House Passes Continuing Resolution
On November 14, 2023, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution (CR) that will fund federal departments until mid-January and early February 2024. The CR was subsequently passed by the U.S. Senate on November 15 and provides continuing FY24 appropriations for federal agencies and extends several expiring programs and authorities. It will continue funding at FY23 spending levels with several exceptions that provide funding flexibility and additional appropriations for various programs. The continuing resolution provides funding through January 19, 2024 for agencies and programs funded in several FY23 appropriations acts, including the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2023; the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2023; the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2023; and the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2023. Other agency budgets, including the Environmental Protection Agency’s, are provided funding through February 2, 2024.
Text of the CR is available for review here. https://www.congress.gov/bill/118th-congress/house-bill/6363/text
Animal Agriculture and Water Quality Subcommittee Nominations
On November 16, 2023, EPA published an FR requesting nominations for members to serve on the AAWQ subcommittee. The primary goal of this subcommittee will be to develop recommendations that will inform the Agency’s decisions regarding how to improve the implementation of the NPDES CAFO program to reduce nutrients and other types of water pollutants more effectively. EPA is committed to working with stakeholders, advocates, communities, and industry to explore how to achieve water quality improvements related to CAFOs. The Agency will accept nominations for AAWQ membership until January 2, 2024. A copy of the FR notice can be found here.
SRF Public Dashboards and State Revolving Fund (SRF) Public Portal
SRF Public Dashboards and State Revolving Fund (SRF) Public Portal, provides user-friendly access to Clean Water and Drinking Water SRF data.
The SRF Public Dashboards allow everyone to explore SRF data though interactive, click-enabled visualizations that can be filtered and downloaded. The SRF Public Portal enables water industry professionals, such as states and utilities, to develop and download custom SRF data reports. The Portal displays summary state-level data since program inception and project-level data since 2021. This data presents the story of the critical work SRF-funded water infrastructure projects are doing across communities in the country and empowers the public to explore SRF funds in their state and area.
EPA Draft Revision of Technical Guidance for Assessing Environmental Justice in Regulatory Analysis
EPA has made available a draft revision of the “Technical Guidance for Assessing Environmental Justice in Regulatory Analysis,” and is seeking public comments through 1/15/24.
“The purpose of this guidance is to outline analytic expectations and discuss technical approaches and methods that can be used by Agency analysts to evaluate EJ concerns for regulatory actions. This guidance builds on the EPA’s experience in evaluating environmental justice concerns within the rulemaking analytic process and underscores the EPA’s ongoing commitment to ensuring the just treatment and meaningful involvement of all people with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.”
The revised draft may be found here: Draft Revision of Technical Guidance for Assessing Environmental Justice in Regulatory Analysis (pdf)
Info on submitting comments can be found here: Public Comment on the Revised Technical Guidance for Assessing Environmental Justice in Regulatory Analysis
EPA will also hold 2 public webinars on the guidance on 12/6 & 12/12. You may find more info, including links to these webinars here: https://www.epa.gov/environmental-economics/epa-draft-revision-technical-guidance-assessing-environmental-justice
OMB Review of Animal Agriculture Air Emissions Reporting
EPA is withdrawing a draft proposed rule that would have required animal feeding operations to report air emissions under EPCRA. Instead, EPA will move forward with an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM), which will gather further feedback before a future draft rule is proposed. On 10/27/2023 OMB concluded their review of EPA’s March draft proposal and concurrently and an ANPRM notice that each sought to rescind a 2019 rule exempting reporting of air emissions from AFOs under EPCRA (View Regulation Identifier Number Record for ANPRM.) While the 2018 FARM Act expressly exempted reporting of air emissions from animal waste at farms under CERCLA, the Trump administration also waived reporting under EPCRA, which several environmental groups sued EPA on. It should be noted that several large environmental groups have requested greater monitoring and reporting of animal agriculture related air pollution from AFOs for over two decades.
NPS Sec. 319 Guideline Revisions: EPA Open Office Hours
EPA scheduled a series of optional office hours to discuss its efforts to update NPS Grants Guidelines for states and territories. EPA is currently accepting comments on a revised draft of Section 319 grant guidelines until December 31, 2023.
EPA’s informal office hour sessions are intended to allow states and territories to ask questions about the draft guidelines. Each office hour session will focus on specific chapters of the draft guidelines:
- Nov. 29, 3:00- 4:15 pm: Chapters 5, 9, and 10
- Dec. 6, 3:00 – 4:30 pm: General webcast overview on Zoom Register here
- Dec. 7, 3:00 – 4:15 pm: Chapters 6-7
- Dec. 13, 3:00- 4:15 pm: Chapters 8 and 11
- Dec. 19, 3:00- 4:15 pm: Preface, Appendices, and Glossary
All listed times = Eastern Standard Time
Please contact Ward Scott (firstname.lastname@example.org) for additional information about these opportunities.
