EPA Issues NPDES MS4 Final Remand Rule in Response to Lawsuit

EPA has developed its Final NPDES MS4 Remand Rule that revises its regulations governing regulated small municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) permits in response to a lawsuit by the Environmental Defense Center in the U.S. Court of Appeals.  The court determined that the regulations for small MS4 general permits did not provide for adequate public notice and opportunity to request a hearing, and failed to require a permitting authority review of best management practices to ensure the reduction of pollutants in discharge from the permittee’s systems to the “maximum extent practicable” to protect water quality, and to satisfy the appropriate water quality requirements of the Clean Water Act.  This final rule establishes two alternative approaches a permitting authority can use to issue NPDES small MS4s permits and meet the requirements of the court remand, but does not establish any new substantive requirements for small MS4 permits.  The final rule will become effective on January 9, 2017.  For more information, visit EPA’s website.

EPA’s National Lakes Assessment Finds Widespread Nutrient Pollution

EPA has released the results of its National Lakes Assessment that shows widespread nutrient pollution across the nation.  The Assessment found that four in ten lakes it studied are suffering from too much nitrogen and phosphorus.  The assessment is part of a series of National Aquatic Resource Surveys designed to provide information about the condition of water resources in the U.S.  The surveys are conducted in partnership with states and tribes to provide national-scale assessments of the nation’s waters.  An earlier National Lakes Assessment was conducted in 2007, but this latest study was expanded to include smaller lakes and increase the number of lakes assessed.  Lake managers can use the new interactive dashboard to evaluate site-specific information and to explore population-level results.  Conducted on a five-year basis, future lake surveys will help water resource managers assess broad-scale differences in the data and perform trends analysis.  For more information, go HERE.

 

Nominate Your Water Systems for the AWWA Exemplary Source Water Protection Award by January 15th

Nominations for the 2016 AWWA Exemplary Source Water Protection Award are due on January 15, 2017.  Please consider nominating your water systems for this award, where winners will be announced at the 2017 AWWA Annual Conference & Exposition.  This award recognizes up to three water systems every year for their outstanding source water protection programs, with consideration for their size and resources.  This year’s two award winners were the Central Utah Provo Watershed Council and the Regional Municipality of York, Ontario.

This year, the AWWA Source Water Protection Committee that administers the award program is strongly encouraging nomination submissions for the smallest water systems serving populations of 10,000 or fewer, using either ground water or surface water supply sources.  Because many of these systems may not have the gumption, resources, or ability to complete the application process themselves, the Committee is hopeful that state drinking water programs, AWWA Sections, and State Rural Water Associations will be willing to help.

While the nominations for this year are not due until January 15, 2017, it is helpful to get an early start on the application process.  Nominations are judged on how well a water system meets the six components of AWWA’s (G300) Source Water Protection Standard:  1) program vision; 2) source water characterization; 3) source water protection goals; 4) development of an Action Plan; 5) implementation of the Action Plan; and 6) periodic evaluation and revision of the entire program. In addition to how well a source water protection program satisfies each of the six program components for the AWWA Standard, nominees will also be evaluated on the following three criteria:

  1. Effectiveness of the program,
  2. Innovative approaches, and
  3. Difficulties overcome.

More information about the award, including previous award recipients, eligibility and submission criteria, and the entry form, may be accessed via the AWWA Source Water Protection Resource Community page.  You will need to sign in using your AWWA member information, or sign up for a free username and password if you are not a member.  You may also view the criteria and download the entry form at www.awwa.org/eswpa.

December 6th SWC Learning Exchange Webinar on Agricultural Messaging

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Please join us for the next webinar in the Source Water Collaborative’s (SWC) Learning Exchange Webinar Series about successful messaging in agricultural communities. While the impacts of nutrient pollution are often seen in surface water, many forget that nitrates affect vital ground water sources as well. Speakers from the Missouri Rural Water Association, EPA Region 3, and Lancaster Farmland Trust in Pennsylvania will share successful strategies on how they were able to overcome barriers that led to more effective outreach while maintaining and supporting the local economy and unique cultures.

Date:  Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Time:  1:00pm – 2:00pm (eastern time)

Title:  Messaging Source Water Protection in Agricultural Communities

Register here

EPA Publishes Final Contaminant Candidate List

Last week, EPA published a Federal Register notice announcing the final Fourth Contaminant Candidate List (CCL4).  CCL4 includes 97 chemicals or chemical groups and 12 microbiological contaminants. The list includes, among others, chemicals used in commerce, pesticides, biological toxins, disinfection byproducts, pharmaceuticals and waterborne pathogens.  These contaminants are almost exclusively roll overs from CCL3, except for manganese and nonylphenol, which were added after nomination by the public.

EPA will use information collected for contaminants on the CCL, including UCMR monitoring results, to determine whether to regulate five or more contaminants. The CCL is also used to prioritize agency research needs. Get all the details on CCL4 at the CCL4 web page.

