Cyber Attacks on the Rise
EPA recently observed another cyber incident involving fraudulent activity associated with the state CW/DW SRF programs. With increased infrastructure fund availability, EPA expects the number of incidents to likely rise and wanted to send out a reminder on the joint advisory statement put out in November 2021 with WaterISAC. The FBI PINs cited below provide information and instruction on how to prevent emails from getting hacked. The FBI notes “…such countermeasures may be beyond the technical capability of some water systems…”
The statement notes that “Vendor Email Compromise (VEC), also known as supplier invoicing fraud, is prevalent in the water and wastewater sector. In a Vendor Email Compromise, threat actors assume the identity of a trusted partner in order to steal money by redirecting invoice payments to new accounts controlled by the attacker. In many cases, a VEC involves compromising an email account of a trusted supplier or vendor and then hijacking existing email threads to identify financial transactions. The attacker will then wait for the opportunity to request an account number change for an upcoming invoice payment.” WaterISAC and EPA “recommend that all members and partners of the sector review FBI PIN 20210317-001: Business Email Compromise Actors Targeting State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Governments, Straining Resources and adopt the recommended mitigations.” EPA encourages any entities who have experienced malicious or suspicious activity to email DHS CISA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- FBI PIN: Cyber Actors Impersonating Construction Companies to Conduct Business Email Compromise
- FBI PIN: Cyber Criminals Exploit Email Rule Vulnerability to Increase Likelihood of Successful Business Email Compromise
EPA Releases Draft PFHxA IRIS Assessment
This week, EPA announced a 60-day public comment period for the draft Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Toxicological Review of Perfluorohexanoic Acid (PFHxA) and Related Salts. The Interagency Science Consultation Draft of the Perfluorohexanoic Acid (PFHxA) and Related Salts IRIS Toxicological Assessment and accompanying comments were also released. The draft document was prepared by the Center for Public Health and Environmental Assessment (CPHEA) within EPA ORD. EPA is releasing this draft IRIS assessment for public comment in advance of an independent external peer review. The external peer reviewers will be provided with all written public comments submitted. Comments are due April 4, 2022. You can access the document on its IRIS webpage and comment at its regulations.gov docket.
Study of Note: Quantifying Regional Effects of BMPs on Nutrient Losses from Agricultural Lands
Journal: Soil and Water Conservation
Abstract: Nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) losses from agricultural areas have degraded the water quality of downstream rivers, lakes, and oceans. As a result, investment in the adoption of agricultural best management practices (BMPs) has grown, but assessments of their effectiveness at large spatial scales have lagged. This study applies regional Spatially Referenced Regression On Watershed-attributes (SPARROW) models developed for the Midwest, Northeast, and Southeast United States to quantify potential regional effects of BMPs on nutrient losses from agricultural lands. These models were used because they account for specific BMPs in the prediction of instream nutrient loads. The BMPs included in the models were cover crops, no-till, and conservation tillage. Sensitivity testing for the BMPs on agricultural nutrient loads was done using simulations that varied the intensity of BMPs specified in each region. When the BMP intensity was increased 50% relative to the 2012 intensity, the predicted agricultural load of total P decreased across all regions (4% to 14%). The predicted reduction in average P yields in the Midwest, Northeast, and Southeast was 706, 544, and 26 kg km–2, respectively. Increasing BMPs by 50% decreased predicted agricultural total N loads by 3.5% in the Southeast but increased predicted N loads in the Midwest and Northeast by 4.7% and 1.8%, respectively. Model-predicted average N yields increased by 402 kg km–2 and 302 kg km–2 in the Midwest and Northeast, respectively, and decreased in the Southeast by 329 kg km–2. In model simulations, cover crops were more effective at reducing N and P loads than the tillage BMPs despite lower intensity of implementation in 2012. However, at the regional scale of this investigation, implementation of BMPs result in only moderate predicted effects on agricultural nutrient loads.
Access the article here. DOI: Supplemental material available here.
Reminder: Abstracts Due May 6 for US Symposium on Harmful Algae
NEIWPCC is now accepting abstracts for the 11th U.S. Symposium on Harmful Algae, to be held Oct. 23-28, 2022, in Albany, New York. NEIWPCC is coordinating the symposium in partnership with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Geological Survey with support from the U.S. National Office for Harmful Algal Blooms at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The deadline for submission is May 6, 2022. Learn more about the Symposium here.
