Water and Wastewater Sector Strategic Roadmap Work Group Update
At a recent July 31 – Aug 1, 2023 Work Group meeting, the following high level water sector threats, priorities, and challenges were discussed:
- Support the implementation and maturity of cyber security risk management.
- Promote planning and resilience of Water and Wastewater Sector supply chain risk management.
- Mitigate the effects of hydrologic change and extreme weather.
- Improve detection, response, and recovery to contamination incidents.
- Improve training on physical and workforce security for utility and operations.
- Advance preparedness and improve capabilities of the Water and Wastewater Sector for area-wide loss of water and power.
- Sustain and promote critical lifeline status of the Water and Wastewater Sector.
Work Group members have also begun identifying priority activities and have begun the drafting of a document. The Work Group will continue to meet and engage virtually until a final draft is complete. The document will be reviewed and finalized before being presented for formal endorsement at the next Joint Water and Wastewater Sector Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council Meeting in November.
Scan Your Utility Networks for State-Sponsored Cyber Attackers
Water and wastewater systems remain at high risk of becoming victims of Volt Typhoon (also known as BRONZESILHOETTE and VANGUARD PANDA), a People’s Republic of China (PRC) state-sponsored cyber actor. System owners and operators should direct their network administrators to review this CSA and carry out the recommended mitigation procedures listed below. New information has been discovered on Volt Typhoon’s network scanning and other reconnaissance activities at US entities in the energy, aviation, and defense sectors as recently as mid-June 2023. Network scanning and reconnaissance activities can allow a threat actor to gain information about a target’s network and use that information to identify potential vulnerabilities to launch a future attack. Please click here for more information about this alert.
Cyber Storm IX Government Coordination TTX (Sept. 14)
Cyber Storm, sponsored by CISA, serves as the National Cyber Exercise that occurs biennially in collaboration with public and private sector partners. Planning efforts are fully underway for Cyber Storm IX, slated to occur April 2024. On September 14, from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., CISA will be hosting an in-person federal partner preparatory tabletop exercise (TTX) in Arlington, VA, for SRMA representatives to engage with Cyber Response Group (CRG) representatives and federal cyber centers to examine and discuss significant cyber incident coordination procedures, such as the process to establish a Cyber Unified Coordination Group (UCG), that will be further examined in the main Cyber Storm IX exercise in 2024. Cyber Storm IX is focused on the Food and Agriculture Sector, with significant participation from the following sectors as well: Chemical, Communications, Critical Manufacturing, Defense Industrial Base, Energy, Financial Services, and Healthcare and Public Health, Information Technology, Transportation Systems, and Water and Wastewater Systems, although all SRMAs are welcome to participate.
CISA kindly requests that you RSVP with up to two participants by Wednesday, September 6, using this link: https://forms.office.com/r/pH5mvkYJUb
Embedding Experimentation in EPA and State Environmental Programs
For those state and federal environmental agency staff interested in seeing more deliberate experimentation within environmental programs, you may be interested in recent article recently published in Science (see link): https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.adf7774
An understanding of cause and effect is central to the design of effective environmental policies and programs. But environmental scientists and practitioners typically rely on field experience, case studies, and retrospective evaluations of programs that were not designed to generate evidence about cause and effect. To help strengthen inferences about cause and effect, environmental organizations could rely more on formal experimentation within their programs, which would leverage the power of science while maintaining a “learning by doing” approach. Although formal experimentation is a cornerstone of science and is increasingly embedded in nonenvironmental social programs, it is virtually absent in environmental programs. We highlight key obstacles to such experimentation and suggest opportunities to overcome them.
US District Court Vacates & Remands 304(a) Cadmium Criteria Due to ESA Procedures
On August 18th, the US District Court for the District of Arizona ruled in the case Center for Biological Diversity v. US EPA et al, filed in March 2022. The order vacates EPA’s 2016 304(a) freshwater chronic cadmium criterion and remands EPA’s 2016 304(a) freshwater (acute) and marine (acute and chronic) cadmium criteria. Find the court opinion here and a press release from the plaintiffs dated 8/21/2023 here.
