Water Online's EPA Update: September 21, 2010
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) EPA Recovery Act Projects Spotlighted In Vice President Biden's New Report On 100 Recovery Act Projects Changing America To view the full report:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/100-Recovery-Act-Projects-Changing-America-Report.pdf More information on the president's initiative and action plan: http://www.greatlakesrestoration.us
Tabletop Exercise Tool For Water Systems: Emergency Preparedness, Response, And Climate Resiliency (TTX Tool) EPA-Minnesota BASINS/HSPF Watershed Modeling Workshop Sets Partnership Example Comment Period Extended For The Proposed Revised Total Coliform Rule Treating Contaminants Of Emerging Concern: A Literature Review National Risk Management Research Laboratory
(NRMRL) The PLACES Program — Defining the Sustainable Future The PLACES program encourages communities to identify the systems context for making site-level land-use decisions to minimize off-site impacts. This provides a firm foundation to establish public/private programs that allow land users to participate in maintaining physical characteristics of functioning natural systems. Communities that elect to participate in the PLACES program must begin with a multidisciplinary team able to identify local and regional ecosystem structures, functions and processes. This background establishes a context for making land-use decisions. After meeting some prerequisites such as documenting locations of toxic sites to ensure no contact with human life, PLACES communities must meet four basic
requirements: PLACES Guidelines Ecosystem Requirements
Social System Requirements
Economic System Requirements
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 Awards Grants For Students To Design Sustainable Technologies To Help Environment And Economy EPA Proceeds With Enhancements To Its Financial Systems EPA Picks State Capitals To Create Models Of Green Design EPA Formally Requests Information From Companies About Chemicals Used In Natural Gas Extraction SOURCE: EPA
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced that eight EPA projects were highlighted in a new report released by Vice President Joe Biden, "100 Recovery Act Projects that are Changing America." The report highlights some of the most innovative and effective Recovery Act projects across the country that are not only putting people back to work now, but helping transform our economy for years to come.
The EPA projects highlighted in the report include:
EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grants Awarded
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has begun to award its competitive grants under President Barack Obama's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which is targeting the most significant environmental problems in the region. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson traveled to Toledo, Ohio, and Green Bay, Wisconsin, September 7, to highlight several local projects that received funding in the first round of grant awards.
Awards will be published on the multi-agency website at http://greatlakesrestoration.us.
Funded projects will advance the goals and objectives of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan, which Administrator Jackson announced in cooperation with 15 other participating agencies and the Great Lakes governors in February.
The Great Lakes provide some 30 million Americans with drinking water and underpin a multi-billion dollar economy. Since February 2009, President Obama has proposed significant funding as part of his Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades.
The initiative action plan, which covers FY 2010 through 2014, was developed by a task force of 16 federal departments and agencies to implement the president's historic initiative. It was released with the Great Lakes area governors in February 2010 and calls for aggressive efforts to address five urgent priority focus areas:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed an updated tool to assist utilities and other interested parties in planning and facilitating tabletop exercises that focus on water sector-related issues. Mini-DVD copies are now available. The Tabletop Exercise Tool for Water Systems: Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Climate Resiliency (TTX Tool) includes materials users can modify, allowing them to conduct a tabletop exercise to meet their specific needs. The TTX Tool introduces users to the potential impacts of climate change on the water sector within the context of an all-hazards approach to emergency preparedness and response. The 15 scenarios in the tool include natural hazards, man-made incidents, and potential climate change impacts. Five climate change-related scenarios provide an opportunity for utilities to consider and implement long-term planning measures in order to mitigate the potential impacts of climate change.
To request copies of the TTX Tool, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing address and number of copies. Contact: Jenny Thomas 202.564.4524; Amy Posner 202.564.3338
At the request of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sponsored a BASINS/HSPF workshop in August on the University of Minnesota's St. Paul campus. The workshop provided technical assistance to 35 MPCA employees on a wide range of modeling scenarios. BASINS/HSPF is a powerful tool for simulating watershed hydrology and pollutant transport, and is used to develop total maximum daily load (TMDL) "pollution budgets" for surface waters throughout the U.S. EPA's Hydrological Simulation Program-FORTRAN (HSPF) is the primary watershed model included in the agency's BASINS modeling system. HSPF is a comprehensive watershed model of hydrology and water quality, simulating land surface and subsurface hydrologic and water quality processes, linked and closely integrated with corresponding stream and reservoir processes.
