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Regulatory Affairs

The Regulatory Subcommittee of WEF’s Government Affairs Committee (GAC) leads efforts to monitor regulations that often impact WEF members’ activities and how environmental goals related to clean water are met. The Regulatory Subcommittee also provides input on regulatory rulemaking efforts through collaborations between WEF membership and U.S. EPA staff as well as others in the regulatory community.  

WEF staff and the Regulatory Subcommittee share regulatory updates and forecasts on pending changes through regular and timely communications with WEF membership. 

 

Regulatory Activities | Regulatory News & Comments |
News Update | News Archive 


WEF Regulatory Activities

WEF often submits formal comments on proposed regulations. The comments are prepared by member work groups. If you would like to obtain a copy of any of these comments, please send your request to cternieden@wef.org.

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WEF Regulatory News and Comments

EPA Administrator Signs Final Phase II MS4 Permit Remand Rule 

 
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy signed the final Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) General Permit Remand Rule on November 17, 2016. The issuance of this rule satisfies a court remand by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Environmental Defense Center v. EPA, which required that a final rule addressing its remand be issued by no later than November 17th. 
 
The proposed rule is the result of a September 2015 settlement approved by the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Environmental Defense Center Inc. That settlement required EPA to revise its MS4 Phase II permits, which affects small communities with populations below 100,000. 
 
EPA also released a pre-publication version of the final rule, EPA’s fact sheet summary of the rule, and a mark-up version of the changes to the Phase II stormwater rule. To view and download copies of these documents, visit EPA’s website at: https://www.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater-rules-and-notices#proposed. The final rule is anticipated to be formally published in the Federal Register during the week of November 28, 2016. The final rule will be effective 30 days following the publication date in the Federal Register.
 
WEF has previously worked with EPA on this rule by facilitating engagement with Phase II communities providing EPA with input. Additionally, WEF provided comments on the draft rule earlier this year with comments focused on responding to questions posed by EPA with an emphasis on providing maximum flexibility to the MS4 Phase II regulated sector. 
 
EPA requested public comments regarding three potential options for how the MS4 Phase II program might be implemented. Option 1 focused on a Traditional General Permit Approach which established permit terms and conditions within one comprehensive permit; Option 2 was considered to be a more Procedural Approach that issued a base general permit and in a second step established permit terms for individual MS4s not found in the base general permit, and Option 3 – known as the State Choice (or Hybrid) Approach – allowed permitting authorities to choose which option and/or combination of options was most suitable for their jurisdictional needs. WEF recommended EPA adopt Option 3, which appears to align with the current diversity of approaches utilized by the states.
 
While our analysis of the final Rule is ongoing, an early review shows EPA selected Option 3 - the “Hybrid Approach”. WEF will continue to work our members and partners over the upcoming weeks to analyze the final Remand Rule to determine what changes have been made since it was first proposed. We will identify areas where we were successful in influencing those changes. 
 
WEF will host a free webcast on December 6, 2016 on the MS4 Phase II Remand Rule and discuss its potential impacts to communities throughout the U.S. We are pleased to announce EPA staff will participate in the webcast and available to answer questions from participants. Please mark your calendars for this event and stay tuned as more details become available.
 
For additional information regarding the remand rule and WEF’s comments, please contact Chris French at 703-684-2423 or cfrench@wef.org.

EPA Launches a Draft Guide for Stormwater Planning 

 

On October 27th, EPA publicly released a new draft guide, titled " Community Solutions for Stormwater Management:  A Guide for Voluntary Long-Term Planning" for communities seeking to create long-term stormwater control plans.  EPA also released information for an eventual toolkit and technical assistance resources and is working with five municipalities in a pilot program to produce model plans. (Inside EPA, 9/27/16) 

In an  Oct. 26 memo accompanying the draft guide, EPA's top water official Joel Beauvais says the stormwater push is a response to years of stakeholder discussions that show the need for municipal stormwater plans that go beyond the five-year time horizon of a Clean Water Act (CWA) discharge permit. 

“This guide outlines the elements the EPA will look for in a long-term stormwater plan. It focuses on using multi-benefit approaches to solve stormwater pollution control challenges. It recognizes that for a plan to be more affordable, communities need to make financial investments over a time horizon of sufficient length to allow for cost efficiencies through working with other municipal programs,” Beauvais writes. 

“This stormwater toolkit will include technical and financing resources to walk communities through the long-term stormwater planning process provided in the guide,” Beauvais' memo says. 

The guide also urges municipalities to set targets that can be implemented in CWA discharge permits issued through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). 

