ACWA 2017 Mid-Year Meeting Recap
ACWA’s MYM took place on March 20-21 in Washington, DC. Attendees included representatives from state/interstate water quality programs and officials from EPA’s Office of Water. During the first day of the meeting, discussions were held on the administrative transition and working with the new administration with a focus on ACWA’s priorities. During the afternoon of the first day, presentations were held on ACWA’s Nutrients Reduction Progress Tracker project, ACWA’s role in EPA’s National Study of Nutrient Removal and Secondary Technologies, and the work being performed by the ACWA/EPA HABs Focus Group. During the second day of the meeting, a discussion was held on ACWA’s Strategic Plan. Also, the Directors in the EPA Office of Water provided brief updates and discussed priorities. After the meeting ended, ACWA held two small workshops on Clean Water Act/Safe Drinking Water Act collaboration and on the NPDES Updates Rule.
Thank you to all those who participated, presented, and attended the meeting. In order to help us improve future meetings, we would appreciate attendees filling out an online evaluation of the MYM here. Once attendees have completed the survey, the meeting presentation slides will be released.
Administrator Pruitt at ACWA Meeting
The ACWA Mid-Year Meeting in Washington, DC began with a brief address from the new U.S. EPA Administrator and former Oklahoma State Attorney General Scott Pruitt. Administrator Pruitt highlighted the importance of cooperative federalism, not only from a legal perspective, but from a practical perspective. He reiterated his intentions for his staff to work with governors and state agency staff moving forward. Administrator Pruitt also commented on EPA funding, highlighting the importance of state SRFs, WIFIA, and the incoming infrastructure bill.
Finally, he responded to a few questions from ACWA President Pete LaFlamme about how states should engage with EPA on different issues including the Waters of The United States rule, imploring states to go on the record with EPA about how new rules would affect people in different states. He also encouraged continuing to have constant dialogue with EPA’s Office of Water as different initiatives including EPA implementation of the President’s Executive Order on WOTUS unfold.
Important Surveys for ACWA State Representatives
Official State Members of ACWA: We have sent out two important surveys to our main representatives at each State and Interstate in the past week. The first is a survey on ACWA priorities for the next 12-18 months. The second is a survey on how potential reduction/elimination of federal grants to states (and other programs) will tangibly affect state staffing and program effectiveness. Both surveys are high-priority items which grew out of discussions at the mid-year meeting, and we would be grateful if you could complete them in timely fashion – many thanks in advance!
CAFO Data FOIA
The parties in American Farm Bureau Federation and National Pork Producers Council v. EPA lawsuit have submitted a proposed settlement agreement to the court. In September 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit determined that EPA’s disclosure of the spreadsheets containing personal information about CAFO owners “would invade a substantial privacy interest of the owners while furthering little in the way of public interest that is recognizable under FOIA…” and remanded the case back to the district court. The settlement agreement identifies the information collected on CAFOs that will be released and which information will remain protected under §6 of FOIA, which generally protects personal privacy. The disputed data that will be released within 7 calendar days includes “permit status, city, county, and 5-digit zip code” and all other columns will be redacted. EPA also agrees in the settlement to conduct FOIA training for the Office of Water and Regional offices in 2017 and the plaintiffs agree to dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice.
ACWA Comment Letter on NESHAP: POTW
On Wednesday, March 29, ACWA submitted a comment letter to EPA on the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants: Publicly Owned Treatment Works (“NESHAP: POTWs”). ACWA thanks all members that contributed to the letter.
ACWA Comment Letter on Cyanotoxins Criteria/Advisory
On Friday, March 17, ACWA submitted a comment letter to EPA on the Human Health Recreational Ambient Water Quality Criteria and/or Swimming Advisories for Microcystins and Cylindrospermopsin. The ACWA/EPA HABs Focus Group will continue to work together on this issue throughout the year.
Watersheds Committee Call
Last week, the ACWA Watersheds Committee held its monthly call which featured presentations from New Hampshire and Minnesota on Chloride TMDLs. Both presentations focused less on development of the TMDL and more on implementation strategies, covering topics such as how to balance public safety and more efficient usage of road salts, how to incentivize associations, businesses, and communities to improve road salt usage, and how public outreach and legislative changes have worked hand in hand to reduce chlorides in water bodies.
For more information, contact Julian Gonzalez.