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 Regulatory Affairs

Regulations and guidance from the U.S. EPA and other federal agencies often impact WEF members’ activities and how environmental goals are met. The Regulatory Subcommittee of WEF’s Government Affairs Committee leads WEF efforts to monitor regulations connected with clean water issues and provides input on regulatory rulemaking efforts through collaboration between WEF membership and U.S. EPA staff as well as others in the regulatory community. WEF staff and the Regulatory Subcommittee share information on regulatory updates and forecasts on pending changes through regular and timely communications with WEF membership.

Regulatory Activities | Regulatory Comments |
News Update | News Archive 

 WEF Regulatory Activities 

WEF often submits formal comments on proposed regulations. The comments are prepared by member work groups. If you would like to obtain a copy of any of these comments, please send your request to

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WEF Regulatory Comments

WEFCurrent Understanding of Stormwater Rulemaking Memo_110812 

EPA Officials Discuss Revised Integrated Planning Framework during WEF June 14, 2012 Webcast

On June 14, Deborah Nagle, Director of EPA Water Permits Division, and Mark Pollins, Director of EPA Water Enforcement Division, participated in a WEF webcast on EPA’s just-released revised Integrated Planning Framework.  Other participants in the WEF webcast included Alexandra Dunn, Executive Director of the Association of Clean Water Administrators, who presented State perspectives, Gary A. Sheely, Director of Utilities, Lima, Ohio, who discussed his municipality’s approach to integrated planning and Brandon Vatter, Hatch Mott MacDonald, who presented an integrated water quality affordability strategy.

Ms. Nagle and Mr. Pollins emphasized that EPA’s integrated approach would allow States and municipalities, working with EPA, to use existing Clean Water Act regulatory and policy flexibilities to best meet clean water requirements within their financial capability.  The revised framework should better allow municipalities to sequence wastewater and stormwater projects to address highest priority projects first while advancing innovative solutions, such as green infrastructure.  Responding to the many comments received on the draft framework during public workshops last February, EPA revised the framework to: include a new plan element on adaptive management approaches; place more emphasis on public outreach; better address prioritization; provide more detail on cost/affordability; and, explain the balance between permitting and enforcement.  

During the Q/A session, Ms. Nagle, Mr. Pollins and Ms. Dunn had a spirited and informative discussion addressing certainty in the procees, how EPA and States could best work together, roles of permits and enforcement, TMDLs and source water protection, among other topics.  Mr. Pollins “volunteered” WEF to host a follow-up webcast later this summer to explore some specific integrated plans as they are developed; WEF accepted his offer. For more information, view the audio recording of the webcast and the Power Point slides

 WEF Comments on EPA Draft National Water Program Strategy: Response to Climate Change 

On April 2, 2012, EPA released their draft National Water Program 2012 Strategy: Response to Climate Change for a 45-day public comment period.  WEF submitted May 15 comments on EPA’s draft, commending EPA for developing such a comprehensive strategy to address climate change in the context of our nation’s clean water programs.  WEF noted that it was pleased to be able to directly participate in and contribute to the Climate Ready Water Utilities (CRWU) workgroup formed by EPA among relevant stakeholders to look at the potential impacts of climate change on water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure and to develop approaches to respond to these impacts. The Infrastructure element of the 2012 climate change strategy reflects the excellent work conducted by the CRWU workgroup which WEF fully supports.  WEF also indicated that EPA’s strategy was consistent with WEF’s 2010 position statement on “Protecting Water Resources and Infrastructure from the Impacts of Climate Change.” 

 WEF Comments on EPA’s Integrated Planning Approach Framework 

EPA has been facing mounting municipal and utility concerns over local costs to meet ever-increasing Clean Water Act obligations for municipal wastewater treatment, wet-weather overflows, stormwater, in addition to replacing/upgrading their aging water infrastructure.  On October 27, 2011, EPA Assistant Administrators Nancy Stoner [Water] and Cynthia Giles [Enforcement] signed a memo “Achieving Water Quality Through Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater Plans” signaling EPA’s commitment to work with States and locals to use integrated planning approaches to better meet water quality requirements while considering local needs and priorities.

In January 2012, EPA issued a draft “Integrated Planning Approach Framework” to provide further guidance for EPA, states and local governments in developing and implementing effective integrated plans.  EPA then held a series of 5 facilitated workshops around the country in January and February 2012 to solicit stakeholder feedback on their proposed framework.  WEF workshop participants indicated WEF’s general support for this approach while recommending some improvements, as indicated in these WEF comments for the record.  In particular, WEF commended EPA for undertaking this effort and indicated our readiness to help EPA make this happen.  It is now anticipated that EPA will release a revised version of their framework around mid-May and then proceed to start implementation, working with EPA Regions, States, and local governments and utilities.