An impetus for the case was EPA, US Fish and Wildlife Services, and Nation Marine Fisheries Service performing state-level ESA Consultations upon potential state adoption of the 304(a) cadmium criteria, rather than performing a nationwide Consultation with the Services when revising the 304(a) cadmium criteria in 2016. EPA claimed that performing a nationwide Consultation prior to finalizing the revised 304(a) criteria would not result in consistency and would not obviate the need to perform state-specific Consultations when states submit WQS packages for approval. The court found EPA’s position defensible, but that the plaintiffs were correct in asserting that EPA issuing or updating 304(a) criteria is an “action” that affirmatively requires ESA Consultation, per the 16 U.S.C. § 1536(a)(2) ESA implementing regulations.
EPA is reviewing the ruling and potential implications to WQS programs.
State Feedback Session on Clean Water Act Environmental Justice Modules
ACWA will be holding two afternoon-long sessions, providing States with a chance to preview and provide feedback on EPA’s Clean Water Act Environmental Justice Modules for their Watershed Academy.
These sessions will be held on September 12 and 13, from 1:00-4:30 pm EST.
Sessions will cover a variety of topics including:
- Water Quality Standards
- Nonpoint Source Pollution
- 401 Certification
If you would like to be registered or be added to ACWA’s EJ Committee, please contact Jasper Hobbs.
2023 Annual Meeting – Post Meeting Survey
Thank you for attending the 2023 ACWA Annual Meeting. We hope you enjoyed your time in Boise!
Please take the time to fill out the short evaluation to help us enhance future meetings. The survey should take you no longer than 10 minutes. If you attended the Annual Meeting but did not receive the link for the survey, please reach out to Lexy Bailey (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We thank you in advance for your time.
Meetings and Webinars
ACWA Water Quality Modeling Workshop: October 23-27, Salt Lake City, UT
Registration is now open for our upcoming Surface Water Quality Modeling Workshop in Salt Lake City, UT! This workshop will run October 23-27, with an optional pre-conference “Modeling 101” session on October 23.
This workshop will be an in-person event, in partnership with USEPA. This event will take place at the Utah DEQ Offices. This year, we will be offering three tracks: (1) HSPF (2) CE-QUAL-W2 (3) Modeling for Nutrients. We have a great planning team of state and EPA representatives working hard to finalize the agenda. Attached are one-page summaries on some of the topics covered this year.
To register, you will need access to ACWA’s member portal. If you are EPA staff, please reach out Lexy Bailey (email@example.com) for help getting set up. This workshop has 3 distinct tracks – including two hands-on trainings. Hands on trainings will be offered for HSPF and CE-QUAL-W2.
Space is limited for the HSPF and CE-QUAL-W2 tracks – once you register, you will automatically be placed on the wait list. You will receive a confirmation email at a later date.
If you are a new staff-person, or if you would like a refresher, please indicate that you will be attending the pre-conference “Modeling 101” session, set for the afternoon of October 23.
Lodging will be available at the Sheraton Salt Lake City Hotel, in Salt Lake City, UT. ACWA has procured the local gov’t per diem rate of $128/night from Saturday, October 21 – Friday, October 27, 2023. You may reserve your hotel room here. The limited room block will be open through October 1, 2023. We recommend you secure your room as soon as possible to ensure your stay at this hotel.
EPA Webinar: Water and Wastewater Cybersecurity for Small System, and Water Distribution System Operational Technology Cybersecurity Research at the Water Security Test Bed
August 29th, 2-3:30pm EST
Tools and Resources to Help Your Small Systems Build Cyber Resilience: This presentation will provide utilities with information on freely available resources and funding opportunities that utilities can take advantage of to reduce the threat of cyber attacks.
Presenter: Nushat Thomas, M.S. Nushat Thomas is the Cybersecurity Branch Chief within EPA’s Water Infrastructure and Cyber Resilience Division, leading a team of cybersecurity analysts to ensure water and wastewater systems are prepared to respond and recover from cyber incidents. She joined the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 2009 as a member of both the Communications and Interdependencies Team and the Preparedness, Response and Recovery Team. Before joining EPA, she was employed as an Environmental Analyst responsible for managing the environmental compliance programs and permits at the Potomac River coal-fired generating plant. Prior to this, she served on active duty in the United States Army as an Environmental Science Engineering Officer at Fort Bragg, NC, where she served as Chief of the Installations’ Environmental Health Section. She continues to serve within the District of Columbia Army National Guard. She has earned a Bachelor’s in Chemistry from Johnson C. Smith University and a Master of Science in Environmental Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Water Distribution System Operational Technology Cybersecurity Research at the Water Security Test Bed
EPA is the lead federal agency responsible for working with water utilities to protect water systems. Cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure worldwide are on the rise. The Agency has developed the first-of-its-scale water security test bed (WSTB), which replicates a section of a typical municipal drinking water piping system with roughly 450 feet of pipe, water quality sensors, hydrants, and valves. The purpose of conducting research at the WSTB facility has been to evaluate infrastructure and premise plumbing decontamination technologies and mobile emergency water treatment systems. In the future, the focus will be prevention, mitigation, and quick return-to-service of distribution system Operational Technology (OT) hardware and software compromised by cyber-attacks.
