’s statutory responsibility to provide technical assistance to any party involved in a Section 401 water quality certification process.
- Promotes early engagement and coordination among project proponents, certifying
authorities, and federal licensing and permitting agencies.
The legislation is sponsored by EPW Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.). Original co-sponsors of the bill include, Senators John Boozman (R-Ark.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)
On November 18, 2021 the Foundation for Defense of Democracies published a memo that discusses the weaknesses associated with water infrastructure in the United States. The memo discusses cybersecurity deficiencies observed in the drinking water and wastewater sectors – approximately 52,000 drinking water and 16,000 wastewater systems and provides recommendations.
Excerpts from Executive Summary:
- “These systems operate with limited budgets and even more limited cybersecurity personnel and expertise.”
- “…the increasing automation of the water sector has opened it up to malicious cyber
- activity that could disrupt or manipulate services.”
- “The expanded attack surface resulting from automation could also allow hackers to cause disruptive and cascading effects across multiple critical infrastructures.”
- “The EPA is not resourced or organized to assess and support the water sector consistent with the scope and scale of the critical infrastructure challenges the sector faces.”
Example Recommendations from the Memo:
- resourcing and empowering the EPA to succeed as the water sector’s SRMA and as the government lead for cybersecurity in the sector;
- directing some of the EPA’s water sector grant programs exclusively toward cybersecurity issues;
- directing the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to increase support for the water sector;
- encouraging water utilities to increase investments in cybersecurity technology and personnel;
- improving water utilities’ access to cybersecurity training and assessment resources.
The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research institute focusing on foreign policy and national security. FDD’s Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation (CCTI) seeks to advance U.S. prosperity and security through technology innovation while countering cyber threats that seek to diminish it. A copy the memo can be found here.
Report, Recording, and Resources: October 2021 Roundtable Discussion, A Compendium of U.S. Wastewater Surveillance to Support COVID-19 Public Health Response
EPA hosted a recent virtual roundtable focused on the Compendium of U.S. Wastewater Surveillance to Support COVID-19 Public Health Response. EPA developed this compendium to document SARS-CoV-2 wastewater monitoring efforts conducted by federal, state, local, and tribal agencies—as well as associations, universities, and the private sector—throughout 2020 and into early 2021. During the roundtable, hosted on October 26, 2021, EPA presented a high-level summary of the compendium and then seven expert panelists from various stakeholder groups (e.g., EPA, Water Environment Federation [WEF], academia) discussed the following key topics with respect to wastewater surveillance:
- Disseminating information to utility stakeholders
- Collaboration and education
- Providing targeted outreach to underserved communities
- Gaps and opportunities
A recording of the virtual roundtable, as well as copies of the PowerPoint slides and panelist biographies, is available here.
As mentioned during the roundtable, EPA is currently soliciting responses to a National Priorities Request for Applications (RFA) to support innovative research on wastewater sampling designs that can be rapidly and effectively deployed by public health agencies for coronaviruses and other pathogens. This solicitation is open to public and private nonprofit institutions and public and private universities and colleges located in the United States and its territories or possessions. Applications are due by December 15, 2021, and additional information be found here.
EPA and ACWA would like to remind Members of the additional resources on wastewater surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 below, most of which were mentioned during the roundtable discussion:
- CDC’s National Wastewater Surveillance website
- WEF’s Network of Wastewater Based Epidemiology (NWBE) website
- National Science Foundation’s Research Coordination Network (RCN) website
- EPA’s Office of Research and Development website on assessment of SARS-CoV-2 in sewage
- National Institute for Health’s RePORTER website (Section 4.3 of the Compendium includes the list of NIH wastewater projects awarded by early 2021 with descriptions)
DOE Invites WWTF/WWRF Participants in First-Ever 50001 Ready Wastewater Cohort
Wastewater treatment facilities are invited to join the first-ever 50001 Ready Wastewater Cohort, which is part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) 50001 Ready Program. This cohort will learn how to implement a robust energy management system based on the global ISO 50001 energy management system standard.
