Congress Continues Work on Averting a Shutdown
With only one day to go before the end of the current fiscal year, Congress has not reached an agreement on funding the federal government. If Congress does not pass a funding bill by midnight on September 30th, the majority of federal work will cease. House Republicans released the text of a stopgap bill that would fund the US government for a month while cutting some non-defense domestic spending programs. Prospects for the legislation are uncertain. The Senate is moving forward with a vote on a bipartisan continuing resolution that would fund the government for six weeks. The Senate is expected to vote on the continuing resolution on Saturday.
EPA Finalizes Rule to Require Reporting of PFAS Data
“On September 28, EPA finalized a rule that will provide EPA, its partners, and the public with the largest-ever dataset of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) manufactured and used in the United States.” This rule works to safeguard public health and advance environmental justice, and is a key action in EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap.
The reporting rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) is a statutory requirement under the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that requires all manufacturers (including importers) of PFAS and PFAS-containing articles in any year since 2011 to report information related to chemical identity, uses, volumes made and processed, byproducts, environmental and health effects, worker exposure, and disposal to EPA.
EPA Announces Climate Enforcement and Compliance Strategy
This week EPA announced a new Climate Enforcement and Compliance Strategy, “directing all enforcement and compliance programs to address climate change, wherever appropriate, in every matter within their jurisdiction.” To meet this challenge, OECA will incorporate “climate-related solutions and measures” to prevent, reduce, and prepare for the impacts of climate change in all enforcement actions. The Climate Strategy “directs all EPA criminal, civil, cleanup and federal facilities activities to apply the following: (1) prioritize enforcement and compliance actions to mitigate climate change; (2) include climate adaptation and resilience requirements in case conclusions whenever appropriate; and (3) provide technical assistance to achieve climate-related solutions and build climate change capacity among EPA staff and its state and local partners.” EPA’s indicates this Climate Strategy “is consistent with and supports President Biden’s Executive Order 14008, which calls on all federal agencies to implement a whole of government approach to tackling the climate crisis. It also supports EPA Administrator Regan’s decision to designate addressing the climate crisis as the top cross-cutting goal in EPA’s Strategic Plan.”
A copy of the press release can be found here:
A copy of the implementation memo can be found here:
Workforce Training Grant Availability
EPA announced the availability of over $20 million in grant funding to support training for workers who protect and treat our nation’s drinking water and provide critical wastewater services. Through the Innovative Water Infrastructure Workforce Development Grant program, EPA will support training and career opportunities in the water sector.
The focus of the Innovative Water Infrastructure Workforce Development Grant program is to build a strong pool of skilled and diverse workers in the water and wastewater utilities sector. This grant program supports collaboration among federal, state, and local governments and institutions of higher education, apprentice programs, labor organizations, high schools, and other community-based organizations to provide access to workforce opportunities and build career pipelines in the water sector. There are six program areas:
- Targeted internships and apprenticeships for skilled water utility trades.
- Education programs are designed for elementary, secondary, and higher education students.
- Regional industry and workforce development collaborations to hiring qualified candidates.
- Leadership development, occupational training, mentoring, or cross-training programs that support career advancement.
- Education and training programs designed for decentralized (septic) water workers to support public health for communities that rely on private wells for drinking water or septic systems.
- Training and development for workforce development programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants to benefit disadvantaged communities.
Applications must be received by EPA by November 17, 2023.
Learn more about the Innovative Water Infrastructure Workforce Development Grant program.
OIG Report: EPA Should Improve Management of Great Lakes Grants
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently released a report indicating EPA did not award and monitor GLRI “in accordance with federal and Agency grants management requirements.” In particular, budget narratives lacked the required cost information, and “grant agreements did not include all applicable terms and conditions.” The OIG had questions regarding project costs totaling $611,756 and noted “EPA staff did not conduct required monitoring in a timely, accurate, or complete manner.” The OIG also noted that EPA staff also did not always maintain GLRI grant documentation in the official grant file as required by EPA policy, and that some grant records were missing. EPA also did not provide guidance for key procedures to monitor staff compliance with grants management and recordkeeping requirements. OIG recommended EPA Region 5 Administrator “design and implement standard operating procedures to improve grants management and oversight, review questioned costs and recover any unallowable funds, develop a records-management program, and require training for staff in grant and recordkeeping requirements.” EPA agreed to implement corrective actions: 1) to create and/or update the existing, internal grant review process; 2) investigate questioned costs and determine whether additional action is needed; 3) continue to use records-management process and take additional steps to supplement its records; 4) provide project officers and grant specialists with additional training on grants management requirements.
