December 18, 2009
House Approves Jobs Creation Infrastructure Funding Legislation; $2 Billion to Fund Clean Water Infrastructure
The House of Representatives on December 16 approved new Jobs for Main Street Act of 2010 legislation (H.R. 2847) to provide $1 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and $1 billion for the Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. The bill redirects $75 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) savings from Wall Street to help put people to work on infrastructure projects. This funding is projected to assist more than 670 communities address the ever growing backlog of sewer and water repairs and rehabilitation. Under the bill, each state would have to use at least 50 percent of its funds to provide subsidies to forgive principal payments and grants to make it easier for more communities to access program funds. In addition, states would have to use at least 20 percent of the funds for projects to address green infrastructure, including water or energy efficiency improvements or other environmentally innovative activities. Both of these requirements were included as part of the initial American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding.
H.R. 2847 requires individual State financing authorities to have 100 percent of the projects funded by the Clean Water SRF capitalization grant under contract award within eight months of the date of enactment, or funds will be reallocated to the remaining States. H.R. 2847 requires States to give priority to projects that are ready to proceed to construction within one year of the date of enactment. In addition, Davis-Bacon prevailing wage protections and Buy America provisions continue to apply to projects constructed with funds under this authority. The bill now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to be taken up in January. Clean Water SRF ARRA Reporting Project List (December 14, 2009)
EPA Office of Inspector General Report Finds Greater Action Needed to Ensure Drinking Water SRT Projects Meet Recovery Act Deadline [+]
EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a December 17 briefing report that summarizes the results of an audit conducted to determine how EPA is ensuring compliance with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) requirements. Specifically, OIG reviewed: what impediments exist to having projects under contract or construction by February 17, 2010; and what steps EPA has taken to ensure projects meet this deadline. As a result of our audit work, As of November 1, the OIG said 257 projects totaling $323 million were under contract, which is only 17 percent of the $1.9 billion in ARRA funds awarded for drinking water state revolving funds projects. The report cited the challenges facing states, including delays in contracting at the local level, state and local budget cuts, and difficulties in understanding and implementing new ARRA requirements. The waiver process for ARRA's Buy American provisions was also cited as a potential risk in getting projects under contract.
OIG made three observations about what EPA can do to improve its processes for ensuring that States comply with ARRA.
· EPA is not aware of projects that are not under contract nationwide. EPA DWSRF management did not monitor projects at the national level because it believed that regional-level monitoring was appropriate.
· EPA has not established procedures with an action plan and milestone dates to assist States with projects not under contract, because it believed that all States will meet the deadline. EPA has started to develop procedures for reallocating funds in case States do not meet the deadline.
· EPA’s ARRA Risk Mitigation (Stewardship) Plan does not contain specific actions the Agency will take to identify States at risk of not meeting the deadline. EPA senior management intended the plan to provide the Agency’s strategy to monitor and mitigate risk in ARRA implementation, but the DWSRF program did not rely upon the framework.
USDA-Dairy Farmers Announce Commitment to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 25 Percent [+]
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on December 15 a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. dairy farmers a commitment to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 while the department committed to helping farmers get funding for emissions and energy-related projects. The memorandum was signed by the secretary of agriculture and the chief executive officer of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and Dairy Management Inc., an organization that promotes milk sales and works to foster competition in the industry. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said in a speech in Copenhagen Dec. 15 that dairy farmers had committed to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and that the Department of Agriculture had committed to help get anaerobic digesters at more dairy farms.
According to EPA, manure management accounted for 8 percent of anthropogenic methane emissions in the United States in 2007, and the agriculture sector is responsible for 6 percent of greenhouse gas emissions overall. Cows produce large amounts of methane through their flatulency and manure. Anaerobic digesters use captured methane and manure to produce energy. USDA will work with the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and Dairy Management Inc. to install more anaerobic digesters. The department will prioritize applications for loans or grants that come from dairy farmers seeking to install the digesters, adjust timing of the awards to better match the construction seasons, and work to publicize manufacturers of digesters and opportunities for funding. Additionally, the Department of Agriculture will encourage research in other ways for dairy farms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
EPA Announces $13 Million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for Asian Carp Migration Control [+]
EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced on December 14 $13 million in federal funding to prevent Asian carp from migrating further toward the Great Lakes. In February 2009, President Obama proposed $475 million for a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in the nation’s largest fresh surface water ecosystem. Congress approved that funding level and President Obama signed it into law in October. The funding for immediate carp control measures would come from the $475 million initiative. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has identified more than $13 million in funding needs for measures to deter Asian carp from moving closer to Lake Michigan. The majority of funding will be used to close conduits and shore up low-lying lands between the Chicago Sanitary Ship Canal and adjacent waterways.
Agencies have expressed concerns that during times of heavy precipitation water, carp can wash from adjacent waterways into the canal. Initiative funding will support work by the Corps to reduce the risk of invasion from these collateral access points. Some of the funding will support more genetic testing to pinpoint where carp may be in the Chicago Area Waterway System. The agencies will continue to identify other mechanisms for keeping Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. Invasive species controls are a priority under the initiative under. EPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office is seeking applications from a diverse group of participants and partnerships to support the goals of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force Releases Interim Framework For Managing Coastal and Marine Waterbodies [+]
A federal task force on December 14 released its initial recommendations on coastal and marine spatial planning for specific areas along the nation's oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes. The interim framework on spatial planning, released by the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, seeks to coordinate federal, state, and local policy for managing U.S. waters, which are used for commercial ventures such as ship transport, mining, and oil and gas exploration, but can also be designated as marine sanctuaries and wildlife refuges. Under the framework issued by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), coastal and marine spatial planning would be regional in scope and developed cooperatively with states and localities, with input from stakeholders and the public. According to the document, the framework is intended to move away from sector-by-sector and statute-by-statute decision making as most permitting processes focus solely on a limited range of management tools and outcomes such as oil and gas leases, fishery management plans, and marine protected areas.
Under the framework, a regional planning body would identify a range of alternative future-use scenarios based on information gathered on current, emerging, and proposed human uses and ecosystem conditions and services. The regional planning body would resolve disputes in drafting the plan. Based on 60-day public review and comment period process, the regional planning body would develop a final plan and environmental impact analysis and would be responsible for monitoring and assessing the plan's effectiveness.
USGS Report Estimates Biological Carbon Stored in Soils, Forests [+]
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) on December 10 released a report thatestimates biological carbon stored in soils and forests in the lower 48 states and a first estimate of the hypothetical additional carbon that could be sequestered. While the report indicated that there are large uncertainties in the numbers, they have value as baselines for judging what might be accomplished through policies to store carbon as a means of limiting climate change. The estimates were contained in a report, Rapid Assessment of U.S. Forest and Soil Organic Carbon Storage and Forest Biomass Carbon Sequestration Capacity. The U.S. Geological Survey estimated that the lower 48 states store 73 billion metric tons of biological carbon in soils and 17 billion metric tons of carbon in forest biomass. It indicated a program of storing carbon in those areas would not be expected to yield major additions. The potential increase in total carbon stored would be far less than 10 percent of the current total, and that would be a one-time gain.
Senate Passes Department of Transportation Fiscal Year 2010 Spending Bill [+]
The Senate on December 13 approved, 57-35, the conference report for an omnibus 2010 appropriations bill (H.R. 3288) that would provide about $2 billion for climate change research and support environmental programs at multiple federal agencies. The measure is now ready for President Obama's signature. The bill would appropriate climate funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It also would provide the Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration with about $143.2 million for pipeline safety and hazmat programs. The Department of Housing and Urban Development's Brownfields Economic Development Initiative, a competitive grants program for community redevelopment of blighted properties, would be appropriated $17.5 million. The House of Representatives approved the conference report on December 10. The bill would provide a total of $447 billion for programs, including environmental programs.
EPA Releases Baseline Study of U.S. Lakes [+]
EPA released on December 18 its most comprehensive study of the nation’s lakes to date. The draft National Lakes Assessment study, which rated the condition of 56 percent of the lakes in the United States as good and the remainder as fair or poor, marked the first time EPA and its partners used a nationally consistent approach to survey the ecological and water quality of lakes. A total of 1,028 lakes were randomly sampled during 2007 by states, tribes and EPA. The National Lakes Assessment reveals that the remaining lakes are in fair or poor condition. Degraded lakeshore habitat, rated “poor” in 36 percent of lakes, was the most significant of the problems assessed. Removal of trees and shrubs and construction of docks, marinas, homes and other structures along shorelines all contribute to degraded lakeshore habitat.
The survey included a comparison to a subset of lakes with wastewater impacts that were sampled in the 1970s. It finds that 75 percent show either improvements or no change in phosphorus levels. This suggests that the nation’s investments in wastewater treatment and other pollution control activities are working despite population increases across the country. The results of this study describe the target population of the nation’s lakes as a whole and are not applicable to a particular lake.
It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
- Theodore Roosevelt (From a speech given in Paris at the Sorbonne in 1910)
Note:TWIW will be on hiatus for the Christmas and New Year holidays. TWIW will resume publication on January 8.
This Week in Washingtonis provided by the Water Environment Federation, Alexandria, VA and is available on-line. To receive by e-mail, please contact the Editor -Sam Hadeed - at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 703.684.2418 with questions.
December 11, 2009
EPA Reports Greenhouse Gases Endanger Public Health and Environment
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced on December 7 two distinct findings that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and the environment and that cars and light trucks cause or contribute to the emissions. EPA issued the proposed findings in April 2009 and held a 60-day public comment period. The agency received more than 380,000 comments, which were reviewed and considered during the development of the final findings. EPA's findings respond to the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision that GHGs fit within the Clean Air Act definition of air pollutants. The findings do not in and of themselves impose any emission reduction requirements but rather allow EPA to finalize the GHG standards proposed earlier this year for new light-duty vehicles as part of the joint rulemaking with the Department of Transportation. The decision to finalize the endangerment finding paves the way for EPA to begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks and, subsequently, from other mobile and stationary sources under the Clean Air Act. The announcement came as international climate talks began December 7 in Copenhagen, with President Obama planning to attend during the final day of the meeting, which is scheduled to run through December 18. The endangerment finding is a key development in EPA's effort to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The agency is working to complete a rule with the Transportation Department's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to control vehicle emissions, but EPA first had to make a formal determination that emissions pose a danger. A rule limiting vehicle emissions will open the door to rules for stationary sources such as power plants and refineries. The findings will be published in the Federal Register under Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0171.
According to EPA, effects linked to climate change include hotter and longer heat waves that would threaten the health of the sick, poor, and elderly, and increases in ground-level ozone concentrations. They also include increases in tick-borne diseases, food- and waterborne pathogens, and airborne allergens from weeds and trees. EPA indicates that on-road vehicles contribute at least 23 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The endangerment finding covers emissions of six greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride. The House on June 26 passed a bill (H.R. 2454) that would establish a nationwide emissions cap-and-trade system affecting stationary sources, but not vehicles. Similar legislation (S. 1733) is under consideration in the Senate.
EPA Announces Revisions to Water Enforcement Strategy [+]
EPA assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance Cynthia Giles, announced on December 8 a revision of its enforcement strategy for the Safe Drinking Water Act to focus more attention on water systems with the most serious or repeated violations in all contaminant categories. The new policy is to take effect January 1. Existing enforcement policy is geared to contaminant categories rather than drinking water systems, according to. Giles announced the policy at a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, where she and Peter Silva, EPA assistant administrator for water, were pushed repeatedly by Senate Democrats to explain why the agency had not taken more action to prevent violations. and raised questions about alarming claims of severe health hazards. Giles and Silva pointed out that the Safe Drinking Water Act gives primary oversight and enforcement authority to states, although EPA retains enforcement authority as well. Giles indicated that overall compliance with the act is quite high but challenges exist, especially with small water systems.
During the hearing, Committee Chair Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) asked Silva for a timeline on EPA's study of perchlorate, a naturally occurring substance that also has gotten into water from such sources as fertilizer, explosives, fireworks, flares, and rocket fuel. Silva stated that EPA should decide by the middle of 2010 whether to regulate perchlorate and that the Agency has been reevaluating the scientific data on that chemical, especially with regard to the risk it poses to pregnant women, fetuses, and children. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) asked about the proliferation of pharmaceuticals in water. Silva pointed out that drugs, primarily entering streams from household wastewater and from livestock operations that use antibiotics, dominate a list of emerging contaminants that EPA is studying, and some drugs have been added to a candidate list of contaminants that EPA is considering for regulation. Prepared testimony and an archived webcast of the December 8 hearing on drinking water
Feds to Fund $1.79 Billion Superfund Settlement of Largest Environmental Bankruptcy in U.S. History [+]
The Justice Department, EPA, Department of the Interior and Department of Agriculture announced on December 10 the largest environmental bankruptcy in U.S. history, $1.79 billion has been paid to fund environmental cleanup and restoration under a bankruptcy reorganization of American Smelting and Refining Company LLC (ASARCO). ASARCO is a leading producer of copper and one of the largest nonferrous metal producers in the United States. It is based in Arizona and is responsible for sites around the country that are contaminated with hazardous waste. The money from environmental settlements in the bankruptcy will be used to pay for past and future costs incurred by federal and state agencies at more than 80 sites contaminated by mining operations in 19 states. Those states include: AZ, AL, AR, CA, CO, ID, IL, IN, KS, MO, MT, NB, NJ, NM, OH, OK, TX, UT, and WA. Under the terms of the plan, all allowed claims were paid in full along with interest. Funds were distributed as follows:
· The United States received approximately $776 million, which will be distributed in accordance with the underlying settlements to address 35 different sites;
· The Coeur d’Alene Work Trust was paid $436 million;
· The three custodial trusts which address the owned but not operating properties of ASARCO and involve a total of 13 states and 24 sites were paid a cumulative total of approximately $261 million; and
Payments totaling in excess of $321 million were paid to 14 different states to fund environmental settlement obligations at 36 individual sites.
