Water Online's EPA Update: February 28, 2012
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) Blog Spotlight: Bring Back The Water Fountain Draft Fiscal Year 2013 National Water Program Guidance Released For Comments EPA Issues Permit For Stormwater Discharges From Construction Sites EPA Announces Availability Of Green Infrastructure Technical Assistance To Selected Partner Communities EPA Releases Final Health Assessment For Tetrachloroethylene (Perc) Feds Approve California Sewage Ban And Create Largest Coastal No-Discharge Zone In The Nation New Tool Provides Access To Water Pollution Data Handbook To Help Water Utilities Plan For Sustainability 2010-2011 Climate Change And Water Progress Report Available Online National Risk Management Research Laboratory
(NRMRL) Crystal Ball Technology: Visualizing Land-Use Futures EPA land management specialists are helping to generate virtual landscape scenarios for communities in the Farmington Bay Wetlands area of the Great Salt Lake that will enable residents to 'see' the ecological consequences of current land use practices, projected over the next 20 years. The scenarios — which include alternative sustainable views of the same landscape — are created by the Alternative Futures Analysis, a computerized assessment tool that combines with Geographic Information Systems to visually portray the long-term impacts of varying developmental decisions on a
community's ecosystem and quality of life. The answers to these questions formed a set of ecological endpoints or outcomes focusing on the two selected indicators of water quality and avian habitat use. In addition, the four optional scenarios factored in beneficial conservation, restoration and development activities as the bases of a more sustainable ecological future for the area.
Potential Outcomes Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) Program ETV Verified Technologies
Vendor Solicitations For more information on the ETV, visit www.epa.gov/etv. Other EPA News EPA's FY 2013 Budget Proposal Focuses On Core Environmental And Human Health Protections Industry Progressing In Voluntary Effort To Reduce Toxic Chemicals EPA To Provide Nearly $10 Million To Clean Up Beaches Across The Nation SOURCE: EPA
Nancy Stoner, acting Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of Water, blogged about water fountains in public places. In the blog, Ms. Stoner discusses the benefits in services provided to people in cities in access to clean drinking water as well as the cost savings in choosing tap water over bottled water. To read the blog, visit: http://blog.epa.gov/blog/2012/02/14/bring-back-the-water-fountain/
The draft FY 2013 national water program guidance has been made available for review and comment at http://water.epa.gov/resource_performance/planning/FY-2013-National-Water-Program-Guidance.cfm. Issued annually, this draft guidance, posted on February 17, 2012, provides the priorities, implementation strategies, and performance targets for the national water program for fiscal year 2013.
The comment period is open until March 19, 2012, and comments and suggestions will be considered by the Office of Water for the final version of the guidance to be released in late April. When providing comments, please use the official form at http://www.epa.gov/planandbudget/annualplan/FY13_Comments_Template.doc and submit the form to Vinh Nguyen (email@example.com) and Ian Achimore (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the Office of Water, as well as to Daniel J. Hopkins (email@example.com), Marc Vincent (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Benita Mahanta (email@example.com) in the Office of the Chief Financial Officer.
EPA issued a new permit, in accordance with the Clean Water Act, that will provide streamlined permitting to thousands of construction operators, while protecting our nation's waterways from discharges of polluted stormwater from construction sites. The 2012 construction general permit is required under the Clean Water Act and replaces the existing 2008 CGP, which expired on February 15, 2012.
The 2012 permit updates include steps intended to limit erosion, minimize pollution sources, provide natural buffers or their equivalent around surface waters, and further restrict discharges to areas impaired by previous pollution discharge. Many of the permit requirements implement new effluent limitations guidelines and new source performance standards for the construction and development industry that became effective on February 1, 2010, which include pollution control techniques to decrease erosion and sediment pollution. The permit will be effective in areas where EPA is the permitting authority: Idaho, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Washington, D.C., and most U.S. territories and in Indian country lands.