EPA Seeking State and Territory Climate Resilience and Adaptation Success Stories
In response to repeated requests, EPA is collecting success stories, BMPs, SOPs, case studies, templates, and other examples of instances where states have successfully incorporated climate considerations, requirements, or elements into their water management programs. ACWA and ASDWA are assisting in the collection of these examples so that states and stakeholders may share, learn, and implement proven techniques into their own programs. EPA will post state success stories to its ARC-X website.
Please contact Ward Scott (email@example.com) to learn how your state can support this effort.
Biden Administration Announces Release of Fifth National Climate Assessment
On Nov. 14, 2023, the Biden Administration announced the release of the Fifth National Climate Assessment, which assesses changes in climate, its national and regional impacts, and options for reducing present and future risk. The report indicates that federal, state, and tribal mitigation and adaptation actions have significantly increased, while zero-carbon and low-carbon energy options are rapidly becoming more affordable. The report also demonstrates that climate change-related extreme weather events still pose a rapidly intensifying threat that currently costs the U.S. at least $150 billion annually and that disproportionately affects underserved and overburdened communities. To improve inclusivity and accessibility, a forthcoming Spanish-language version of the entire report will be available for the first time in early 2024.
Complementing the report, the new web-based NCA Atlas tool allows Americans to explore climate projects in their own state or county to inform resilience, adaptation, and mitigation efforts. Additionally, the Biden Administration also announced that it is committing more than $6 billion in investments to make communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change, including by strengthening America’s aging electric grid infrastructure, reducing flood risks to communities, supporting conservation efforts, and advancing environmental justice efforts.
EPA’s Office of Inspector General is tasked with preparing an annual statement summarizing what the IG considers to be “the most serious management and performance challenges facing the agency.” To identify these top challenges for FY2024 the IG considers work conducted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, Congress, agency documentation and statements, and reviews and report created by the IG itself. For FY2024, the IG retained several of the FY2023 challenges, and added a few more.
The IG has identified these seven areas as the most serious management and performance challenges facing the EPA. They represent vulnerabilities to waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement or the most significant challenges to the EPA accomplishing its mission.
1. Mitigating the causes and adapting to the impacts of climate change. EPA has prioritized addressing climate change as a core aspect of its mission.
2. Integrating and implementing environmental justice. Achieving environmental justice, which remains a whole-of-government focus, will require the EPA to harness agency wide coordination and change its culture to make cross-program decisions that weigh cumulative risks and impacts to the communities that the EPA serves.
3. Safeguarding the use and disposal of chemicals. The public depends EPA’s ability to identify the risks of using chemicals and to provide safeguards for and verification of proper disposal, management, or remediation of toxic substances.
4. Promoting ethical conduct and protecting scientific integrity. The public entrusts the EPA to implement its programs in a fair and impartial manner and to base its decision-making on sound science that is free of inappropriate influence.
5. Managing grants, contracts, and data systems. The influx of $100 billion in supplemental appropriations to fund EPA programs under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and Inflation Reduction Act increases the risk of fraud, waste, abuse, and noncompliance with funding requirements.
6. Maximizing compliance with environmental laws and regulations. The EPA’s enforcement resources have declined 23 percent from fiscal year 2006 through 2023. This, along with variability in permitting, management of delegated state programs, and incorporation of environmental justice concerns, presents challenges to maximizing compliance and enforcement actions.
7. Overseeing, protecting, and investing in water and wastewater systems. The EPA has oversight responsibility for strengthening and securing the cyber and physical infrastructure at tens of thousands of public drinking water systems and publicly owned wastewater treatment systems. This critical infrastructure faces various threats from cyberattack, theft, vandalism, and other risks that can affect public health and leave communities vulnerable to the loss of clean water.
No Wrap the Week of 11/20
In observance of the holiday, ACWA will not publish a Weekly Wrap the week of November 20th. Look out for our next edition on the week of November 27th.
ACWA Holds 2023 Water Quality Modeling Workshop
The week of October 23, ACWA held a Water Quality Modeling Workshop in Salt Lake City, UT. This workshop, in partnership with EPA, brought together 80+ state and federal staff to take part in 3 tracks. 2 of the tracks were hands-on trainings of HSPF and CE-QUAL-W2. These tracks provided a background of each model before bringing attendees through a series of exercises designed to increase their knowledge and comfort using the models. The third track focused on modeling for nutrients and featured a series of presentations by state and EPA staff.
ACWA would like to thank Utah DEQ for hosting this workshop and we look forward to providing more info on next year’s workshop soon.