States Urged to Respond Quickly To Call for Great Lakes Restoration Proposals [+]
Cameron Davis, senior adviser on the Great Lakes to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told state lawmakers attending the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators' Midwest Forum in Chicago on December 4 that states must move quickly if they hope to obtain federal funds available under the $475 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Proposals for the first round of grant funding must be submitted to EPA by January 29, 2010. The government's perspectives on projects appropriate under the ambitious five-year restoration plan were laid out in a request for proposals (RFP) announced November 23. Davis said state agencies can enhance their chances for funding success by participating in a series of webinars covering the Great Lakes funding program and procedures established under the RFP Funding. Davis said the interagency restoration initiative will fund projects targeting the most significant water quality problems in the region. Five priority areas for funding have been established: toxic substances and areas of concern; invasive species; near-shore health and nonpoint-source pollution; habitat and wildlife protection; and accountability, education, monitoring, evaluation, communication, and partnerships.
EPA Analysis Shows Reduction in 2008 Toxic Chemical Releases [+]
EPA released on December 8 its analysis of the 2008 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). The 2008 TRI database contains information on chemical releases into the air, land and water, as well as waste management and pollution prevention activities. The analysis of the 2008 data, the most recent data set available, shows that 3.86 billion pounds of toxic chemicals were released into the environment, a 6 percent decrease from 2007. This is the first time EPA has released its annual analysis in the same calendar year as the data were reported. The analysis, which includes data on 650 chemicals from more than 21,000 facilities, found that total releases to air decreased 14 percent, while releases to surface water increased 3 percent. This increase is partially attributed to a coal ash spill at a Tennessee Valley Authority facility in Kingston, Tenn. Releases to land remain virtually unchanged from 2007, showing a 0.1 percent increase.
The report shows decreases in the releases of persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic chemicals including lead, dioxin, and mercury. Total disposal or other releases of mercury decreased 11 percent. Dioxin releases or disposal decreased 77 percent, while lead releases decreased by 2 percent. Releases of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) increased 121 percent. Because PCBs are no longer used in U.S. manufacturing, these releases represent the removal of PCBs from service for disposal at regulated hazardous waste facilities. The analysis also shows a 5 percent decline in the number of facilities reporting to TRI from the previous year, continuing a trend from the past few years. Some of this decline may be attributed to the economic downturn; however, EPA plans to investigate why some facilities reported in 2007 but not 2008.
EPA Releases Guidance to Help Federal Facilities Better Manage Stormwater [+]
EPA announced on December 8 that it has issued guidance to help federal agencies minimize the impact of federal development projects on nearby water bodies. The guidance is being issued in response to a change in law and an Executive Order signed by President Obama, which calls upon all federal agencies to lead by example to address a wide range of environmental issues, including stormwater runoff. EPA worked closely with other federal agencies to develop this document, which provides background information, key definitions, case studies and guidance on meeting the new requirements of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
Under the new requirements, federal agencies must minimize stormwater runoff from federal development projects to protect water resources. Federal agencies can comply using a variety of stormwater management practices often referred to as green infrastructure or low impact development practices, including reducing impervious surfaces, using vegetative practices, using porous pavements and installing green roofs. EPA is using sustainable techniques for reducing the effects of stormwater runoff at its facilities, such as installing a 3,000 square foot green roof as well as using rain gardens and cisterns to capture and reuse stormwater.
EPA to Strengthen Oversight of Pesticide’s Impact on Children and Farmworkers [+]
EPA announced on December 8 that it plans to strengthen its assessment of pesticide health risks. EPA’s proposal would include a more thorough assessment of risks to workers, including farmworkers and farm children, as well as risks posed by pesticides that are not used on food. The agency is asking the public to comment on the new approach and how best to implement the improvements. Under the policy, EPA risk assessments for children, farmworkers and others, would consider aggregate pesticide exposures from all sources in addition to the cumulative effects from multiple pesticides that have similar toxicity. EPA also would apply an additional safety factor to protect infants and children from the risks of pesticides where the available data are incomplete. Currently these analyses help assess risks of pesticides to the general public as required by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
EPA has indicated that pesticide exposure should be evaluated with common scientific risk-assessment techniques, whether from residues in food or drinking water, on lawns or in swimming pools, or in the workplace. The agency would routinely apply the techniques to workers exposed to pesticide exposures on the job. By incorporating these risk-assessment tools into its pesticide evaluations, the agency would more thoroughly protect the most vulnerable populations, including farm workers and children taken into agricultural fields. The proposed policy will be available for a 60-day public comment period after it is published in the Federal Register.
Coalition Formed to Help Restore Nation’s Great Water Bodies [+]
More than 30 environmental organizations joined with several members of Congress on December 8 in launching a new coalition aimed at restoring ecosystems in the nation's great water bodies. The alliance aims to protect nine of the largest water ecosystems in 27 of the lower 48 states, according to a statement from the America's Great Waters Coalition. The coalition intends to help leverage political support for water restoration among citizens nationwide. The Great Waters cited by the coalition include the Chesapeake Bay, Coastal Louisiana, the Everglades, the Great Lakes, the Gulf of Maine, Long Island Sound, the Mississippi River, Puget Sound, and the San Francisco-Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The goals are to make restoration of U.S. great water bodies a national priority; to secure sustainable, dedicated funding for restoration; and to enact and implement restoration projects. Other alliance members include the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Sierra Club, Alliance for the Great Lakes, Environmental Defense Fund, Biodiversity Project, National Parks Conservation Association, National Audubon Society, Everglades Law Center, and People for Puget Sound.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) stated that the coalition wants to streamline conservation efforts for the nation's great water bodies. The coalition cited funding needs for the various great waters, including at least $19 billion to restore the Chesapeake Bay; $10.5 billion to implement the Comprehensive Everglades Plan; up to $26 billion to implement the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy; between $14 billion and $100 billion to implement the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Plan; $5 billion for the Gulf of Maine; $2 billion for Long Island Sound; $4.3 billion over 20 years for the San Francisco Bay; $1.5 billion to $5.7 billion to restore the upper Mississippi River; and $601 million for Puget Sound.
2010 Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grant Funding Available [+]
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), in partnership with EPA and the Chesapeake Bay Program, will award grants on a competitive basis of between $200,000 and $1 million each to support the demonstration of innovative approaches to expand the collective knowledge about the most cost effective and sustainable approaches to dramatically reduce or eliminate nutrient and sediment pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. A total of up to $5.8 million will be awarded through this solicitation. NFWF will host a webinar for potential applicants on Friday, January 8, 2010 at 1:00pm EST. This will be an excellent opportunity to ask questions about the specifics of this funding opportunity.
CDC Biomonitoring Report Released [+]
On December 10, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted on its web site the Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, based on biomonitoring of blood and urine samples from a representative sample of the U.S. population. A list of chemicals covered by the report includes several chlorinated substances; some – such as disinfection by-products (DBPs) – will be included for the first time.
EPA Issues Fall 2009 Regulatory Agenda [+]
EPA issued its Fall 2009 Regulatory Agenda in December 7 Federal Register. EPA publishes the semiannual regulatory agenda online (the e-agenda to update the public about: Regulations and major policies currently under development, Reviews of existing regulations and major policies, and Rules and major policy makings completed or canceled since the last agenda.
Global Public Policy Network on Water Management Publishes Water World: Why the Global Climate Challenge is a Global Water Challenge [+]
The Global Public Policy Network on Water Management (GPPN) has launched a report, Water World: Why the Global Climate Challenge is a Global Water Challenge, to make the case for water as a critical consideration for climate change. GPPN is a joint initiative of Stakeholder Forum and Stockholm International Water Institute, working with global stakeholders to identify priorities for the international water agenda, and communicate those priorities to decision-makers. This report focuses on six themes that address water as a cross-cutting consideration in response to climate change: water and livelihoods, water and land, water and trans-boundary resource management, water and water and energy, and water and gender.
My mother drew a distinction between achievement and success. She said that achievement is the knowledge that you have studied and worked hard and done the best that is in you. Success is being praised by others, and that's nice, too, but not as important or satisfying. Always aim for achievement and forget about success.
- Helen Hayes
This Week in Washingtonis provided by the Water Environment Federation, Alexandria, VA and is available on-line. To receive by e-mail, please contact the Editor -Sam Hadeed - at email@example.com or call 703.684.2418 with questions.
December 04, 2009
EPA Issues Rule to Reduce Water Pollution from Construction Sites
EPA announced in the December 1 Federal Register a final rule to help reduce water pollution from construction sites. The rule, which takes effect on February 1, 2010, will be phased in over four years, is designed to significantly improve the quality of water nationwide. Construction activities like clearing, excavating and grading significantly disturb soil and sediment. If that soil is not managed properly it can easily be washed off of the construction site during storms and pollute nearby water bodies. The final rule requires construction site owners and operators that disturb one or more acres to use best management practices to ensure that soil disturbed during construction activity does not pollute nearby water bodies. In addition, owners and operators of sites that impact 10 or more acres of land at one time will be required to monitor discharges and ensure they comply with specific limits on discharges to minimize the impact on nearby water bodies. This is the first time that EPA has imposed national monitoring requirements and enforceable numeric limitations on construction site stormwater discharges. EPA issued the rule in response to a lawsuit against the agency filed in 2004 by the Natural Resources Defense Council. In 2006, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ordered the EPA to issue a final rule by December 1, 2009. According to EPA, the rule affects about 82,000 firms, including residential and commercial construction companies and civil engineering firms involved in highway, street, and bridge construction.
House Passes Legislation Requiring Department of Energy to Integrate and Improve Water Data Collection [+]
The House passed on December 1, by voice vote, legislation (H.R. 3598) that would require the Department of Energy (DOE) to assess its research programs to identify where to integrate water considerations and establish an interagency council to help improve water-related collection. H.R. 3598 would authorize $65 million annually through FY 2015 to create a new federal research and development program to attempt to enhance energy and water-use efficiency in the agency's research and development programs. Specifically, the bill would authorize $60 million annually for DOE to conduct and coordinate research and development activities to increase DOE's energy and water use efficiency. In addition, the bill would authorize $5 million annually to establish the Energy-Water Architecture Council. The Council would have a representative from each federal agency and would conduct research and make recommendations related to energy and water resource use and efficiency.
EPA Issues Guidance on Implementing Davis-Bacon Provisions for Water Projects [+]
EPA’s Office of Wastewater Management issued guidance on November 30 for regional offices and state agencies on how to implement required Davis-Bacon Act requirements for prevailing wage provisions for clean water and drinking water projects in the law appropriating funding for EPA in fiscal year 2010. The Application of Davis-Bacon Act Wage Requirements to Fiscal Year 2010 Clean water State Revolving Fund and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Assistance Agreements memorandum outlines prevailing wage provisions in the spending measure enacted Oct. 30 (Pub. L. No. 111-88). The spending measure provides a substantial funding increase for wastewater and drinking water programs, but also imposes conditions on how the money could be used. Builders and contractors have to pay prevailing wages on infrastructure projects that use federal revolving loan funds. The measure also requires that a certain share of the funds be devoted to green infrastructure projects and that some allowance for loan forgiveness be made for poor communities. According to the memo, application of the requirements extend not only to assistance agreements funded with fiscal year 2010 appropriations, but also to all assistance agreements executed on or after Oct. 30, 2009, and prior to Oct. 1, 2010. This applies whether the source of the funding is prior year's appropriations, state match, bond proceeds, interest earnings, principal repayments, or any other source of funding so long as the project is financed by a state revolving fund assistance agreement,
EPA Issues New Set of Buy American Q&As [+]
EPA’s Office of Water has posted a second round of Q&As on the Buy American provisions of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA). The issues covered include: substantial transformation, documentation, manufactured goods definition applied to specific materials, revised de minimus waiver, and miscellaneous issues.
Council on Environmental Quality Releases Revised Principles and Guidelines for Water Resources [+]
The White House Council on Environmental Quality on December 3 released a proposal to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) for their review that would significantly change the principles and guidelines that govern America’s water resource planning. The proposal would require that such projects help to improve the economic well-being of the Nation for present and future generations, better protect communities from the effects of floods and storms, help communities and individuals make better choices about where to build based on an understanding of the risk, and protect and restore the environment. The proposal calls for the development of water resources projects to be based on sound science, increased consideration of both monetary and non-monetary benefits to justify and select a project, improved transparency, and consideration of nonstructural approaches that can solve the flooding problem without adversely impacting floodplain functions.
The proposal would also expand the scope of the Principals and Guidelines to cover all Federal agencies that undertake water resource projects. Each agency will develop its own “Implementation Guidance” to outline how the new Principles and Guidelines apply to their agency-specific missions completed in late 2010. The revised Principles and Guidelines include a number of important changes that modernize the current approach to water resources development in this country, which include: Achieving Co-Equal Goals, Considering Monetary and Non-Monetary Benefits, Avoiding the Unwise Use of Floodplains, Increasing Transparency and “Good Government” Results.
USDA Announces $320 Million Funding Assistance for Watersheds in Mississippi River Basin Initiative [+]
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on November 23 that 41 watersheds in 12 states, known as Focus Areas, have been selected to participate in a new initiative to improve water quality and the overall health of the Mississippi River Basin. The selected watersheds cover over 42 million acres, or more than 5 percent of the Basin's land area. The Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI), which was announced on September 24, 2009, will provide approximately $320 million in USDA financial assistance over the next four years for voluntary projects in priority watersheds in Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Wisconsin. MRBI will help producers implement conservation and management practices that prevent, control and trap nutrient runoff from agricultural land. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) manages the initiative. NRCS State Conservationists from the 12 watershed states selected the watersheds with guidance from State Technical Committees and state water quality agencies. Selections were based on the potential for managing nitrogen and phosphorus -- nutrients associated with water quality problems in the Basin -- while maintaining agricultural productivity and benefiting wildlife.