To co-sponsor a similar workshop with EPA in your state, contact Bryan "Ibrahim" Goodwin at email@example.com. For more information on BASINS and HSPF visit http://water.epa.gov/scitech/datait/models/basins/index.cfm.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is extending by 30 days the public comment period for a proposed National Primary Drinking Water Regulation, the Revisions to the Total Coliform Rule (RTCR), which was published in the Federal Register on July 14, 2010. The comment period for the proposed RTCR now ends October 13, 2010.
The proposed RTCR applies to all public water systems and offers a meaningful opportunity for greater public health protection beyond the current Total Coliform Rule by requiring systems that have an indication of coliform contamination in the distribution system to assess the problem and take corrective action. This extended comment period will afford greater opportunity to all interested parties to review and submit comments on the proposal. Anyone seeking to submit comments must follow the procedures specified in the SUMMARY section of the proposal as published in the Federal Register notice (75 FR 40926).
To access the RTCR Proposed Rule Federal Register Notice go to EPA's website at http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/rulesregs/sdwa/tcr/regulation.cfm#tcr1989
EPA has published the results of an extensive review of the recent literature on wastewater treatment technologies and their ability to remove a number of chemical contaminants of emerging concern (CECs). We have also made available a computer-searchable format of the data from this literature review. The new tools provide an accessible and comprehensive body of historical information about current CEC treatment technologies. The report discusses 16 of the over 200 CECs present in the database, and the average percent removals achieved by full-scale treatment systems that employ six of the more than 20 reported treatment technologies.
Wastewater treatment plant operators, designers, and others may find this information useful in their studies of ways to remove CECs from wastewater. The report is not designed to promote any one technology nor is it intended to set agency policy or priorities in terms of risk. The literature review report and the searchable file were peer-reviewed for completeness and usability.
More information can be found at: http://water.epa.gov/scitech/swguidance/ppcp/results.cfm
What does it mean to live sustainably? To help communities recognize and manage the interaction among human behaviors and environmental resources, EPA researchers have developed a program called PLACES (Planning Land And Communities to be Environmentally Sustainable). The PLACES program is a 50-point planning model based on a matrix of three key systems — environmental, social and economic — that communities can adopt to track the incremental and cumulative human impacts on the sustainability of natural resources.
The PLACES program is a refinement of a planning process used to develop the Sustainable Community Master Plan adopted in 2007 in Stella, Missouri. Determined to turn around a history of economic decay and declining small-town quality of life, Stella residents elected to become a living laboratory to test the best management of existing resources and the systematic restoration of past environmental damage. Working cooperatively with the Superfund program and land remediation specialists in EPA's Region 7 and the National Risk Management Research Laboratory, residents identified actions the community could take over the next decade to systematically enhance social life (expanded park and riverside activities, clustered housing with common green spaces, streetscapes for foot traffic rather than auto traffic), economic viability (renewed local businesses such as a farmers market, caf?, grocery), and environmental sustainability (stream and wetlands restoration, rain gardens and water recycling programs, creation of a green belt around the community).
The PLACES program addresses three fundamental sustainability issues:
After meeting basic prerequisites, PLACES communities can begin to track the three fundamental systems inherent in sustainable land use — ecosystem, social and economic. The following is a sampling from more comprehensive listings of the three systems:
PLACES at Work
The PLACES program is a living document whose guidelines are expected to undergo modifications as they are applied to communities where the science of human-environment relationships can be developed. A beta test of PLACES will begin this year under the aegis of the US/German Bilateral Work Group in the town of Apolda in Germany. While the PLACES guidelines are necessarily complex, they are based on a simple and familiar corollary: every cookie removed from a cookie jar must be replaced to keep a full jar. The earth and its resources are finite, but renewable with sustainable stewardship. PLACES is a voluntary program that provides a sustainability standard along with a myriad of ways to achieve that sustainability. Best of all, it provides a vision of the future that communities want, rather than merely accepting the future that they get by default.