More information on the construction general permit: http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater/cgp.cfm
EPA is accepting letters of interest from communities interested in receiving direct assistance for projects that facilitate the use of green infrastructure to protect water quality. Technical assistance will be provided through EPA contract support, and will be directed to watersheds/sewersheds with significant water quality degradation associated with urban stormwater. The total EPA assistance available is approximately $950,000, and will be distributed among 10 to 20 projects. The value of the assistance available to each project will be approximately $50,000 to $100,000. Letters of interest must be received by April 6, 2012. For more information, please see EPA's green infrastructure website: http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/greeninfrastructure
EPA has posted the final health assessment for tetrachloroethylene — also known as perchloroethylene, or perc — to EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) database. Perc is a chemical solvent widely used in the dry cleaning industry. It is also used in the cleaning of metal machinery and to manufacture some consumer products and other chemicals. Confirming longstanding scientific understanding and research, the final assessment characterizes perc as a "likely human carcinogen." The assessment provides estimates for both cancer and non-cancer effects associated with exposure to perc over a lifetime. EPA sets limits for the amount of perc allowed in drinking water. The toxicity values reported in the perc IRIS assessment will be considered in revising EPA's Maximum Contaminant Level for perc as part of the carcinogenic volatile organic compounds group in drinking water, as described in the agency's drinking water strategy.
More information on the perc IRIS assessment: http://www.epa.gov/iris/subst/0106.htm
More information on perc: http://epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/pubs/perchloroethylene_fact_sheet.html
More information on IRIS: http://www.epa.gov/IRIS
EPA last week finalized a decision and approved a state proposal to ban all sewage discharges from large cruise ships and most other large ocean-going ships to state marine waters along California's 1,624 mile coast from Mexico to Oregon and surrounding major islands. This action establishes a new federal regulation banning even treated sewage from being discharged in California's marine waters. EPA estimates that the rule will prohibit the discharge of over 22 million of the 25 million gallons of treated vessel sewage generated by large vessels in California marine waters each year, which could greatly reduce the contribution of pollutants still found in treated vessel sewage.
For more information on this and other no-discharge zones in California, and Clean Water Act programs to address vessel discharges and marine debris, please visit EPA's website at:
EPA announced the release of a new tool that provides the public with important information about pollutants that are released into local waterways. The discharge monitoring report pollutant loading tool brings together millions of records and allows for easy searching and mapping of water pollution by local area, watershed, company, industry sector and pollutant. The public can use this new tool to protect their health and the health of their communities.
Searches using the pollutant loading tool result in "top 10" lists to help users easily identify facilities and industries that are discharging the most pollution and impacted waterbodies. When discharges are above permitted levels, users can view the violations and link to details about enforcement actions that EPA and states have taken to address these violations.
Facilities releasing water pollution directly into our nation's waterways, such as wastewater treatment plants or industrial manufacturers, must receive a permit to discharge under the Clean Water Act. Each permit sets specific limits for how much can be discharged. It also requires the permittee to frequently sample their wastewater discharges and report the data to their state or EPA permitting authority.
The tool is available at: http://www.epa.gov/pollutantdischarges
EPA has released a comprehensive handbook to help water sector utilities build sustainability considerations into their planning. "Planning for Sustainability: A Handbook for Water and Wastewater Utilities" will help utilities ensure that water infrastructure projects across the nation, including those funded through the state revolving fund programs, are sustainable and support the long-term sustainability of the communities these utilities serve.
The handbook represents an important milestone in EPA's ongoing efforts to help ensure the sustainability of the nation's water infrastructure based on the Agency's clean water and safe drinking water infrastructure sustainability policy, which was issued in September 2010. In developing the handbook, EPA worked closely with a number of utility and state program managers around the country. The handbook describes four core elements where utilities can explicitly build sustainability considerations into their existing planning processes. Each element contains relevant examples from utilities around the country and other implementation tips for utilities to consider. For additional information and to view a copy of the handbook, please visit: http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/sustain/sustainable_systems.cfm.
EPA has released the "U.S. EPA National Water Program Strategy: Response to Climate Change 2010 - 2011 National and Regional Highlights of Progress." This is the third and final progress report covering the 2008 version of EPA's climate change strategy. Future annual progress reports will reflect activities related to the 2012 version that is under development. The progress report highlights the accomplishments of EPA's water programs during 2010 and 2011, and touches upon EPA activities and efforts undertaken across headquarters, regions, and the large aquatic ecosystem programs to address climate change impacts on our water programs. The report is available at: http://water.epa.gov/scitech/climatechange/implementation.cfm.
History richly demonstrates the unforeseen consequences (groundwater pollution, soil erosion, urban blight) of misguided community land-use decisions. Political and economic pressures play a role, but an important factor has been lack of information. Until recently, it has not been technologically possible for community planners to forecast the long-term ecological consequences of project-by-project decisions. But the maturing of the specialties of Landscape Ecology and Information Technology is providing new tools to actually visualize the environmental and quality-of-life impacts of community land-use decisions. Two examples of new landscape technology are: Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and the Alternative Futures Analysis (AFA), a computerized evaluation framework. Working in tandem, these two technologies are enabling resource managers and residents to virtually see (from a bird's eye or satellite view) how a community and the ecosystem that support it will look in a specified number of years, given current land-use practices. The systems also design alternative scenarios using sustainable land-use practices.
