EPA Releases Agency-Wide Strategy to Reduce Lead Exposures and Disparities in U.S. Communities
EPA released its Strategy to Reduce Lead Exposures and Disparities in U.S. Communities (Lead Strategy), in conjunction with National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. This first-ever, agency-wide Lead Strategy outlines how EPA will utilize its full suite of authorities, expertise, and resources to reduce lead exposure in communities overburdened by pollution and advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to environmental justice and equity. The multifaceted Lead Strategy aims to reduce community exposures to lead sources; identify communities with high lead exposures and improve their health outcomes; improve engagement with communities and stakeholders; and support critical research to inform efforts to reduce lead exposures and related health risks.
In addition, this new strategy advances the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to replace lead pipes and support lead paint removal under the Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan. Through this strategy, EPA is initiating several new actions and ensuring established programs across the agency are leveraged together to ensure the strongest protections from lead exposure. New actions in the strategy include:
- Lead Service Line Replacement Accelerators, which will provide targeted technical assistance and develop best practices to help address the barriers disadvantaged communities face in replacing lead service lines.
- New federal agency collaboration with the Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission to address lead in food, cosmetics, and other consumer goods.
- The development of new educational and engagement materials on children’s health and maternal health regarding lead and heavy metals in cultural products and cookware.
In addition to these new actions, the strategy outlines a whole-of-agency approach for existing programs, regulations, and policies, ensuring coordination to protect the public from lead exposure. These existing programs include training courses for certified Renovation, Repair, and Painting contractors, community outreach and education programs on risks associated with lead-based paint, and resources for lead testing in schools and child care programs.
EPA Releases Lagoon Action Plan
This week EPA released its Lagoon Wastewater Treatment Action Plan and announced research grant funding “to accelerate innovative and alternative wastewater treatment technologies in lagoon and pond systems serving small communities.” With this action plan, EPA is attempting to provide “equitable, accessible, and coordinated technical and financial programs, resources, and assistance that will help improve public health and clean waterway protections for rural, small, and Tribal communities that rely on lagoon wastewater treatment systems.” The Lagoon Action Plan lists actions EPA plans to implement through 2026 “to assist rural, small, and Tribal communities with lagoon wastewater treatment systems.” EPA is also awarding $2 million for research that can help small communities deploy demonstrated innovative water technologies for lagoon systems, which will help achieve better nutrient management in a cost-effective manner. Two universities received funding:
- Michigan Technological University will deploy and test a floating treatment wetland system in a lagoon in a small community in northern Michigan.
- West Virginia University will evaluate current and potential nutrient removal technology options and develop a decision-support tool that can be used for cost-effective decision making.
More details and a copy of the press release can be found here.
REMINDER: Open Comment Period RE: Reporting Requirements Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act (CIRCIA) of 2022
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) and notice of public listening sessions to provide stakeholders with the opportunity to provide ideas and perspectives on implementation of CIRCIA through regulations. CISA is particularly interested in input on definitions for and interpretations of the terminology to be used in the proposed regulations; the form, manner, content, and procedures for submission of reports required under CIRCIA; information regarding other incident reporting requirements including the requirement to report a description of the vulnerabilities exploited; and other policies and procedures, such as enforcement procedures and information protection policies, that will be required for implementation of the regulations. More details can be found here (Federal Register: CIRCIA 202). The comment period closes November 14, 2022.
Small WWTP Technical Assistance Videos Developed by EPA and Ohio
EPA recently finalized several videos that may be of interest to your state and small municipality stakeholders. These videos demonstrate the use of process control tools to help small wastewater treatment systems either return to compliance or maintain compliance. Jon van Dommelen from Ohio EPA walks through each treatment unit, identifies tools and equipment that can help operators diagnose operational problems, and then demonstrates how to use the tools in a troubleshooting exercise. These videos and other various resources can be found on EPA’s SNC NCI website here. Once you reach this page, please scroll down to the following section, and click on the video links:
Technical Resources, Assistance and Training
- Providing Process Control Technical Assistance to Small Mechanical WWTPs Series
- Part 1: Introduction – provides and introduction and overview of the training material.
- Part 2: Wastewater Treatment Plant Walkthrough – provides background and an overview of WWTP process units such as the equalization basin, aeration tank, clarifier, and more.
- Part 3: Tools and Equipment – focuses on the tools and equipment used to diagnose and troubleshoot WWTP operation issues.
- Part 4: Troubleshooting – focuses on sampling, measurement, and analysis techniques that can be used to troubleshoot WWTP issues.
EPA Releases Updated Data for 2021 Toxics Release Inventory Reporting
This week, EPA published the updated 2021 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data about chemical releases, chemical waste management, and pollution prevention activities that took place between January 1 and December 31, 2021, at more than 20,000 federal and industrial facilities throughout the U.S. and its territories. The 2021 updated data are for substances included on the TRI list of chemicals and builds on the preliminary data released in July 2022. It includes revised and late submissions from facilities and reflects additional data quality checks by EPA.