Stormwater Fact Sheets
EPA is seeking public input on updating 29 NPDES industrial stormwater fact sheets currently posted online for each sector covered under the 2021 Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP). Each fact sheet describes the types of facilities included in the sector, typical stormwater pollutants associated with the sector, and types of stormwater control measures (SCMs) that may be used to minimize the discharge of the pollutants. The fact sheets can be found in the docket and here. Comments are due by March 28, 2022. The Federal Register notice can be found here. If you would like to see ACWA provide comments, please contact Sean Rolland.
ACWA 2022 Mid Year Meeting
Registration has opened for ACWA’s Mid Year Meeting, March 16-17! To register, please log into your Member365 portal and click the Event tab in your navigation menu. If you are EPA staff or have a colleague who would like to attend, please direct them to contact Kara McCauley, who will create their Member365 account (if necessary), or to log in and register for this event.
You can view the agenda here. The event page can be found here.
ACWA 2022 Nutrients Permitting Workshop
ACWA’s next Nutrients Permitting Workshop will take place April 12 – April 14 in Kansas City, MO.
This workshop is the seventh workshop in a series of eight, and will focus on drafting policy recommendations based on a variety of topics covered throughout the previous six workshops in this series. We are anticipating that this will be a discussion-heavy workshop. Attendees will be expected to participate and share their ideas throughout the workshop.
This workshop will be held at the Hotel Phillips in Kansas City, MO. There is a room block available for attendees here.
More information, including the draft agenda, may be found on ACWA’s Events page. Registration will open in the next few weeks.
Meetings and Webinars
Patterns in Implemented Onsite and Distributed Water Reuse Systems Across the US
Tuesday, February 8th, 2-3 PM EST
Wednesday, February 9th, 5-6 PM EST
Thursday, February 10th, 10-11 AM EST
Curious about where onsite and distributed water reuse systems are being installed in the US? Want to know what’s driving their support and successful implementation? Water Research Foundation (WRF) will explore these questions and more using the largest compilation of system-level information to date as part of Water Research Foundation Project #5040. There are 3 opportunities to participate. Each will include a brief presentation of findings and plans for developing a case study compendium, followed by focused small-group conversations to inform the user interface for accessing the information WRF has compiled.
EPA Tools & Resources Webinar: The Final Ecosystem Goods & Services Scoping Tool
Date: February 10, 2022
Time: 3-4 PM EST
Ecosystem goods and services are the benefits that humans receive from nature, like clean air to breathe, fish to catch and eat, watershed drainage that reduces risk of flooding, and beautiful landscapes we can enjoy. Consideration of ecosystem services is important for decisions that have an impact on the environment. The impacts of these decisions on ecosystem services, however, can be overlooked. Identification of ecosystem services that are relevant and meaningful to the community allows them to be more influential in the decision-making process. The Final Ecosystem Goods and Services Scoping Tool is designed to help decision makers identify and prioritize stakeholder groups, the ways they are benefiting from the ecosystem, and the aspects of the environment necessary to realize those benefits. This training webinar will provide an overview of tool, work through an example application of the tool, and share the range of ways that the tool has been or will be applied.
Introduction to ECHO: EJSCREEN
Date: February 15, 2022
Time: 1:30-2:30 PM EST
Join U.S. EPA for its next Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) webinar.
This webinar focuses on how to use the ECHO facility searches to learn about environmental and demographic data from EPA’s EJSCREEN. We will demonstrate examples of using ECHO searches and reports to view EJSCREEN data and how to interpret the information. The webinar will cover the following topics:
- How to search for environmental and demographic data in your community.
- How to view and interpret EJSCREEN index values at the location of a facility.
- How to visualize EJSCREEN data on an interactive map.
If you can’t make it, don’t worry, ECHO tutorials and recorded webinars are available at any time.
Addressing State, Tribal, and Local Needs related to Cumulative Impacts Research
Date: February 17, 2022
Time: 4-5 PM EST
EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) will provide an overview of our response to feedback received during listening sessions held in 2021 with states, tribes, and local agencies to solicit input on their research and science needs related to cumulative impact assessments. This webinar will consist of an overview of the listening sessions including what we heard from states, tribes, and local agencies, and how ORD is incorporating that input into our current research planning process.
Who’s invited? States, tribes, and local government representatives who registered for the 2021 listening sessions and their colleagues interested in learning about ORD’s current and planned research to address research needs related to cumulative impacts.