A copy of the report can be found here.
Bureau of Reclamation Funding Opportunities for Drought and Climate Resiliency
On September 29, the Department of the Interior announced up to $328 million in funding opportunities through the Bureau of Reclamation to help communities address impacts of climate change through water recycling, water storage, and desalination projects.
- Water Recycling Projects: Reclamation will make a total of $239 million for financial assistance to local water agencies for the planning, design, and construction of water reclamation and reuse projects.
- Desalination Construction Projects: Reclamation will make up to $64 million available for desalination construction projects to develop and supplement municipal and irrigation water supplies through the treatment of ocean or brackish water.
- Small Water Storage Projects: Reclamation will make up to $25 million available for small surface water and groundwater storage projects in the 17 Western states, Hawaii, and Alaska. Funding will be available for projects with a water storage capacity between 200 and 30,000 acre-feet that increase surface water or groundwater storage.
Information on these funding opportunities is available at grants.gov or at the Bureau of Reclamation’s Infrastructure Law webpage.
ACWA Publishes its Standing Principles on Nutrient Reduction
ACWA, through its Nutrients Policy Committee, has finalized its Standing Principles on Nutrient Reduction.
These Standing Principles were developed by State staff through ACWA’s Nutrient Policy Committee and a series of discussions at ACWA’s Nutrient Permitting Workshops, held over 2017 – 2023. The discussions held throughout this process prodded states and EPA to identify challenges & barriers to nutrient permitting program implementation, improve effectiveness of nutrient reduction approaches, including market-based efforts, clarify roles and responsibilities of the water quality standards, 303d/TMDL and NPDES programs, build stronger links between those programs and others, such as monitoring, modernize permitting and data management, and identify program areas where targeted technical assistance and technology transfer would be most beneficial.
These principles were drafted as a reflection of the diverse state perspectives on water quality standards, permitting and on-ground implementation through regulation, infrastructure investment and operational optimization. As such, these principles are intended to be a resource for State nutrient reduction strategies with innate flexibility, allowing States to select certain principles and customize them to fit each State’s philosophy and strategic direction on nutrient reduction.
The Standing Principles may be found here.
2023-2024 ACWA Annual Membership Survey
This is the ACWA Annual Member Survey which helps us evaluate current services and member satisfaction and assists leadership with planning for the future. This survey is 15 questions long and should take no more than 10 minutes to complete. This survey is being sent to all state, interstate, and territorial staff that participate in ACWA activities. Thank you for your assistance and know that we greatly appreciate your feedback.
Meetings and Webinars
ACWA Water Quality Modeling Workshop: October 23-27, Salt Lake City, UT
Registration is still 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.
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/.
Public NNCR Trainings in Fall 2023
EPA recently scheduled and posted the next round of the NNCR public trainings to the ECHO Training page. The trainings will be hosted on ZoomGov and do require registration to attend. Since we recorded the NNCR trainings from this spring, this series will not be recorded. We will direct those interested in training recordings to the existing recordings available on the ECHO Training page.
NNCR Training Schedule
- Quarterly NNCR
- September 13, 2023 1:00 – 2:00 pm eastern (register here)
- Annual NNCR
- September 26, 2023 1:00 – 2:00 pm (register here)
- Quarterly NNCR: DMR Reporting Violations
- October 11, 2023 1:00 – 2:00 pm eastern (register here)
- Quarterly NNCR: Effluent Violations
- October 19, 2023 1:30 – 3:00 pm eastern (register here)
- Quarterly NNCR: Schedule Violations
- November 1, 2023 2:00 – 3:00 pm eastern (register here)
- Quarterly NNCR: Single Event/Other Violations
- November 16, 2023 1:00 – 2:00 pm eastern (register here)
Please contact Courtney Tuxbury (email@example.com) with any questions.
