State Review Framework ICR Renewal
EPA is requesting further comment on revisions to its Information Collections Request (ICR) for the State Review Framework (SRF). This ICR allows OECA to review and collect information from state and local agency enforcement and compliance files, to support the State Review Framework implementation from FY 2024 to FY 2027. It will also allow EPA to make inquiries to assess the State Review Framework process, including consistency achieved among the EPA Regions and states, resources required to conduct reviews, and overall effectiveness of the program. The comment period closes May 30, 2023. The Federal Register Notices can be found here.
New Proposed Settlement – Pesticide General Permit
In October 2021, Center for Biological Diversity filed a petition in the Ninth Circuit challenging EPA’s issuance of the 2021 Pesticide General Permit. CBD alleged EPA failed to comply with the CWA and that EPA and Fish and Wildlife Service failed to comply with the Endangered Species Act. EPA seeks public input on a proposed settlement agreement prior to its finalization and/or the decision to move forward with litigation. Major parts of the settlement agreement the parties agree to:
- EPA agrees to request formal consultation with FWS and biological evaluation for ESA-listed species and critical habitats no later than February 1, 2024.
- FWS agrees to provide EPA with a draft biological opinion no later than August 30, 2024 and final biological opinion by October 31, 2024.
- EPA agrees to take final action on the 2026 PGP no later than December 17, 2024.
- EPA agrees in the 2026 PGP to propose for public comment additional monitoring requirements and record keeping.
A copy of the proposed settlement agreement can be found here.
Plastics Pollution Strategy
On April 21, EPA issued a draft “National Strategy to Prevent Plastic Pollution” for public comment. Over the past 20 years, global annual production of plastics and plastic waste has more than doubled. Products that range from shopping bags and takeout food containers to beverage bottles, food wrappers, bottle caps, and much more can be found in the environment. Working closely with industry leaders and additional stakeholders, EPA identified three key objectives for the strategy:
- Objective A: Reduce pollution during plastic production.
- Objective B: Improve post-use materials management.
- Objective C: Prevent trash and micro/nanoplastics from entering waterways and remove escaped trash from the environment.
EPA will also host a one-hour webinar on May 11, 2023 at 1:00 pm Eastern to provide an overview of the draft strategy and the key questions EPA is seeking comment on. Please register to participate. This webinar will be recorded and posted online after the webinar takes place.
EPA Updates Power Resilience Guide
EPA has published an updated version of the Power Resilience Guide, which provides water and wastewater utilities with information and strategies to help strengthen relationships with their electric providers and increase their resilience to power outages. The guide has been updated to include substantially new information in its “Energy Efficiency,” “Renewable Energy and Distributed Entergy Resources,” and “Funding” sections. New case studies that illustrate creative power resilience strategies (e.g., implementation of microgrids at utilities) have also been added. The updated version will be posted in early May on the following website: https://www.epa.gov/communitywaterresilience/power-resilience-guide-water-and-wastewater-utilities.
President Biden Signs Executive Order to Revitalize Our Nation’s Commitment to Environmental Justice for All
President Biden signed an Executive Order furthering environmental justice into the work of federal agencies to achieve real, measurable progress.
“The Executive Order is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s effort to confront longstanding environmental injustices and inequities. For far too long, communities across our country have faced persistent environmental injustice through toxic pollution, underinvestment in infrastructure and critical services, and other disproportionate environmental harms often due to a legacy of racial discrimination including redlining. These communities with environmental justice concerns face even greater burdens due to climate change.
With this action, the President is working to ensure that all people – regardless of race, background, income, ability, Tribal affiliation, or zip code – can benefit from the vital safeguards enshrined in our nation’s foundational environmental and civil rights laws.” The full statement and fact sheet may be found here.
Water Quality Standards Academy Virtual May Session: Registration Open, Seats Available
Registration for the May 2023 Virtual Water Quality Standards (WQS) Academy is open. Registration is free and will close on May 5th, or when capacity is reached. As of this writing, seats are still available.
The WQS Academy is a foundational course taught by expert practitioners that provides WQS development and implementation information to professionals associated with the federal, state, tribal and local agencies as well as the private sector and the public.
The 6-day virtual WQS Academy session will be held this upcoming Monday May 15th to Friday May 19th, and Monday May 22nd. The session will run approximately 11:30am to 4:30pm, Eastern Standard Time, to allow for participation from multiple time zones. Please click here to register.
First-ever EPA CWA enforcement action to address PFAS discharges at Washington Works facility near Parkersburg, WV
This week, EPA ordered the Chemours Company to take corrective measures to address PFAS in stormwater and effluent discharges from the Washington Works facility near Parkersburg, WV. The order on consent also directs Chemours to characterize the extent of PFAS contamination from discharges.
This is the first EPA Clean Water Act enforcement action ever taken to hold polluters accountable for discharging PFAS into the environment. According to the EPA order, PFAS levels in the discharges from the facility exceed levels that are set in the facility’s Clean Water Act permit.
Chemours operates several manufacturing units at the Washington Works facility, which produce fluorinated organic chemical products including fluoropolymers. The facility discharges industrial process water and stormwater to the Ohio River and its tributaries, under the terms of a NPDES permit issued in 2018 by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company was the NPDES permit holder at Washington Works until 2015. In 2015, the permit was transferred to Chemours. The permit imposes discharge limits and requires monitoring of certain pollutants, including PFAS such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which was used in the past as a processing aid for manufacturing, and HFPO Dimer Acid, also known as GenX — which replaced PFOA as a processing aid.