EPA’s full analysis of the 2021 data will be published early next year in the 2021 TRI National Analysis and will examine aspects of the data including trends in releases, waste management reporting by parent companies, and how facilities are working to reduce pollution. For details about the TRI data quality process, see the TRI Data Quality webpage. You can explore the data by going to the TRI Data and Tools webpage. You can search for a specific location, industry sector, or facility. Access the 2021 TRI updated data.
PFAS-Related Information from the 2021 Updated Data
This is the second year that TRI data include reporting on PFAS added to the TRI by the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). EPA has received 89 PFAS reporting forms on 44 discrete PFAS from 44 facilities. The data indicate facilities managed over 1,306,481 pounds of production-related waste of PFAS during 2021. By comparison, facilities reported managing more than 841,000 pounds of production-related PFAS waste in 2020.
Following the release of the 2020 TRI preliminary data, EPA reviewed the PFAS data submitted and contacted facilities that had filed CDR reports for the TRI-listed PFAS but had not submitted TRI reporting forms for the same PFAS. All facilities contacted claimed that concentrations of PFAS were below the TRI 1% de minimis level currently in place for PFAS as their reason for not submitting TRI reporting forms for the PFAS. The de minimis exemption allows facilities that report to TRI to disregard certain minimal concentrations of chemicals in mixtures or trade name products.
As part of the PFAS Strategic Roadmap, EPA will soon propose a rulemaking that would, among other changes, remove the eligibility of the TRI de minimis exemption for PFAS. If finalized, this proposal would also make unavailable the de minimis exemption with regard to providing supplier notifications to downstream facilities for PFAS and certain other TRI-listed chemicals. Because PFAS are used at low concentrations in many products, the elimination of the de minimis exemption would result in a more complete picture of the releases and other waste management quantities for these chemicals.
EPA Highlights Research on HAB Prediction, Glucose Additions to Suppress Cyanobacteria
This week, EPA published a summary of research related to both qPCR prediction of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) and glucose additions to suppress Microcystin (MC). In these efforts, research teams showed that MC and nutrient utilization genes detected via qPCR could be measured up to a week before a HAB; and that addition of glucose to mid-season lake water samples reduced MC concentrations 80-90% compared to controls after a two-week incubation period at bench scale. Because cyanobacteria can photosynthesize, they can access nutrients more readily than proteobacteria and rapidly proliferate into HABs. It is thought that additions of glucose increases the competitiveness of other bacteria, inhibiting blooms.
The approach shows promise compared to algaecides like copper, which can harm other aquatic life and induce lysing, causing Microcystis to release their toxin MC. Although the glucose inhibited the cyanoHABs development in the laboratory, the next step is evaluating this approach in lakes. Although proteobacteria and other bacteria are less toxic than cyanobacteria, their growth may potentially produce other problems. As EPA’s Dr. Steve Vesper notes, “The long-term solution to cyanoHABs is to reduce the quantity of nitrogen and phosphorous compounds entering rivers and lakes. The use of glucose is only a stop-gap measure on the way to finding a permanent solution to the problem of cyanoHABs.”
Research Summary: Preventing Algal Blooms with a “Pinch of Sugar” | US EPA
Pesticide Registration Review: Draft Human Health and/or Ecological Risk Assessments for Several Pesticides Published
This week, pursuant to 40 CFR 155.58, EPA announced the availability of EPA’s human health and/or ecological risk assessment for Polybutene Resins. Find supporting information and comment at Docket ID EPA-HQ-OPP-2022-0799. Comments are due December 27th, 2022.
National Member Survey – ACWA Resources and Priorities
Over the next couple of weeks States and Interstates are being asked to complete a short survey to assist ACWA Staff and Leadership with better understanding membership needs and priorities. This survey is 15 questions long and should take no more than 10 minutes to complete. This survey is being sent to the main ACWA member from each state/interstate and all state water staff that might participate on our committees and workgroups. This year we are giving out a prize to the state/interstate that gets the most survey responses in (only one response per state/interstate staff person please) by Friday, October 28, 2022, 5:00pm eastern. The prize for the state will be Breakfast/Lunch on ACWA (up to $500). Thank you for your assistance! We greatly appreciate your feedback. You can access the survey here.
MSA Committee: Meeting Scheduled November 29th, 1pm EST
Please contact Jake Adler for more information.
Meetings and Webinars
Research Opportunity with EPA’s OECA – Effectiveness of Off-site Compliance Monitoring
OECA is sharing a new research partnership opportunity: Effectiveness of Off-site Compliance Monitoring. The research opportunity is part of OECA’s first Compliance Learning Agenda(CLA) and is a collaboration with the NC Office of Strategic Partnerships (OSP). The CLA is a main pillar of OECA’s focus on building a foundation for a national evidence-based enforcement and compliance assurance program. Expertise needed includes experience in assessing the efficacy of compliance monitoring and enforcement programs including data collection, analysis, and interpretation. OECA and OSP are hosting a research partnership meeting on Tuesday, November 1, 11:30am-12:45pm ET to discuss this project. Please respond here to request an invitation to this virtual meeting. This meeting will be recorded, if you cannot attend but would like access to the recording.
