Regulations and guidance from the U.S. EPA and other federal agencies often impact WEF members’ activities and how environmental goals are met. The Regulatory Subcommittee of WEF’s Government Affairs Committee leads WEF efforts to monitor regulations connected with clean water issues and provides input on regulatory rulemaking efforts through collaboration between WEF membership and U.S. EPA staff as well as others in the regulatory community. WEF staff and the Regulatory Subcommittee share information on regulatory updates and forecasts on pending changes through regular and timely communications with WEF membership.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
WEF Regulatory News and Comments
Countdown to National PrepareAthon Day!
Water Utilities Raising Action to Build Resilience - April 30, 2016
Raise awareness about the importance of water services in your community with the Public Awareness Kit.
Educating your key stakeholders — and motivating them to take specific actions — is key to meeting your water system’s goals.
Use EPA’s Water Utility Public Awareness Kit to inform customers and the community about threats to their water system.
By combining the most effective communications methods — print, web, and TV — you will reinforce the message and drive home three calls to action:
- Be aware
- Be prepared
- Show you care
So, get the word out, starting today! Click here
Sixth Circuit Court Will Not Rehear Case on WOTUS
On April 21, the full Sixth Circuit court denied a series of petitions requesting an en banc (otherwise known as a full court) rehearing of a February 22, 2016 ruling by a three-judge panel. This decision keeps the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) case in the appellate court level. The participating states and industry groups were seeking to have this case decided at the federal district level. In a one-page release, the court stated that, “No judge has requested a vote on the suggestion for rehearing en banc…therefore, the petitions are denied.”
At question was the appropriate venue to determine the limits of Clean Water Act jurisdiction. The February 22 ruling by the three-judge panel held that the appeals court, as opposed to the district courts, is the level at which the WOTUS case should be decided.
To read the denial, click here.
Senate Amendment to Block Water Rule Fails
Also on April 21, a Senate amendment that would have blocked the Clean Water Rule fell four votes short of passage, but the measure's sponsor, Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) said he wouldn't give up on using the appropriations process to block the regulation.
The amendment to the Senate Energy and Water Spending bill would have blocked the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers from moving forward with the waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) regulation. It also would have blocked the EPA's Interpretive Rule, which narrowed a Clean Water Act agriculture exemption.
The Clean Water Rule is opposed by much of the business community, including oil and gas companies, which say the regulation would expand the scope of the Clean Water Act and hamstring development, but similar efforts to block the rule have failed to garner enough votes for passage.
“While I am disappointed that the vote failed, I will continue my work to stop this burdensome regulation through the appropriations process,” Hoeven said in a statement.
The Senate Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill is expected to pass in the full Senate early next week. (Bloomberg BNA)
Report to Congress: CSOs in the Great Lakes Basin
On April 19, the EPA sent Congress the report “Combined Sewer Overflows into the Great Lakes Basin.” EPA prepared this report in response to the Consolidated and Further Appropriations Act of 2015, which states: CSOs are a major contributor to water quality issues in the Lake Michigan Basin and it is noted that many communities have made strides to update wastewater infrastructure to mitigate the impact of CSOs.
This report presents EPA’s most recent assessment of the implementation status of long-term combined sewer overflow (CSO), control plans (LTCPs) in the Great Lakes Basin, as well as information on the occurrence and volume of CSO discharges in the basin during 2014.
The states reported the following for CSO events in 2014:
- 1,482 events where CSOs discharged untreated sewage into the Great Lakes Basin.
- An additional 187 events where CSOs discharged wastewater treated with a minimum of primary treatment (or its equivalent) and disinfection.
The states reported the following for CSO volume in 2014:
- CSOs discharged 22 billion gallons of untreated sewage into the Great Lakes Basin.
- CSOs discharged 26 billion gallons of wastewater treated with a minimum of primary treatment (or its equivalent) and disinfection.
- The Lake Erie Basin received 16 billion gallons of untreated sewage and 25 billion gallons of treated wastewater from CSOs.
To read the report, click here. For more information about the study, click here.
Compendium of "Drinking Water and Wastewater Utility Customer Assistance Programs" Now Posted
The Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center has posted the compendium of "Drinking Water and Wastewater Utility Customer Assistance Programs" on their website highlighting the work the center does to provide financial technical assistance to communities.