“All or part of a long-term stormwater plan can inform an NPDES permit as appropriate. Permit writers can use the proposed implementation schedules included in the plan to develop clear, specific and measurable permit requirements that are consistent with applicable regulations. Identifying milestones of a long-term stormwater plan in NPDES permits can support the community’s goals while simultaneously providing regulatory predictability,” the guide says. (Inside EPA, 9/27/16)

 

EPA to Launch a Survey on Nutrients

 

On October 20th, the EPA Office of Water sent a  letter to all publicly owned treatment works (POTW) in the US highlighting a study they are launching entitled the National Study of Nutrient Removal and Secondary Technologies.  Nutrient pollution is a current and growing threat to public health and local economies, and EPA headquarters is initiating this study to evaluate nutrient control at secondary treatment facilities.   

In September, EPA published a  Federal Register Notice containing the proposed information collection request for the initial census for all treatment plants.  The comment period for this notice closes on November 18, 2016. 

More information about the proposed information collection, the initial census, a draft questionnaire, and directions on submitting public comments can be found at the  study's website

Click here to see EPA's most recent strategy for addressing the nutrient problem in partnership with states. 

 

LIFT Launches Water Technology Survey

 

As a reminder, LIFT has launched a Water Technology Survey to get a better picture of the technologies used in the water sector and how they are implemented. We are looking for personnel from municipal wastewater, stormwater, drinking water agencies, and industrial organizations familiar with the technologies used at their facility to fill out the survey. The data will be aggregated into a data visualization tool that will be viewable by all respondents for the purposes of peer-to-peer networking and information sharing. Survey responses are due by Friday, December 2, 2016. 

Additionally, WE&RF in partnership with WEF and NACWA launched the LIFT Scholarship Exchange Experience for Innovation & Technology Program (SEE IT). Utility personnel can receive travel scholarships to visit other facilities and learn about their new technologies and innovation activities. Members of WEF, WE&RF, and NACWA are encouraged to apply. Applications are due by Thursday, December 1, 2016.  

If you have any questions, please contact Fidan Karimova at fkarimova@werf.org

 

EPA Announces Plans to Hold a Public Listening Session on Combined Sewer Overflow in the Great Lakes 

 

On August 1st, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), announced plans to hold a public listening session on September 14, 2016, in Chicago, IL, to gain information from the public to help in the development of a new regulation establishing public notification requirements for combined sewer overflow discharges in the Great Lakes watershed.  Brief oral comments (three minutes or less) and written statements will be accepted at the session.   

The public listening session will be held at the Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 Office (Lake Erie, Room 12), 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL, 60604-3507. 

The EPA is also calling for stakeholder input and submission of formal comments on the matter.  Comments are due by September 23, 2016. Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2016-0378 to the Federal eRulemaking Portal:  http://www.regulations.gov.  

According to the Federal Register, this rulemaking is in response to new requirements included with the Fiscal Year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill. EPA is requesting input from the public regarding potential approaches for these new public notification requirements for combined sewer overflow discharges in the Great Lakes watershed. The agency is undertaking this outreach to help it shape a future regulatory proposal intended to provide the affected public with information that will help better protect public health. 

To find out more information please contact WEF Legislative Director, Steve Dye, sdye@wef.org. 

 

New NGICP Website 

 
WEF and DC Water have launched a new website for the National Green Infrastructure Certification Program (NGICP), an in-development national certification for green infrastructure construction, inspection, and maintenance workers. The website, www.ngicp.org, will feature the latest program news & updates, resources, training opportunities, and more. Read more.
 
 

WEF Innovative Infrastructure Financing Workgroup Meets in Denver 

 
On Tuesday, the WEF Innovative Infrastructure Financing Workgroup and invited guests met at the WEF/IWA Nutrients 2016 Removal and Recovery conference in Denver to continue a dialogue about opportunities and challenges around existing, underutilized, and potentially new infrastructure financing mechanisms.  
 
The dialogue was open in order to help shape the agenda for a more comprehensive meeting at WEFTEC 2016.  The goal was to narrow in on one or two ideas to develop an action and advocacy plan. This includes potential changes to help strengthen the SRF program, as well as further examination and consideration of successful state-run programs, such as the Funding Agency Coordination Team (FACT) program used in Oklahoma.  FACT is defined as a group of federal and state organizations, including the Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, Indian Health Services, and Office of Emergency Management, that offer financing to eligible Oklahoma public entities for water and wastewater projects. The team meets bi-monthly and facilitates the funding process through communication and streamlined application processes.
 
 

WEF Biogas Data Work Included in New Report 

 
On Tuesday, during the Bioenergy 2016: Mobilizing the Bioeconomy through Innovation conference, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) released "2016 Billion-Ton Report:  Advancing Domestic Resources for a Thriving Bioeconomy" (Volume 1).  
 
As part of the report, biosolids were highlighted, specifically WEF biogas data work, under "Emerging Sources of Biomass" in section 2.7.1 "Biosolids and Wastewater Treatment."  Additionally, biosolids received focus under section 5.5 "Other Supplies." 
 
The report "expands upon the previous studies’ broad assessment of biomass resources. For the first time, the report include algae and municipal solid waste resources, provides greater detail of dedicated energy crop systems, and incorporates logistics costs related to delivering biomass to the biorefinery."
 
