Water Online's EPA Update: August 2, 2011
Welcome to Water Online's review of the latest U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, resources, and activities related to the water, wastewater, and stormwater industries. EPA offices and programs covered in this installment are listed below. Click on an office or program name to go directly to that section of the article. Office of Water (OW) Beat The Peak With Water-Saving Tips From WaterSense Update On The Cooling Water Intake Structures Proposed Rule New And Improved EPA Website On Nitrogen And Phosphorus Pollution EPA's Water And Wastewater Infrastructure Operation, Maintenance, And Management Training For Tribal Operators And Leaders National Risk Management Research Laboratory
(NRMRL) Risk Management Researchers Support State Cleanup Projects Some Challenges in Ohio Collaborative Action Other remediation sites throughout Ohio — in Springfield, Middletown and
Columbus — provide opportunities for applying the specialized skills of EPA laboratory-based scientists to real-world challenges at state cleanup sites. This collaboration is helping to restore precious environmental resources, preserving them for a sustainable future. Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) Program ETV Verified Technologies
Upcoming Conferences and Meetings
For more information on the ETV, visit www.epa.gov/etv. Other EPA News EPA Issues Final Guidance To Protect Water Quality In Appalachian Communities From Impacts Of Mountaintop Mining Mountaintop mining is a form of surface coal mining in which explosives are used to access coal seams, generating large volumes of waste that bury adjacent streams. The resulting waste that then fills valleys and streams can significantly compromise water quality, often causing permanent damage to ecosystems and rendering streams unfit for drinking, fishing, and swimming. It is estimated that almost 2,000 miles of Appalachian headwater streams have been buried by mountaintop coal mining. OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: Statement Of Administration Policy: H.R. 2018 - Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act (Rep. Mica, R-FL, And 39 cosponsors) EPA Strengthens Key Scientific Database To Protect Public Health EPA Administrator Announces National Grants To Train Jobseekers In Green Jobs And Clean Up Of Contaminated Sites EPA Proposes Safeguards For Hazardous Waste Recycling SOURCE: EPA
When the mercury rises, so does residential water use. During dry summer months, outdoor water use increases, with more than 70 percent of water going to landscape irrigation in some areas of the country. This contributes to a phenomenon known as "peak water use season." Water use further increases on weekends, as many people use this free time to tend lawns and landscapes, wash cars, and do laundry — all high water-using tasks.
From watering lawns and landscapes to filling swimming pools, the average American household's water use can increase from 260 gallons of water per day to about 1,000 gallons per day! Some homes use as much as 3,000 gallons on a peak day. While using water efficiently is important throughout the year, sometimes the timing of water use can make a big difference for community water supplies — and water bills. Find tips on what you can do to reduce your summer water use here:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has extended the public comment period by 30 days for the Cooling Water Intake Structures proposed rule, a proposed water pollution control regulation based on Section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act. In response to requests from stakeholders, EPA will take additional comment until August 18, 2011 on this important proposed rule that aims to protect billions of fish and other aquatic organisms drawn each year into cooling water systems at large power plants and factories.
This change in the public comment period will not affect the EPA's schedule for issuing a Final Rule in July 2012.
The Agency will carefully consider public input received as EPA makes final decisions regarding the proposed rule. These comments will also be very helpful as EPA prepares the Final Rule.
The original 90-day public comment period was originally set to expire on July 19, 2011. EPA will be publishing a notice of this 30-day extension in the Federal Register.
For more: http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/lawsguidance/cwa/316b/index.cfm
Over the last 50 years, the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution entering our waters has escalated dramatically, and is becoming one of America's costliest and most challenging environmental problems. In many parts of the country, nitrogen and phosphorus pollution negatively impacts human health, aquatic ecosystems, the economy, and people's quality of life. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed a new and improved website about nitrogen and phosphorus pollution to provide the public with information about this type of pollution-- where it comes from, its impacts on human health and aquatic ecosystems, and actions that people can take to help reduce it.
EPA's new website also includes updated information on states' progress in developing numeric water quality criteria for nutrients as part of their water quality standards regulations. EPA recognizes that states and local communities are best positioned to restore and protect their waters, and the agency is providing technical guidance and tools to help states develop numeric nutrient criteria for their water bodies.