They are also planning a webinar to feature the different types of programs highlighted. A flyer with more information will be coming soon.
WEF Provides Comments on EPA Proposed Phase II Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit Remand Rule
WEF provided public comments
on EPA’s proposed Phase II Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit remand rule
, published in the Federal Register on January 6, 2016. Prior to the register publication, EPA also made pre-publication documents available for public review on December 17, 2015. A formal 75 day public comment period concluded March 21, 2016, therefore providing the public with a total of 94 days of review. In addition, WEF produced a webcast
regarding the remand rule on January 19, 2016. View the webcast recording through GoToWebinar
. An article
was also published on the remand rule in WEF’s Stormwater Report on December 18, 2015.
WEF’s comments focused on responding to questions posed by EPA with a focus on providing maximum flexibility to the MS4 Phase II regulated sector. EPA requested comments regarding three potential options for how the MS4 Phase II program might be run. Option 1 focused on a Traditional Permit Approach, Option 2 was a Procedural Approach, and Option 3 – known as the State Choice (or Hybrid) Approach. WEF recommended EPA adopt Option 3, which appears to align with the current diversity approaches utilized by the states. If adopted, Option 3 would provide authorization to the permitting authorities (states, regional boards, etc.) to choose the program administrative approach that best fits their individual needs.
The full scope of WEF’s comments
are available for review. WEF will continue to work with EPA, our members, and partners as the remand rule continues to progress over the upcoming year. EPA is obligated to issue a final MS4 Phase II rule by November 17, 2016 under the terms of last year’s legal settlement.
For additional information regarding the remand rule and WEF’s comments, please contact Chris French at 703-684-2423 or email@example.com
LIFT Odor Control Workshop
WEF and WERF are sponsoring an upcoming event that may interest you: LIFT Collaborative Workshop on Odor Control in Collection Systems and WRP Head Works. The event will take place at the WEF Odors and Air Pollutants 2016 event in Milwaukee, WI on March 24-25th. Dr. Zhiguo Yuan from University of Queensland will be presenting at the event. If you are interested in attending, please e-mail Fidan Karimova at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact her at 571.384.2096 to reserve your spot.
Supreme Court Denies Chesapeake Bay TMDL Appeal
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) announced today its denial to hear the American Farm Bureau and allies appeal regarding the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). The denial of American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), et al. v. EPA, et al. by the high court affirms the ruling of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania and subsequent unanimous ruling of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Chesapeake Bay TMDL for sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorus - otherwise known as the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint - was approved December 29, 2010. The Chesapeake Bay TMDL established pollution limits for the Bay and its tributaries. The TMDL marked a change in the historical bay-wide restoration effort in that it moved away from a largely voluntary restoration effort and includes greater accountability mechanisms tied to meeting pollution reduction goals.
Shortly after the TMDL was approved, the American Farm Bureau and the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau filed their legal appeal. They were joined by the National Association of Home Builders, the National Chicken Council, the National Corn Growers Association, the National Pork Producers Council, the National Turkey Federation, The Fertilizer Institute, and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association. In response, a number of advocacy groups and organizations representing public utilities joined EPA in supporting the TMDL.
District Court Judge Silvia Rambo issued a 99 page ruling on September 13, 2013 supporting the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, stating "…EPA’s role is critical to coordinating the Bay Jurisdictions’ efforts to ensure pollution reduction. In short, the court concludes that the framework established by the Bay Partnership in developing the Bay TMDL is consistent…” with the Clean Water Act and Administrative Procedure Act. The subsequent 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimous ruling also rejected the challenges made against the TMDL.
The unsigned order issued by the high court today denies the petition for certiorari without comment. The denial concludes an ongoing legal challenge that has been ongoing for over five years.
For more information, please contact Chris French, WEF Director of Stormwater Programs.
Federal Appeals Court to Hear Legal Challenges to WOTUS
On Monday, February 22, 2016, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit agreed to hear challenges to the “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule.
In their Murray Energy Corp. vs. EPA, et al. rule, the 6th Circuit rejected arguments that proper jurisdiction to review challenges to the WOTUS rule lies in federal district courts. Instead, two of the three judges on the panel concluded, applicable 6th Circuit precedent provided the 6th Circuit jurisdiction to hear the consolidated challenges to the WOTUS rule.