Feds to Test 200 Lawrence County, AL Residents for Exposure to Toxic Chemicals [+]
The Decatur, AL Daily reported on December 2 that officials from EPA, Alabama Department of Environmental Management, and USDA announced during a November 30 public meeting that they will coordinate with the Centers for Disease Control to test the blood of up to 200 Lawrence County, AL residents for potentially toxic chemicals placed on fields by Decatur Utilities, AL. For 12 years, Decatur unknowingly disposed biosolids contaminated with perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) from its wastewater treatment plant by distributing it as free fertilizer to area farmers. The biosolids ended up on 5,000 acres of land, 90 percent of it in Lawrence County. EPA knew of the possibility that PFCs contaminated the sludge because of tests 3M performed beginning in 1979. EPA did not realize until 2008, that Decatur Utilities was putting the tainted biosolids on farmland. Daikin America notified EPA in 2008 it had inadvertently discharged large amounts of the chemicals into Decatur’s wastewater treatment plant. EPA later discovered that Decatur was using Synagro South to distribute the biosolids on farms. Decatur discontinued the practice in November 2008, after EPA shared test results showing high PFC levels in the sludge-treated soil.
PFCs are a family of fluorine-containing chemicals with unique properties to make materials stain and stick resistant. There are many forms of PFCs, but the two getting attention recently are: PFOA or perfluorooctanoic acid, used to make Teflon products. PFOS or perfluorooctane sulfonate, a breakdown product of chemicals formerly used to make Scotchgard products. EPA officials said they also are planning to release a new health advisory that considers lifetime exposure to the chemicals through drinking water in about one year.
EPA Commends Corporate Leaders for Major Greenhouse Gas Reductions [+]
EPA announced on December 2 that it is recognizing eight companies for achieving significant goals to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the agency’s Climate Leaders program. Twenty-seven companies are also being commended for announcing aggressive GHG reduction goals. Combined, the Climate Leaders companies are reducing greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 50 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents per year. Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc., Bank of America Corp., Coors Brewing Company, Eastman Kodak Company, First Environment, Inc., Gap Inc., Roche Group U.S., and Shaklee Corp. have achieved long-term GHG reduction goals, and three of these companies have also made new commitments to further reduce their emissions.
As the country’s largest GHG goal-setting program, Climate Leaders is an EPA industry-government partnership that works with companies to develop comprehensive climate change strategies. Launched in 2002, the program has expanded from 11 charter members to over 275 participants, which together represent more than eight percent of total annual U.S. GHG emissions. Program partners represent a broad range of industry sectors with a combined annual revenue equal to 12 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product. The Climate Leaders Small Business Network was recently launched to deliver GHG management assistance to organizations with fewer emissions.
Energy Information Administration Report Indicates Weakened Economy Contributed to Decline in Greenhouse Gas Emissions [+]
According to a December 3 Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 2008 report issued by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), a weakened U.S. economy contributed to a 2.2 percent decline in greenhouse gas emissions from the energy and industrial sectors from 2007 to 2008. The emissions drop from 7.2 billion metric tons in 2007 to about 7 billion metric tons was largely the result of a 177.8 million metric ton decrease in carbon dioxide emissions, the most prominent greenhouse gas. The report indicated that higher energy prices led to a drop in petroleum consumption, particularly during the summer driving season and reduced economic activity resulted in lower demand for electricity, thus lower carbon emissions, and other forms of energy in all economic sectors except the commercial sector.
EIA figures indicated that the U.S. economy grew by only 0.4 percent in 2008, substantially below the 2.1 percent gain logged in 2007. The decline followed a rise in emissions of 1.4 percent or 102.7 million metric tons from 2006 to 2007, primarily in carbon dioxide emissions. The electric power sector is the largest source of carbon dioxide, accounting for 40.6 percent of all such energy-related emissions, the report said. Transportation is the second largest at 33.1 percent of the total. The report stated that while U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions are projected to increase by an average of 0.2 percent per year from 2006 to 2030, the country's share of global emissions is expected to fall from 20 percent to 15.4 percent, or 6.2 billion metric tons out of a total 40.1 billion metric tons. Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions account for 98 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.
Public Forums Scheduled on Draft Strategy for Restoring the Chesapeake Bay [+]
A series of public forums will be held throughout December on the recently released draft strategy for restoring the Chesapeake Bay, a document required by a Presidential Executive Order issued in May 2009. The public forums will feature officials from multiple federal agencies including EPA, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Comments may be submitted online by clicking on “provide comments.” The public comment period runs through January 8, 2010. The draft strategy, also available on the website, will evolve through public comments, state consultations and agency revisions before the final strategy is published in May 2010.
These draft reports were integrated into a draft strategy that was released on November 9. The draft strategy contains a package of federal initiatives to restore clean water, conserve treasured places, protect fish and wildlife, and adapt to the impacts of climate change. These objectives will be accomplished by empowering local efforts, making decisions based on science and forging a new era of federal leadership and accountability. Close collaboration of efforts with the six states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the District of Columbia is also critical. The seven reports that support the draft strategy have been revised since September and provide many of the specific details for the federal initiatives that appear in the draft strategy. Comments on these reports will be accepted via that website and will be used as supplemental input for revisions to the draft strategy.
American Rivers Webcast: Funding Green Infrastructure and Water Efficiency in the Chesapeake Bay - Results from the Stimulus and New Opportunities [+]
American Rivers is sponsoring a free webcast on December 15th from 2:30 - 3:30 pm EST to discuss how states in the Chesapeake Bay region have used their required (20%) portion of water infrastructure funding from the stimulus for green infrastructure and water efficiency. Example projects will be highlighted as well as some of the barriers that were discovered. In addition, there will be discussion about the continued opportunity to fund a variety of smart stormwater and water efficiency projects in your community via the State Revolving Fund. The new federal budget again requires that states spend 20% of their money on these smart investments, providing almost $700 million for green infrastructure and water and energy efficiency nationwide. To join the Web Conference and use Entry Code: 5828.
Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it's not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won't. it's whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.
- President Barack Obama
This Week in Washingtonis provided by the Water Environment Federation, Alexandria, VA and is available on-line. To receive by e-mail, please contact the Editor -Sam Hadeed - at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 703.684.2418 with questions.
WERF Offers Free Biosolids Research Reports [+]
On July 1, 2009, the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) began an open access policy for research reports which are more than two years old. WERF is offering a host of free Research on the Treatment and Management of Residuals and Biosolids reports from its archives. These open access reports are free to the public as downloads and are marked in blue in the chart .
- Almost a third of WERF’s research projects have focused on the treatment and management of residuals and biosolids.
- This research is valued at over $20 million. Two of the six programs in WERF’s new program-directed research process launched in 2005 will continue work in this area – they include Solids Treatment, Residuals & Reuse and Wastewater Treatment & Reuse.
- Key subscriber challenges are related to residuals and biosolids, including the Operations Optimization research programs, and Biosolids Pathogen Risk and Communication.
- The biosolids TCR (Targeted Collaborative Research) program was set up by WERF to fund research on key biosolids-related issues identified in the 2003 WERF-EPA Biosolids Research Summit and by the TCR funding partners. Biosolids TCR funding partners include 12 WERF subscribers; each contributed between $5,000 to $50,000 per year for five years. To date, 55 projects have been completed and about 15 are ongoing.
November 20, 2009
House Committee Sends Letters to States Rated Best and Worst in Investing Clean Water Stimulus Funds
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) sent letters on November 17 to the states rated best and worst at investing clean water state revolving fund money provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Recovery Act (Pub. L. No 111–5) requires that clean water projects financed by the statute be under construction or under contract by February 17, 2010. The governors of the states that had the lowest investment rates as of September 30 received letters stating that their states were falling far behind others in putting to work their wastewater infrastructure funds. Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Utah, and the District of Columbia all received letters for their poor performance, putting zero projects out to bid. Minnesota, Colorado, and Arizona, which led the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's rankings, received letters praising their performance. Minnesota has 96.5 percent of its allocated funds in projects under way, Colorado has 90.2 percent in projects under way, and Arizona has 83.8 percent in projects under way, plus an additional 5 percent in projects under contract. The Recovery Act provided the clean water state revolving funds with nearly $4 billion to help states finance high-priority clean water infrastructure projects. To date, EPA has awarded more than $3.9 billion to all state revolving funds. About $800 million of these funds are under contract.
· Table ranking state use of Recovery Act funding for clean water infrastructure
· Clean Water SRF: ARRA Reporting Summary Project List (November 15, 2009)
EPA Exempts Grants from Cross-Media Electronic Reporting Rule [+]
EPA announced in the November 17 Federal Register that it is exempting local government and other entities that file electronically for EPA grants and other financial assistance from its Cross-Media Electronic Reporting Rule standards after discovering the rule unintentionally applied to some forms of that aid. The exemption will exempt applicants for, and recipients of grants, cooperative agreements and other forms of financial assistance pursuant to EPA financial assistance regulations from the standards. The rule provides a legal framework for electronic reporting under all EPA environmental regulations. It does not require electronic reporting, but it sets criteria for system functions, such as electronic signature validation, for those entities that choose to report electronically. The financial assistance exemption will affect governments, nonprofit organizations, international organizations, commercial firms, individuals, and other entities eligible for EPA financial assistance that submit the information electronically. Electronic reporting includes documents submitted by fax, diskette, compact disc, digital video disc, or tape.
EPA Launches Web Site to Provide Tools to Cut Energy Costs and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Homes [+]
EPA announced on November 16 the launch of a new Green Homes Web site to help people make their homes greener with tips on reducing energy consumption, carbon footprints, waste generation and water usage, as well as improving indoor air quality. The latest federal survey of American housing (2007) reported 128 million housing units across the U.S., accounting for nearly 54 percent of national energy use and nearly 31 percent of all U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, the most common greenhouse gas contributing to climate change.
Many green building practices and technologies have yet to make a dent in the existing residential market, in part because it is hard for people to find clear, consolidated, readily accessible, and credible information. The Green Homes Web site addresses that need by providing guidance on approaches to greening each room of the home as well as the surrounding yard. Information also is available on building new homes and finding an energy efficient mortgage, which takes into account the savings derived from energy efficient homes to enable the applicant to qualify for better terms. Renters will find information to help them identify a green property before moving in and tips for working with their landlord to add green features to an existing property. Users can also find references, such as a list of common green home terms, and links to dozens of EPA Web sites with more specific information on a wide variety of green home topics.
WEF Webcast - Microconstituents in Biosolids: Presence, Gaps, and a Glimpse into the Future [+]
WEF will hold a December 16 Webcast from 2:00 – 3:30 pm EST - Microconstituents in Biosolids: Presence, Gaps, and a Glimpse into the Future. This webcast will offer a snapshot of what is currently known about the presence of microconstituents in biosolids, what the key information gaps are in determining what detection really means, and what needs to be considered regarding biosolids when planning for a sustainable future. The latter goal will be achieved through a thought-provoking presentation on biosolids sustainable practices. Presentations will also include a discussion of the results of the U.S. EPA Targeted National Sewage Sludge Survey (TNSSS) Report. Additionally, related portions from a State of the Science Report being developed by the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) will be presented, explaining what is known regarding potential effects associated with microconstituents in biosolids, and what gaps in key information need to be filled to perform hazard assessments.
Moderator and speakers will include:
· Moderator:Tom Granato, PhD - Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, Cicero, IL
· Bill Toffey – Effluential Synergies, LLC
· Rick Stevens – U.S. EPA
· George O’Connor, PhD - University of Florida
· Open Q&A
Registration Information:Registration Form; Online Registration Webcast registrants can earn 1.5 Professional Development Hours (PDHs) by using WEF’s new online 3-step process emailed to Registrants in advance of the webcast. Registration deadline is December 14, 2009.
WEF Water Blog - Biosolids Recycling Works for DC Water and Sewer Authority [+]
A water blog prepared by Chris Peot, Biosolids Manager, District of Columbia Water & Sewer Authority (DC WASA) was posted on the WEF web page on November 16 and will appear for two weeks. The water blog topic - Biosolids Recycling Works for Us- describes DC WASAs land application program and discusses some of the misperceptions about the practice and inaccuracies that have appeared in the media. DC WASA has been a National Biosolids Partnership (NBP) environmental management (EMS) certified agency since September 2004.
EPA Accepting Applications for Environmental Education Grant Funding [+]
EPA announced on November 19 that it is accepting grant applications for a total of $3.4 million in funding for environmental education projects and programs. EPA expects to award approximately 100grants ranging from $5,000 to $200,000 and will accept applications until December 15, 2009. The purpose of the Environmental Education Grant Program is to promote environmental stewardship and help develop knowledgeable and responsible students, teachers and citizens. The grants provide financial support for innovative projects that design, demonstrate, or disseminate environmental education practices, methods, or techniques. Projects should involve environmental education activities that go beyond disseminating information.
The Environmental Education Grant Program provides funding to local education agencies, state education or environmental agencies, colleges or universities, not-for-profit organizations, or noncommercial educational broadcasting entities. Tribal education agencies, which are controlled by an Indian tribe, band or nation, may also apply, including a school or community college. Since the program began, EPA has provided more than $45million in funding to more than 3,000agencies and organizations.
The grass is not, in fact, always greener on the other side of the fence. Fences have nothing to do with it. The grass is greenest where it is watered. When crossing over fences, carry water with you and tend the grass wherever you may be.
- Robert Fulghum(1937 - ), It Was on Fire When I Lay Down on It
Note: TWIW will not be published on November 27 in observance of the Thanksgiving Day holiday.
This Week in Washingtonis provided by the Water Environment Federation, Alexandria, VA and is available on-line. To receive by e-mail, please contact the Editor -Sam Hadeed - at email@example.com or call 703.684.2418 with questions.
November 19 was World Toilet Day. To help raise awareness for the 2.5 billion people who don't have access to sanitation, thousands of people over the world squatted for one minute. Squatting is actually a very healthy bathroom stance, but it's also a symbol of the problems in the developing world, where a lack of sanitation forces people to squat in fields, on train tracks, or in other open places. Open defecation is one of the worst problems facing the developing world. With open defecation, people accidentally create breeding grounds for disease. Lack of toilets causes some of the world’s most destructive diseases. Pneumonia and diarrhea, two sanitation-related illnesses, are the leading killers of children in the world today by a landslide. It is estimated that some 1.8 million people die from fecally-transmitted diseases every year.