The ETV Program has verified the performance of 425 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 has awarded 55 grants to teams of college and university students across the country who will design creative solutions to sustainability challenges in the developed and developing world. The People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3) Phase I awards for the 2010-2011 competition challenges students, working together on interdisciplinary teams, to design and build sustainable technologies that improve quality of life, promote economic development, and protect the environment.
The competition begins in Phase I with the award of $10,000 grants to student teams who focus on a wide range of categories including water, energy, agriculture, built environment, and materials and chemicals. After working on the project for eight months, the teams will bring their designs to the 7th Annual National Sustainable Design Expo on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. At the expo, the projects will be judged by a panel of experts and a select few will be awarded P3 Awards and Phase II grants up to $75,000 for students to further their designs, implement them in the field, or move them to the marketplace.
More information on 2010-2011 Phase I P3 Awards: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/p3/current
More information on EPA's P3 program: http://www.epa.gov/p3/
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that it has received approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to proceed with enhancements to the agency's financial system. The project aims to improve the way EPA manages its business while ensuring accountability and financial controls.
"I'm pleased with the outcome of our OMB review," said Barbara Bennett, EPA's Chief Financial Officer. "Our new approach makes good business sense and allows us to focus our efforts and better plan future project management."
In June 2010, OMB issued guidance requiring the immediate review of financial systems information technology projects across the federal government. The guidance required federal agencies to split projects into smaller, simpler segments with clear deliverables, focus on the most critical business needs first, and incorporate ongoing, transparent project oversight.
In response, EPA designed a new phase-based approach to reach the goal of modernizing its financial system. Rather than implementing the entire project all at once, EPA will proceed with the first phase of the project and will make individual determinations about subsequent phases of the project based on factors such as business requirements and newly available technologies. The subsequent phases were projected to cost more than $180 million.
With joint oversight from EPA's chief financial officer and chief information officer, the approach will help to ensure the project's success. It also provides a more flexible platform to continue to implement improvements incrementally, delivering project value to agency operations sooner.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today committed to help the capital cities of five states pursue high quality green development that includes cleaning up and recycling vacant lands, providing greater housing and transportation choices, and reducing infrastructure and energy costs. Through its new Greening America's Capitals program, the EPA will fund private sector experts to provide sustainable design assistance to Boston; Jefferson City, Mo.; Hartford, Conn.; Charleston, W.Va.; and Little Rock, Ark. The cities will demonstrate how to develop sustainable designs that create interesting, unique neighborhoods with multiple social, economic, environmental and public health benefits.
"America's cities can be the engines of green innovation, leading the way in new technologies, energy efficiency and sustainable development," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "EPA and our colleagues in the Partnership for Sustainable Communities are working with capital cities throughout the country to spark the sustainable, green innovations that can meet the needs of multiple communities, and keep our cities on the cutting edge of the global green economy."
Greening America's Capitals is a new project of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, an agreement between EPA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to coordinate federal housing, transportation, and environmental investments; protect public health and the environment; promote equitable development; and help address the challenges of climate change. HUD and DOT were involved in the city review and selection process and will be providing technical expertise on relevant portions of each project.
The five state capitals were selected from a total of 38 cities that responded to a solicitation of interest by EPA in June 2010. The agency will organize teams of urban planners and landscape architects to provide direct, customized technical assistance as requested by each community.
Greening America's Capitals is not a grant program, but provides direct technical assistance to communities by working with private sector experts and leveraging partnerships, such as with HUD and DOT, to help communities consider development options. In addition to helping the selected state capitals build civic pride and a greener future, this assistance will help create models that other cities can look to in creating their own sustainable designs.
For more information: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/greencapitals.htm
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that it has issued voluntary information requests to nine natural gas service companies regarding the process known as hydraulic fracturing. The data requested is integral to a broad scientific study now underway by EPA, which Congress in 2009 directed the agency to conduct to determine whether hydraulic fracturing has an impact on drinking water and the public health of Americans living in the vicinity of hydraulic fracturing wells.