EPA ORD Webinar: Real-Time Risk Characterization Tool for Harmful Algal Blooms
November 16th, 2:00-3:00 p.m. ET | Register Here
In response to two large harmful algae bloom (HAB) events on the Ohio River in 2015 and 2019, a risk characterization tool/web application was developed. The tool has been in use by the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission for two bloom seasons, serving to predict the probability of HABs based on river flow conditions and as a water data monitoring utility. The tool is accessible to the public here.
This presentation will overview the science of large river HABs and the historical data that was used to develop a risk characterization framework and then a probabilistic prediction of HABs for 20 locations spanning the entire length of the Ohio River. Next, a general overview of the web-based application will be given, including details about data acquisition, data management, and the underlying statistical models. Finally, perspectives on using the tool to actively monitor the river’s water quality and make decisions about HAB sampling and risk communication will be given by the tool’s primary user.
EPA Tools & Resources Webinar: One Health
Wednesday, November 16 at 3-4 PM ET
One Health is a collaborative, multisectoral, and transdisciplinary approach—working at the local, regional, national, and global levels—with the goal of achieving optimal health outcomes recognizing the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment. EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) has been partnering with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), and the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) to raise awareness of One Health. In honor of One Health Day on November 3rd, this webinar will provide a brief overview of One Health and more information on how EPA is collaborating with our state partners to educate, inform and share best practices on One Health, including examples of EPA One Health research and how the One Health approach is being applied in Alaska and Missouri.
EPA Issues a Di Minimis Waiver for the Build America, Buy America Act
EPA issued a di minimis waiver for domestic preference procurement requirements in the Build America, Buy America Act (BABAA), which requires all federally funded infrastructure to be built with iron, steel, construction materials and manufactured products that are made in America. The waiver applies to all EPA programs, including the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds.
Highlights of the BABAA di minimis waiver:
- The wavier applies cumulatively to all materials, including iron, steel, construction materials and manufacturing. The waiver doesn’t have separate thresholds for each category.
- The waiver caps all eligible products to 5% of the total cost of the project.
- EPA changed the calculation from material cost in the proposed waiver to project cost in the final waiver.
- While the BABAA threshold for all products (5%) is same as the threshold for America iron and steel (AIS), EPA said basing the calculation on project cost instead of material cost “will functionally increase the amount of products that can be covered by this waiver for most projects.”
- The waiver doesn’t include a cap on funding (dollar amount).
- EPA removed the requirement that products be “dependent on the conditions and purpose of the project” which was in the proposed waiver. Any products up to 5% of the project cost are eligible “independent on the purpose of the project.”
Recording Available: PFAS in Biosolids – Trends, Technologies, and Its Link to the Circular Economy (October 27th, 2022)
Please click here, enter your information into the form, and press “Submit” to access the recording of the webcast.
- What We Know about PFAS in Biosolids and Its Drivers: Janine Burke-Wells, Executive Director, North East Biosolids & Residuals Association
- National and State Level Regulatory Trends: Lynne Moss, PE, BCEE, Residuals and Odor Control Practice Leader, Black and Veatch
- Research Gaps and Open Questions around PFAS in Biosolids: Erica McKenzie, PhD, Civil and Environmental Engineering Associate Professor, Temple University
- Technologies, Trends, and the Sector’s Response: Mohammad Abu Orf, PhD, Vice President,
Hazen & Sawyer
- Communications, Engagement Initiatives, and How PFAS Links Up with the Circular Economy: Maile Lono Batura, BCES, MNPL, Director of Sustainable Biosolids Programs, Water Environment Federation
- Moderator: Ashwin Dhanasekar, Research Program Manager, The Water Research Foundation
Director of Water Resource Protection Programs | NEIWPCC
Location: Lowell, MA
Closing Date: November 10, 2022
Seeking a collaborative, thoughtful and dedicated individual to join an established interstate water organization. NEIWPCC needs an enthusiastic, committed, and experienced candidate for a full-time Division Director position. This senior leadership team member will provide expertise and guidance on Water Resource Protection programs, oversee NEIWPCC’s environmental work surrounding the Lake Champlain Basin, and the Hudson River, and assist with a variety of policy and legal topics.
For more information, click here.
Water Resources Program Manager | Washington Department of Ecology
Location: Lacey, WA
Closing Date: October 23, 2022
This is an exciting and challenging position for a proven leader. It’s an opportunity to become part of a dynamic executive leadership team that engages federal, state, local, Tribal, elected officials and environmental group interests to create innovative partnerships. It is through these partnerships that we pursue our commitment to meeting current water needs and ensure future water availability for people, fish, and the natural environment.
For more information, click here.
Construction Stormwater Program Coordinator | Utah Department of Environmental Quality
Location: Salt Lake County, UT
Closing Date: November 2, 2022
The Utah Division of Water Quality Construction Stormwater Program Coordinator oversees Utah’s more than 5,000 construction stormwaterr UPDES permits. You will serve as the state’s technical and policy expert on construction stormwater permitting by preparing permits, inspecting construction sites, and providing technical assistance and outreach to stormwater permittees.
For more information, click here.