November 13, 2009
House Passes Chemical and Water Security Act of 2009
The House of Representatives approved legislation on November 6 that would expand the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) authority to regulate chemical facilities and add security coverage for drinking water and wastewater treatment plants under EPA's authority. The 230-193 vote on the Chemical and Water Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2868) followed the defeat of several amendments intended to weaken the measure. They included amendments that would have eliminated the inherently safer technology (IST) provision, deleted the citizen lawsuit provision, and barred states from passing stricter legislation. Under H.R. 2868, facilities that handle chemicals would have to take action to reduce the consequences of a terrorist attack, such as using different chemicals or changing to safer processes for their operations. Under this provision, facilities would have to assess feasible alternative processes or chemicals that could limit the consequences of a terrorist attack.
The House approved five amendments by voice vote. One, offered by Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), would establish a point of contact within the DHS Office of Chemical Facility Security responsible for interagency coordination. Another amendment, offered by Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), would require DHS to conduct a study on the scope and potential impacts of provisions that require inherently safer technology on manufacturers or retailers of pesticide or fertilizer. An amendment offered by Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-Ill.) would permit DHS to provide guidance, tools, or software to small chemical facilities to help them comply with security requirements. Current chemical facility antiterrorism standards, which do not include drinking water or wastewater treatment facilities, are scheduled to expire in October 2010. H.R. 2868 also would involve plant employees in the development of security plans and would provide protections for whistleblowers.
Title I of the bill, which addresses chemical facilities, would authorize $900 million for the DHS chemical facility antiterrorism standard program from 2011 through 2013. Title II, which addresses drinking water, would require EPA to establish risk-based performance standards for community water systems serving more than 3,300 people. Title II would authorize $315 million during this period. Title III would authorize $1 billion over five years in federal grants for publicly owned treatment works to conduct security vulnerability assessments, develop site security plans, and implement security enhancements. The Senate has not yet taken up a version of the legislation.
WERF 5th Annual Research Forum [+]
Registration is open for the Water Environment Research Foundation’s (WERF) 5th Annual Research Forum, where you’ll get the latest on wastewater, stormwater, and water quality research. The Forum will be held on Tuesday, December 8, from 12:30–5:30 p.m., EST. The event is FREE to WERF subscribers and available at a small cost for non-subscribers. From climate change, alternative energy production, and trace organics, to the ongoing challenges in nutrient removal, asset management, and pathogen detection, this year's Forum covers the issues that matter most to you, your clients, and your constituents. With the new virtual format, it's easy to join in. Use online audio, video, and chat tools to participate.
To help get the most of this half-day event, WERF is offering presentations on dual tracks – Operations & Technology and Water Quality – to facilitate moving easily from one event to another. The program starts with a welcome and keynote address. Participants can then choose among seven sessions in which to participate. All sessions will be available for download for 30 days following the event. There is a live question and answer component to each session. WERF will end the meeting with a special subscriber-only session to explore needs for future research. Throughout the afternoon, participants can visit the Exhibition Hall and interact in real time with company/booth sponsors and chat live with other attendees, speakers, and WERF researchers in the Networking Lounge. At any time, registrants can go to the Resource Center to download presentations and other pertinent materials, made available exclusively for Forum participants.
Featured topics include:
- Trace organics in wastewater and solids
- Climate change and energy efficiency
- Sustainable wastewater treatment
- Green infrastructure
- Nitrogen greenhouse gas emissions from plant operations
- Nutrient removal
- Strategic risk communications
- Mercury bioavailability
- Peak wet weather flow management
- Future of wastewater treatment
Senate Subcommittee Hears Testimony on Chesapeake Bay and Gulf of Mexico Cleanup [+]
The Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife held a November 9 hearing on pending legislation, which authorizes programs to clean up the Chesapeake Bay (S. 1816) and the Gulf of Mexico (S. 1311). J. Charles Fox, special assistant to the EPA administrator in charge of the Chesapeake Bay Program, testified while the program has a 26-year history, the program won’t be successful without new tools at our disposal and concluded that the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem remains severely degraded. The administration released its draft strategy in the November 9 Federal Register for protecting and restoring the Chesapeake Bay in response to President Obama's May 12, 2009 executive order 13508 on restoration of the bay. The Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration Act (S. 1816), sponsored by subcommittee chairman Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), would give the six states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed unprecedented resources and responsibilities. Cardin said indicated that there is no timeline for moving the bills.
S. 1816 would require the governors of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the mayor of the District of Columbia to propose watershed improvement plans specifying protective strategies they will implement and how these would move toward having the bay restored by a 2025 deadline. The bill also would give EPA authority, for the first time, to penalize states that fail to propose measures to reduce pollution in the watershed. Under S. 1816, EPA could block all Clean Water Act funding for bay states that fail to propose cleanup plans to the EPA administrator. The proposed sanction is essentially the same as the Clean Air Act sanction for states that fail to propose plans for bringing areas with air quality violations into compliance. According to Cardin, the legislation would authorize $1.5 billion in grants to control increasing levels of urban and suburban stormwater runoff and would help farmers and foresters access farm bill funds so they can implement conservation practices to improve water quality.
The Gulf of Mexico Restoration and Protection Act (S. 1311), introduced in June, would expand and strengthen cooperative efforts to monitor, restore, and protect the resource productivity, water quality, and marine ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico. It would reestablish the Gulf of Mexico program office as an EPA office to be headed by a director. S.1311 would require the office to coordinate the actions of EPA and other federal agencies and state and local authorities; assist in developing specific plans to carry out the program; coordinate and implement priority state- and community-led restoration plans and projects, and facilitate activities that support the program. Bryan Griffith, director of the Gulf of Mexico program in EPA Region 4, told the subcommittee the agency strongly supports S. 1311.
EPA Approves Additional Tests for Drinking Water Contaminants [+]
EPA announced in the November 10 Federal Register that has approved 25 additional testing methods for measuring the levels of contaminants in drinking water and determining compliance with national primary drinking water regulations. Regulated parties required to sample and monitor may use either the testing methods already established in existing regulations or the additional testing methods in the final rule. The additional tests include EPA Method 334.0, “Determination of Residual Chlorine in Drinking Water Using an On-line Chlorine Analyzer,” to establish quality control criteria for online chlorine analyzers. They also include EPA Method 302.0, “Determination of Bromate in Drinking Waters using Two-Dimensional Ion Chromatography with Suppressed Conductivity Detection,” a large-volume, two-dimensional ion chromatography method that uses suppressed conductivity detection for the determination of bromate in raw and finished drinking waters.
EPA Study Reveals Widespread Contamination of Fish in U.S. Lakes and Reservoirs [+]
A new EPA fish study released on November 10 shows concentrations of toxic chemicals in fish tissue from lakes and reservoirs in nearly all 50 U.S. states. For the first time, EPA is able to estimate the percentage of lakes and reservoirs nationwide that have fish containing potentially harmful levels of chemicals such as mercury and PCBs. The data showed mercury concentrations in game fish exceeding EPA’s recommended levels at 49 percent of lakes and reservoirs nationwide, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in game fish at levels of potential concern at 17 percent of lakes and reservoirs. These findings are based on a comprehensive national study using more data on levels of contamination in fish tissue than any previous study.
Burning fossil fuels, primarily coal, accounts for nearly half of mercury air emissions caused by human activity in the U.S., and those emissions are a significant contributor to mercury in water bodies. From 1990 through 2005, emissions of mercury into the air decreased by 58 percent. The study also confirms the widespread occurrence of PCBs and dioxins in fish, illustrating the need for federal, state and local government to continue efforts to reduce the presence of these harmful chemicals in our lakes and reservoirs and ensure that fish advisory information is readily available.
Results from the four-year National Study of Chemical Residues in Lake Fish Tissue show that mercury and PCBs are widely distributed in U.S. lakes and reservoirs. Mercury and PCBs were detected in all of the fish samples collected from the nationally representative sample of 500 lakes and reservoirs in the study. Because these findings apply to fish caught in lakes and reservoirs, it is particularly important for recreational and subsistence fishers to follow their state and local fish advisories. EPA is conducting other statistically based national aquatic surveys that include assessment of fish contamination, such as the National Rivers and Streams Assessment and the National Coastal Assessment. Sampling for the National Rivers and Streams Assessment is underway, and results from this two-year study are expected to be available in 2011. Collection of fish samples for the National Coastal Assessment will begin in 2010.
EPA Providing International Clean Energy Production and Greenhouse Gas Reductions Grant Funding [+]
EPA announced on November 12 that it is supporting the international Methane to Markets Partnership (M2M) by funding 21 new projects that will help 11 countries capture and use methane emissions from landfill, coal, agriculture, oil and natural gas operations. Methane, the primary component of natural gas, traps over 20 times more heat than carbon dioxide, making it a significant contributor to climate change. The Methane to Markets Partnership is a public-private partnership that reduces greenhouse gas emissions by promoting the cost-effective, near-term recovery and use of methane, while providing clean energy to markets around the world. The M2M Partnership has grown to include 31 partner governments and more than 900 private sector entities, financial institutions, non-governmental agencies and other organizations.
Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Colombia, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland, and Russia are receiving grants ranging from $20,000 to $700,000. These projects, totaling nearly $3.3 million, will stimulate clean energy production while achieving greenhouse gas emissions reductions. They will support a wide variety of activities, including development of databases on potential project sites, feasibility studies, and technology transfer. In Bulgaria, for example, EPA will fund (1) a resource assessment of several landfills; (2) the development of business plans for each one; and (3) implementation of a pilot methane capture and use project at the most promising landfill. Since the launch of the partnership in 2004, EPA has provided almost $13 million for nearly 70 grants to build capacity and promote international capture and use of methane. This work will be highlighted in 2010 when EPA, the Government of India and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry host the 2nd Methane to Markets Partnership Expo on March 2-5, 2010 in Delhi, India. The expo will bring together approximately 1,000 partners and methane experts from around the world to showcase project opportunities and technologies related to the capture and use of methane.
EPA Plans Power Plant Survey for Revision of Wastewater Discharge Rule [+]
EPA announced in the October 29 Federal Register that it is planning to survey 760 steam-driven electric power plants out of a U.S. total of about 1,200 to help in developing a proposed rule that would revise standards for wastewater discharges from power plants. Each plant would get the first portion of the questionnaire, but a supplemental portion would seek specific information, and no plant would be required to complete the entire questionnaire. The sample will be taken from plants powered by coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear reactors that the agency has identified as potentially within the scope of the information collection request. The cost of the proposed information collection is estimated at $8.17 million.
According to EPA, current regulations, which were last updated in 1982, do not adequately address the pollutants being discharged and have not kept pace with changes that have occurred in the electric power industry over the last three decades. A review of wastewater discharges from power plants, and the treatment technologies available to reduce pollutant discharges, has indicated a need to update current effluent guidelines. Studies have shown that pollutants present in discharges from coal-fired power plants can affect aquatic organisms and wildlife, resulting in lasting environmental impacts on local habitats and ecosystems. EPA said the information collection will help it characterize waste streams, understand the processes that generate the wastes, gather environmental data, and assess the availability and affordability of treatment technologies. On September, EPA published a notice that it plans to revise its 26-year-old standards for wastewater discharges from steam-electric power generating plants to reduce pollution and better protect the nation's waterways. A proposed rulemaking is planned for mid-2012. More information on wastewater discharges from power plants.
Water Advocates Ad Calls Attention to Diseases Caused by Inadequate Water, Sanitation and Hygiene [+]
Water Advocates placed a full page ad in the November 10 New York Times Ad to call attention to the global issue of diseases caused by inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene and highlights that the problem is solvable today. Water Advocates is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization dedicated solely to increasing American support for worldwide access to safe, affordable and sustainable supplies of drinking water and adequate sanitation. Their purpose is advocacy, not implementation of projects and works with all sectors of American society to increase public and private-citizen funding for effective water, sanitation and hygiene projects and initiatives internationally, particularly those characterized by strong community involvement.
According to Water Advocates, more than 1.1 billion people lack access to safe water and 2.6 billion people lack even basic sanitary facilities. Diseases caused by unsafe drinking water and inadequate sanitation remain humanity’s most serious public health threat, causing 80% of the sicknesses in developing countries and annually killing between 2 and 5 million people, mainly young children. Lack of water and sanitation undermines the sustainability of other critical needs, including education, economic development, nutrition, environmental health and gender equality.
Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Executive Subcommittee Teleconference [+]
The Great Lakes Regional Collaboration (GLRC) Executive Subcommittee wishes to invite interested parties to its next Public Call on Tuesday, November 17, 2009 by teleconference from 3:00 - 4:30 pm Eastern Standard Time. The Public Call agenda topics include: Great Lakes Restoration Initiative update, Status of the GLRC Joint Initiatives, National Ocean Policy Task Force hearing in Cleveland on October 29, 2009, Asian Carp Barrier update, Coast Guard update on Ballast Water Standards, Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement negotiations, and Stakeholder Updates/News to Share. Call-In number: 1-866-299-3188; Conference Code: 6060409. GLRC Website
You may remember the stories of a grandfather who marched across Europe; an uncle who fought in Vietnam; a sister who served in the Gulf. But as we honor the many generations who have served, I think all of us - every single American - must acknowledge that this generation has more than proved itself the equal of those who have come before. We need not look to the past for greatness, because it is before our very eyes. This generation of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen have volunteered in a time of certain danger. They are part of the finest fighting force that the world has ever known.
- President Barak Obama, Speaking at the Fort Hood, TX Memorial ceremony on November 10, 2009
This Week in Washingtonis provided by the Water Environment Federation, Alexandria, VA. To receive by email, please contact the Editor -Sam Hadeed - at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 703.684.2418 with questions.
November 06, 2009
EPA Lays Out Expectations for Chesapeake Bay States and D.C. to Reduce Water Pollution
EPA announced on November 4 that it has provided the six states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed (Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia) and the District of Columbia with rigorous expectations for jurisdictions to reduce pollution in streams, rivers and the Bay to meet water quality standards under a new accountability framework mandated by President Obama’s Executive Order on Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration. The expectations also are a component of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), which will set pollution limits for point sources and nonpoint sources contributing nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment to the Bay and its tidal creeks, rivers and embayments. EPA expects the six watershed states and D.C. to identify how they will reduce pollutant loads to levels necessary to meet water quality standards. EPA expects detailed schedules for implementing cleanup actions and achieving pollution reductions. Progress will be measured through benchmarks every two years, and EPA may impose federal consequences that will be identified later this fall for inadequate plans or failure to meet the performance milestones. Consequences may include assigning more stringent pollution reduction requirements to point sources, objecting to state-issued National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits, prohibiting new or expanded pollution discharges, and withholding or reallocating federal grants.