Presenter: Jeff Szabo, Ph.D. Jeff Szabo has a BS in Chemical Engineering and a MS and PhD in Environmental Engineering, all from the University of Cincinnati and is a registered Professional Engineer in Ohio. He has worked for the USEPA for 18 years. He conducts and manages water security research projects at EPA’s Test and Evaluation (T&E) facility and the Water Security Test Bed (WSTB) at the Idaho National Lab (INL). These projects include examining chemical, biological and radiological contaminant persistence on drinking water and waste water infrastructure and evaluation of decontamination and water treatment methods.
ASDWA HABS Webinar: CyAN Potential Satellite Montoring of Drinking Water Sources
Tuesday, September 19, 2023, from 4:00 – 5:00 pm (eastern time)
ASDWA will hold a webinar about the Cyanobacteria Assessment Network (CyAN) potential for satellite monitoring of drinking water sources. CyAN is a multi-agency project among US EPA, NASA, NOAA, and USGS to develop a satellite early warning indicator system for cyanobacterial blooms in U.S. freshwater systems. This webinar will provide an overview of the pros and cons of satellite imagery as an additional tool for monitoring drinking water sources.
This is the third of three HABs webinars in the ASDWA series for state drinking water programs and partners. For more information and to view the previous webinar recordings and presentations, go to www.asdwa.org/habs.
Creating the Water Workforce of the Future: Webinar Series
September 28, 2023, 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Today’s water workforce is becoming more diverse, with more and more organizations actively seeking to attract and retain women to a variety of challenging careers. Women are providing much needed energy, skills and innovation to help water sector utilities become truly sustainable and provide 21st century water services to their communities. While women are advancing to executive level positions, this webinar will focus on the journey of three women who are making critical contributions through both operator, engineering, and scientific positions. Speakers will provide a brief overview of their current job and address some of the challenges and opportunities they see for women wishing to make water a truly exceptional career. The remainder of the webinar will focus on a conversation between the speakers and the audience, to answer additional questions, and provide other perspectives on ways to attract women into a career in water.
· Jim Horne, U.S. EPA
· Jamie Hughes, Program Manager, Clean Water Services
· Maggie Macomber, Engineering Program Manager, Charlotte Water
· Rochelle Verspui, Assistant Wastewater Shift Supervisor, East Bay Municipal Utility District
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 at https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-water-infrastructure/water-sector-workforce-webinars
CWA National Targeting Center EPA/State Joint Community of Practice Meeting
Thursday, September 7, 2023, 1:00pm – 2:00pm Eastern
This meeting is only for EPA Regional and state NPDES permitting, enforcement, and information technology staff. Please contact Sean Rolland (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more details.
This will be the second meeting between EPA Regional and state staff to share best practices and ideas for inspection and enforcement targeting. At the first meeting, which was held on 2 November 2022, Kentucky Division of Water and Arizona Department of Environmental Quality gave presentations on “DMR Compliance Automation Efforts and Trend Analysis” and “GIS Targeting Platform, DMR Evaluation, Low SNC Rates,” respectively.
We invite states to share their insights on inspection and enforcement targeting for the upcoming September 7th meeting. Please send an email to Sean Rolland if you are interested in participating or giving a presentation. Please use this link to add your email to our EPA-state NTC CWA CoP distribution list. We will use this distribution list to share updates to the agenda and for future meetings.
We hope to schedule these 1-hour meetings on a more regular basis and suggest a quarterly frequency. This will allow EPA Regional and state staff to exchange insights and updates on inspection and enforcement targeting. We will use the September 7th meeting to solicit your input on this proposal.
