ARCHIVE SITE - Last updated Jan. 19, 2017. Please visit www.NACWA.org for the latest NACWA information.
December 19, 2014
NACWA Secures Briefing on New Environmental Justice Screening Tool
NACWA submitted a letter to EPA on December 16 requesting a briefing and more information on a new environmental justice tool currently under development by the Agency. In a response on December 17, the Agency’s Deputy Associate Assistant Administrator for Environmental Justice, Charles Lee, confirmed the Office of Enforcement Compliance & Assurance’s (OECA) commitment to brief NACWA in the New Year.
The tool , which has been discussed by EPA officials in recent months, is designed to provide online data about environmental conditions that may negatively impact environmental justice communities. NACWA, however, has heard from multiple sources – including Member Agencies, states, and industry partners – that the data being used in early versions of the tool is significantly flawed and outdated.
While supportive of environmental justice initiatives, the Association also wants to ensure that any data being used in the new tool – especially NPDES permit – is accurate and complete. NACWA looks forward to meeting with EPA to learn more about this tool. The Agency is not expected to release the tool for public use until late in 2015. The membership will be apprised of any new developments.
EPA is hosting a webinar for NACWA members on the proposed National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) e-Reporting Rule supplemental notice on January 15 from 12:30 – 2:00 pm Eastern Time. No registration is required, but those attending are encouraged to call from a central location as there are limited ‘seats’ available. Call in information is provided below.
EPA’s Office of Enforcement & Compliance Assurance (OECA) released the supplemental notice this month soliciting additional comment on the proposed rule. The notice seeks to clarify a number of issues and requests additional comments on several elements, including the implementation schedule and the State Readiness Criteria. NACWA encourages members to read the 16-page notice and consider providing input, paying special attention to the number of issues on which EPA is specifically requesting comment. The entire rule can be considered in any new comments. The Association submitted comments on the original proposed rule in December 2013, as did a number of Member Agencies, and will also comment in response to this notice.
Webinar Dial-in Information:
NACWA met with EPA on December 18 to discuss the Agency’s recent stormwater memo, issued on November 26, which is intended to provide information to states and Regions on permitting approaches for stormwater discharge permits. The memo revises and replaces an earlier version of the document from November 2010.
Many of NACWA’s original concerns with the 2010 memo were clearly considered by EPA in the Revisions to the November 22, 2002 Memorandum “Establishing Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Wasteload Allocations (WLA) for Storm Water Sources and NPDES Permit Requirements Based on Those WLAs . The Association, however, met with key authors of the memo from EPA’s Office of Wastewater Management (OWM) and Office of Wetlands, Oceans, & Watersheds (OWOW) to clarify the Agency’s position on a few key points, including: flow surrogates, numeric end-of-pipe limits, and ongoing support of local stormwater programs. While one of the most important changes in the new memo is the removal of language on the use of stormwater flow as a pollutant surrogate in TMDLs, EPA staff indicated that the Agency is not ruling out the possibility of flow TMDLs in the future. Agency staff expressed the belief that flow TMDLs may still be appropriate in certain circumstances, and also suggested that EPA would not object if states sought to include flow requirements in TMDLs. They further noted that the lack of discussion of flow surrogates in the memo is not meant to undermine the use of policies requiring on-site retention practices in stormwater permits.
With regard to the memo’s softened language on the use of numeric limits, EPA confirmed that the memo is intended to emphasize the fact that there are a host of different options to incorporate numeric provisions in permits, without using end-of-pipe limits. At the same time, OWM reiterated its position that permitting authorities have discretion to implement water quality-based standards as they deem appropriate, including end of pipe limits. This is an area where NACWA and EPA continue to have disagreements about the scope of the Clean Water Act’s “maximum extent practicable” (MEP) standard for municipal stormwater discharges, and the Association will continue its strong advocacy on this issue.
EPA further indicated that it believes the memo is part of it efforts to provide support and guidance to permit writers and local stormwater programs in the absence of a national stormwater rule. Based on a review of all the Phase I and II permits, EPA also feels that the MS4 compendium released by the Agency in June, together with the new memo, provide important examples of the types of improved stormwater permits that are being issued across the country.