By 2011, EPA expects the six states and D.C. to divide their allocated pollution reductions to the local level so that counties, municipalities, conservation districts and watershed organizations understand their role in meeting water quality goals. EPA expects that by 2017 pollution controls will be in place that should result in approximately 60 percent of the required reductions. States and D.C. must also offset any increased loads from population growth and land use changes anticipated in the coming decades.
Lowering pollution loading to the Bay to the preliminary target loads of 200 million pounds of nitrogen and 15 million pounds of phosphorus per year is expected to meet the states and D.C’s Bay water quality standards for dissolved oxygen, a key indicator of aquatic ecosystem health. These limits are higher than the last set of goals: 175 million pounds of nitrogen and 12.7 million pounds of phosphorus. According to government data, in 2008, the bay absorbed 283 million pounds of nitrogen and 16.3 million pounds of phosphorus. These preliminary target loads for pollution may be revised several times before the Bay TMDL is finalized due to further scientific and technical analysis; additional deliberation among the states, D.C. and EPA; and input from the public. EPA expects to establish the final Chesapeake Bay TMDL by December 31, 2010. EPA officials are currently discussing the TMDL at a series of 15 public meetings around the watershed that run from November 4 to December 17.
EPA Concerned Over States Ability to Meet February Water Infrastructure Stimulus Funding Deadline [+]
EPA Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water Deputy Director Nanci Gelb told the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment on November 4 that the Agency is concerned over the ability of some states to meet the February 17, 2010 deadline for using federal stimulus funds for water infrastructure projects under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Pub. L. No. 111-5). Gelb told the subcommittee she has made numerous phone calls during the past month to governors' offices that appear to be facing challenges such as the Act’s Buy American and Green Infrastructure provisions. The Buy American provision requires that, with limited exceptions, and consistent with U.S. international obligations, funded projects use only iron, steel, and manufactured goods produced in the U.S. EPA revised the conditions under which it will grant a waiver of the “Buy American” provision for water infrastructure projects in the August 10 Federal Register.
The Recovery Act provided the clean water state revolving funds with $4 billion to help states finance high-priority clean water infrastructure projects. Gelb stated that EPA has awarded more than $3.9 billion to all the state clean water state revolving funds with about $800 million of these funds under contract, an increase of 20 percent in one month. The committee reported for the first time a state-by-state ranking of wastewater infrastructure investments under the clean water revolving fund. According to data released by the committee, 873 clean water revolving fund projects in 43 states have been put out to bid, totaling $1.8 billion. This represents 48 percent of the total available formula funds for wastewater infrastructure. The committee said 530 clean water state revolving fund projects in 40 states are under contract, totaling $1.1 billion. This represents 30 percent of the total available formula funds.
House Set to Vote On Chemical and Water Security Act of 2009 [+]
The House of Representatives began debate November 5 on legislation that would expand the Department of Homeland Security's authority to regulate security at chemical-handling facilities and would authorize EPA to regulate chemical security at wastewater and drinking water plants. The House is expected vote on the Chemical and Water Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2868) on November 6 following consideration of several amendments. Water facilities are exempt under current interim rules enforced by DHS that are set to expire in October 2010, and current rules contain no requirements that chemical-handling facilities consider or adopt less risky alternatives for their operations, such as switching to safer chemicals. The legislation would require facilities that handle chemicals to implement methods to reduce the consequences of a terrorist attack, such as using different chemicals or changing to safer processes for their operations.
Floor debate on November 5 focused on the inherently safer technology (IST) provision in the bill, which was also the focus during congressional hearings and markups. Congressional Democratic committee leaders voiced strong support for the provision, while Republican committee leaders, who oppose the bill, said it would raise costs and kill jobs. The bill would strengthen chemical facility antiterrorism standards, incorporate best practices, add citizen enforcement rights and whistleblower protection, and include provisions for employee training. If passed, the bill’s IST provision would only apply to the riskiest facilities, estimated at 100-200 facilities out of a total of 6,000 regulated chemical facilities. EPA would have the authority to establish a parallel security program for wastewater and drinking water treatment plants. These facilities would also have to assess whether they can switch to safer chemicals or processes, but only if it is economically and technologically feasible and would not affect water quality.
H.R. 2868 includes three titles. The first title would require facilities that handle chemicals to implement methods to reduce the consequences of a terrorist attack, such as using different chemicals or changing to safer processes for their operations. It would clarify that chemical facility antiterrorism standards represent a floor, not a ceiling, for regulations and that states and localities may enact more stringent rules. Title II and Title III of the legislation would require EPA to establish risk-based performance standards for drinking water and wastewater treatment plants. These titles also include provisions for inherently safer technology.
Supreme Court Petitioned to Restore Pesticide Exemption From Discharge Permits [+]
Ten farm and pesticide industry groups on November 2 petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to restore an exemption for certain pesticide applications from a requirement to obtain Clean Water Act discharge permits (American Farm Bureau Federation v. Baykeeper, U.S., No. 09-547, 11/2/09; CropLife America v. Baykeeper, U.S., No. 09-533, 11/2/09). The court is being asked to determine whether under the Clean Water Act, application of a pesticide for its intended purpose in accordance with federal pesticide regulation amounts to a discharge of a pollutant sufficient to require a permit. In one petition, the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Forest & Paper Association, and National Cotton Council asked the Supreme Court to reverse a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which became final when a request for rehearing was denied by the circuit court in August (National Cotton Council of America v. EPA, 553 F.3d 927, 68 ERC 1129 (6th Cir. 2009. A second, similar petition was filed by the Agribusiness Association of Iowa, BASF Corp., CropLife America, FMC Corp., Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment, the Southern Crop Production Association, and Syngenta Crop Protection.
The 10 groups argued that the Sixth Circuit ruling overturns three decades of custom and practice at EPA and will greatly increase the size of the national permit program for water pollution discharges. At issue in the two petitions is the validity of a January 7 opinion that vacated a 2006 EPA rule exempting certain applications of pesticides from the requirement for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits, after an environmental coalition sued to remove the exemption. The January 7 opinion was followed by a June 8 decision to stay the permit ruling until April 9, 2011. Further, on August 3, the Sixth Circuit denied a request for rehearing of the ruling by the Sixth Circuit as a whole. The Sixth Circuit held that the Clean Water Act bars the EPA interpretation of the statute embodied in its rule.
Senate Environment Committee Clears Bill To Cap Greenhouse Gas Emissions [+]
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on November 5 approved climate change legislation - Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S. 1733) without debating amendments by a vote of 11-1 in a move to bypass a Republican boycott of the committee markup. All seven Republican members of the committee were absent from the vote declaring that they needed more information from EPA on the impacts of the bill on the U.S. economy. Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) casted the lone vote against the measure over his concern that the legislation's target to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels is too aggressive and would disproportionately hurt Western states such as Montana as well as Southern and Rust Belt states that largely rely on coal-fired power plants for electricity. The House passed in June a similar climate bill (H.R. 2454) that included a 17 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
EPA Issues Final Rule on Greenhouse Gas Monitoring [+]
EPA announced in the October 30 Federal Register the final greenhouse gas reporting rule. The rule imposes monitoring requirements beginning January 1, 2010, and reporting by regulated facilities and other entities by March 31, 2011. The final rule applies to emissions from municipal solid waste landfills, among many other sources and requires reports from fossil fuel suppliers and industrial gas suppliers, direct greenhouse gas emitters and manufacturers of heavy-duty and off-road vehicles and engines. The rule does not establish federal controls over greenhouse gases (GHGs); it only requires that sources emitting GHGs above certain threshold levels monitor and report their annual emissions. Wastewater treatment facilities are not required to meet the monitoring requirements. The final rule is effective on December 29, 2009.
All municipal solid waste landfills that accepted solid wastes on or after January 1, 1980 (subpart HH of the rule), must report their emissions yearly. Landfill gases covered by the reporting requirement are carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. EPA is requiring reporting of GHG emissions by specified categories that release 25,000 metric tons or more of carbon dioxide (MTCO2) annually. The rule also requires emissions reporting from suppliers of fuels and industrial gases, as well as mobile source (vehicle) manufacturers. GHGs governed by the rule include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulfur hexafluoride, and other fluorinated compounds.
EPA also will allow the use of best available monitoring methods for the first quarter of 2010, rather than the required monitoring methods. Regulated facilities needing more time to install monitoring equipment can request an extension beyond March 2010, but not beyond 2010. EPA has also modified monitoring options, changed monitoring locations and allowed use of calculations rather than monitoring to lessen the monitoring burden.
Five EPA Regional Office Administrators Announced [+]
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced on November 5 President Obama's selections for administrators of the agency's offices in regions 1, 2, 3, 6, and 9.
- Region 1:H. Curtis Spalding, the longtime director for nearly 20 years of Rhode Island's largest environmental advocacy group, Save the Bay.
- Region 2;Judith Enck, a veteran New York state official and environmental advocate, has served since 2007 as deputy secretary to the governor of New York for the environment, after eight years as a policy adviser to then-New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (D).
- Region 3:Shawn Garvin will head the Region 3 office, based in Philadelphia. The region comprises Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
- Region 6:Alfredo Armendariz, a professor at Southern Methodist University, teaches environmental and civil engineering at SMU, has been active in research, and has published several research papers over the past 15 years.
- Region 9:Jared Blumenfeld, director of San Francisco's Department of Environment for the past eight years, has been named as administrator of the Region 9 office.
EPA Soliciting Applications for Environmental Justice Grant Funding [+]
EPA announced on November 4 that it is accepting grant applications for a total of $1 million in funding for projects aimed at addressing environmental and public health issues in communities. EPA expects to award approximately 40 grants of up to $25,000 each and will accept applications until January 8, 2010. Local governments and non-profit organizations are eligible to apply. The goals of the Environmental Justice Grant Funding Program are to help communities understand and address environmental challenges and create self-sustaining, community-based partnerships focused on improving human health and the environment. Past projects have focused on issues including exposure to toxins, farm worker pesticide protection, mercury in fish, indoor air quality, drinking water contamination, and pollution from shipping ports.
In addition to the traditional criteria, EPA is encouraging applications that address the disproportionate impacts of climate change in communities by emphasizing climate equity, energy efficiency, renewable energy, local green economy, and green jobs capacity building. Since 1994, EPA has provided more than $32 million in general funding to more than 1,100 community-based organizations.
Ideals are like stars: you will not succeed in touching them with your hands, but like the seafaring man on the ocean desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them, you reach your destiny.
- Carl Schurz (1829 - 1906)
October 30, 2009
House Approves $10.3 Billion FY2010 Spending Bill for EPA; Manure Management and Great Lakes Shipping Receive Emissions Waivers
The House of Representatives approved on October 29 the FY2010 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill (H.R. 2996) that provides EPA with $10.3 billion for fiscal year 2010 (an increase of nearly 36 percent or $2.7 billion) and restricts EPA's ability to implement greenhouse gas rules for certain agricultural operations. The measure is expected to go to the Senate by the end of the week. The conference report, agreed to on October 27 by House and Senate conferees, would fund environmental programs at EPA, the Interior Department, and other agencies at $32.2 billion, a $4.7 billion increase over the fiscal year 2009 enacted level, according to the conference committee summary. If the measure is passed by both houses of Congress, it would extend the current continuing budget resolution from October 31 to December 18. The House passed its version of the Interior appropriations bill June 26, and the Senate passed its version on September 24. 2010 Interior Appropriations Conference Report:
The conference-approved measure would provide $3.6 billion for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects, including $2.1 billion for the clean water state revolving fund and $1.38 billion for the drinking water state revolving fund. These programs provide matching grants (80 percent federal; 20 percent state) to states for capitalizing their own revolving funds for wastewater and drinking water treatment systems. The measure also includes $157 million for direct grants to communities for water infrastructure. There is also $641 M made available for water quality improvement projects in the Great Lakes, San Francisco Bay, Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound. The measure would impose a number of conditions on how the funding could be used.. Builders and contractors would have to pay prevailing wages on infrastructure projects that use federal revolving loan funds, under provisions applying the Davis-Bacon Act to those projects. The measure also would require that a certain share of the funds be devoted to green infrastructure projects and that some allowance for “loan forgiveness” be made for poor communities.
The spending bill would require that at least 20 percent of the clean water and drinking water revolving funds be used by states to address green infrastructure, water or energy efficiency improvements, or other environmentally innovative actions. In addition, the legislation would require that states use at least 30 percent of the drinking water revolving funds and 30 percent of the clean water revolving funds to provide additional subsidies to eligible recipients “in the form of forgiveness of principal, negative interest loans, or grants” to communities that cannot afford to pay back convention loans. This provision only applies to the portion of clean water revolving funds exceeding $1 billion. The provisions for green infrastructure and forgiveness of principal are similar to those included in the $787 billion economic stimulus bill signed into law Feb. 15 (Pub. L. No. 111-5).
The measure includes an exemption for Great Lakes shipping from proposed EPA emissions limits for oceangoing vessels. The conference report also includes a provision that prohibits EPA from requiring mandatory greenhouse gas emissions reporting from manure management systems. The exemption from the reporting requirement is expected to be in effect for a year. In September, EPA released a final rule entities emitting at least 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to report their emissions. EPA estimates the rule will require reporting from about 10,000 facilities that account for about 85 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The language exempting livestock operations from the reporting requirement had been included in the version of the spending bill that passed the House in June.
EPA Requests Comments on Survey for Stormwater Rule [+]
EPA announced on October 29 that it is proposing a survey to help strengthen stormwater regulations and reduce stormwater discharges from newly developed and redeveloped sites. Stormwater discharges can harm water quality through increases in stormwater volume and pollutant loadings into nearby waterways. Generally, as sites are developed, less ground area is available for rain to soak into, which increases stormwater volume. This stormwater flows across roads, rooftops and other surfaces, picking up pollutants that then flow into waterways. The draft survey would require detailed information about stormwater management and control practices, local regulations, and baseline financial information.