In making the requests of the nine leading national and regional hydraulic fracturing service providers – BJ Services, Complete Production Services, Halliburton, Key Energy Services, Patterson-UTI, PRC, Inc., Schlumberger, Superior Well Services, and Weatherford – EPA is seeking information on the chemical composition of fluids used in the hydraulic fracturing process, data on the impacts of the chemicals on human health and the environment, standard operating procedures at their hydraulic fracturing sites and the locations of sites where fracturing has been conducted. This information will be used as the basis for gathering further detailed information on a representative selection of sites.
"This scientifically rigorous study will help us understand the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water – a concern that has been raised by Congress and the American people. By sharing information about the chemicals and methods they are using, these companies will help us make a thorough and efficient review of hydraulic fracturing and determine the best path forward," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "Natural gas is an important part of our nation's energy future, and it's critical that the extraction of this valuable natural resource does not come at the expense of safe water and healthy communities. EPA will do everything in its power, as it is obligated to do, to protect the health of the American people and will respond to demonstrated threats while the study is underway."
Hydraulic fracturing is a process in which large volumes of water, sand and chemicals are injected at high pressures to extract oil and natural gas from underground rock formations. The process creates fractures in formations such as shale rock, allowing natural gas or oil to escape into the well and be recovered. During the past few years, the use of hydraulic fracturing has expanded across much of the country.
EPA announced in March that it will study the potential adverse impact that hydraulic fracturing may have on drinking water. To solicit input on the scope of the study, EPA is holding a series of public meetings in major oil and gas production regions to hear from citizens, independent experts and industry. The initial results of the study will be announced in late 2012. EPA will identify additional information for industry to provide – including information on fluid disposal practices and geological features – that will help EPA carry out the study.
EPA has requested the information be provided on a voluntary basis within 30 days, and has asked the companies to respond within seven days to inform the agency whether they will provide all of the information sought. The data being sought by the agency is similar to information that has already been provided separately to Congress by the industry. Therefore, EPA expects the companies to cooperate with these voluntary requests. If not, EPA is prepared to use its authorities to require the information needed to carry out its study.
EPA is currently working with state and local governments who play an important role in overseeing and regulating fracturing operations and are at the forefront of protecting local air and water quality from adverse impacts.
View the letter on the voluntary information request: http://www.epa.gov/epahome/hydraulicfracturing/
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)
EPA Recovery Act Projects Spotlighted In Vice President Biden's New Report On 100 Recovery Act Projects Changing America
To view the full report: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/100-Recovery-Act-Projects-Changing-America-Report.pdf
More information on the president's initiative and action plan: http://www.greatlakesrestoration.us
Tabletop Exercise Tool For Water Systems: Emergency Preparedness, Response, And Climate Resiliency (TTX Tool)
EPA-Minnesota BASINS/HSPF Watershed Modeling Workshop Sets Partnership Example
Comment Period Extended For The Proposed Revised Total Coliform Rule
Treating Contaminants Of Emerging Concern: A Literature Review
National Risk Management Research Laboratory (NRMRL)
The PLACES Program — Defining the Sustainable Future
The PLACES program encourages communities to identify the systems context for making site-level land-use decisions to minimize off-site impacts. This provides a firm foundation to establish public/private programs that allow land users to participate in maintaining physical characteristics of functioning natural systems. Communities that elect to participate in the PLACES program must begin with a multidisciplinary team able to identify local and regional ecosystem structures, functions and processes. This background establishes a context for making land-use decisions. After meeting some prerequisites such as documenting locations of toxic sites to ensure no contact with human life, PLACES communities must meet four basic requirements:
Social System Requirements
Economic System Requirements
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 Awards Grants For Students To Design Sustainable Technologies To Help Environment And Economy
EPA Proceeds With Enhancements To Its Financial Systems
EPA Picks State Capitals To Create Models Of Green Design
EPA Formally Requests Information From Companies About Chemicals Used In Natural Gas Extraction