To facilitate state and local efforts to reduce nutrient pollution, EPA is releasing a new Nitrogen and Phosphorus Pollution Data Access Tool. The goal of the tool is to support states in their nitrogen and phosphorus analyses by providing the most current data available on: the extent and magnitude of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution; water quality problems related to this pollution; and potential pollution sources in a format that is readily-accessible and easy-to-use. With this comprehensive data, EPA, the states, and other stakeholders will be able to more quickly gather additional, less-accessible data and develop effective source reduction strategies for nitrogen and phosphorus.
The website is available at: http://www.epa.gov/nutrientpollution/
From June to October 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is sponsoring a series of in-person training workshops for federally recognized tribes and Alaskan Native Villages across the country to help increase participants' skills and knowledge in the operation of wastewater and drinking water treatment systems. The training is intended for water system operators, wastewater system operators, tribal utility managers, tribal council members and leaders involved with water utility management. There is no registration fee for the workshops. There is a cap of 50 participants at each session, and tribes and Alaskan Native Villages that received 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds will be given priority. Travel, hotel, and per diem costs for attendees from tribal reservations may be covered by a participant's local Indian Health Service Area office.
Registration is now open for training workshops in Phoenix, AZ, Kansas City, KS, Anchorage, AK, and St. Paul, MN. After you register, don't forget to make your hotel reservation.
For more information, including how to register, please go to: http://water.epa.gov/learn/training/tribaltraining/tcourse7_2011.cfm. For questions about the training, please contact, in the Office of Wastewater Management, Leon Latino via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at: 202-564-1997 or Matthew Richardson, via e-mail at: email@example.com or phone at: 202-564-2947.
EPA regional and state offices often call upon laboratory-based researchers whenever scientific or engineering assistance is needed for state remediation projects. Whether these involve hot-spot landfills, contaminated ground waters, polluted lakes, or Superfund sites, EPA risk management researchers bring their expertise to bear on local cleanup and restoration projects.
EPA regional and state officials are the front-line troops of the U.S. EPA regulatory mission. Each of the 10 EPA Regional Offices across the United States oversees a cluster of states. For example: Region 5, the Great Lakes Region based in Chicago, administers federal environmental regulations in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Since all pollution is local, regional regulators work cooperatively with state and local project managers on remediation projects. They, in turn, frequently rely upon scientists in EPA's National Risk Management Research Laboratory and with specialists in the laboratory's Engineering Technical Support Center who often act as a link between researchers and site managers.
Ohio is representative of Region 5 states in two important areas of remedial environmental concern: landfills and water bodies (lakes and rivers).
Landfills are regulated under the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) according to the types of waste they accept: Subtitle C landfills accept hazardous wastes, while Subtitle D landfills accept only nonhazardous wastes. A third category of landfill — construction and demolition — generally accepts soils and construction materials of insignificant pollution content. All three categories may, over time, demonstrate non-conformance pollutants such as noxious odors, abnormally high temperatures, open fires, or biological reactions leading to slides.
When lakes and rivers become contaminated, they may exhibit high-risk toxic algae, diminished or deformed aquatic life forms, or declining water quality, among other hazards.
The following is a sampling of some areas of environmental concern in Ohio that involve EPA risk management researchers and Region 5 and state offices in collaborative cleanup projects.
For further information on land remediation programs, visit EPA's Land Research web page.
The ETV Program has verified the performance of 453 innovative environmental technologies that can be used to monitor, prevent, control, and clean up pollution. For a full list of ETV verifications, visit http://www.epa.gov/etv/verifiedtechnologies.html.
ETV centers issue periodic solicitations for vendors and collaborators interested in verification. For a list of active ETV vendor solicitations, please visit www.epa.gov/etv/vendorswanted.html, or contact the appropriate ETV center (see www.epa.gov/etv/contacts.html).