EPA plans to propose a rule to control stormwater from newly developed and redeveloped sites and to take final action no later than November 2012. In support of this rulemaking, EPA is proposing to require three different groups to complete questionnaires about current stormwater management practices: 1) the owners, operators, developers, and contractors of newly and redeveloped sites; 2) the owners and operators of municipal separate storm sewer systems; and 3) states and territories. The proposed survey will be open for public comment for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register.
WEF Joins Coalition of Water Organizations in Urging Wastewater Security Legislation Oversight by EPA [+]
WEF and a coalition of organizations representing wastewater treatment works and community water systems across the nation submitted a October 26 letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging that wastewater facility security legislation reaches the House floor in tandem with consideration of the Drinking Water System Security Act(H.R. 3258) and the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act(H.R. 2868). Should H.R. 3258 become part of a comprehensive chemical security measure, the coalition urged similar treatment of wastewater facility security legislation and support for the advancement of an amendment to the Wastewater Treatment Works Security Act(H.R. 2883) consistent with the Administration’s position, offered during an October 1, 2009 hearing of the Energy and Environment subcommittee, that water and wastewater facility security should be overseen by EPA.
The letter voiced concern that without consideration of H.R. 2883, this would lead to separate regulatory regimes for drinking water system and wastewater treatment system security. Numerous local agencies provide both water and wastewater treatment services. The dual regulatory system is counterproductive, entirely without any security benefits, and contrary to the Administration’s declared position. If H.R. 2868 does not reach the House floor in tandem with H.R. 2883, the coalition is urging that wastewater utilities receive an exemption from the bill’s mandates to ensure that both drinking water and wastewater utilities are placed under the same regulatory program.
Office of Inspector General Report Finds EPA Lacks Strategy to Identify CWA Section 404 Violations [+]
According to a October 26 report issued by the EPA’s Inspector General, the Agency should develop and implement a Clean Water Act enforcement strategy to better address wetlands, streams, and other surface waters. The report found that EPA lacks a consistent framework for identifying Section 404 violations, for which it is responsible under a 1989 memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Section 404 regulates the discharge of dredge or fill material into waters of the United States, including wetlands and other surface waters. The report recommended that EPA create a national tracking system for complaints and referrals from the Corps as well as for repeat and flagrant violators, improve coordination with the corps, address barriers to interagency communications, consider leveraging other resources to identify violations, and develop cross-training opportunities with other federal agencies and states. The inspector general also recommended that EPA, in collaboration with the assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, revise the Agency's 1989 memorandum of agreement.
EPA has the lead enforcement role for flagrant or repeat violations involving cases in which the violator has not applied for a valid Section 404 permit through the Corps of Engineers. The report found that due to a limited field presence, an incomplete national data system and sporadic coordination with enforcement partners, both EPA and the Corps identify Section 404 violations through a passive, reactive method of relying on complaints and referrals from external sources, often from citizens. The Inspector General found that the 1989 memorandum of understanding between EPA and the Corps provides only general details on cases that should be referred to EPA, and most EPA regions have not developed a standard referral process with their corresponding corps' districts and better coordination with federal agencies in developing enforcement cases also is needed.
EPA Proposes Rule for Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Title V Greenhouse Gas Tailoring [+]
EPA announced in the October 27 Federal Register that it is proposing a rule to tailor the major source applicability thresholds for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and title V programs of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and to set a PSD significance level for GHG emissions. EPA expects soon to promulgate regulations under the CAA to control GHG emissions and, as a result, trigger PSD and title V applicability requirements for GHG emissions. If PSD and title V requirements apply at the applicability levels provided under the CAA, State permitting authorities would be paralyzed by permit applications in numbers that are orders of magnitude greater than their current administrative resources could accommodate. The first phase, which would last 6 years, would establish a temporary level for the PSD and title V applicability thresholds at 25,000 tons per year (tpy), on a carbon dioxide equivalent basis, and a temporary PSD significance level for GHG emissions of between 10,000 and 25,000 tpy carbon dioxide equivalent basis. EPA would also take other streamlining actions during this time. Within 5 years of the final version of this rule, EPA would conduct a study to assess administrability issues. Then, EPA would conduct another rulemaking, to be completed by the end of the sixth year, that would promulgate, as the second phase, revised applicability and significance level thresholds and other streamlining techniques, as appropriate.
PSD requires new and modified major sources to control emissions of pollutants regulated under the Clean Air Act and to use best available control technology (BACT) to limit these emissions. The major source threshold is 250 tons per year of emissions of a regulated pollutant, in most cases, and in some cases, 100 tons. The PSD tailoring rule would set a major source threshold of 25,000 tons per year of greenhouse gases, measured in carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions. It would apply to carbon dioxide, methane, and four other greenhouse gases and would affect about 400 sources each year. The Title V requirements would apply to about 14,000 sources. Comments must be received on or before December 28, 2009.
EPA Proposes Complete Standards Review For Six Major Ambient Air Quality Pollutants by 2011 [+]
EPA Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Gina McCarthy announced on October 26 that the Agency will complete a review of national ambient air quality standards for all six major air pollutants by the end of 2011. The standards address ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and lead. McCarthy indicated that EPA will coordinate an integrated review of the six pollutants, and not based on individual pollutant assessments. EPA is reevaluating revised air quality standards it set for ozone in 2008 and particulate matter in 2006. The last time either of these standards had been revised was 1997. EPA plans to issue a new ozone standard by August 2010 and a new particulate matter standard by April 2011. EPA also has initiated reviews of the standards for carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. The agency finalized a new standard for lead in 2008.
EPA also plans to issue within the next few months a final determination of its April 17 climate change proposed rule on whether greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks endanger public health and the environment. EPA expects to make a finding before the end of March, when it plans to finalize emissions limits on the vehicles that it proposed on September 15. EPA also is working with a task force of the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee to determine what kind of actions may be required under a proposal being published October 27 to require new and modified sources that emit more than 25,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year to control emissions.
USGS Report Finds U.S. Using Less Water than 35 Years Ago [+]
According to a U.S. Geological Survey report released on October 29, the United States is using less water than during the peak years of 1975 and 1980, according to water use estimates for 2005. Despite a 30 percent population increase during the past 25 years, overall water use has remained fairly stable. The report shows that in 2005 Americans used 410 billion gallons per day, slightly less than in 2000. The declines are attributed to the increased use of more efficient irrigation systems and alternative technologies at power plants. Water withdrawals for public supply have increased steadily since 1950--when USGS began the series of five-year trend reports--along with the population that depends on these supplies.
EPA Updating Database on Health Risks Related to Environmental Chemicals [+]
EPA announced in the October 21 Federal Register that it has begun updating aging assessments of human health risks from chemicals in the environment contained in its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). The IRIS update is designed to replace dose-response assessment values posted on the IRIS database that are more than 10 years old with new and relevant scientific information. EPA will annually develop a priority list of chemicals and an agenda of assessments to undergo the IRIS update process. Cancer risk evaluations and other assessments are currently underway for 15 chemicals for the 2009-2010 update. The chemicals are barium, bromoform, carbon disulfide, chlorobenzene, 2-chlorophenol, o-cresol, cumene, 1,1 dichloroethane, 2,4-dimethylphenol, 2,4-dinitrophenol, 2,4-dinitrotoluene, hexachlorobenzene, selenium, 1,1,2-trichloroethane, and 2,4,6-trichlorophenol. IRIS contains human health risk information on possible cancer and non-cancer health effects that may result from chronic or long-term exposures to more than 500 chemical substances. Comments are due by December 21.
EPA Orders Chemical Testing for Hormone Effects [+]
EPA announced on October 29 that it has issued the first test orders for pesticide chemicals to be screened for their potential effects on the endocrine system. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interact with and disrupt the hormones produced or secreted by human and animal endocrine systems, which regulate growth, metabolism and reproduction. On October 21, EPA made available the battery of scientific assays and test guidelines for conducting the assays, as well as a schedule for issuing test orders to manufacturers for 67 chemicals during the next four months. The data generated from the screens will provide robust and systematic scientific information to help EPA identify whether additional testing is necessary, or whether other steps are necessary to address potential endocrine disrupting chemicals. Testing, conducted through the agency’s Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP), will eventually expand to cover all pesticide chemicals. Now that screening is under way for the first group of chemicals, EPA is preparing to review the responses, evaluate the data, determine the potential of endocrine interaction, and whether additional testing is necessary to guide further regulation. The EDSP is the most comprehensive mandated testing program for hormone effects in the U.S. The program is the result of a multi-year effort that includes validation of the science through a transparent scientific review process.
EPA Issues Guidance for Assessing U.S. Transformation Determinations of Foreign Manufactured Goods [+]
EPA has posted on October 22 a new document on its EPA Recovery website to help recipients of clean water and drinking water state revolving funds with substantial transformation determinations for complying with the Buy American provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The document offers assistance in assessing whether manufactured goods from another county have been substantially transformed in the U.S. into a new and different manufactured good distinct from the materials from which it was transformed.
NACWA-AMWA Release Report on Climate Adaptation Costs [+]
The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) and the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) released a report on October 28 providing an early assessment of adaptation costs confronting drinking water and wastewater utilities in the face of climate change. The report exams costs thru 2050 and discusses the anticipated impacts climate change will have on these utilities, discusses some of the expected strategies that utilities will employ to deal with these impacts, and provides estimates on the cost of these adaptive measures.
You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.
- Mahatma Gandhi (1869 - 1948)
October 23, 2009
EPA Announces Plan to Revamp Clean Water Enforcement Program
EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced on October 15 during a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing that the agency is stepping up its efforts on Clean Water Act enforcement. The Clean Water Action Enforcement Plan is a first step in revamping the compliance and enforcement program. It seeks to improve the protection of our nation’s water quality, raise the bar in federal and state performance and enhance public transparency. The plan outlines how the agency will strengthen the way it addresses the water pollution challenges of this century. These challenges include pollution caused by numerous, dispersed sources, such as concentrated animal feeding operations, sewer overflows, contaminated water that flows from industrial facilities, construction sites, and runoff from urban streets.
The goals of the plan are to target enforcement to the most significant pollution problems, improve transparency and accountability by providing the public with access to better data on the water quality in their communities, and strengthen enforcement performance at the state and federal levels. Elements of the plan include the following:
· Develop more comprehensive approaches to ensure enforcement is targeted to the most serious violations and the most significant sources of pollution.
· Work with states to ensure greater consistency throughout the country with respect to compliance and water quality. Ensure that states are issuing protective permits and taking enforcement to achieve compliance and remove economic incentives to violate the law.
· Use 21st century information technology to collect, analyze and use information in new, more efficient ways and to make that information readily accessible to the public. Better tools will help federal and state regulators identify serious compliance problems quickly and take prompt actions to correct them.
Activist Group Report on Toxic Release Inventory Urges Stronger Industrial Pollution Controls [+]
Environment America released a report on October 21 “Wasting Our Waterways: Industrial Toxic Pollution and the Unfulfilled Promise of the Clean Water Act” to call attention to water pollution and to advocate tougher permitting, stricter enforcement, and lower levels of permitted pollution. The report is a review of EPA’s 2007 Toxic Release Inventory data that indicated industrial facilities released 232 million pounds of toxic chemicals into the nation’s waterways in 2007. The report highlights pollution coming from pulp and paper mills and coal-fired power plants and urges EPA to issue strong limits on releases of toxic heavy metals from power plants. EPA 2008 Toxic Release Inventory data,
Bill Introduced to Bolster Enforcement of States Failing to Reduce Chesapeake Bay Pollution [+]
Under legislation announced on October 19 by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD.) - Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Act - H.R. 3852 - the six states sharing the Chesapeake Bay watershed would face federal enforcement action if their efforts to reduce pollution entering the ecosystem fall short, The bill would codify and replace Section 117 (which governs the Chesapeake Bay program) of the Clean Water Act with a 2025 deadline for states to have in place all the pollution reduction efforts considered necessary for the ecosystem’s recovery. The bill would establish in federal law a series of deadlines meant to ensure that each state makes steady progress toward the restoration goal and retain the program and require a series of actions by EPA and the states to improve water quality in the bay. It would also codify President Obama's May 12 executive order requiring other federal agencies to work with EPA to develop annual action plans for restoring the bay. The legislation would require creation of an interstate nutrient trading program by 2015. Cardin's measure would make legally binding a Chesapeake Bay Program plan for EPA and the states to finalize a bay-wide total maximum daily load for pollutants by December 31, 2010, followed by establishment of consistent local total maximum daily loads(TMDLs). The bill specifically prohibits any net increase in pollutant loading from impervious surfaces, combined animal feeding operations, transportation systems, and septic tanks.
Each of the bay states would have to develop and implement a series of programs to reduce pollution to TMDL levels by 2025, including:
· Watershed implementation plans” for each of their tidal water segments, including enforceable pollution reduction targets and schedules that apply to upstream and tidal point sources, septic systems, agricultural runoff, and nonpoint stormwater runoff;
· TMDL-compliant, enforceable pollution permits for each pollution source, with state law requiring pollution reductions for agricultural and other lands outside EPA jurisdiction; and
· Submission of progress reports to EPA every two years beginning in 2014, with states obligated to be either on track to meet their local TMDLs by 2025 or ready to implement an alternative plan.
The bill would also create a new stormwater permitting program, under which developers, beginning January 1, 2013, would be compelled to replicate the natural hydrology of the land and compensate for any unavoidable impacts. Only projects resulting in more than an EPA-specified amount of impervious surface would be regulated. The bill also would authorize a new $1.5 billion federal grant program to help states, localities, and farmers pay for projects that reduce the amount of urban and suburban stormwater entering the watershed's rivers and streams. Bay states would have to ban phosphates in detergents within three years of the bill's enactment.
EPA Issues Final Drinking Water Regulations for Aircraft Public Water Systems [+]
EPA announced in the October 19 Federal Register that it is establishing drinking water requirements for aircraft public water systems under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Federal drinking water standards were primarily designed to regulate water quality in stationary public water systems, and the application of these requirements to mobile water systems with the capability of flying throughout the world has created implementation challenges. The final rule's requirements are intended to tailor existing health-based drinking water standards to the unique characteristics of aircraft water systems for the enhanced protection of public health against illnesses attributable to microbiological contamination. This rule is effective November 18, 2009. For judicial review purposes, this final rule is promulgated as of October 19, 2009.