This regulation, issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, seeks to clarify and expand the agencies’ regulatory jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. The rule is a response to two Supreme Court decisions holding that the EPA and Army Corps had asserted unduly broad regulatory authority; it is now subject to more than 20 separate challenges filed by numerous states and interest groups.
According to PoliticoPRO, this decision is a win for the Justice Department, which preferred to move directly to the appellate court because the accelerated process could allow Obama administration lawyers to lay important groundwork for an expected Supreme Court appeal.
WEFCurrent Understanding of Stormwater Rulemaking Memo_110812
EPA Officials Discuss Revised Integrated Planning Framework during WEF June 14, 2012 Webcast
On June 14, Deborah Nagle, Director of EPA Water Permits Division, and Mark Pollins, Director of EPA Water Enforcement Division, participated in a WEF webcast on EPA’s just-released revised Integrated Planning Framework. Other participants in the WEF webcast included Alexandra Dunn, Executive Director of the Association of Clean Water Administrators, who presented State perspectives, Gary A. Sheely, Director of Utilities, Lima, Ohio, who discussed his municipality’s approach to integrated planning and Brandon Vatter, Hatch Mott MacDonald, who presented an integrated water quality affordability strategy.
Ms. Nagle and Mr. Pollins emphasized that EPA’s integrated approach would allow States and municipalities, working with EPA, to use existing Clean Water Act regulatory and policy flexibilities to best meet clean water requirements within their financial capability. The revised framework should better allow municipalities to sequence wastewater and stormwater projects to address highest priority projects first while advancing innovative solutions, such as green infrastructure. Responding to the many comments received on the draft framework during public workshops last February, EPA revised the framework to: include a new plan element on adaptive management approaches; place more emphasis on public outreach; better address prioritization; provide more detail on cost/affordability; and, explain the balance between permitting and enforcement.
During the Q/A session, Ms. Nagle, Mr. Pollins and Ms. Dunn had a spirited and informative discussion addressing certainty in the procees, how EPA and States could best work together, roles of permits and enforcement, TMDLs and source water protection, among other topics. Mr. Pollins “volunteered” WEF to host a follow-up webcast later this summer to explore some specific integrated plans as they are developed; WEF accepted his offer. For more information, view the audio recording of the webcast and the Power Point slides.
WEF Comments on EPA Draft National Water Program Strategy: Response to Climate Change
On April 2, 2012, EPA released their draft National Water Program 2012 Strategy: Response to Climate Change for a 45-day public comment period. WEF submitted May 15 comments on EPA’s draft, commending EPA for developing such a comprehensive strategy to address climate change in the context of our nation’s clean water programs. WEF noted that it was pleased to be able to directly participate in and contribute to the Climate Ready Water Utilities (CRWU) workgroup formed by EPA among relevant stakeholders to look at the potential impacts of climate change on water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure and to develop approaches to respond to these impacts. The Infrastructure element of the 2012 climate change strategy reflects the excellent work conducted by the CRWU workgroup which WEF fully supports. WEF also indicated that EPA’s strategy was consistent with WEF’s 2010 position statement on “Protecting Water Resources and Infrastructure from the Impacts of Climate Change.”
WEF Comments on EPA’s Integrated Planning Approach Framework
EPA has been facing mounting municipal and utility concerns over local costs to meet ever-increasing Clean Water Act obligations for municipal wastewater treatment, wet-weather overflows, stormwater, in addition to replacing/upgrading their aging water infrastructure. On October 27, 2011, EPA Assistant Administrators Nancy Stoner [Water] and Cynthia Giles [Enforcement] signed a memo “Achieving Water Quality Through Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater Plans” signaling EPA’s commitment to work with States and locals to use integrated planning approaches to better meet water quality requirements while considering local needs and priorities.
In January 2012, EPA issued a draft “Integrated Planning Approach Framework” to provide further guidance for EPA, states and local governments in developing and implementing effective integrated plans. EPA then held a series of 5 facilitated workshops around the country in January and February 2012 to solicit stakeholder feedback on their proposed framework. WEF workshop participants indicated WEF’s general support for this approach while recommending some improvements, as indicated in these WEF comments for the record. In particular, WEF commended EPA for undertaking this effort and indicated our readiness to help EPA make this happen. It is now anticipated that EPA will release a revised version of their framework around mid-May and then proceed to start implementation, working with EPA Regions, States, and local governments and utilities.