WaterRF Publishes Methodology for Identifying Source Water Contaminant Data

The Water Research Foundation (WaterRF) has published a report from Project #4581 entitled, “Methodology for Locating and Managing Dynamic Potential Source Water Contaminant Data.”  The project was conducted by Corona Environmental Consulting with partners from AWWA, West Virginia American Water, Greater Cincinnati Water Works, and Aqua America, Inc.  ASDWA staff served on the Advisory Committee.  This project developed a detailed methodology for how information about the storage of chemicals in the critical zone upstream of drinking water intakes can be located, extracted, quality controlled, organized, and maintained by a water system. The focus on improved data stewardship will help stakeholders meet pressing immediate needs and contribute to meeting longer term needs by turning data into knowledge.  To download the report, visit the WaterRF website.

EPA Releases Report on Progress Made to Reduce Water Pollution from Nonpoint Sources 

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EPA has released the first-ever national snapshot of the Agency’s work to reduce water pollution from nonpoint sources, which affect more than 80 percent of the country’s assessed rivers, streams, lakes and reservoirs.  Through the strong state, tribal, and territorial partnerships built through EPA’s Clean Water Act Section 319 Nonpoint Source Pollution Management Program, more than 6,000 miles of streams and 164,000 acres of lakes have been removed from EPA’s impaired waters list.

The report found that EPA’s 319 grants are a catalyst toward water quality improvement—of 538 water bodies with documented water quality improvement, states reported a total $1.78 billion of funding was provided for restoration work. Of that amount, $13% ($238 million) is attributed to Section 319 funding.  EPA’s Nonpoint Source Program Report highlights other major accomplishments and offers a glimpse of the more than 2,000 nonpoint source projects underway across the country, including a variety of projects located in drinking water supply areas.

Learn More

EPA Releases Three New Cyanotoxin Tools

EPA has just released three new tools that provide public water systems with examples and ready-to-use templates to tailor to their systems, as they see appropriate, and to aid in managing and communicating the risks of cyanotoxins in drinking water. Development of these tools was highlighted in the Algal Toxin Risk Assessment and Management Strategic Plan for Drinking Water, submitted by EPA to Congress in 2015.  The tools are available at:  https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/cyanotoxins-drinking-water.

  • The cyanotoxin management plan template and example plans provide a framework for states, tribes and public water systems to develop their own system-specific cyanotoxin management plans. The template includes potential steps for preparing for a bloom and mitigating the effects of a bloom including monitoring, treatment and communication activities. EPA partnered with five utilities to develop system-specific cyanotoxin management plans that provide examples of how water systems are managing cyanotoxin risks.  For questions, please contact Hannah Holsinger at hannah@epa.govor (202) 564-0403.
  • The cyanotoxin drinking water treatment optimization document supports public water systems in developing monitoring and treatment optimization approaches for cyanotoxins to achieve the best performance possible from each treatment process. It presents proactive approaches for water sampling and monitoring to help public water systems anticipate treatment needs and to treat cyanotoxins in drinking water. Information is presented for treating cyanotoxins using many types of water treatment.  For questions, please contact Tom Waters at tom@epa.govor (513) 569-7611.
  • The drinking water cyanotoxin risk communication toolbox is a ready-to-use, “one-stop-shop” to support public water systems, states and local governments in developing, as they deem appropriate, their own risk communication materials. It includes editable worksheets, press release templates, social media posts and other quick references. The materials focus on communicating risk and providing background information to the public prior to and during a drinking water cyanotoxin contamination event as well as general information on harmful algal blooms and cyanotoxins.  For questions, please contact Katie Foreman at katherine@epa.govor (202) 564-3403.

EPA welcomes your questions, along with suggestions for improving any of these documents, as well as ideas for future tool development.

Register for the SWC Learning Exchange Funding Webinar Next Week

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Register now for next week’s webinar on “Funding Source Water Protection.”  This webinar is part of the Source Water Collaborative’s continuing Learning Exchange Webinar Series and details are as follows.

  • Date/Time:  November 10th from 1:00pm – 2:15pm (eastern)
  • Title:  Funding Source Water Protection
  • What you will learn:  Get ideas for leveraging funding sources and partnerships and learn about new eligibilities for accessing Drinking Water State Revolving Funds.
  • Panelists:
    • Kiri Anderer, EPA
    • Les Perkins and Jerry Bryan, Farmers Irrigation District, Oregon
    • Kelly Anderson and Tim Fenchal, Schuylkill Restoration Fund
  • Register here

Proposals Now Being Accepted for 2017 Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Grants

The Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Grants Program has announced its 2017 request for proposals. The program is a collaboration between the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the Wildlife Habitat Council, in cooperation with EPA, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, FedEx, the Southern Company and the Alcoa Foundation.  The Five Star and Urban Waters program will award approximately $2.5 million in grants nationwide to develop community capacity to sustain local natural resources for future generations by providing modest financial assistance to diverse local partnerships focused on improving water quality, watersheds and the species and habitats they support. Projects include a variety of ecological improvements including: wetland, riparian, forest and coastal habitat restoration; wildlife conservation; community tree canopy enhancement; and/or water quality monitoring and stormwater management; along with targeted community outreach, education and stewardship.

Priority will be given to projects in urban, suburban and/or rural areas that advance water quality goals in environmental justice communities such as neighborhoods with high concentrations of minority and low-income populations. In addition, EPA’s Urban Waters Program will give special consideration to project proposals that advance the priorities in the 19 Urban Waters Federal Partnership designated locations.

  • Proposals are being accepted through January 31, 2017.
  • Register for the webinar on November 15th from 2:00 to 3:30pm (eastern).
  • For more information, visit the website.