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released final guidance on Appalachian surface coal mining, designed to ensure more consistent, effective, and timely review of surface coal mining permits under the Clean Water Act and other statutes. The guidance, which replaces the interim-final guidance issued by EPA on April 1, 2010, is based on the best-available science and incorporates input and feedback from over 60,000 comments received from the public and key stakeholders. By providing EPA's regional offices with the latest information on existing legal requirements, the guidance enables them to work together with states, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, mining companies, and the public towards a balanced approach that protects communities from harmful pollution associated with coal mining. EPA will apply the guidance flexibly, taking into account site-specific information and additional science to arrive at the best decisions on a case-by-case basis.
The science forming the basis for the interim-final guidance was also successfully applied in a number of mining decisions, including the Hobet 45 permit in West Virginia where EPA worked closely with a company to eliminate nearly 50 percent of their stream impacts, reduce contamination and lower mining costs. Successful outcomes resulting from the Corps' Coal Mac-Pine Creek permit decision also provide evidence that the practices in the interim guidance are both feasible and effective.
"Under this guidance, EPA will continue to work with other federal agencies, states, local communities, and companies to design mining operations that adequately protect our nation's waters and people's health," said Nancy Stoner, acting assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Water. "We have a responsibility under the law to protect water quality and this guidance allows EPA to work with companies to meet that goal, based on the best science."
EPA's final guidance reflects significantly enhanced science, extensive public comment and experience working with federal and state agencies and mining companies. It is based on improved, peer-reviewed science on impacts of mountaintop mining; extensive public and stakeholder input; and, lessons learned from the implementation of the interim guidance. The final guidance, like the interim guidance, is not a rule and is not binding legally or in practice.
EPA is committed to working with coal companies and stakeholders to reduce and prevent harm to water quality and human health and over the past two and a half years, EPA has built a strong foundation, working with federal and state agencies and mining companies to significantly reduce impacts to the environment.
To view the final guidance: http://www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/guidance/mining.html
To view a copy of EPA's Final Conductivity Benchmark Report as well as the Science Advisory Board's final review: http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/cfm/recordisplay.cfm?deid=233809
The Administration strongly opposes H.R 2018 because it would significantly undermine the Clean Water Act (CWA) and could adversely affect public health, the economy, and the environment.
Under the CWA, one of the Nation's most successful and effective environmental laws, the Federal Government acts to ensure safe levels of water quality across the country through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Since the enactment of the CWA in 1972, the Federal Government has protected the waterways our citizens depend on by using its checks and balances authority to review and adjust key State water pollution control decisions, where necessary, to assure that they reflect up to date science, comply with the law, and protect downstream water users in other States. H.R. 2018 would roll back the key provisions of the CWA that have been the underpinning of 40 years of progress in making the Nation's waters fishable, swimmable, and drinkable.
H.R. 2018 could limit efforts to safeguard communities by removing the Federal Government's authority to take action when State water quality standards are not protective of public health. In addition, it would restrict EPA's authority to take action when it finds that a State's CWA permit or permit program is inadequate and would shorten EPA's review and collaboration with the Army Corps of Engineers on permits for dredged or fill material. All of these changes could result in adverse impacts to human health, the economy, and the environment through increased pollution and degradation of water bodies that serve as venues for recreation and tourism, and that provide drinking water sources and habitat for fish and wildlife.
H.R. 2018 would disrupt the carefully constructed complementary CWA roles for EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers, and States in protecting water quality. It also could eliminate EPA's ability to protect water quality and public health in downstream States from actions in upstream States, and could increase the number of lawsuits challenging State permits. In sum, H.R. 2018 would upset the CWA's balanced approach to improve water quality across the Nation, risking the public health and economic benefits of cleaner waters.
If the President is presented with this legislation, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced plans to improve its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program as part of an ongoing effort initiated in 2009 to strengthen the program. IRIS is a publicly available on-line database that provides high quality science-based human health assessments used to inform the agency's decisions on protecting public health and the environment
"Decision makers rely on the IRIS program for accessible, science-based health assessments of environmental contaminants," said Paul Anastas, assistant administrator of EPA's Office of Research and Development. "Further strengthening the IRIS program is part of EPA's commitment to continuous improvement and ensuring we use the best possible science to protect human health and the environment."