Tuesday, October 17, 2023, 1:30-2:30 PM
Join U.S. EPA for its next Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) webinar. This Intro to ECHO webinar will provide an overview about the data in ECHO and guide users through how to use ECHO to answer environmental enforcement and compliance questions. The focus of this webinar is a collection of short, step-by-step demonstrations geared toward new and infrequent users. We will demonstrate the capabilities of the ECHO Facility Search to answer questions such as:
- How do I search for a specific facility?
- How do I search for facilities in my community?
- How do I search for facilities releasing a pollutant?
- How do I find visual depictions of data that track both facility and regulatory agency performance?
Register at https://echo.epa.gov/help/training#upcoming
Lead and Copper Rule Improvements Rulemaking Webinar
EPA released information about an upcoming webinar on preparing communities for public engagement in the upcoming drinking water regulatory process. EPA is hosting a webinar to prepare communities on how to get involved and to provide information to the public on how to participate in the Lead and Copper Rule Improvements (LCRI) rulemaking process. The public webinar will be held on October 17, 2023 (2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., Eastern Time).
In the webinar, you will learn about:
• EPA’s timeline and activities associated with the proposed LCRI
• What happens after the LCRI is proposed and how communities can provide their input to EPA
• Where to go for more information
PFAS and Emerging Contaminant Technology Transfer to States and Tribes
October 18, 2023 3-4 pm ET
EPA develops and uses non-targeted analysis (NTA) methods to rapidly characterize a broad range of chemicals of immediate and emerging concern (e.g., PFAS chemicals), real-world mixtures, and substances of unknown or variable composition (UVCB). High-resolution mass spectrometry is the primary NTA tool for identifying previously unknown or understudied chemicals. NTA methods can be applied to any type of sample, including consumer products, environmental matrices, and biological media. This webinar will provide an overview of NTA and how it can be/is being used to help states and tribes identify PFAS and other emerging contaminants.
Final 2023 Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification Rule / Webinar for States
On September 27, EPA’s final 2023 Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification Rule was published in the Federal Register. The Rule will become effective on November 27, 2023. EPA will host a webinar for certifying authorities on October 4, 2023, from 1:00 – 3:00 pm ET to discuss the new rule and how it will impact CWA Section 401 water quality certification. You can register for the webinar here.
Water Resource Engineer/Scientist
Location: West Trenton, NJ
Closing Date: 10/6/2023 at 4 pm
The WRE/WRS will review projects/National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) submissions
for compliance with the DRBC requirements and compatibility with the Comprehensive Plan and will
provide recommendations to the Project Review Manager for approval, disapproval or modification
based on sound engineering/science knowledge and judgment. Duties will also include the preparation
of project summaries for public notice, preparing lists of parties to receive information on projects, using
Commission’s computer facilities to store and retrieve project information and the analysis of projects
and coordination with Commission technical, administrative, and legal staff. The WRE/WRS may also
work on cross branch teams under the direction of supervisors from other sections, as needed, for
discrete projects. The WRE/WRS will also participate in the coordination of revisions to the
Commission’s Water Quality Standards.
TMDL Basin Coordinator (Natural Resource Specialist 4)
Location: Bend, Pendleton, or The Dalles, Oregon (finalist may choose work location)
Application Deadline: 10/2/2023
You will serve as one of the region’s experts for developing and implementing pollution limits (TMDLs- Total Maximum Daily Load of Pollution) on waterbodies that have complex water quality problems and require innovative and creative approaches to solving these problems. You will lead teams of scientists as they conduct long-term studies and extensive analyses of water quality issues in 4 major basins in the state: Grand Ronde, Umatilla John Day, and Harney County Closed Lakes. . Much of your responsibilities will involve working with other agencies and Tribal governments with minimal to no supervision, developing complex quantitative plans that address multi-faceted interagency and natural-resource issues. You will need to coordinate with Federal, State, and Local agencies; Tribes; watershed councils; conservation districts; irrigation districts; businesses; and landowners.
For more information and to apply, visit Oregon Job Opportunities.