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This Week in Washington

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October 6, 2011                                                Vol. 1, No. 7

The Stormwater Report is a monthly e-newsletter that highlights advanced practices, cutting-edge research, policy updates, and current events pertaining to stormwater.  Look for The Stormwater Report on the first Thursday of every month.

StormFeature

Adaptive Management: Innovation at Work

Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently adopted numeric phosphorus criteria, which could cost utilities billions of dollars in treatment upgrades. However, the state also has become the first to offer a more flexible alternative to compliance: adaptive management. In doing so, DNR hopes to encourage affordable, watershed-based alternatives to traditional brick-and-mortar improvements.

Many states are adopting more stringent water quality criteria for nutrients. These criteria and resulting total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) will affect stormwater discharges from Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s) and effluent discharges from wastewater treatment plants (WWTP).

Through DNR’s adaptive management program, WWTPs and MS4s can offset their phosphorus discharges by funding nonpoint source control practices. The suite of alternatives employed may include green infrastructure or best management practices and could vary significantly from one watershed to another.

Adaptive management acknowledges the fact that controlling nonpoint source pollution may be the most cost-effective means of improving water quality, as tertiary treatment processes can be prohibitively expensive.

Though similar to water quality trading, DNR states that adaptive management gives municipalities greater flexibility. In the end, water quality improvements should result in a revised water quality based effluent limit for the facility.

DNR’s adaptive management strategy also can build on other initiatives, such as restrictions on phosphorus-containing lawn fertilizers and cleaning agents, as part of an overall strategy to achieve compliance with applicable water quality criteria.

In Wisconsin, the adaptive management option can be used if both point and nonpoint sources contribute to excess phosphorus loading. The sum of nonpoint and MS4 contributions must be at least 50% of the total phosphorus load.

Also, WWTPs and MS4s participating in the adaptive management approach are required to optimize existing controls and meet interim permit limits for phosphorus that generally are viewed as achievable without significant upgrades.

Several wastewater treatment plants and MS4s in Wisconsin are evaluating the adaptive management option now. Successful implementation will require much collaboration among nontraditional partners, offering both opportunities and challenges.

Check here for more information on Wisconsin’s phosphorus strategy and the watershed adaptive management option. Section NR 217.18 of DNR’s phosphorus rules contains more detailed information.

Written by Dave Taylor, director of special projects, at the Madison (Wis.) Metropolitan Sewerage District

StormNews

EPA Officially Announces Delay of Proposed Stormwater Rule
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) confirmed Sept. 30 that legal proceedings to officially delay the proposed stormwater rule have been finalized. Originally set for Sept. 30, the publication date has been extended to Dec. 15 after negotiation between the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF; Annapolis) and EPA. The final rule still is slated for promulgation on Nov. 19, 2012, as originally outlined in a settlement agreement between the CBF and EPA.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson reportedly is reviewing the proposed rule. After her review, the rule will be forwarded to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

StormEVENTS

WEF Events

WEFTEC® 2011
Oct. 15–19
Los Angeles Convention Center
Check here for stormwater-specific programming

WEF/CWEA Stormwater Symposium 2012
July 19–20, 2012
Baltimore, Maryland’s Inner Harbor
CALL FOR ABSTRACTS CLOSES OCT. 26

Congressional briefing on USGS nutrient studies and tools
Oct. 28
10–11:30 a.m.
Rayburn House Office Building, room 2167

Evaluating Stormwater Outreach: Is Anyone Listening?
Nov. 9
2–3:30 p.m. EST
No-charge WEF webcast

Member Association Events

New England Water Environment Association
Stormwater Specialty Seminar and Exhibit
Spring 2012
Abstracts due Oct. 14

Chesapeake Water Environment Federation
Wet Weather Issues, Piped & Un-Piped
Nov. 15
Linthicum, Md.

Other Events

Water Environment Research Foundation webcast
Real-Time Control of Green Infrastructure: Applications and Test Site Opportunities
Oct. 11
2–3 p.m. EST

Water Environment Research Foundation
WERF Online Research Forum
Dec. 6
11 a.m.–5 p.m. EST

Stormwater Programming Deluges WEFTEC 2011
The Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) will host WEFTEC® 2011 Oct. 15–19 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Stormwater programming will be continuous at WEFTEC and will include a green infrastructure workshop, facility tour, and 42 technical presentations. In addition, WEFTEC will host nearly 1000 exhibitors, many offering stormwater-related products and services. Check here for a full list of stormwater programming, including committee meetings, policy forums, technical sessions, and more. Online registration is open now.


EPA Agrees to Streamline Clean Water Regulations
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is urging regional National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit writers to be flexible by allowing municipalities to integrate wastewater and stormwater requirements and prioritize cost-effective projects — approaches that EPA hopes will help limit local wet weather compliance costs.

In a Sept. 20 letter to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Nancy Stoner, acting assistant administrator for Water, and Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for Enforcement and Compliance assurance, expressed their goal “to develop an integrated approach that allows municipalities to evaluate all of the Clean Water Act requirements in a cost-effective manner. This includes sequencing projects to get the biggest benefits and most cost-effective approaches implemented first."