Meetings and Webinars
How EPA’s Water Infrastructure Planning Tool Can Help Utilities Engage Community & Make Cost-Effective Multi-Benefit Investments
January 11th, 12:30-4:30pm Eastern
EPA’s capital project decision-making process, referred to as Augmented Alternatives Analysis (AAA), was developed to address the opportunities and challenges of modern-day project decision-making.
You should attend this workshop if you are facing a large capital investment and want to learn how to engage your community and evaluate the full range of potential economic, environmental, and social benefits for your project.
This workshop will walk through the ten steps in the AAA process, so utilities leave equipped to implement AAA at their own utility. This workshop emphasizes peer to peer discussion and attendees will have ample opportunity to learn from utility peers about their challenges, successes, and plans for implementing AAA when they return home.
Decentralized Wastewater MOU Informational Webinar
ACWA, in partnership with EPA’s Decentralized Wastewater MOU team, is hosting a webinar to inform our members of the program and resources available to states on Wednesday, December 13th, 2023, from 2-3 pm ET. Please reach out to Lexy Bailey for the meeting invitation.
Environmental Analyst 2
Location: Hartford, CT
Closing Date: November 17, 2023
The State of Connecticut, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is hiring an Environmental Analyst 2 (35 hour) for their Industrial Wastewater NPDES Permitting Program in the Water Permitting and Enforcement Division (WPED). The WPED’s Industrial NPDES Permitting Program is in DEEP’s Bureau of Materials Management Compliance Assurance (MMCA).
For more information and to apply, visit State of Connecticut Executive Branch Jobs.
Water Resource Engineer
Location: West Trenton, NJ
Closing Date: December 15, 2023
For more information and to apply, visit Delaware River Basin Commission Employment Opportunities.
Environmental Engineer – Wastewater
Location: Des Moines, Iowa
Closing Date: November 21, 2023 – 11:59 PM
Job Number: 24-01648
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources presents an exciting opening for a wastewater engineer who embodies technical proficiency, a strong customer-centric approach, and a keen eye for detail. We invite you to join our Wastewater Engineering team in the role of an Environmental Engineer to contribute to the preservation of water quality. This position is situated within the Wastewater Engineering Section of the Environmental Services Division’s Water Quality Bureau. As a wastewater engineer, you will play a pivotal role in our engineering team, dedicated to safeguarding the environment and public health. Your responsibilities will encompass the critical tasks of reviewing construction permit applications, managing wastewater treatment and collection system infrastructure projects, which include approving engineering planning reports, antidegradation alternatives analyses, plans and specifications. You will also be responsible for granting construction permits primarily for the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund (CWSRF) funded wastewater projects and some non-funded wastewater projects.
For more information, click Wastewater Engineer
Environmental Laboratory Auditor Chemist 3
Location: Port Orchard, WA
Closing Date: Continuous
In this position, you will contribute to the program and agency missions by accrediting environmental laboratories in order to assure that they are capable of providing accurate and defensible analytical data to the Department of Ecology. You will provide technical guidance, advice, and assistance to WA accredited
laboratories and those seeking to become accredited in General Chemistry and Trace Metals. You will travel to Environmental Laboratories across the State to conduct onsite audits, both as part of an audit team and solo, and you will also conduct virtual assessments of some laboratories. You will help laboratories navigate applicable State and Federal Regulations and ensure understanding and compliance with Laboratory Accreditation Requirements. You will also interact with accreditation unit customers including laboratories, State and Federal Agencies, and data users within the WA Departments of Ecology and Health.
For more information and to apply, visit State of Washington Job Opportunities.
Water Quality Standards Program Coordinator
Location: Portland, Oregon
Closing Date: 11/26/2023
You will oversee Oregon’s water quality standards program. You will be a state, regional, and national expert on water quality standards, which will require multidisciplinary expertise, complex evaluations, and innovative solutions. You will work closely with Agency management to identify program priorities and develop innovative and pragmatic solutions to water quality standards-related issues and challenges. You will lead and coordinate with other water quality program staff in carrying out the water quality standard program priorities. In addition, you will serve as the primary point of contact to external parties for the program and represent DEQ outside of the agency.
Location: Montgomery, AL
Closing Date: December 31, 2023
The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) is seeking qualified candidates with a BS degree in Civil, Chemical, Agricultural/Biosystems, or Mechanical engineering. This is professional work in environmental engineering which includes basic and more routine engineering evaluations. Positions are available in the Water, Land and Air Divisions of the department. Certain positions may require some overnight travel. Apply through the Alabama State Personnel Department at https://www.personnel.alabama.gov/Jobs. You may contact Mary Jane Dennis with ADEM Personnel at firstname.lastname@example.org