 EPA Postpones Stormwater Rulemaking The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will seek a 2-month extension for the proposed national post-construction stormwater rule. The original Sept. 30 deadline will be extended until Dec. 2; however, the final rule is still planned for release in late November 2012. As such, once the proposed rule is released, the public comment period will be only 60 days, with comments likely to be due in early February 2012. The Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) will be developing comments. Those interested in participating should contact Seth Brown at

WEF Prepares for Proposed Stormwater Rule and Potential Impacts by Congressional Riders

The Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) met with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Stormwater Team in July to discuss the status of the proposed stormwater rule. WEF understands that the proposed rule is expected to include proposed performance standards for post-construction discharges from new and redevelopment projects, revisions to municipal separate storm sewer system boundaries and extensions of the permitting program to currently unregulated dischargers, retrofit programs for targeted urban areas, a transportation-specific permit program, and inclusion of combined sewers systems in stormwater regulations. Read more >> 

WEF Submits Comment Letter on Construction General Permit

EPA has proposed an update to the 2008 Construction General Permit (CGP) and received stakeholder comments through July 11.  The CGP outlines required controls and processes for the protection of construction sites to minimize soil erosion and the delivery of sediment off site to downstream areas and waters.  The intent of the update is to provide clarification on a number of technical items as well as address new technologies and techniques used in the temporary stormwater management field.  The most significant changes included in this update are a numeric effluent limit for turbidity for large construction sites and a standard 2-year design storm for all measures.  While this regulation only impacts those states and entities that are directly regulated by EPA, these changes signal likely future changes in state programs. The WEF Government Affairs Stormwater Workgroup led the development of comments through cooperation with the Stormwater Coordinating Council.  

WEF Submits Comments on Waters of the U.S. Draft Guidance 

WEF submitted comments on the Draft Guidance on Identifying Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act on July 29, 2011.  This guidance was jointly released by the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on May 2, 2011 with the intent to clarify jurisdictional determination.  The recent Rapanos and SWANCC Supreme Court rulings on Waters of the U.S. created confusion on this topic, especially in determining the meaning of “significant nexus” associated with the Justice Kennedy opinion.  WEF supports the intent of the guidance to provide clarity on the matter while understanding that EPA has committed to a formal Rulemaking on this matter.  WEF comments focused on man-made structures such as ditches, swales, reservoirs, and ponds, to ensure that the existing exemptions on these elements would be protected in the guidance. 

WEF Submits Comments on EPA’s November 12, 2010 Memorandum for Establishing TMDL Wasteload Allocations (WLAs) for Storm Water Sources and NPDES Permit Requirements Based on Those WLAs

Comments were developed in response to the 2010 memorandum which updates the 2002 memo that EPA issued on establishing TMDL waste-load allocations (WLAs) for stormwater sources and NPDES permit requirements based on those WLAs. WEF made comments on the Expansion of Numeric Limits as Water Quality Based Effluent Limits. Click here to see EPA’s 2010 memo along with stakeholder concerns regarding the memo. Click here to see comments submitted by WEF.

WEF Provides Input on Barriers to Green Infrastructure to EPA 

EPA requested WEF to provide input on barriers to the impelmentation of green infrastructure.  In response to this request, WEF compiled comments from the Government Affairs Committee Stormwater and Wet Weather Work Groups as well as the Stormwater Coordinating Council.  These comments reflected not only identified barriers, but also corresponding solutions, to aid EPA in the development of actions to overcome identified barriers.  Click here to see the letter from Jeff Eger along with the listing of barriers and solutions.  Click here to see EPA's green infrastructure webpage. 

WEF Submits Comments on EPA Proposed MACT Standards Rulemaking for Sewage Sludge Incineration (Updated December 3, 2010)

These comments were developed by an expert Residuals and Biosolids Work Group composed of WEF members from a variety of disciplines and working in all aspects of wastewater and solids management. Read more >> 

WEF Submits Comments on EPA Strategy for Achieving Clean Water (Updated September 24, 2010)

The Strategy is a public forum effort by EPA to articulate areas of regulatory focus needed to, in the words of Administrator Jackson, “see a huge leap forward in water quality as we saw in the 1970’s. Read more >> 

WEF Submits Comments on EPA Definition of Solid Waste Proposed Rulemaking (Updated August 6, 2010)

Comments were developed by a work group comprised of volunteers from WEF’s Residuals and Biosolids Committee and leadership of the Air Quality & Odor Control and Government Affairs Committees.Read more >> 

WEF Submits Comments on EPA SSO Rulemaking (July 30, 2010)

WEF’s Government Affairs Committee, coordinating with other WEF Committees, submitted  comments to EPA, building on and consistent with WEF’s April 30, 2010, Position Statement:“Management of Wet Weather Flows by Municipal Utilities.” Read more>> 


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 Regulatory News Update

Congress Takes More Time to Finish FY16 Budget (December 2015) 

The House and Senate passed a short term continuing resolution (CR) this week to give themselves until next Wednesday, Dec. 16, to complete an omnibus appropriations package to fund the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2016.  An overall budget agreement was reached in October 2015 that set top-line funding levels for the next two fiscal years, which included a slight increase in the FY16 funding level above the amount prescribed under sequestration.  Congress was supposed to have the final omnibus package complete by Dec. 11, but negotiations have stalled a number of policy provisions and program funding amounts, further delaying the final package.  Congress will work over the weekend to try to reach an agreement before the current short term CR expires.  