Each cohort will be tailored to meet the needs of participating partners and includes 6-12 months of support from national ISO 50001 experts. Support will be delivered through:
- Monthly cohort group training webinars.
- Monthly virtual coaching sessions with each site.
- On-demand guidance on the use of 50001 Ready tools and resources.
- Opportunities for peer-to-peer learning.
Organizations that complete implementation can receive 50001 Ready Recognition from DOE, which includes:
- A project showcase and article across DOE websites and social media to amplify your success.
- A profile on DOE’s recognition webpage.
- The right to display the 50001 Ready mark for as long as your annual recognition remains up to date.
Join the 23,000-plus sites worldwide benefiting from 50001 and get on a path toward deeper and more sustained energy and cost savings! If your facility is interested in joining the cohort, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nominate an Expert for NAS Workshop Committee: Integrating Public and Ecosystem Health Systems to Foster Resilience
Deadline: December 10, 2021 | Submit a Nomination
The National Academies seeks nominations for committee members to organize a workshop, Integrating Public and Ecosystem Health Systems to Foster Resilience: A Workshop to Identify Research to Bridge the Knowledge-To-Action Gap. Ecosystems form the foundation upon which society can survive and thrive, providing food, clean water, clean air, materials, and recreation. These connections between people and their environments are being stressed by human-driven actions (e.g. climate change, pollution, resource exploitation, and others) that can alter ecosystems and the services they can provide. If ecosystems are not resilient in the face of these stressors, the subsequent ecological changes may affect human health.
This workshop will bring together transdisciplinary researchers and practitioners addressing overlapping public and ecosystem health issues to identify opportunities and research needs to better integrate these areas in policy and practice. The workshop will include discussions about current frameworks and local to global efforts to integrate public and ecosystem health, key elements needed in a knowledge-to-action research agenda on this topic, and ways in which an actionable research agenda could be advanced. More detailed information about the project can be viewed on the project website.
We are seeking nominations for committee members with broad expertise in public health, conservation, sustainable development, climate change, ecosystem ecology, environmental science, veterinary health, social and behavioral sciences, and communication (e.g. community engagement, collaboration). Researchers and practitioners with experience working at local to international scales, and those familiar with existing frameworks (e.g., Planetary Health Alliance, One Planet, One Health, ecosystem services) are particularly sought.
Reminder: Selenium TSM Comments Due January 3, 2022
On 10/4/2021, EPA released a set of four draft documents, collectively known as the Draft Selenium Technical Support Materials (TSMs), for a 60-day public comment period. EPA issued a 30-day extension to this comment period. These documents provide implementation support for states and authorized tribes for the national recommended Clean Water Act (CWA) section 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 EPA at email@example.com through January 3, 2022.
View the draft TSMs on EPA’s Water Quality Criteria website here.
Uncommon Dialogue Webinar January 13, 2022, 2-3 PM ET
ACWA serves on the Steering Committee of the Uncommon Dialogue for Hydropower. The Uncommon Dialogue is a joint effort of Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, and the Energy Futures Initiative. Phase I of the Uncommon Dialogue for Hydropower brought together environmental and river conservation communities and the U.S. hydropower industry and culminated in a Joint Statement of Collaboration on U.S. Hydropower: Climate Solution and Conservation Challenge in October 2020. The Joint Statement shares a commitment by the signatories to work on seven areas for joint collaboration (i.e., Working Groups) and to identify and implement actions that achieve the mutual interest in addressing climate change by both advancing the renewable energy and storage benefits of hydropower and the environmental and economic benefits of healthy rivers.
The work of the Uncommon Dialogue is accomplished by several working groups. Working group 6 — Licensing, Relicensing, and License Surrender – would like to meet with ACWA members to examine improvements to the licensing, relicensing, and license surrender processes that will benefit tribes, federal and state agency decision-making, license applicants, environmental organizations, and other interested organizations. The recommended changes will achieve improved decision making, transparency, efficiency and public engagement. If you are interested in registering for the webinar, please contact Julia Anastasio.