NACWA looks forward to continued dialogue with EPA to address lingering concerns with the memo as it is implemented at the state and regional level and as the Agency continues to strengthen the existing national program and develop training workshops and materials. The Association also looks forward to discussing the memo, and its possible implications, with Member Agencies during the 2015 Winter Conference in February.
On Tuesday, NACWA, along with the Water Environment Federation, hosted over seventy participants for a webinar discussing recent revisions to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program (CWSRF). EPA joined the webinar to provide a presentation on changes to the CWSRF enacted by Congress earlier this year as part of the Water Resources Reform & Development Act (WRRDA). Many of the revisions made to the program codified eligible activities in which the program had already been investing such as renewable energy, water recycling and reuse, and green infrastructure technologies. In addition, Congress codified authority to provide additional subsidization for utilities that demonstrate affordability concerns and also for investments related to sustainability and integrated water resource planning. Finally, a key modification also included extending loan repayment terms from twenty to thirty years. NACWA members who were unable to participate on the call, can listen to an archived recording and access EPA’s presentation by clicking here.
EPA will host a webinar on sustainability and resiliency practices for water utilities in February. The webinar on Operational Resiliency is the second in EPA’s Moving Toward Sustainability webinar series. NACWA is collaborating with EPA on the series to advance the goals of creating sustainable and resilient public water utilities, as a complement to its Water Resources Utility of the Future initiative. The webinar will feature two NACWA Member Agency representatives, Daryl Slulsher, Deputy Director of the Austin Water Utility and Kathryn Sorensen, Director of Water Services of the City of Phoenix. Both agencies have made significant strides in resilient utility practices. The webinar will be moderated by Jim Horn of EPA’s Office of Water on February 23 from 1:00 – 2:30 pm Eastern Time. Registration is free and more information about the webinar can be found here .
The deadline for completing NACWA’s 2014 Cost of Clean Water – Service Charge Index Survey is approaching. NACWA has published the Index annually since 1992 to track average annual single-family residential service charge increases as measured against the rate of inflation. The Index has become an important resource for clean water agencies – as well as a wide variety of policymakers and subject matter experts. Responses from as many members as possible are crucial to keep the Index a reliable and informative resource.
Join your clean water colleagues, February 1 – 4 in beautiful Charleston, S.C. for NACWA’s Winter Conference, Leaving the Comfort Zone... Collaborating for Clean Water. The municipal water and wastewater community is beginning to carve an innovative path for addressing issues by collaborating with non-traditional partners – from the agriculture, finance, energy, reuse and product stewardship sectors to name a few. All of these unusual alliances, while outside the normal comfort zone, have resulted in both improved dialogue and water quality, as well as enhanced technical and financial capabilities for everyone involved. Hotel information, a conference agenda , and registration are currently available. Please be sure to make your hotel reservation by Jan. 12 to ensure the special rate of $190 per night.
Have you logged on to NACWA Engage™? NACWA’s online platform is your one stop resource for networking with over 6,000 of your peers in the wastewater community. The site is getting a new look and enhanced responsiveness to all mobile devices and platforms. Be on the lookout for the new site after Jan. 1, as well as additional updates in the early part of the New Year. In the meantime – be sure to take advantage of the knowledge of thousands of your peers – log on to Engage™ today!
Despite our many success this year, there remains little new federal money on the holiday dinner table. At the same time, EPA continues its work to “wrap up” a number of costly “gifts” to put under the clean water tree for NACWA Member Agencies. What will we do to make sure these new “gifts” do not pose an excessive cost at a time when a growing percentage of households in cities and rural areas across the country can least afford them? Read on to find out more, or better yet, subscribe to The Water Voice, just in time for the New Year and never miss a post!
NACWA’s Clean Water Current will be on hiatus for the holidays.
Look for the next edition of the Current on January 9.
Happy holidays to all & best wishes for a wonderful 2015!