EPA Delays Release of Proposed Stormwater Rulemaking Schedule
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed stormwater rule, which was originally set for release on Sept. 30 and later extended to Dec. 15, has again been delayed. The main reason for the delay is the complex nature of quantifying costs and benefits associated with stormwater management across the country, which must account for varying climates, soils and land development patterns. According to EPA officials, the post-construction rule will set a runoff performance standard and provide compliance options, including green infrastructure. Environmentalists are proposing a retention standard, while some from the industry sector oppose this option in favor of a more flexible program. EPA is crafting the rule under a settlement agreement with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF; Annapolis). EPA and CBF have agreed to a short-term extension of Jan. 30 to determine a new schedule for the release of the proposed and final rules.
WEF Launches Water Leadership Institute
The Water Leadership Institute (WLI), a program of the Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, Va.), is designed to encourage innovation, entrepreneurship, and professional development in future water, wastewater, and stormwater leaders. WLI will provide leadership training through an online curriculum delivered by experts with various water sector backgrounds. The $995 program tuition also will cover registration to WEFTEC® 2012 in New Orleans. Interested applicants should apply for the 2012 WLI program by Jan. 15. Read more
Construction Supplier To Resolve Alleged Stormwater Violations in $8.74 Million Settlement
In an $8.74 million settlement, Lafarge North America Inc. (Reston, Va.) and four of its U.S. subsidiaries have agreed to resolve alleged stormwater violations. The company is one of the largest North American suppliers of construction materials, including stone, gravel, sand asphalt, and ready-mix concrete. The company will pay a $740,000 fine and complete $8 million in projects at 21 facilities in five states. Projects include conservation easements of 57 ha in Maryland and 11 ha in Colorado. Lafarge also will implement a nationwide evaluation and compliance program at 189 of its similar U.S. facilities to ensure they meet Clean Water Act requirements.
EPA To Host Workshops on Integrated Stormwater and Wastewater Framework
On Dec. 13, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it will host a series of workshops on its framework for Achieving Water Quality Through Integrated Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater Plans. Interested stakeholders will be able to observe and participate following a facilitated discussion with invited participants. Meetings will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at EPA regional offices in the following cities: Atlanta (Jan. 31), New York City (Feb. 6), Seattle (Feb. 13), Kansas City (Feb. 15), and Chicago (Feb. 17). EPA presented this schedule during a meeting of water stakeholders in Washington D.C., and further details about the workshops will be published in the Federal Register. A draft framework will be available on EPA’s website prior to the first workshop in January.
On Dec. 14, the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment held a hearing to discuss EPA's integrated planning efforts. The goal of the hearing was to discuss whether and how EPA could provide local utilities with adequate flexibility to cost-effectively address their most pressing water quality problems. Panelists included EPA officials, state and local officials, utility managers, and an environmental representative. Read more
WEF Manual of Practice FD17 – Prevention and Control of Sewer System Overflows
On Dec. 15, the Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, Va.) announced the release of the third edition of Prevention and Control of Sewer Systems Overflows. This manual of practice helps engineers diagnose combined and sanitary sewer overflows, reduce or eliminate overflows, and develop long-term control strategies. Order online
EPA, DOD To Draft Stormwater MOU for Federal Facilities
During the next 6 months, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) will work with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to draft a memorandum of understanding. The memo is a response to DOD’s concerns about EPA’s original draft stormwater permit for D.C., which set more stringent standards for federal facilities including a 1.7-inch retention standard compared to the 1.2-inch standard for non-government property. EPA removed this language, but through the memo, will be seeking additional commitments from federal agencies that are willing to go beyond the requirements of the stormwater permit
NYC Announces $4 Million for Green Infrastructure Grants
In 2012, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection is offering $4 million for community-based green infrastructure grants. The goal is to control stormwater on private property and public sidewalks in combined sewersheds by engaging private property owners, businesses, and nonprofits. Applications are due Feb. 15. Read more
EPA Solicits Proposals for Urban Waters Small Grants Program
On Dec. 7, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced $1.8 million in small grants funding for projects, training, and research aimed at protecting health and restoring urban waters through community revitalization. Examples include education and training for green infrastructure jobs, public education on reducing water pollution, local water quality monitoring programs, developing watershed plans with diverse stakeholder groups, and other innovative projects. Funding proposals are due Jan. 23. Read more
Virginia River Groups Open Low-Impact Design Competition
Potomac Conservancy (Washington, D.C.), Friends of the Rappahannock (Fredericksburg, Va.), and The James River Association (Richmond, Va.) are hosting a low-impact design (LID) competition that challenges developers to find low-cost solutions to achieving pre-development hydrology. Development categories include suburban mixed use, urban infill, and green roadway. A total $15,000 will be awarded to the winner in each category. The design submission period closes Feb. 17. The Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, Va.) will help promote this event to illustrate the advantages of implementing LID practices. Read more
USDA Announces $50 Million in Funding for Gulf Coast Water Quality Programs
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has allocated $50 million during the next 3 years to help farmers conserve water and improve water quality in the Gulf of Mexico. This funding aligns with the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration task force's final strategy, which was released by the USDA along with a number of other government entities on Dec. 5.
ASCE Seeks Public Comment on Urban Drainage Guidelines
Jan. 1 through Feb. 15 the American Society of Civil Engineers (Reston, Va.) will solicit public comment on three guidance documents regarding the design, installation, and operation and maintenance of urban subsurface drainage systems. Read more
South Carolina Watershed Association Launches iRanger Pilot Program
The Gills Creek Watershed Association (GCWA; Columbia, S.C.) launched iRanger, a pilot project that enables smartphone users to photograph clogged storm drains, sewer-line breaks, illicit dumping, and other issues. MotionX-GPS technology pinpoints the exact location of the problem. Then, users can add a description of the problem and send it directly to GCWA or the Richland County Conservation Commission (RCCC). This project was funded by the RCCC and an AT&T Foundation grant.
Baltimore Launches Healthy Harbors Initiative
The Waterfront Partnership — a coalition of businesses, nonprofit groups, and Baltimore agencies — recently launched the Healthy Harbors Initiative. It is a year-by-year plan to end sewer overflows, eliminate litter, and curb stormwater pollution to make the Baltimore Harbor fishable and swimmable by 2020. The plan details each of these goals, and also discusses funding mechanisms and education and outreach strategies.
Check It Out!
The Sustainable Cities Institute—a website by the Home Depot Foundation—features green infrastructure and water-related case studies, cost calculators, guides, examples of request for proposals, and more.
The Clemson (S.C.) University Extension recently released a resident’s guide for managing stormwater ponds and diagnosing problems such as sedimentation, aquatic weeds, and water pollution.