Environmental Justice Survey Extension
ACWA is collecting information from states regarding any existing or future Environmental Justice programs. Primary Members should have received an email linking to the survey. The deadline has been extended to December 7.
Meetings and Webinars
Bioassessment and Biological Criteria Webinar Series: A Review and Update of Oklahoma’s Biological Indices Using Nearly 3 Decades of Statewide Data Collections
Date: December 8, 2021
Time: 2pm EST
Join the Webinar Using this Link
The purpose of this webinar series is to highlight and share innovative approaches to biological assessments and criteria that are currently being implemented or explored across the country. We hope you can participate and contribute to a national discussion of successful scientific methods and approaches being developed and applied by states, tribes and territories.
OWRB and the Oklahoma Conservation Commission (OCC) regularly monitor biological assemblages in Oklahoma’s rivers and streams. Assessments of both fish and benthic macroinvertebrates are currently performed using indices developed in the early 2000’s. To more accurately assess these assemblages across both wadeable and boatable systems, Oklahoma sought assistance from the EPA’s RARE program to refine and recalibrate multimetric biological indices. This work was performed collaboratively with the EPA Region 6 Water Quality Protection Division, the EPA Office of Research and Development-Western Ecology Division, and Tetra Tech scientists.
The project was completed in several phases. The initial phase compiled multiple data sets containing 1,000’s of collections statewide that may use similar but different techniques. Once these disparate datasets were compiled into a useable database, the second phase of the project identified a site disturbance gradient, distinguished natural biological types as regional reference conditions, and formulated a set of biological metrics into indices of biological integrity.
Eventually, these indices will be applied as translators of Oklahoma’s narrative biological criteria in Oklahoma’s Water Quality Standards and Implementation rules. These indicators and eventual biological criteria will improve the level of rigor for biological assessment in several water quality monitoring programs. State scientists will use them to perform comprehensive waterbody assessments of impairment and condition (303[d] and 305[b] reporting), refine aquatic life uses, understand trends in water quality, and develop management endpoints for improving water quality. Ultimately, this work will improve the state’s ability to sustain, assess, restore and preserve stream resources.
Presenter: Monty Porter is the Assistant Division Chief of Water Quality Programs for the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) and the Oklahoma’s Water Quality Standards Coordinator. Monty has worked as an Ecologist and Manager for the OWRB for nearly 25 years, with stints leading sections and as the Division Data Manager and Quality Assurance Officer. In the late 90’s, Monty developed the OWRB’s streams/rivers monitoring section, comprehensively integrating ambient, project specific, and real time water quality and quantity programs over 15 years. Monty has served as a collaborator and state lead for a variety of regional and national committees including the National Aquatic Resource Survey steering committees and has been the Region 6 Representative of the National Water Quality Monitoring Council for over a decade.
Promoting Community Resilience through Social Science
Date: December 8
Time: 2pm EST
Hurricanes, severe storms, and flooding cause billions of dollars of losses every year. Residents impacted by flooding look to return home as quickly as possible to assess any damage that may have occurred and to get back to their daily lives. These homes may contain dangers that residents need to understand how to navigate, including lead, asbestos, mold, toxic chemicals, and bacteria from the flood water. While existing information via paper and online resources already exists, it may be difficult to find or can be filled with long verbiage that discourages education and practicality of use.
EPA researchers used social science to better understand the needs of those impacted by flood waters to develop an online interactive tool to provide outreach and education that promotes community resilience after a disaster. This webinar will discuss how researchers used social science practices from Human-Centered Design and disaster anthropology to develop a website containing short, how-to videos based on technical guidance on how members of the public can safely re-enter their home, remove contaminated materials, clean it out, and begin repairs.