See the Sept. 9 and Oct. 2 issues of This Week in Washington for more information.


USGS Releases Nutrient Decision-Making Tool
On Sept. 6, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released its nutrient decision support system. The tool is composed of six regional models that show nutrient contributions from natural and anthropogenic sources and reveal how nutrients move through the environment.

The system enables users to investigate water quality effects achieved through a combination of nutrient reduction strategies that target one or multiple nutrient sources. For example, the model can determine the reduction in nutrient load achieved by reducing agricultural inputs versus those from wastewater treatment plants. This data tool can help decision-makers evaluate management alternatives. See the USGS press release for more information.

In relation to this tool, the Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, Va.) and the Northeast Midwest Institute (D.C.), in co-operation with USGS, will host a congressional briefing, New Scientific Findings To Help Direct Action on Excessive Nutrients in Rivers and Estuaries. It will cover the nutrient decision support system as well as USGS’s assessment of nutrients in waterbodies throughout six major U.S. regions. The briefing, which is free and open to the public, will be held Oct. 28, 10–11:30 a.m., in room 2167 of the Rayburn House Office Building. Contact Pallavi Raviprakash at praviprakash@wef.org for more information.


Stormwater Bill StufferCreate a Stormwater Education Campaign with WEF Materials

The Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, Va.) has made available a series of free resources to educate the public about stormwater pollution. Check here to see a variety of short messages that highlight sources of stormwater pollution as well as pollution prevention tips. These messages are available in multiple formats for use in print and electronic materials. They can be downloaded free and customized with a utility logo.

Also check out WEF’s six-panel bill stuffer, Stormwater Runoff: Take It Personally! Copies can be purchased online or by phone at 800-666-0206.



EPA Releases Healthy Watersheds Initiative Framework and Action Plan

On Sept. 27, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a national framework and action plan for its Healthy Watersheds Initiative (HWI). The initiative is part of the agency's effort to prevent the degradation of currently healthy aquatic ecosystems. The framework describes the HWI as well as an implementation plan that will help EPA headquarters, regions, and states meet specific goals and objectives that are detailed in the plan. The Water Environment Federation’s (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) Watershed Management and Government Affairs committees contributed to the framework by submitting comments.


Ohio River Basin Trading Pilot Program Enters Phase II
A $1 million Conservation Innovation Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture marks the second phase of a pilot water quality trading program in the Ohio River Basin. Water quality trading allows permitted emitters to purchase nutrient reductions achieved by other sources, including best management practices that control runoff.

The program, led by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI; Palo Alto, Calif.) and launched in 2009, seeks to decrease control costs and nutrient pollution through a market-based program. The pilot program is an interstate, multicredit trading program that, at full scale, could include as many as 46 power plants, thousands of wastewater facilities, and approximately 230,000 farmers in eight states. Currently, the pilot program plans to reduce nitrogen loading by 20,412 kg and phosphorus loading by 6804 kg annually. Find more details here.


Two Senate Bills Aim To Protect Beaches
On Sept. 20, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) introduced the Clean Coastal Environment and Public Health Act of 2011 (S. 1582). This bill seeks to improve water quality monitoring and speed public notification of safety concerns at the nation’s beaches due to stormwater runoff and sewer overflows. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.

On Sept. 21, the Committee on Environment and Public Works passed the San Francisco Bay Restoration Act (S. 97). This bill would create a grant program for improving water quality through a list of priority projects established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as well as state and local partners.


WEF and American Rivers Host Green Infrastructure Briefing
The Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) and American Rivers (D.C.) will host a congressional briefing on the multiple economic benefits of green infrastructure. The briefing, Reducing Costs and Spurring Job Growth: Using Green Infrastructure Practices to Protect and Restore Clean Water for Communities, will showcase success stories from practitioners across the country. WEF's Executive Director Jeff Eger will speak along with other experienced professionals. The event will be held Oct. 25, 10:30 a.m – 12 p.m. in the Capitol Visitors Center, Room SVC 215. It is open to all congressional staff.

 
Cloud ImageCheck It Out!
Maryland Solar Decathlon Team Designs With Stormwater in Mind

The University of Maryland placed first in the U.S. Department of Energy’s biennial Solar Decathlon, which took place Sept. 23–Oct. 2. The decathlon challenges university students to design solar-powered homes that are attractive and affordable.

Maryland's entry, WaterShed, was inspired by the Chesapeake Bay environment and is both energy- and water-efficient. Split into two modules, WaterShed has a solar roof and a green roof that slope toward each other, capturing excess rainwater in a central wetland cistern. The wetland is also responsible for filtering graywater from the shower, clothes washer, and dishwasher. Water conservation features include graywater reuse for irrigation, water efficient appliances, and native landscaping. See pictures and take a virtual tour.


Did we miss something? Feel free to suggest content by e-mailing Kristina Twigg at
ktwigg@wef.org or WEF’s stormwater team lead, Seth Brown at sbrown@wef.org.