EPA Plans Year End Issuance of Interim Dioxin Cleanup Goals [+]
EPA announced on October 15 that it intends to release interim preliminary remediation goals for cleanup of dioxins in the Federal Register by the end of the year and plans to finalize the cleanup guidance by June 30, 2010. The Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER) will be reviewing current dioxins cleanup guidance with the goal of recommending interim preliminary remediation goals based on the latest science. Based on this evaluation, EPA may reconsider its recommended preliminary remediation goals for superfund, federal facilities, brownfields, and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act sites, which are 1 parts per billion or 1,000 parts per trillion) for dioxin toxicity equivalents in residential soil. EPA will also reevaluate three key components of its current recommended preliminary remediation goals: the dioxin toxicity value adopted in 1985, generic exposure assumptions, and the cancer risk level.
EPA published its first risk assessment of dioxins in 1985 and began a reassessment in 1991. Several draft reassessments have been published and peer reviewed in the interim, but no final reassessment has been issued. In February 2008, EPA held meetings to evaluate the National Research Council report, Health Risks from Dioxin and Related Compounds: Evaluation of the EPA Reassessment. The report examined the reassessment EPA published in 2003, which concluded that EPA should better explain its finding on dioxins and their health effects. It also criticized EPA's assumptions made throughout the draft reassessment More information on EPA's Interim Soil Dioxin Outreach
EPA Seeks One-Year Extension of Stormwater Construction General Permit [+]
EPA announced in the October 19 Federal Register that it is seeking public comment on extending the 2008 stormwater construction general permit by one year to June 30, 2011. The permit applies only where EPA is the permitting authority, which is in five states (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Idaho and Alaska); Washington, D.C.; most territories; and most Indian country lands. The permit regulates the discharge of stormwater from construction sites that disturb one acre or more of land, and from smaller sites that are part of a larger, common plan of development. The permit requires construction site operators to comply with stormwater discharge requirements that are intended to prevent sediment loss, soil erosion and other pollution issues at active construction sites. The extension of the 2008 permit is needed to allow the agency sufficient time to coordinate a revised permit with a second effort that is underway to establish national clean water standards, known as an effluent limitation guideline, for the construction and development industry by December 1, 2009. Comments on EPA's proposal, including the draft permit, must be postmarked by November 18, 2009.
EPA WaterSense Label Available for First Commercial Building Product [+]
EPA announced on October 19 that it has released its first WaterSense specification for a commercial building product. WaterSense labeled flushing urinals will use 50 percent less water than standard urinals, saving businesses 4,000 gallons of water per year for every model installed. While current federal standards set the maximum allowable flush volume at one gallon per flush, an estimated 7.8 million urinals in use today are older inefficient models. In addition to using no more than a half gallon per flush, urinals bearing the WaterSense label must meet EPA’s performance requirements, ensuring they work as well or better than standard models. In addition to businesses, schools can save by switching to WaterSense-labeled urinals; a college with 10,000 students that installs WaterSense labeled urinals in its classroom buildings will save each year enough water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool. All WaterSense labeled products are independently tested and certified to meet rigorous criteria for both efficiency and performance. To ensure satisfactory performance, urinals will be tested for flush effectiveness and other measures before they can earn the WaterSense label. The urinals will be available across in the country in a few months. More information
House Committee Approves Legislation To Protect Chemical Plants, Water Systems [+]
The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved two bills on October 21 that would extend and expand the Department of Homeland Security's authority to regulate the security of chemical plants and give EPA authority to regulate drinking water and wastewater treatment plant security - Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act of 2009 (H.R. 2868) and the Drinking Water System Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 3258). Republican-sponsored amendments to eliminate requirements for plants and water systems to use safer chemicals and processes and eliminate provisions that would allow states to enact stricter security laws were voted down by House Democrats. Both bills require inherently safer technology (IST) or methods to reduce the consequences of a chemical release from an intentional act. The majority of the revisions were made to H.R. 2868.
Under the latest version H.R. 2868, the Department of Homeland Security would have to increase the number of chemical facility inspectors by at least 100 in fiscal years 2010 and 2011. It also would limit the universe of facilities placed by DHS in the highest two risk tiers to those that pose a risk of a release of a chemical substance of concern. The compromise version approved by the subcommittee would not include those facilities that pose a risk of theft of a substance of concern. H.R. 2868 also eliminates the ability of citizens to sue companies; instead, it would enable people with concerns to petition DHS to look into problems at neighboring chemical plants. H.R. 3258 would give EPA the authority to implement chemical security antiterrorism standards for community-based drinking water and wastewater systems. The compromise version approved by the committee includes a provision that would require the state or EPA to provide a water system with an opportunity for appeal if it disagrees with a determination that it implement an IST. EPA also would have to provide guidance to water systems in the lower risk tiers to streamline the inherently safer technology assessment process for these systems.
The Senate approved legislation on October 20 that would extend by one year the authority of the Department of Homeland Security to regulate chemical facilities. The provision was contained in the conference report for the 2010 Homeland Security Appropriations bill (H.R. 2892). The legislation, which was approved by a vote of 79-19, now goes to the president. The homeland security department's regulatory authority over chemical facility security expired on October 4. The appropriations bill contains $103.4 million for the department's risk-based chemical security program in fiscal 2010, which is $25 million above the department's 2009 level.
NRDC Urges Comprehensive Approach to Restore Chesapeake Bay [+]
According to an issue paper released on October 8 by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem will not be restored without legislation, regulation, and enforcement that cause farmers, developers, wastewater treatment officials, and others to change their environmental practices. The issue paper, “Seizing a Watershed Opportunity: NRDC's Plan to Clean Up the Chesapeake Bay and Its Beaches,” presents findings and recommendations aimed at helping the Obama administration and Congress make bold legislative and regulatory decisions capable of putting the Chesapeake Bay watershed on a path to restoration.
The NRDC report documents the many challenges facing the bay—from climate change to raw and diluted wastewater from old sewer lines that flows into its tributaries, to nutrients and sediment flowing off farms and suburban development. NRDC estimates the annual economic value of Chesapeake Bay-related activity at $1 trillion and suggested that much of that could be lost if it degrades further. The report also states that restoration of the bay would generate between $359 million and $1.8 trillion more annually, due to increased fishing and other factors. NRDC calls for Clean Water Act stormwater runoff permits to be extended to all major sources of stormwater, with standards based on low-impact development and urges EPA to address stormwater volume as well as pollution loadings to prevent erosion and protect the natural hydrology of the watershed. The study urged passage of legislation to reauthorize the Chesapeake Bay Program along the lines recently outlined by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) for a statutory watershed nutrient cap and a nutrient trading process to bring nutrient levels down.
Senate Confirms Dr. Marcia McNutt as Director of USGS [+]
The Senate on October 22 confirmed Dr. Marcia McNutt as Director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Science Advisor to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. The President nominated her for the positions in July. Dr. McNutt most recently served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California (MBARI), a nonprofit organization whose work focuses on developing technology to address key research questions in the ocean sciences. She has held that position since 1997. During her tenure at MBARI, Dr. McNutt oversaw the institute's staff of more than 200 employees as well as the institute's budget. During that time, the institute's flagship research vessel, Western Flyer, carried out ground-breaking research expeditions from Canada to Baja California, and as far afield as the Hawaiian islands. Under her leadership, MBARI also constructed the first deep-sea cabled observatory in the continental United States—the Monterey Accelerated Research System (MARS). Dr. McNutt has participated in 15 major oceanographic expeditions and served as chief scientist on more than half of those voyages. She has published 90 peer-reviewed scientific articles. Her research has ranged from studies of ocean island volcanism in French Polynesia to continental break-up in the Western United States to uplift of the Tibet Plateau. Dr. McNutt is the first confirmed woman director of the agency in its 130 year history.
WEF Joins Water Coalition Support for Water System Mitigation and Adaptation Partnerships Program Inclusion in Climate Bill Legislation [+]
WEF joined a coalition of organizations representing drinking water, wastewater and stormwater agencies in submitting an October 19 letter to Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) expressing support for inclusion of the “Water System Mitigation and Adaptation Partnerships” program as Section 381 of the “Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act” (S. 1733) as part of comprehensive climate change legislation planned for approval later this year. The coalition stated that the nation’s water systems will be among the first to feel the impacts of climate change, and supports the Section 381legislation provision as it will respond with competitive matching funds to assist in the design, planning, construction, and implementation of climate change adaptation projects while also taking important steps to reduce the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. Among the host of water-related challenges that will be brought about by climate change include increased drought, more frequent heavy precipitation events, and rising sea levels – all of which will threaten water quality and quantity, as well as public health.
While the letter supports the program as it currently appears in S. 1733, the coalition opposes giving special funding preference only to projects that are able to employ non-structural approaches, or otherwise subjecting individual projects funded though the “Water System Mitigation and Adaptation Partnerships” program to separate regulations
designed to guide state natural resource adaptation planning. The coalition pointed out that such limitations would fail to recognize the range of adaptation measures that different utilities will need to employ in the coming decades, and would undermine the program’s ability to serve as a flexible source of climate adaptation funding for America’s water utilities.
WEFTEC®.09 Keeps Pace With a Strong Showing in Orlando [+]
A total of 17,722 water professionals and 995 exhibitors attended WEFTEC.09, the Water Environment Federation’s (WEF) 82nd annual technical exhibition and conference, last week in Orlando, FL. Last week’s conference featured a high-quality technical program of 122 technical sessions, 31 workshops, nine facility tours, and several high profile events. Of particular interest to attendees was a special session featuring Peter Silva, the new Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Water. Mr. Silva discussed his priorities for EPA’s water program, the status of stimulus funding for water infrastructure, and the Obama Administration’s agenda for the national water program. Other popular sessions and workshops included in-depth topics such as private sewer system management, innovative applications of the small-scale use of reclaimed water, water infrastructure investment, recent developments in membrane bioreactor technology, and improved energy efficiency for wastewater treatment plants and processes.
At Monday’s Opening General Session, keynote presenterDr. Mike Magee gave an insightful presentation about the nexus between access to potable water and public health. Referencing his book, Healthy Waters: What Every Health Professional Should Know About Water, Magee highlighted the facts and figures about water and its enormous impact on quality of life and public health. He also thanked the water professionals in attendance for their invaluable service to the community and encouraged collaboration between to the two professions. “It is my hope that in addressing this complex issue together, we will broaden the social context of health, engage health partners in water management and planning, and advance health as the leading edge of human development,” he said. Other opening session highlights included remarks from 2008-2009 WEF PresidentRebecca West, recognition of two of WEF’s most prestigious awards, and the introduction of the 2009 Stockholm Junior Water Prize winners.
On Tuesday, West ceremoniously “passed the gavel” of Federation leadership to incoming PresidentPaul Freedman and inducted the 2009-2010 WEF Officers and Board of Trustees. The ceremony culminated with the remaining awards presentations in recognition of the outstanding achievements of the most talented and dedicated professionals in the water quality community. In all, over 25 awards were presented at various events during the four-day conference. The 2009Operations Challenge Competition that was won by the 2008 defending champions, TRA CReWSers from the Water Environment Association of Texas. Recognized as the largest water quality event in North America and largest annual water quality exhibition in the world, planning for WEFTEC 2010 is currently underway. Scheduled for October 2-6, 2010 in New Orleans, LA., the Call for Abstracts is now open and more than 700 companies have already reserved over 90% of floor space at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
October 09, 2009
WEFTEC.09 Government Affairs Events
The following Government Affairs technical sessions and committee meetings will be held during WEFTEC.09 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL.
Featured Speaker: Peter Silva, U.S. EPA Assistant Administrator for Water, will discuss his priorities, and then answer audience questions. Mr. Silva, a registered Civil Engineer, has 32+ years experience managing public water and wastewater programs. He will discuss the status of stimulus funding for water infrastructure and the Obama Administration’s agenda for the national water program, including new potential initiatives to address nutrients, stormwater, and agricultural sources.