The improvements will make IRIS even stronger. All new IRIS assessment documents will be shorter, clearer and more visual, concise, and transparent. IRIS users can expect to see a reduced volume of text and increased clarity and transparency of data, methods, and decision criteria. Documents will be rigorously edited to eliminate inconsistencies and address redundancies and will include more graphical and tabular representations of data. Related discussions will also be consolidated into concise narrative descriptions.
To make the scientific rationale behind the assessments and toxicity values as transparent as possible, EPA will evaluate and describe the strengths and weaknesses of critical studies in a more uniform way. EPA will also indicate which criteria were most influential in evaluating the weight of the scientific evidence supporting its choice of toxicity values.
The latest actions are in direct response to recommendations received on April 8, 2011, from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).
EPA is working closely with the agency's Science Advisory Board on how to bring to bear its expertise on an ongoing basis to focus on the quality, transparency and scientific rigor of IRIS assessments and guide EPA's response to the NAS recommendations.
EPA will also create a new peer consultation step early in the development of major IRIS assessments to enhance the input of the scientific community as assessments are designed.
In 2009, EPA implemented an improved IRIS process to ensure scientific quality, integrity, transparency, and the timeliness of EPA's efforts to manage chemical risks.
The process now includes a streamlined review schedule, ensuring that the majority of assessments will be finalized within two years of their start date, opportunities for input from EPA scientists, federal agency reviewers, and the public, and greater transparency by making the scientific studies used to develop assessments available through the Health and Environmental Research Online database.
The IRIS database includes more than 540 chemical substances, containing crucial information about how they impact human health. Combined with exposure information, governments and private entities use IRIS to help characterize the public health risks of chemical substances, thereby supporting risk management decisions designed to protect public health.
More information about IRIS: http://www.epa.gov/iris/
Information about the IRIS process: http://www.epa.gov/iris/process.htm
Recently in Atlanta, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced that EPA is awarding more than $6.2 million in national environmental workforce development and job training grants to 21 grantees to recruit, train, and place unemployed, predominantly low-income residents in polluted areas. Administrator Jackson was joined by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed at the press conference where the two highlighted the impact the investment will have on five targeted low-income Atlanta neighborhoods that will benefit from funding and training under the grant program.
"These job training grants are not just helping to create good jobs, they're helping create good, green jobs that protect the health of local families and residents and prepare communities for continued economic growth. We're looking to the people and community organizations who know these areas best to find the places where green jobs and environmental protection are going to do the most good," said EPA Administrator Jackson. "Creating good green jobs proves that we don't have to choose between cleaning up our air and our water or creating jobs in our communities. We're showing that it's possible to do both at the same time."
"Today marks a great day for the city and for the future of workforce development in Atlanta," said Mayor Reed. "Congratulations to the Center for Working Families on being awarded this grant. I also want to thank EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson for making this important announcement in Atlanta. The EPA's focus on developing more green jobs is in lock-step with my administration's priorities, and will helps us to build a green workforce and create sustainable jobs."
Since 1998, EPA has awarded more than $35 million under the Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Program. As of May 2011, more than 6,683 individuals have been trained through the program, and more than 4,400 have been placed in full-time employment in the environmental field with an average starting hourly wage of $14.65. The development of this green workforce will allow the trainees to develop skills that will make them competitive in the construction and redevelopment fields.
Graduates of the program are equipped with skills and certifications in various environmental fields including lead and asbestos abatement, environmental site sampling, construction and demolition debris recycling, energy auditing and weatherization, as well as solar panel installations and green building techniques. Graduates use these skills to improve the environment and people's health while supporting economic development in their communities. The program has also trained and helped employ residents in the Gulf Coast responding to and cleaning up the BP oil spill, revitalizing New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, and aiding in the response and clean up of the World Trade Center on 9-11.
The agency's Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Program helps provide unemployed individuals with the necessary skills to secure full time, sustainable jobs that help to clean up toxic chemicals in communities, advance the country's clean energy projects and support environmental initiatives. Trainees include hard to place residents that live in the disadvantaged communities that will benefit the most through these projects.
Twenty-one governmental entities and non-profit organizations in twenty states are receiving up to $300,000 each to train individuals in the cleanup of contaminated sites and in health and safety, while also providing training in other environmental skills, such as recycling center operator training, green building design, energy efficiency, weatherization, solar installation, construction and demolition debris recycling, emergency response, and native plant revegetation.