House Passes Ban on Microbeads (December 2015)  


By voice vote this week the House passed a ban on the manufacturing, sale, and distribution of plastic microbeads that are added to personal care products.  The Microbead Free Waters Act of 2015 (H.R. 1321) would ban the use of these plastics in over the counter drugs as well as rinse off cosmetics and would prohibit the use of alternatives beginning January 1, 2018. The legislation defines microbeads as "any solid plastic particle that is less than five millimeters in size and is intended to be used to exfoliate or cleanse the human body or any part thereof," and completely forbids the production of toothpaste to include microbeads. The bill has been sent to the Senate for consideration.


Federal Strategy for Restoring Gulf of Mexico Released (Updated Dec 9, 2011) 

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, chaired by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, has released its final strategy for long term ecosystem restoration for the Gulf Coast. Read more >> 

EPA To Provide Nearly $2 Million to Revitalize U.S. Urban Waters (Updated Dec 9, 2011) 

EPA announced on December 7 that it will provide up to $1.8 million for projects across the country to protect Americans’ health and help restore urban waters by improving water quality and supporting community revitalization. Read more >> 

EPA to Hold Regional Public Meetings on Framework for Integrated Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater Plans in New Year (Updated Dec 9, 2011) 

At an EPA meeting on December 8 with water stakeholders, including Jeff Eger and WEF staff, EPA Water Permits Director Deborah Nagle indicated that EPA intends to hold public meetings early in the new year in five regional offices to present and discuss their framework for integrated municipal stormwater and wastewater plansRead more >> 

EPA Study Finds Coal-tar Sealants Creates Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons Runoff (Updated Dec 2, 2011) 

EPA issued a September 2011 report - Assessment of Water Quality of Runoff from Sealed Asphalt Surfaces- that found coal-tar sealants create polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) runoff in amounts up to 1,000 times greater than the alternative asphalt-emulsion sealant, which is used mostly in western states.  Read more >> 

WEF Encourages Innovative Beneficial Uses of Biosolids; Approves Updated Position Statement (Updated Dec 2, 2011) 

On December 2, the WEF Board of Trustees adopted an updated position statement supporting a comprehensive approach to wastewater treatment and solids management that ensures the recycling and recovery of all valuable resources including water, nutrients, organic matter and energy. Read more >> 

EPA Sends OMB Revised Effluent Guidelines for Stormwater Runoff from Construction Sites (Updated Nov 18, 2011) 

On November 16, EPA sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a revised construction and development effluent limitations guidelines (ELG) that will set numeric turbidity limits for stormwater runoff based on new data on treatment performance. Read more >> 

EPA Seeks Nominations for New Science Advisory Board Committee (Updated Nov 18, 2011) 

EPA announced in the November 18 Federal Register that it is requesting public nominations of scientific experts for appointment to EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) Chemical Assessment Advisory Committee.  Read more >> 

Environmental Groups Challenging District of Columbia MS4 Permit (Updated Nov 11, 2011) 

The Natural Resources Defense Council, along with Earthjustice, Potomac Riverkeeper, Friends of the Earth and Anacostia Riverkeeper, filed a petition on November 4 with EPA's Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) requesting that they review the discharge permit for the District of Columbia's municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4). Read more >> 

EPA Outlines Preliminary Evaluation of Florida DEP Numeric Criteria for State Waterways (Updated Nov 4, 2011) 

EPA sent a letter on November 2 to Hershel Vinyard, Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), outlining the Agency’s preliminary evaluation of FDEP’s proposed rule establishing numeric criteria for Florida waters.  Read more >> 

Ken Kopocis will be Senior Advisor to Nancy Stoner, EPA (Updated Nov 4, 2011) 

Nancy Stoner, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of Water, has announced that the President's nominee for the Assistant Administrator in the Office of Water, Ken Kopocis, will be joining EPA on November 2 as a Senior Advisor while he awaits final Senate Confirmation.  Read more >> 

New EPA Publication on Using Biological Assessment to Support Water Quality (Updated Nov 4, 2011) 

Management EPA has published A Primer on Using Biological Assessment to Support Water Quality Management.   Read more >> 

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 Regulatory News Archives

Please click on the below link to read more Regulatory News.

More Regulatory Archives >>

For more information, contact: Claudio Ternieden, Director of Government Affairs, 703-684-2400, x. 2416 or



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