ITRC Harmful Cyanobacteria Blooms Training
The ITRC Harmful Cyanobacteria Blooms (HCBs) two part training reviews key information found in the two ITRC HCB Guidance Documents: Strategies for Preventing and Managing Harmful Cyanobacterial Blooms (HCB-1) and the companion document focused on benthic HCBs (HCB-2). For regulators and other government agency staff, these materials present the state of the science on cyanobacteria and approaches to manage and reduce the occurrence of blooms. These trainings will help the audience understand:
- The basic ecology and physiology of planktonic and benthic cyanobacteria, and the harmful effects they have on health, the environment, and local economies
- An overview of cyanotoxin classes and available cyanotoxin thresholds for human health (recreational and drinking water) and domestic animals
- Common approaches to monitoring for cyanobacteria and cyanotoxins, and how to build a monitoring program
- The importance of good communication and coordinated response during HCBs, and the elements of a good response plan
- Available options for in-lake management and control of HCBs, including an introduction to possible treatment options for benthic cyanobacteria
- Nutrient management options to reduce the likelihood of HCBs in your water body
HCB-1 Training: Thursday, October 5, 2023 1:00 – 3:00pm ET
HCB-2 Training: Thursday, October 12, 2023 1:00 – 3:00pm ET
To register for either event or both, please visit https://clu-in.org/conf/itrc/hcb-2/.
Environmental Science Specialist 3-4
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Closing Date: Open until filled
This position is responsible for project management and technical oversight of Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) projects within the Surface Water Quality Improvement Section. You will support the Water Quality Division by managing multiple water quality projects pertaining to TMDLs, developing and managing complex scopes of work and budgets, and overseeing the development of TMDL reports for various sites while interacting with the public and contractors.
For more information and to apply, visit Arizona State Jobs.
Environmental Science Specialist 2-3
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Closing Date: Open until filled
This position is responsible for technical oversight of plan review, revision, and development of Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) projects within the Surface Water Quality Improvement Section. You will support the Water Quality Division by overseeing and giving technical input on multiple water quality projects pertaining to TMDLs, aid in the development of TMDL reports for various sites, interact with the public and contractors, and assist other units in the Water Quality Division with technical assistance and questions pertaining to TMDLs and other relevant material.
For more information and to apply, visit Arizona State Jobs.
Water Quality Program Analyst (Program Analyst 3)
Location: Portland, OR
Closing Date: 8/27/23
You will provide leadership and coordination of program development and improvement efforts associated with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit issuance, Water Quality Standards, Water Quality Assessments, Total Maximum Daily Loads, and Community Assistance and Water Quality Funding programs. You will focus on tasks and activities that are cross-program in nature, identifying solutions and programmatic approaches that result in more efficient program operations and effectiveness. You will build collaborative partnerships by developing relationships and strategies with internal water quality sub programs, internal implementation staff, regulated entities, community organizations, and other water quality partners. In addition, you will assist with strategic program implementation and planning for staff and managers; develop materials for training and documentation to ensure staff and managers have documented information regarding procedures, policies, and program decisions; and help evaluate and establish priorities based on the current needs and objectives to accomplish set goals and milestones.
For more information and to apply, visit Oregon Job Opportunities.
401 Water Quality Certification Specialist
Location: Bend, Eugene, or Medford, Oregon (finalist may choose work location)
Closing Date: 8/29/2023
You will review and evaluate applications for dredge and fill permits, under the US Army Corps of Engineers and Oregon Department of State Lands coordinated permitting programs, for compliance with Oregon’s water quality standards, including water quality criteria, antidegradation policy, and protection of designated beneficial uses. You will evaluate applications from Federal agencies prior to a license or permit being issued for compliance with the State’s water quality standards. In cases where wetland impacts are expected, you will also determine appropriate mitigation measures and stormwater Best Management Practices (BMP) implementation. In addition, you develop conditions to protect water quality and beneficial uses, inspect and review compliance of projects with their water quality certification, and initiate enforcement when violations are discovered.
For more information and to apply, visit Oregon Job Opportunities.
Environmental Protection Specialists I – Hydrologist (Four positions)
Location: Denver, CO
Closing Date: 9/5/2023
The Clean Water Permits Section at the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment is seeking to fill four CDPS/NPDES permit writer positions with an emphasis on hydrology. This position exists to develop water quality discharge permit actions, including certifications to discharge under the statewide master general permits assigned to the unit. These permit writers will evaluate and interpret water quality and stream flow data, state and federal statutes, regulations, and policies to determine water quality and technology based requirements for point source discharges. Most evaluations include hydrologic modeling.
The work of the Permits Section is distributed across multiple work units and applicants can express an interest in any of the work units.
A full position description and benefits listing may be viewed at State of Colorado Job Opportunities.