More information on environmental workforce development and job training grants: http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/job.htm
More information on EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response: http://www.epa.gov/oswer
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing new safeguards for recycling hazardous materials to protect public health and the environment. The proposal modifies EPA's 2008 Definition of Solid Waste (DSW) rule, which revised hazardous waste regulations to encourage recycling of hazardous materials. The proposal will improve accountability and oversight of hazardous materials recycling, while allowing for important flexibilities that will promote its economic and environmental benefits. EPA is opening up this proposal for public comment.
EPA is also releasing for public comment its draft expanded environmental justice analysis of the 2008 DSW final rule, which evaluates the rule's potential impact on low-income and minority communities. EPA is also requesting public comment on the environmental justice analysis as well as on suggested changes received from peer review. The analysis and peer review comments will be available in the docket for this rulemaking once the proposal is published.
"Safe recycling of hazardous materials conserves vital resources while protecting the environmental and economic health of our communities," said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. "Today's proposed enhancements show EPA's commitment to achieving sustainable materials management through increased recycling, while retaining safeguards to protect vulnerable communities and the environment."
EPA's re-examination of the 2008 DSW final rule identified areas in the regulations that could be improved to better protect public health and the environment with a particular focus on adjacent communities by ensuring better management of hazardous waste. The proposal includes provisions to address those areas through increased transparency and oversight and accountability for hazardous materials recycling. Facilities that recycle onsite or within the same company under the reduced regulatory requirements retained under the proposal would be subject to enhanced storage and recordkeeping requirements as compared to the 2008 rule. Companies that send their hazardous materials offsite for recycling would have tailored storage standards, while being required to send their materials to a permitted hazardous waste recycling facility. The proposed rule also creates a level playing field by requiring all forms of hazardous waste recycling to meet requirements designed to ensure materials are legitimately recycled and not being disposed of illegally.
EPA will accept comment on this proposal for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. The docket for the rulemaking is EPA-HQ-RCRA-2010-0742 and can be accessed at http://www.regulations.gov once the proposal is published.
More information about this rulemaking: http://www.epa.gov/waste/hazard/dsw/rulemaking.htm
Welcome to Water Online's review of the latest U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, resources, and activities related to the water, wastewater, and stormwater industries. EPA offices and programs covered in this installment are listed below. Click on an office or program name to go directly to that section of the article.
Office of Water (OW)
Beat The Peak With Water-Saving Tips From WaterSense
Update On The Cooling Water Intake Structures Proposed Rule
New And Improved EPA Website On Nitrogen And Phosphorus Pollution
EPA's Water And Wastewater Infrastructure Operation, Maintenance, And Management Training For Tribal Operators And Leaders
National Risk Management Research Laboratory (NRMRL)
Risk Management Researchers Support State Cleanup Projects
Some Challenges in Ohio
Other remediation sites throughout Ohio — in Springfield, Middletown and
Columbus — provide opportunities for applying the specialized skills of EPA laboratory-based scientists to real-world challenges at state cleanup sites. This collaboration is helping to restore precious environmental resources, preserving them for a sustainable future.
Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) Program
ETV Verified Technologies
Upcoming Conferences and Meetings
For more information on the ETV, visit www.epa.gov/etv.
Other EPA News
EPA Issues Final Guidance To Protect Water Quality In Appalachian Communities From Impacts Of Mountaintop Mining
Mountaintop mining is a form of surface coal mining in which explosives are used to access coal seams, generating large volumes of waste that bury adjacent streams. The resulting waste that then fills valleys and streams can significantly compromise water quality, often causing permanent damage to ecosystems and rendering streams unfit for drinking, fishing, and swimming. It is estimated that almost 2,000 miles of Appalachian headwater streams have been buried by mountaintop coal mining.
OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: Statement Of Administration Policy: H.R. 2018 - Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act (Rep. Mica, R-FL, And 39 cosponsors)
EPA Strengthens Key Scientific Database To Protect Public Health
EPA Administrator Announces National Grants To Train Jobseekers In Green Jobs And Clean Up Of Contaminated Sites
EPA Proposes Safeguards For Hazardous Waste Recycling