The Alternative Futures Analysis
The Alternative Futures Analysis (AFA), developed in 1990 by Harvard professor Carl Steinitz, integrates GIS maps to display multiple layers of information such as soils, terrain shape, hydrology, species diversity, proposed development, and other factors impacting the biodiversity of a given area. A recent EPA cooperative project using the AFA, selected two ecological outcomes — water quality and diversity of avian habitat--as indicators of ecosystem health in the Farmington Bay Wetlands near the Great Salt Lake. Water quality in the area is currently under threat from encroaching commercial development and an annual two-percent population increase. Bird habitat in the area is also threatened: The wetlands provide essential habitat for waterfowl, as well as migratory shorebirds and water birds from both the Pacific and Central flyways of North America. The Farmington Bay research goal was to develop a series of AFA landscape scenarios to allow residents to visualize how the regional landscape will look by 2030 if current land-use development continues, along with some alternative scenarios based on sustainable land-use practices.
Researchers constructed the AFA scenarios by posing the following fundamental questions:
Using satellite imagery (the same type used by Google-Earth), combined with ground-level GIS evaluations of wetlands and land use of the surrounding community, the project researchers constructed a current land-use scenario, plus four alternative visions of land use projected out to the year 2030. Some notable elements of the scenarios:
The GIS/AFA system is a transparent way of organizing and communicating complex scientific information to a diverse group of stakeholders. Explicit community-wide ecosystem management goals can be more readily achieved through an open community process that illustrates a set of plausible and visible alternative futures. The technology is flexible enough to deal with the potential challenges revealed in the AFA optional scenarios. And the two basic indicators (water quality and avian habitat use) selected for this study can be expanded for more elaborate conservation planning models. "Seeing" the future through AFA models can help communities determine whether the quality of life they want for themselves is sustainable, given their present land-use practices. Best of all, it can also show them a vision of an achievable future.
For more detailed information on the AFA analysis of the Farmington Bay Wetlands, visit: Alternative Futures Analysis of Farmington Bay Wetlands in the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem (PDF) (106 pp, 31. MB) (EPA/600/R-10/032) March 2010
The ETV Program has verified the performance of 465 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 Obama Administration recently proposed a FY 2013 budget of $8.344 billion for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This budget reflects a government-wide effort to reduce spending and find cost-savings, and is $105 million below the EPA's enacted level for FY 2012. The FY 2013 budget is the result of EPA's ongoing efforts to carefully consider potential cost savings and reductions while continuing its commitment to core environmental and health protections — safeguarding Americans from pollution in the air they breathe, the water they drink and the land where they build their communities.
"This budget is focused on fulfilling EPA's core mission to protect health and the environment for millions of American families. It demonstrates fiscal responsibility, while still supporting clean air, healthy waters and innovative safeguards that are essential to an America built to last," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "It has taken hard work and difficult choices to reach this balanced approach, and while we had to make sacrifices, we have maintained our commitment to the core priorities of this agency and ensured the protections the American people expect and deserve."
Click here to read the key FY 2013 budget highlights.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released the interim results of a voluntary effort by eight chemical manufacturers to reduce emissions and use of long-chain perfluorinated chemicals (LCPFCs), including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Used in hundreds of manufacturing and industrial applications, LCPFCs are toxic, persistent in our environment worldwide and can accumulate in people. Reducing toxic chemicals in our environment is one of EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson's top priorities.
EPA's 2010/15 PFOA Stewardship Program was established in 2006 in partnership with DuPont, Solvay Solexis, Asahi Glass Company, Daikin America, Inc., Clariant International Ltd., 3M/Dyneon, Arkema Inc. and BASF (formerly Ciba Specialty Chemicals Corporation). The program set a goal of reducing facility emissions and product content of PFOA and related chemicals on a global basis by 95 percent, no later than 2010, and to work toward eliminating emissions and product content of these chemicals by 2015. The interim results released today highlight the success companies participating in the partnership have made in reducing releases of PFOA and other LCPFCs.
Daikin, DuPont, 3M/Dyneon and Solvay Solexis have met the program's intermediate goal of a 95 percent reduction in global emissions and product content by 2010. The companies continue to reduce emissions of LCPFC's as well as overall product content of LCPFC's. Additionally, more than150 replacement chemicals have been developed. The eight participating companies have informed EPA that they are on track to phase out LCPFCs by the end of 2015.