Click here for a copy of the full report, as well as here for video, fact sheets, and previous reports.
 
 

Webinar and Public Comment Opportunity:  Looking Forward:  Priorities for Managing Freshwater Resources in a Changing Climate 


 
06/27/16 - 2:00 PM ET - 3:30 PM ET 
 
Introduction:  The Federal Interagency Water Resources and Climate Change Workgroup has released for public comment the draft document, Looking Forward: Priorities for Managing Freshwater Resources in a Changing Climate
 
The Workgroup is accepting comments through July 15, 2016; please send your comments and questions to: water_climate_change@epa.gov.
 
In addition, you are invited to participate in a public webinar for an overview of the document:
 
 
Audio Number: 1-866-299-3188 
Participant Code: 202-564-0734# 
 
As background, the Water Resources and Climate Change Workgroup is comprised of more than a dozen agencies that have been working together on climate change adaptation since 2009. This document updates the 2011 National Action Plan. Agency co-chairs include Council on Environmental Quality, U.S. Geological Survey, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and participating agencies include Army Corps of Engineers, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of the Interior, FEMA, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
 
 

House Releases Regulatory Plans for 2017 

 
On June 14th, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and other House Republican leaders revealed a new regulatory agenda for 2017.  The 57-page plan is the third part of a six-part agenda dubbed “A Better Way.” This part of the agenda was developed by the task force on Reducing Regulatory Burdens, set up in February.  A copy of the agenda can be viewed here.
 
Ryan's plan calls for closer scrutiny of environmental programs, such as the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan and its application of the Clean Water Act, as well as an update to the National Environmental Policy Act.  Many financial, environmental and energy-related rules would be scaled back next year, such as methane emissions and hydraulic fracturing.  (Bloomberg BNA)
 
“We are calling for Washington to change the very way it writes its rules—that's why we wrote this plan,” Ryan said at a June 14th press conference outside the Department of Labor.
 
At this press conference, Ryan mentioned the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' interpretation of the Clean Water Act and its impact on the farming industry. Ryan said Clean Water Act permits should not be required for farming and ranching activities such as construction of ponds and ditches.
 
The regulatory plan also calls for an update to the National Environmental Policy Act to “eliminate delays, unnecessary duplication, and frivolous litigation, and give worthy projects a timely green light.” 
 

 

Past Regulatory Comments: More Regulatory Archives >>

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Regulatory News Update

Draft Stainless Steel Nuts and Bolts Waiver Extension 

This week, the US EPA Office of Ground and Drinking Water posted a draft extension of the national waiver for stainless steel nuts and bolts (in pipe restraint type products). The extension will be open for a 15-day public comment period.

The memorandum begins, “The EPA is hereby granting a one year extension of the Short-Term National Product Waiver for Stainless Steel Nuts and Bolts used in Pipe Couplings, Restraints, Joints, Flanges and Saddles for State Revolving Fund Projects, pursuant to the “American Iron and Steel” requirements of the Clean Water Act Section 608 and P.L. 114-113, the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016.” The original waiver was signed on February 18, 2015 and with the one year extension, the waiver will now expire February 18, 2017. This waiver permits the use of non-domestically produced stainless steel nuts and bolts in bolting-type pipe couplings, restraints, joints, and repair saddles in iron and steel products for projects funded by a Clean Water or Drinking Water State Revolving Fund that may otherwise be prohibited absent this waiver,” and a full copy can be read here.

For more information, please visit this webpage. 

Congress Takes More Time to Finish FY16 Budget (December 2015)

The House and Senate passed a short term continuing resolution (CR) this week to give themselves until next Wednesday, Dec. 16, to complete an omnibus appropriations package to fund the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2016.  An overall budget agreement was reached in October 2015 that set top-line funding levels for the next two fiscal years, which included a slight increase in the FY16 funding level above the amount prescribed under sequestration.  Congress was supposed to have the final omnibus package complete by Dec. 11, but negotiations have stalled a number of policy provisions and program funding amounts, further delaying the final package.  Congress will work over the weekend to try to reach an agreement before the current short term CR expires.  

House Passes Ban on Microbeads (December 2015)

By voice vote this week the House passed a ban on the manufacturing, sale, and distribution of plastic microbeads that are added to personal care products.  The Microbead Free Waters Act of 2015 (H.R. 1321) would ban the use of these plastics in over the counter drugs as well as rinse off cosmetics and would prohibit the use of alternatives beginning January 1, 2018. The legislation defines microbeads as "any solid plastic particle that is less than five millimeters in size and is intended to be used to exfoliate or cleanse the human body or any part thereof," and completely forbids the production of toothpaste to include microbeads. The bill has been sent to the Senate for consideration.

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Past Regulatory News Updates : More Regulatory Archives >>

 

 For More Information

Contact: Claudio Ternieden, Director of Government Affairs, 703-684-2400, x. 2416 or cternieden@wef.org.

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