ARCHIVE SITE - Last updated Jan. 19, 2017. Please visit www.NACWA.org for the latest NACWA information.
ARCHIVE SITE - Last updated Jan. 19, 2017. Please visit www.NACWA.org for the latest NACWA information.
The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) is pleased to provide you with the December 2016/ January 2017 Regulatory Update.
Regulatory Perspectives – December 2016/January 2017
EPA Closes Out 2016 with a Flurry of Activity
The end of the calendar year is always a busy time for U.S. EPA to clear its ledger of any actions it had promised to complete. Changes in administration can also lead to high levels of activity from federal agencies anxious to get in last minute policy changes or rules. But the last two months of 2016 were without precedent in my 16 years at NACWA. EPA pumped out nine major rules, policy actions/documents and/or water quality criteria that impact the clean water community. A few of these were driven by court deadlines, but many were Obama Administration priorities that needed to get finalized or risk being shelved by the new Trump Administration.
NACWA is still sifting through the list of actions, reading the rules and documents in detail and will be providing more analysis and feedback to its members soon. But here’s just a quick look at what EPA cleared off its plate in the closing days of 2016:
NACWA Scores Key Advocacy Win in Final Dental Amalgam Rule
EPA signed the final Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards for the Dental Category, also known as the Dental Amalgam Rule, on December 15, and NACWA is pleased that the final version has been significantly altered from the proposed version in order to address the Association’s main concerns. NACWA submitted extensive comments on the proposed rule in February 2015, explaining why the proposal created too much of a burden for publicly owned treatment works (POTWs). Representatives from EPA and NACWA subsequently held several follow-up discussions about the comments, which resulted in a final version of the rule that significantly reflects NACWA’s input.
The rule requires all dental offices that place or remove dental amalgam to install separators and follow two best management practices. Dental offices must provide a one-time certification to their Control Authority documenting that they have installed a separator which meets the requirements of the rule, and that the offices operate and maintain the separator appropriately. Dental offices are not classified as Categorical Industrial Users (CIUs) or Significant Industrial Users (SIUs) unless specified by the local Control Authority. POTWs are responsible for collecting the certifications from dental offices, but have no responsibility to enforce compliance.
NACWA and its Pretreatment & Pollution Prevention Committee are still reviewing the rule, but initial analysis indicates that the rule will have a minimal burden on POTWs. This outcome is a huge success for NACWA’s members who submitted data and input for the Association’s comments, as well as for NACWA’s overall advocacy efforts.
NACWA Challenges EPA on California Whole Effluent Toxicity Litigation
NACWA joined several California water organizations December 19 to file litigation that challenges EPA’s efforts to impose certain testing requirements for whole effluent toxicity (“WET”) on dischargers without going through the rulemaking process required by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). EPA has pressured state agencies to adopt the Test of Significant Toxicity (TST), although the applicable regulations do not identify TST as an acceptable methodology, and despite the fact NACWA and other stakeholders have raised significant technical questions about the validity of TST.
NACWA is concerned that once the TST is used in California POTW permits, it will be more broadly applied in other states. NACWA’s participation provides a national perspective on objections over the use of the TST method, the way unpromulgated guidance is being imposed, and the implications this case could have on clean water utilities nationwide. For more details on the case, see NACWA’s Litigation Tracking - Southern California Alliance of Publicly Owned Treatment Works v. EPA.
EPA Proposes Updated POTW Emissions Standards
EPA proposed updated National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) on December 8, and a pre-publication version of the rule is now available. EPA has identified six POTWs that will be subject to the rule, although others may also be subject if they are a major source of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) or treat wastewater to comply with another NESHAP. The NACWA Air Quality Workgroup and EPA discussed the rule during a January 11 conference call. Read the full story from the Clean Water Current or get more detail in NACWA’s Advocacy Alert on this issue.
Clean Water Funding & Financing
EPA Launches WIFIA with $1 Billion in Loans for Water Infrastructure Projects
EPA published a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) January 10 for applications for credit assistance under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program. The NOFA notifies stakeholders of funding availability and solicits Letters of Interest from prospective borrowers seeking credit assistance from EPA. It also establishes relative weights for the selection criteria and outlines the process that prospective borrowers must follow to be considered for WIFIA credit assistance. Read the full story from the Clean Water Current.