Session 10: Meet the New Administration
Monday, October 12 from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm
Orange County Convention Center – Room 311EF, Level 3
Session 80: Regulatory Update
Featuring updates from top officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Water (OW)/Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA)
Tuesday, October 13 from 1:30 pm to 5:00 pm
Orange County Convention Center – Room 312
- Michael Shapiro, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of Water (OW),U.S.EPA
- James Hanlon, Director, Office of Wastewater Management, OW,U.S.EPA
· Ephraim King, Director, Office of Science and Technology, OW,U.S. EPA
· Suzanne Schwartz, Director, Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds, OW, U.S.EPA
· Mark Pollins, Director, Water Enforcement Division, OECA,U.S.EPA
Government Affairs Committee Meeting
Sunday, October 11 from 8:30 am to 12:00 pm
Orange County Convention Center – West - Room 202B, Level 2
Government Affairs Committee Breakout Sessions
Sunday, October 11 from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm
Orange County Convention Center – West - Room 202A, Level 2
Government Affairs Member Association Meeting
Sunday, October 11, from 12:00 pm. to 1:00 pm
Orange County Convention Center – West – Room 202A, Level 2
Meeting Agenda (PDF)
Wet Weather Work Group Meeting
Tuesday, October 13, from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm
Orange County Convention Center – West – Room 202C, Level 2
EPA Issues Final Aircraft Drinking Water Rule [+]
EPA Issues Final Aircraft Drinking Water Rule
EPA announced on October 6 that it is issuing a final rule to ensure that safe and reliable drinking water is provided to aircraft passengers and crew. The rule provides multiple-barrier protection through requirements for coliform sampling, best management practices, corrective action, public notification, monitoring and operator training. It will better protect the public from illnesses caused by microbiological contamination. The final aircraft drinking water rule tailors existing health-based drinking water regulations to fit the unique characteristics of aircraft public water systems. Aircraft public water systems are subject to the requirements of the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations (NPDWRs) under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The rule amends NPDWRs for these systems, building on existing aircraft operations and maintenance programs. Prepublication final Aircraft Drinking Water Rule
The rule applies to the aircraft’s onboard water system only. The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for regulating the airport watering points that include the water cabinets, carts, trucks, and hoses from which aircraft board water. EPA and the states are responsible for regulating the public water systems that supply drinking water to the airport watering points. The rule only addresses aircraft within U.S. jurisdiction; however, EPA supported an international effort led by the World Health Organization to develop international guidelines for aircraft drinking water. Aircraft operators will have 18 months after rule publication to develop maintenance and sampling plans and two years after publication to begin routine sampling, disinfection, and flushing. More information
EPA Watershed Academy Webcast: Working Together to Address the Effects of Climate Change on Water Resources [+]
EPA Watershed Academy Webcast: Working Together to Address the Effects of Climate Change on Water Resources
On October 27, 2009, EPA’s Watershed Academy will present a Webcast entitled, "Working Together to Address the Effects of Climate Change on Water Resources." Climate change is one of EPA’s top priorities, and the Agency is working to define strategies and actions to address climate change. EPA's “National Water Program Strategy: Response to Climate Change,” provides basic information on climate change, the water-related effects of climate change, and the implications for EPA's National Water Program. EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Water, Michael Shapiro will join us for this Webcast and describe what EPA is doing to address the effects of climate change on water. Other speakers will include Karen Metchis, Senior Climate Advisor, EPA's Office of Water, who will discuss how climate is changing and the water-related effects. Lisa Beever, Director, Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program in Florida, will discuss the program's work on developing climate change vulnerability assessments, adaptation plans, and indicators under EPA’s Climate Ready Estuary program. Slide presentations are posted at the registration site in advance and participants are encouraged to download them prior to the Webcast. To register for this Webcast
House Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Long Island Sound; WEF Testimony Supports Nitrogen Trading [+]
House Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Long Island Sound; WEF Testimony Supports Nitrogen Trading
The House Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment met on October 6 to review the current state of the Long Island Sound, assess the reasons for continued impairments, and consider policy recommendations to achieve full restoration of the Long Island Sound. Representatives from EPA, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, and other interested parties provided testimony.
Jeanette Brown, Executive Director, Stamford (CT) Water Pollution Control Authority and WEF Vice President, explained the Connecticut Nitrogen Credit Exchange Program and its impact on the water quality of Long Island Sound. This trading program has provided an innovative and cost-effective compliance mechanism for the 79 POTWs located throughout the state to meet their LIS TMDL waste load allocations for nitrogen. Ms. Brown also noted that beyond Connecticut/Long Island Sound, watershed-based trading is a potentially cost-effective and efficient approach to achieving and maintaining water quality goals and providing net water quality benefits through pollutant load reductions. Innovative programs such as effluent trading need to be expanded by removing legal obstacles that limit their use. More details on the hearing, including a list of all witnesses and copies of their testimony
USDA Announces $190 Million for Rural Water Projects in 17 States [+]
USDA Announces $190 Million for Rural Water Projects in 17 States
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on October 6 the selection of $190 million in water and environmental project loans and grants that are being funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The announcement was made by Dallas Tonsager, Under Secretary for Rural Development, on behalf of Vilsack during a speech at the National Rural Water Association meeting in Louisville, Ky. The 27 water and wastewater projects are designed to help improve infrastructure in rural areas of 17 states. Altogether, USDA has announced $1.8 billion for water and environmental project loans and grants, benefiting people throughout the country. More information about USDA's Recovery Act efforts
Quote of the Week
“Approach each new problem not with a view of finding what you hope will be there, but to get the truth, the realities that must be grappled with. You may not like what you find. In that case you are entitled to try to change it. But do not deceive yourself as to what you do find to be the facts of the situation.”
- Bernard M. Baruch(1870 - 1965)
This Week in Washingtonis provided by the Water Environment Federation, Alexandria, VA and is available on-line. To receive by e-mail, please contact the Editor -Sam Hadeed - at email@example.com or call 703.684.2418 with questions.
#Top of the Document
Note: TWIW will be on hiatus on October 16 due to staff attendance at WEFTEC.09 in Orlando, FL. TWIW will resume publication on October 23.
October 02, 2009
DHS - EPA Officials Voice Support Chemical Security Legislation; Agree that Water and Wastewater Facilities Should be Regulated by EPA
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and EPA officials announced on October 1 that they support chemical security legislation that would require chemical plants facing the highest terrorism risks to use safer processes or chemicals. During testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, the officials said they support the “inherently safer technology” provision in pending legislation. They also voiced support for “closing the gap” in current security regulations to include drinking water and wastewater treatment plants, saying the plants should be regulated by EPA with support from DHS. Drinking water and wastewater treatment plants are exempt from current DHS regulations. The subcommittee is considering two bills, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act of 2009 (H.R. 2868) and the Drinking Water System Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 3258). H.R. 2868, which includes wastewater treatment plants as well as chemical plants, would expand current DHS chemical security regulations, but does not address a separate title for drinking water, which falls solely under the jurisdiction of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
Rand Beers, undersecretary of homeland security and head of the DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate, said that while the president's fiscal year 2010 budget includes a request for a one-year extension of chemical facility antiterrorism standards (CFATS), DHS supports permanent reauthorization. Peter Silva, EPA assistant administrator for water, reiterated the agency's “shared conclusion” with DHS that water sector security should be regulated by EPA. According to Silva, both EPA and DHS recognize that drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities are different from chemical plants and have unique public health and environmental requirements and responsibilities. To address chemical security in the water sector, Silva indicated that EPA would use, with modifications as necessary, DHS's existing risk assessment tools and performance standards for chemical facilities and would apply DHS methods for evaluating treatment plants and placing them in risk-based tiers. DHS, in turn, would provide EPA with preliminary and proposed final tiering determinations for water sector facilities. EPA would make the final determinations.
Bill provisions addressing IST and citizen lawsuits continue to draw opposition from some Republicans and industry representatives. Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), ranking Republican on the subcommittee indicated that DHS should be given the opportunity to fully enact laws that have already passed rather than proposing new legislation. He also supports a three-year extension of the current law to allow Congress to determine what works and what does not. He criticized inherently safer technology as a government mandate and said it would cost small businesses a lot of money and that citizen lawsuits are completely inappropriate for national security legislation. In testimony provided by Brian Ramaley, President of the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) he echoed their opposition to similar legislation in the 110th Congress (H.R. 5577
) that would have subjected drinking water systems to federal IST mandates through CFATS. He also voiced AMWA’s strong concerns that H.R. 2868 as written would apply CFATS and IST mandates to wastewater utilities.
EPA Outlines Toxic Substances Control Act Reform Principles to Guide Congress [+]
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced on September 29 outlined the Obama administration's principles to guide Congress as it writes a new law that would modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). According to the EPA fact sheet, chemicals should be reviewed using risk-based safety standards that are based on sound science and are protective of human health and the environment chemicals should be reviewed using risk-based safety standards that are based on sound science and are protective of human health and the environment.
Some of the reform principles include:
- Chemical manufacturers should provide EPA with the necessary information to conclude that new and existing chemicals are safe and do not endanger public health or the environment.
- EPA should have clear authority to take risk management actions when chemicals do not meet safety standards, with flexibility to take into account sensitive subpopulations, costs, social benefits, equity, and other relevant considerations.
- Manufacturers and EPA should assess and act on priority chemicals, both existing and new, in a timely manner.
- Green chemistry—the manufacture of chemicals that are less toxic, use less energy, or have other environmental benefits—should be strengthened.
- EPA also needs a sustained source of funding to implement an enhanced management system for chemicals.
EPA has identified an initial list of chemicals for possible risk management action and anticipates completing and posting an initial set of four action plans in December and will complete and post additional chemical action plans in four-month intervals thereafter. An additional focus will be accelerating efforts to gather the critical information from industry that the agency needs to make chemical risk determinations. Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) are expected to introduce legislation soon to amend TSCA.
EPA Proposing Greenhouse Gas Rule to Require Best Available Technologies for Large Facilities [+]
EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced on September 30 a proposal that will proposal require large industrial facilities that emit at least 25,000 tons of greenhouse gases (GHGs) a year to obtain construction and operating permits covering these emissions. These permits must demonstrate the use of best available control technologies and energy efficiency measures to minimize GHG emissions when facilities are constructed or significantly modified. These large facilities would include power plants, refineries, and factories. Small businesses such as farms, restaurants and many other types of small facilities would not be included in these requirements. If the proposed fuel-economy rule to regulate GHGs from cars and trucks is finalized and takes effect in the spring of 2010, Clean Air Act permits would automatically be required for stationary sources emitting GHGs. This proposed rule focuses these permitting programs on the largest facilities, responsible for nearly 70 percent of U.S. stationary source greenhouse gas emissions.
With the proposed emissions thresholds, EPA estimates that 400 new sources and modifications to existing sources would be subject to review each year for GHG emissions. In total, approximately 14,000 large sources would need to obtain operating permits that include GHG emissions. Most of these sources are already subject to clean air permitting requirements because they emit other pollutants. The proposed tailoring rule addresses a group of six greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). In addition, EPA is requesting public comment on its previous interpretation of when certain pollutants, including CO2 and other GHGs, would be covered under the permitting provisions of the Clean Air Act. A different interpretation could mean that large facilities would need to obtain permits prior to the finalization of a rule regulating greenhouse gas emissions. EPA will accept comment on these proposals for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
House Subcommittee Approves Legislation To Curb Harmful Algal Blooms [+]
The House Science and Technology Subcommittee on Energy and Environment approved legislation on September 30 authorizing $140 million over five years to reduce the number of harmful algal blooms and low-oxygen dead zones in U.S. waters that kill fish and harm aquatic life. The Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2009 (H.R. 3650), which the House Science and Technology Subcommittee on Energy and Environment approved by voice vote, would authorize $35 million for each of fiscal years 2010 through 2014 to establish and maintain a national program to address the problem. Under H.R. 3650, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would develop and coordinate a strategy on harmful algal blooms and hypoxia and develop and implement comprehensive regional action plans.
The legislation would amend the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act of 1998, which was last reauthorized in 2004. Subcommittee Chairman Brian Baird (D-Wash.) introduced H.R. 3650 September 25, following a hearing on draft legislation September 17. Harmful algal blooms pose serious threats because they produce toxins and deplete oxygen in water bodies, leading to hypoxia, or dead zones. Impacts include alteration of the ocean's food web, human illnesses, and economic losses to communities and commercial fisheries. H.R. 3650 requires NOAA to maintain and enhance the following programs: Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms Program; Monitoring and Event Response for Harmful Algal Blooms Program; Northern Gulf of Mexico Ecosystems and Hypoxia Assessment Program; Coastal Hypoxia Research Program; and the Prevention, Control, and Mitigation of Harmful Algal Blooms Program.
New Stimulus Funding Website Launched [+]
A new version of the federal website tracking spending under the Obama administration's economic stimulus plan was launched September 28, featuring enhanced tools to allow citizens to track funds into local neighborhoods. Recovery.gov version 2.0 has been completely redesigned to allow the public an opportunity to view how the government is spending the $787 billion authorized under the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA). The website contains several interactive maps and graphs that can be used to track spending data by zip code or federal agency, along with guides and tutorials that explain how to navigate on the site. Beginning on October 1, grant recipients are required to provide quarterly reports to the board on how stimulus funds are being spent; this information will be posted beginning October 15. Information provided by state recipients of ARRA funds will be posted on October 30.
New Water Quality Standards Academy NPDES Permit Program Module Online [+]
EPA's Water Quality Standards Academy Online (WQSA Online) has posted its fourth Basic Course Supplemental Topics Module, "NPDES Permit Program." The new online module provides an overview of the regulatory program, established under the Clean Water Act, which authorizes the issuing of permits to control the discharge of pollutants from point sources into waters covered by a state or tribe’s water quality standards. Since its introduction in 1972, significant improvement in the nation’s water quality has been attributed to implementation of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit program. Similar to the Key Concepts modules, the Supplemental Topics Modules present text-based information across a sequence of pages that include links to further information and resources, and then a brief quiz at the end. Because these modules are supplemental, they are not associated with the Certificate of Completion earned by completing the Key Concepts modules.
Senate Committee Introduces Climate Legislation Requiring Deeper Cuts in Greenhouse Gas Emissions [+]
Senate Democrats on the Environment and Public Works Committee introduced climate legislation on September 30 that would require deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions than its House counterpart and would protect EPA authority over emissions from coal-fired power plants. The bill, sponsored by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.), would require greenhouse gas emissions to be cut 20 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels. Unlike the House bill, the Boxer-Kerry Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (no bill number assigned yet) would not block EPA from exerting much of its Clean Air Act authority, including new source review provisions, over greenhouse gases at coal-fired power plants. The 20% by2020 cut drew fire later in the day from several coal state and Midwestern Democrats, including Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), and Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), who have said cuts of that magnitude will hurt the coal industry and leave consumers with higher energy bills.
The Boxer-Kerry bill differs from the House Bill on carbon offsets—projects that reduce emissions at a low cost such as tree plantings and could be used by power plants and other operations to meet their mandated emissions reductions. In the House, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, rather than EPA, would oversee the offsets program, a compromise that brought support from rural Democrats but angered environmental groups who want assurances of more vigorous oversight. The Senate bill would leave that decision up to the president; it also would establish a new independent Offsets Integrity Advisory Board to help the president determine what projects should be eligible and assure that they represent “verifiable, additional, and permanent” reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The House bill would establish a similar advisory panel but would put it under EPA. The Senate bill would establish another offsets oversight panel not mentioned in the House bill—an Office of Offsets Integrity—that would be placed in the Department of Justice.
“This is a common sense rule that is carefully tailored to apply to only the largest sources – those from sectors responsible for nearly 70 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions sources. This rule allows us to do what the Clean Air Act does best – reduce emissions for better health, drive technology innovation for a better economy, and protect the environment for a better future – all without placing an undue burden on the businesses that make up the better part of our economy.”
- EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson (September 30, 2009 keynote address at the California Governor’s Global Climate Summit announcing thatthe Agency has taken a significant step to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the Clean Air Act.