Showcasing Leading Practices in Climate Adaptation: Experiences from the Water Sector to Empower Other Sectors and Communities
An Eight-Part Webinar Series Hosted by: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Water Utility Climate Alliance (WUCA), The Water Research Foundation (WRF), and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Climate change is one of the most significant challenges of the 21st century. This webinar series, sponsored jointly by NOAA’s Adaptation Sciences Program, WUCA, WRF, and EPA, will explore practical lessons and leading practices focused on steps to mainstreaming climate science and adaptation considerations into building for climate resilience. Having worked on climate adaptation for over a decade, water utilities have learned many lessons and developed approaches to share with peer sectors seeking to learn and take steps to adapt now. Expanding the exchange of knowledge across communities will also foster more effective adaptation and improve community resilience. The goal of these webinars is to help us, adaptation practitioners, advance our thinking about effective approaches by learning from others what has worked (or not worked). Beyond sharing examples from the water sector, these webinars will foster a multi-sectoral dialogue, sharing practical resources and tools for planning.
- Session 1: Leading Practices in Climate Adaptation |November 4, 2021, 2-3:00 pm EDT
Highlights a range of actions that organizations can implement for climate adaptation that have been ground-tested by WUCA agencies.
Speakers: Julie Vano, Aspen Global Change Institute | Laurna Kaatz, Denver Water and WUCA
- Session 2: Climate Adaptation Engineering Case Studies | November 18, 2021, 1-2:00 pm EST
Discusses adaptation opportunities in infrastructure design and project delivery processes and provides case studies of recent water infrastructure projects.
Speakers: Jason Giovannettone, Dewberry and the American Society of Civil Engineers | Kavita Heyn, Portland Water Bureau and WUCA
- Session 3: Business Function Mapping | December 2, 2021, 2-3:00 pm EST
Provides a framework-oriented process to mainstream climate change considerations within organizations.
Speakers: Emily Wasley, WSP USA | Laurna Kaatz, Denver Water and WUCA | Alexis Dufour, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
- Session 4: Equity and Environmental Justice Considerations in Climate Adaptation | December 9, 2021, 1-2:30 pm EST
Highlights how equity can influence community goals and build partnerships with lessons learned and solutions to build equity while adapting to climate change.
Speakers: Mami Hara, US Water Alliance | TBD, US Environmental Protection Agency | Harriett Festing, Anthropocene Alliance
- Session 5: Green Stormwater Infrastructure | January 6, 2022, 1-2:30 pm EST
Describes community experiences in deciding to use green stormwater infrastructure, monetizing and quantifying benefits, developing critical stakeholder partnerships, and using available tools to evaluate options to include in adaptation plans.
Speakers: Janet Clements, Water Economics and Planning, Corona Consulting | Pinar Balci, Bureau of Environmental Planning and Analysis, New York City Department of Environmental Protection | Robyn DeYoung, US Environmental Protection Agency
- Session 6: Greenhouse Gas and Energy | January 20, 2022, 1-2:00 pm EST
Provides valuable information and inspiration for greenhouse gas mitigation or sewage thermal energy use projects from concept to implementation.
Speakers: Taylor Winchell, Denver Water and WUCA | Svetlana Taylor and Alaina Harkness, Current Innovation
- Session 7: Climate Warming and Impacts to Staff and Assets | February 3, 2022, 1-3:00 pm EST
Analyzes the impact of extreme temperature events on personnel and critical water utility physical infrastructure assets.
Speakers: Keely Brooks, Southern Nevada Water Authority and WUCA | Margaret Morrissey, Korey Stringer Institute
- Session 8: Federal and Other Funding for Adaptation | February 17, 2022, 1-2:00 pm EST
Reviews available resources for financial support of adaptation projects, improving understanding of successful strategies and connecting the audience with community-based and sector-focused funding.
Speakers: Kim Penn, NOAA Office of Coastal Management | David Goldbloom-Helzner, US Environmental Protection Agency
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.