In an administrative compliance order on consent (AOC) issued today, EPA sets forth that this facility exceeded permit effluent limits for PFOA and HFPO Dimer Acid on various dates from September 2018 through March 2023, and that Chemours failed to properly operate and maintain all facilities and systems required for permit compliance. As an initial step in characterizing PFAS in surface water discharges, EPA’s order requires Chemours to implement an EPA-approved sampling plan to analyze PFAS and conduct analysis to further understand the presence of PFAS in stormwater and effluent discharged from the facility. Also, Chemours will submit and implement a plan to treat or minimize the discharge of PFAS to ensure compliance with numeric effluent limits of PFOA and HFPO Dimer Acid. In addition, to identify best practices to reduce PFAS discharges from the site, Chemours will submit its existing Standard Operating Procedures relating to the management of wastewater for various systems and its revised Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan.
EPA Report Overviews Health Impacts of Climate Change on Children in the United States
A new national-scale, multi-sector EPA report showcases some of the ways children are especially vulnerable to a variety of health effects from climate change due to physical, cognitive, behavioral, and social factors. This peer-reviewed report quantifies projected health effects associated with extreme heat, air quality, changing seasons, flooding, and infectious diseases. Where possible, the analyses consider the extent to which health effects disproportionately fall on children who are Black, Indigenous and people of color [BIPOC], low income, without health insurance, and/or have limited English proficiency.
The report finds a number of impacts to U.S. children’s health and well-being. For example, at 2°C and 4°C of global warming:
- Climate change is expected to increase the incidence of asthma in children. Specifically, climate-driven changes in air quality are estimated to increase annual cases of asthma between 4% and 11%.
- Increases in oak, birch, and grass pollen are projected to increase children’s asthma-related emergency department visits from 17%-30% each year.
- Additional cases of Lyme disease in children are projected to rise 79% to 241%, or an additional 2,600 to 23,400 new cases per year.
- Heat experienced during the school year affects concentration and learning in children. Climate-driven temperature increases are projected to result in 4% to 7% reductions in annual academic achievement per child. These learning losses can affect future income, with potential losses across cohorts of graduating students reaching billions of dollars annually (and in the thousands of dollars per individual).
- If no additional adaptation actions are taken, 1 million to 2 million+ children are estimated to experience temporary home displacement or complete home loss, respectively, from coastal flooding at 50cm to 100cm of global mean sea level.
EPA will host a public webinar on May 22 to discuss the report. To access the report and associated materials or register for the webinar, go to the Climate Change and Children’s Health and Well-Being in the United States Report webpage.
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 be notified and will reach out to you.
Meetings and Webinars
EPA Posts WOTUS Implementation Webinar Presentations
The presentations and links to the recordings for the webinars in the series are all posted to EPA’s website at: https://www.epa.gov/wotus/2023-rule-revised-definition-waters-united-states-training-presentations. If you have any additional implementation questions, please let Julia Anastasio know!
Drinking Water Protection Specialist (Natural Resource Specialist 3 / Natural Resource Specialist 2 – Underfill)
Location: Portland, OR
Closing Date: 4/30/2023
You will work with DEQ and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) staff to develop strategies under authority of the Clean Water Act to meet the goals and objectives of the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act for source water protection. You will provide technical assistance to internal staff, public water systems, local governments, and the public for understanding drinking water sources and issues regarding pollutants, sources of contamination, and risks to public water systems.
For more information and to apply, click here.
Environmental Engineer – Capital Replacement Program
Location: Kingston, NY
Closing Date: 5/29/2023
As a NEIWPCC Environmental Engineer, you will perform site inspections, meet with wastewater treatment
plant owners, review contract documents and scopes of work for eligible projects, and coordinate with
compliance staff. You will be responsible for preparing and reviewing internal and external progress reports
pursuant to the Filtration Avoidance Determination (FAD), Memorandum of Agreement, and other Agency
requirements. You will also be responsible for managing multiple databases for tracking and monitoring
program accomplishments, contract budgets, project coordination, payments, and related documentation.
Seasonal Invasive Species Intern
Location: Providence, RI
Closing Date: 5/11/2023
As an intern for NEIWPCC, you’ll work alongside full-time staff to assist with the implementation of a
community-based habitat restoration project focused on the removal of water chestnut in the
Blackstone and Ten Mile Watersheds. You will coordinate water chestnut pulling events by recruiting
and training volunteers, tracking volunteer data, and maintaining materials and supplies. You will also
produce informational materials and develop social media posts for the project, act as a liaison between
state and municipal partners, and assist with permitting requirements
Business Operations Intern
Location: Lowell, MA
Closing Date: 5/7/2023
As an intern for NEIWPCC, you’ll work alongside full-time staff that provide administrative and clerical support for the operations of our headquarters office. You will assist with collecting and organizing information for various NEIWPCC programs, support in-office and external events, manage data and records, and provide general office support such as sorting mail, scanning documents, organizing common areas, and helping to maintain in-house IT equipment. You’ll also get the chance to work with other functional groups within NEIWPCC, directly supporting environmental programs or business processes that fall under other divisions.