EPA Postpones Stormwater Rulemaking The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will seek a 2-month extension for the proposed national post-construction stormwater rule. The original Sept. 30 deadline will be extended until Dec. 2; however, the final rule is still planned for release in late November 2012. As such, once the proposed rule is released, the public comment period will be only 60 days, with comments likely to be due in early February 2012. The Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) will be developing comments. Those interested in participating should contact Seth Brown at email@example.com.
WEF Prepares for Proposed Stormwater Rule and Potential Impacts by Congressional Riders
The Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) met with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Stormwater Team in July to discuss the status of the proposed stormwater rule. WEF understands that the proposed rule is expected to include proposed performance standards for post-construction discharges from new and redevelopment projects, revisions to municipal separate storm sewer system boundaries and extensions of the permitting program to currently unregulated dischargers, retrofit programs for targeted urban areas, a transportation-specific permit program, and inclusion of combined sewers systems in stormwater regulations. Read more >>
WEF Submits Comment Letter on Construction General Permit
EPA has proposed an update to the 2008 Construction General Permit (CGP) and received stakeholder comments through July 11. The CGP outlines required controls and processes for the protection of construction sites to minimize soil erosion and the delivery of sediment off site to downstream areas and waters. The intent of the update is to provide clarification on a number of technical items as well as address new technologies and techniques used in the temporary stormwater management field. The most significant changes included in this update are a numeric effluent limit for turbidity for large construction sites and a standard 2-year design storm for all measures. While this regulation only impacts those states and entities that are directly regulated by EPA, these changes signal likely future changes in state programs. The WEF Government Affairs Stormwater Workgroup led the development of comments through cooperation with the Stormwater Coordinating Council.
WEF Submits Comments on Waters of the U.S. Draft Guidance
WEF submitted comments on the Draft Guidance on Identifying Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act on July 29, 2011. This guidance was jointly released by the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on May 2, 2011 with the intent to clarify jurisdictional determination. The recent Rapanos and SWANCC Supreme Court rulings on Waters of the U.S. created confusion on this topic, especially in determining the meaning of “significant nexus” associated with the Justice Kennedy opinion. WEF supports the intent of the guidance to provide clarity on the matter while understanding that EPA has committed to a formal Rulemaking on this matter. WEF comments focused on man-made structures such as ditches, swales, reservoirs, and ponds, to ensure that the existing exemptions on these elements would be protected in the guidance.
WEF Submits Comments on EPA’s November 12, 2010 Memorandum for Establishing TMDL Wasteload Allocations (WLAs) for Storm Water Sources and NPDES Permit Requirements Based on Those WLAs
Comments were developed in response to the 2010 memorandum which updates the 2002 memo that EPA issued on establishing TMDL waste-load allocations (WLAs) for stormwater sources and NPDES permit requirements based on those WLAs. WEF made comments on the Expansion of Numeric Limits as Water Quality Based Effluent Limits. Click here to see EPA’s 2010 memo along with stakeholder concerns regarding the memo. Click here to see comments submitted by WEF.
WEF Provides Input on Barriers to Green Infrastructure to EPA
EPA requested WEF to provide input on barriers to the impelmentation of green infrastructure. In response to this request, WEF compiled comments from the Government Affairs Committee Stormwater and Wet Weather Work Groups as well as the Stormwater Coordinating Council. These comments reflected not only identified barriers, but also corresponding solutions, to aid EPA in the development of actions to overcome identified barriers. Click here to see the letter from Jeff Eger along with the listing of barriers and solutions. Click here to see EPA's green infrastructure webpage.