Assessing the Toxicity of PFAS Chemicals to Aquatic Organisms
Date: February 23, 2022
Time: 2-3 PM EST
EPA is working to explore the relationships between PFAS toxicity and chemical structure for several aquatic species to help identify and predict the toxicity of PFAS and PFAS mixtures of greatest ecological concern in support of the development of water quality guidelines. This involves measuring the toxicity of PFAS with varying structural features, determining variation in sensitivity across species, and grouping PFAS chemicals by their inferred toxic modes of action (MoA). This webinar will discuss initial findings that sublethal toxicity is strongly related to fluorinated chain length as well as the structure of the nonfluorinated “head” group, and that differences in toxicity of certain PFAS across structures suggest that multiple PFAS MoAs likely exist.
Developing the Digital Water Workforce of the Future
Date: March 8, 2022
Time: 2-3 PM EST
The water system operating environment is evolving to incorporate various technology advancements. There is a growing need to attract, train, and retain water protection specialists with a high degree of technological competence – and the ability to make data driven decisions based on up-to-date and accurate information using technology. Meeting this need will require creative and inclusive workforce approaches to ensure the utility’s workforce is an integral part of the utility’s technology development and deployment strategy. This will help staff be comfortable and fully able to understand and implement new technologies– i.e., “bought in”.
This webinar is part of an ongoing webinar series hosted by EPA, in partnership with leading water sector organizations around the country. More information on this webinar series can be found here.
Mixtures Modeling Methods: Applications for Assessing Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
Date: March 16, 2022
Time: 1-4 PM EST
Registration: Register for the EPA PCBs Mixture Webinar (Links to EventBrite) | The registration deadline is March 14, 2022
Agenda: Click here and see downloads tab
EPA is currently updating its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) assessment of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). This assessment addresses selected noncancer human health effects that might result from exposure to these chemicals. PCBs are a class of synthetic compounds characterized by a biphenyl structure with chlorine substitutions at up to 10 positions. There are 209 well-defined PCBs known as “congeners” based on the various combinations of the numbers and positions of the chlorine substitutions on the biphenyl molecule. PCB congeners vary both structurally and in their toxicity in humans and animals. PCBs were synthesized as mixtures of congeners, and the composition of commercially produced PCB mixtures can vary substantially from mixtures humans are currently exposed to in the environment. Most health effect studies of PCBs in animals have been conducted using commercial mixtures, and there are no data to represent many environmental mixtures of concern for human health risk assessment. Therefore, methods for translating experimental data from tested to untested mixtures would be useful, including methods for addressing PCB mixtures with varying proportions of congeners that act via different biological pathways. For these reasons, EPA is evaluating approaches for assessing chemical mixtures for use in the assessment.
To that end, EPA is developing the Mixtures Similarity Tool (MiST). MiST is a Microsoft Excel® based tool, which automates the process of evaluating the degree to which chemical mixtures are similar in their ability to cause health effects and whether they are “sufficiently similar” for risk assessment applications. MiST identifies PCB mixtures with well-characterized dose-response information (i.e., reference mixtures) that are “sufficiently similar” to a specific candidate mixture that may not have dose-response information. Dose-response data for a sufficiently similar reference mixture could be used to assess toxicity for the candidate mixture.
Source Water Protection Extension Educator | University of Nebraska Extension
Location: Lincoln, NE
Closing Date: March 1, 2022
The candidate will develop a robust program to assist Nebraska communities in developing strategies to protect the ground water source of their drinking water supply. The position involves facilitating communication and activities between the University of Nebraska’s water, climate and public health programs and the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy’s source water protection and nonpoint source management programs.
For more information, click here.
Deputy Administrator, Water Quality | Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Location: Portland, OR
Closing Date: February 21, 2022
As the Water Quality Deputy Administrator, you will assist in the leadership of the Water Quality Division in working to improve the quality of Oregon’s waterways. You will assist the Water Quality Division Administrator in overseeing the management of the Division’s programs, including managing the budget, creating implementation strategy of the program in the regions, and determining overall priorities for the Water Quality Division. You will demonstrate commitment to promoting and enhancing diversity and environmental justice, by ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion are reflected in all aspects of your work and your department’s work.
For more information, click here.
Environmental Specialist (#K0210883)| Kansas Department of Health and Environment
Location: Topeka, KS
Closing Date: February 17, 2022
The Kansas Dept of Health & Environment is hiring a TMDL writer to work in its Bureau of Water in the Policy Planning and Standards Unit. The position will be responsible for developing TMDLs, assisting with the 303(d) list, and TMDL Vision planning. Experience with Clean Water Act requirements and using various environmental datasets is preferred.
For more information, click here.