"I am pleased to see that many of the Stewardship Program companies are making excellent progress and all are on track to meet the ultimate goal of phasing out LCPFCs by the end of 2015," said Jim Jones, acting assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. "The program is an important part of the agency's efforts to mitigate exposures to LCPFCs."
EPA remains concerned about LCPFCs being produced by companies that are not participating in the stewardship program and intends to take action to address those concerns. These actions are part of an ongoing effort outlined in 2009 that would further reduce exposure to LCPFCs by addressing their use in products from sources other than the eight companies participating in the stewardship program. For more information on these efforts, see the action plan at: http://www.epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/pubs/actionplans/pfcs.html
More information on PFOA and LCPFCs: www.epa.gov/oppt/pfoa
Company progress reports and EPA's summary tables: http://epa.gov/oppt/pfoa/pubs/stewardship/preports5.html
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that it will provide $9.8 million in grants to 38 states, territories and tribes to help protect the health of swimmers at America's beaches. The agency also launched an improved website for beach advisories and closings, which will allow the public to more quickly and easily access the most current water quality and pollution testing information for more than 6,000 U.S. beaches.
The website, called BEACON, has the capability to update as frequently as every two hours based on new data provided by states, territories and tribes. Users will have access to mapped location data for beaches and water monitoring stations, monitoring results for various pollutants such as bacteria and algae, and data on public notification of beach water quality advisories and closures. For the first time, users can also access reports that combine notifications and water quality monitoring data. The enhanced system also uses enhanced map navigation and report display tools.
The majority of beach advisories and closures in the United States are due to water test results indicating bacterial contamination, which can make people sick. Bacterial contamination comes from a variety of sources. Some examples are sewer overflows, untreated stormwater runoff, boating wastes, wildlife and pet waste, and malfunctioning septic systems.
During each swimming season, state and local health and environmental protection agencies monitor the quality of water at the nation's beaches. When bacteria levels in the water are too high, these agencies notify the public by posting beach warnings or closing the beach.
The grants will help local authorities monitor beach water quality and notify the public of conditions that may be unsafe for swimming.
This is the 12th year that EPA is providing beach grant funds, bringing the total amount EPA has made available to nearly $111 million. As a result, the number of monitored beaches has more than tripled to more than 3,600 in 2010. Grant applications must be received within 60 days of publication of EPA's notice in the Federal Register. EPA expects to award the grants later this year.
View EPA's enhanced beach advisory and closing information: http://watersgeo.epa.gov/BEACON2/
More information on the grants: http://water.epa.gov/grants_funding/beachgrants/index.cfm
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)
Blog Spotlight: Bring Back The Water Fountain
Draft Fiscal Year 2013 National Water Program Guidance Released For Comments
EPA Issues Permit For Stormwater Discharges From Construction Sites
EPA Announces Availability Of Green Infrastructure Technical Assistance To Selected Partner Communities
EPA Releases Final Health Assessment For Tetrachloroethylene (Perc)
Feds Approve California Sewage Ban And Create Largest Coastal No-Discharge Zone In The Nation
New Tool Provides Access To Water Pollution Data
Handbook To Help Water Utilities Plan For Sustainability
2010-2011 Climate Change And Water Progress Report Available Online
National Risk Management Research Laboratory (NRMRL)
Crystal Ball Technology: Visualizing Land-Use Futures
EPA land management specialists are helping to generate virtual landscape scenarios for communities in the Farmington Bay Wetlands area of the Great Salt Lake that will enable residents to 'see' the ecological consequences of current land use practices, projected over the next 20 years. The scenarios — which include alternative sustainable views of the same landscape — are created by the Alternative Futures Analysis, a computerized assessment tool that combines with Geographic Information Systems to visually portray the long-term impacts of varying developmental decisions on a
community's ecosystem and quality of life.
The answers to these questions formed a set of ecological endpoints or outcomes focusing on the two selected indicators of water quality and avian habitat use.
In addition, the four optional scenarios factored in beneficial conservation, restoration and development activities as the bases of a more sustainable ecological future for the area.
Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) Program
ETV Verified Technologies
For more information on the ETV, visit www.epa.gov/etv.
Other EPA News
EPA's FY 2013 Budget Proposal Focuses On Core Environmental And Human Health Protections
Industry Progressing In Voluntary Effort To Reduce Toxic Chemicals
EPA To Provide Nearly $10 Million To Clean Up Beaches Across The Nation