Community and Citizen Science: Making Your Data Count
Date: Wednesday, December 15
Time: 3-4 PM EST
How can community and citizen science contribute to environmental decision-making? Many EPA, state, and tribal environmental programs are increasingly using community and citizen science for environmental monitoring and addressing social and environmental justice concerns. A recent multi-stakeholder workshop explored gaps and needed improvements in data management that will allow for a more efficient flow of data from producers to users. This webinar will showcase community-oriented projects and share ideas from the workshop. Please attend this webinar to learn about the tools and practices used in these exciting community and citizen science projects and how EPA, states, and tribal governments can better support these efforts.
Technical Assistance Webinar Series: What To Expect When You Are Expecting an Inspection
A monthly webinar series focused on improving CWA-NPDES permit compliance at Small Wastewater Treatment Systems
This presentation will cover what to expect during a regulatory inspection from the US EPA. The goal is to ease any potential anxiety and provide insight on how to ensure a smooth and collaborative inspection. Some of these insights include what to say or do when you know something is wrong, and what to say or do when you know things are right! Hopefully, we will also dispel any anxiety-producing negative rumors and help to focus on the positive opportunity and what is to gain, while working with an inspector during the inspection process. We look forward to having a fruitful discussion so please bring your thoughts and questions.
Presenter: Cornell D. Gayle is a Professional Civil Engineer who works with the US EPA providing support to states and local municipalities ensuring compliance with the National Pollution Discharge Elimina-tion System requirements. Cornell un-derstands the value of clean water and its ability to physically and emotionally unite or divide communities. He has supported states in post disaster re-covery through supporting the re-establishment of water and wastewater services. As he travels around the nation, he educates grade school stu-dents, Federal and State inspectors, and facility operators on the im-portance of proper treatment of water and collecting accurate data to ensure our limited public water resources are safe. Cornell holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and is a Licensed Professional Civil Engineer with the state of Georgia.
Energy and Environment Protection Division Director | Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
Location: Hartford, CT
Closing Date: December 15, 2021
Connecticut DEEP is recruiting for a motivated and experienced individual to join the Water Planning & Management Division. Within the Bureau of Water Protection & Land Reuse, the Water Planning and Management Division’s mission is to monitor, assess, and restore the water quality of Long Island Sound, streams, rivers, and lakes and provide adequate instream water quantity for current and future generations.
For more information, click here.
Water Quality Permit Coordinator | Washington Department of Ecology
Location: Union Gap, WA
Closing Date: December 2, 2021
The Water Quality Permit Coordinator will have the opportunity to support the permit team by managing data, contributing to process improvements, and assisting with administrative needs. The position will ensure a large number of permits are administered accurately and within the required timeframes.
For more information, click here.
Water Quality Compliance Specialist | Washington Department of Ecology
Location: Union Gap, WA
Closing Date: December 12, 2021
The position works closely with owners and operators of municipal and industrial treatment facilities located in Ecology’s Central Region. The Department works with scientists and engineers, developers, local government officials and staff, and the public to ensure that these facilities are properly designed, built, operated, and maintained to protect and improve water quality throughout the Central Region.
For more information, click here.
Watershed Implementation Lead | Washington Department of Ecology
Location: Spokane, WA
Closing Date: December 21, 2021
Are you interested in protecting and restoring streams and rivers? Do you want to see the tangible benefits of your water quality work? Would you like to be part of a dynamic team committed to healthy aquatic ecosystems? This position works to reduce polluted run-off in several areas of our state including the Selkirk Mountains, the Colville River Valley, the Upper Columbia River, and the north Palouse prairie.
For more information, click here.
Senior Facility Management Engineer | Washington Department of Ecology
Location: Shoreline, WA
Closing Date: December 20, 2021
Ecology is looking for a creative professional engineer who is experienced with complex domestic wastewater systems to provide regulatory oversight of facilities associated with Washington’s largest regional wastewater collection and treatment systems.
For more information, click here.