WEF Submits Comments on EPA Proposed MACT Standards Rulemaking for Sewage Sludge Incineration (Updated December 3, 2010)
These comments were developed by an expert Residuals and Biosolids Work Group composed of WEF members from a variety of disciplines and working in all aspects of wastewater and solids management. Read more >>
WEF Submits Comments on EPA Strategy for Achieving Clean Water (Updated September 24, 2010)
The Strategy is a public forum effort by EPA to articulate areas of regulatory focus needed to, in the words of Administrator Jackson, “see a huge leap forward in water quality as we saw in the 1970’s. Read more >>
WEF Submits Comments on EPA Definition of Solid Waste Proposed Rulemaking (Updated August 6, 2010)
Comments were developed by a work group comprised of volunteers from WEF’s Residuals and Biosolids Committee and leadership of the Air Quality & Odor Control and Government Affairs Committees.Read more >>
WEF Submits Comments on EPA SSO Rulemaking (July 30, 2010)
WEF’s Government Affairs Committee, coordinating with other WEF Committees, submitted comments to EPA, building on and consistent with WEF’s April 30, 2010, Position Statement:“Management of Wet Weather Flows by Municipal Utilities.” Read more>>
Regulatory News Update
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.
Federal Strategy for Restoring Gulf of Mexico Released (Updated Dec 9, 2011)
The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, chaired by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, has released its final strategy for long term ecosystem restoration for the Gulf Coast. Read more >>
EPA To Provide Nearly $2 Million to Revitalize U.S. Urban Waters (Updated Dec 9, 2011)
EPA announced on December 7 that it will provide up to $1.8 million for projects across the country to protect Americans’ health and help restore urban waters by improving water quality and supporting community revitalization. Read more >>
EPA to Hold Regional Public Meetings on Framework for Integrated Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater Plans in New Year (Updated Dec 9, 2011)
At an EPA meeting on December 8 with water stakeholders, including Jeff Eger and WEF staff, EPA Water Permits Director Deborah Nagle indicated that EPA intends to hold public meetings early in the new year in five regional offices to present and discuss their framework for integrated municipal stormwater and wastewater plans. Read more >>
EPA Study Finds Coal-tar Sealants Creates Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons Runoff (Updated Dec 2, 2011)
EPA issued a September 2011 report - Assessment of Water Quality of Runoff from Sealed Asphalt Surfaces- that found coal-tar sealants create polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) runoff in amounts up to 1,000 times greater than the alternative asphalt-emulsion sealant, which is used mostly in western states. Read more >>
WEF Encourages Innovative Beneficial Uses of Biosolids; Approves Updated Position Statement (Updated Dec 2, 2011)
On December 2, the WEF Board of Trustees adopted an updated position statement supporting a comprehensive approach to wastewater treatment and solids management that ensures the recycling and recovery of all valuable resources including water, nutrients, organic matter and energy. Read more >>
EPA Sends OMB Revised Effluent Guidelines for Stormwater Runoff from Construction Sites (Updated Nov 18, 2011)
On November 16, EPA sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a revised construction and development effluent limitations guidelines (ELG) that will set numeric turbidity limits for stormwater runoff based on new data on treatment performance. Read more >>
EPA Seeks Nominations for New Science Advisory Board Committee (Updated Nov 18, 2011)
EPA announced in the November 18 Federal Register that it is requesting public nominations of scientific experts for appointment to EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) Chemical Assessment Advisory Committee. Read more >>
Environmental Groups Challenging District of Columbia MS4 Permit (Updated Nov 11, 2011)
The Natural Resources Defense Council, along with Earthjustice, Potomac Riverkeeper, Friends of the Earth and Anacostia Riverkeeper, filed a petition on November 4 with EPA's Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) requesting that they review the discharge permit for the District of Columbia's municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4). Read more >>
EPA Outlines Preliminary Evaluation of Florida DEP Numeric Criteria for State Waterways (Updated Nov 4, 2011)
EPA sent a letter on November 2 to Hershel Vinyard, Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), outlining the Agency’s preliminary evaluation of FDEP’s proposed rule establishing numeric criteria for Florida waters. Read more >>
Ken Kopocis will be Senior Advisor to Nancy Stoner, EPA (Updated Nov 4, 2011)
Nancy Stoner, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of Water, has announced that the President's nominee for the Assistant Administrator in the Office of Water, Ken Kopocis, will be joining EPA on November 2 as a Senior Advisor while he awaits final Senate Confirmation. Read more >>
New EPA Publication on Using Biological Assessment to Support Water Quality (Updated Nov 4, 2011)
Management EPA has published A Primer on Using Biological Assessment to Support Water Quality Management. Read more >>
Regulatory News Archives
Please click on the below link to read more Regulatory News.
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For more information, contact: Claudio Ternieden, Director of Government Affairs, 703-684-2400, x. 2416 or firstname.lastname@example.org.