NACWA Requests EPA Review of Pet Flea Collar Pesticide
In January 3 comments, NACWA asked EPA to consider impacts on wastewater treatment and the aquatic environment in its preliminary work plan for flumethrin, a pyrethroid insecticide used in flea collars for pets. Since flumethrin has the potential to enter the sewer system when pets, hands, clothing and indoor surfaces are washed, NACWA requested that EPA evaluate the implications of flumethrin discharges, referencing the more detailed comments submitted by the Bay Area Clean Water Agencies (BACWA). Many other pyrethroid insecticides are also being reviewed by EPA, with the comment deadline extended to March 31 at the request of NACWA, BACWA, and other organizations.
NACWA Energy Workgroup Discusses Advocacy Opportunities for 2017
The NACWA Energy Workgroup held a web meeting on December 1 to discuss advocacy opportunities in the next Administration. Lauren Fillmore, Senior Program Director at the Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (WE&RF), gave a presentation on recent research done by WE&RF and how the outcome of this research could be advanced by NACWA in an advocacy context. Issues discussed included electrical rate structures that can penalize wastewater utilities for generating their own energy and the potential for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to be decreased or eliminated, essentially reducing the incentive for utilities to produce fuel from biogas. Partnership opportunities also exist with natural gas utilities, which have shown increased interest in purchasing renewable natural gas from wastewater utilities. The Energy Workgroup will be working on these advocacy priorities during the coming year. All NACWA members are welcome to join the Workgroup.
Pretreatment & Pollution Prevention
NACWA, DC Water Help Advance Nation’s First Wipes Legislation
The Council of the District of Columbia unanimously approved the Nonwoven Disposable Products Act of 2016, the first legislation in the U.S. to address the problems caused by flushable and non-flushable wipes. The legislation requires the District’s Department of Energy & the Environment (DOEE) to issue rules, in consultation with NACWA Member Agency DC Water, to establish “flushability” standards for flushable wipes and labeling requirements for non-flushable wipes. The definition of “flushable” used in the legislation is based on the international water industry position statement on wipes, which has been endorsed by more than 300 organizations in 23 countries, including NACWA and many of its member agencies. Read full story from the Clean Water Current.
"Flushable" Wipes Manufacturers Settle Lawsuit
Procter & Gamble and Nehemiah Manufacturing Co. have settled a class action lawsuit involving their Kandoo “flushable” wipes, one of the first such legal settlements in the country. A judge in the Superior Court of California has approved the settlement on a preliminary basis, with a hearing on the final approval scheduled for March 29. Read full story from the Clean Water Current.
Final ‘Technical’ Report on Flow Addresses Some Concerns, Questions Remain
EPA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released the final version of their report, Protecting Aquatic Life from Effects of Hydrologic Alteration, on December 15. NACWA filed detailed comments on the draft version of the document released earlier this year, which EPA and USGS described as a “technical report,” outlining several concerns with the extensive policy and legal discussions about controlling flow under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Read the full story from the Clean Water Current.
NACWA Reviewing Final EPA Test Methods Update Rule
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy signed the final Methods Update Rule, which revises the procedure for determining method detection limits, among other updates and revisions, on December 15. NACWA filed comments on the proposed rule, as did several NACWA member agencies. NACWA is presently reviewing the rule to evaluate whether its comments were addressed, after which it will provide more analysis. A pre-publication copy of the final rule and factsheet are available on the EPA website.
EPA Proposes Great Lakes CSO Notification Requirements
EPA has issued a proposed rule for public notification of combined sewer overflows to the Great Lakes Basin, which includes requirements for signage, notification of local public health departments and other potentially affected public entities, notification of the public and annual reports. The Agency has proposed that notification of local health departments and the public must occur within four hours of the time the utility becomes aware of the overflow through monitoring, modeling, or other means. EPA was required under the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 appropriations bill to develop these requirements, with implementation of the new requirements by December 2017. Comments on the proposal are due in March, and NACWA will be working with its members to develop a robust set of comments. Read the full story from the Clean Water Current.
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