The question of how to regulate temperature in water bodies is one that states in the Northwest have struggled with for years. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) addressed that question on May 18, 2020, when it released a draft Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) to achieve water quality standards for temperature in certain reaches of the Columbia and Lower Snake Rivers in Oregon and Washington. This new TMDL comes a few months after a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Columbia Riverkeeper v. Wheeler, requiring the agency to take the lead after Oregon and Washington failed to submit their own TMDL. Comments on the draft TMDL are due by the end of July 21, 2020.

Continue Reading EPA Issues Draft Temperature TMDL for Columbia and Snake Rivers

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has initiated two rulemaking actions, both expected to be proposed in early 2022, that could change the way the Clean Water Act (CWA) is administered across the country. Together, these actions would elevate tribal rights in water quality regulatory decision-making and could provide EPA with significantly greater authority to regulate discharges on and upstream of tribal lands.

Continue Reading EPA Moves to Elevate Tribal Rights in Water Quality: Changes Could Modify CWA Implementation

On August 13, EPA finalized Clean Water Act (Act) Section 304(a) recommended criteria for phosphorus and nitrogen in lakes and reservoirs. The new recommendations incorporate scientific models that states and tribes with treatment as state status can use to establish numeric water quality criteria for phosphorus and nitrogen, and they mark an important milestone in EPA’s long-running war on excess nutrients in the nation’s surface waters. In the new recommended lakes criteria, EPA is embracing a stressor-response approach to managing nutrients, instead of the least-disturbed reference method. This is a significant move for the agency and has the potential to set a positive precedent going forward for EPA and state and tribal regulators to re-evaluate the utility of the reference method approach in other contexts.

Continue Reading EPA Finalizes Recommended Nutrient Criteria for Lakes and Reservoirs

Under the Clean Water Act, stormwater is considered a nonpoint source. Accordingly, benchmark standards and best management practices have been used to manage stormwater discharges. At least in California, that all changes on July 1, 2020, as amendments to California’s Statewide General Permit for Storm Water Discharges Associated with Industrial Activities (“Industrial General Permit” or IGP) go into effect. The amendments include effluent limits for a variety of substances based on Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) adopted for impaired waterways – ranging from copper and other metals to nitrogen and phosphorus to fecal coliform and even trash for certain waterways. Continue Reading Effluent Limits for Stormwater – California Takes the Lead with Limits Effective July 1, 2020

Yesterday a group of organizations with ties to the Shenandoah River sued the EPA claiming that EPA violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) by approving Virginia’s 2014 305(b)/303(d) Water Quality Assessment Integrated Report (Integrated Report) which includes a listing of Virginia’s water quality-impaired rivers.  The groups claim that Virginia failed to evaluate data and information showing impairments to the North Fork, South Fork, and main stem of the Shenandoah River and their tributaries (collectively the Shenandoah River) due to algae blooms resulting from nutrient over enrichment, and as a result failed to add the Shenandoah River to the impaired waters list. The groups claim that EPA’s approval of Virginia’s Integrated Report violated the CWA because EPA relied on Virginia’s determination that it is too challenging to apply Virginia’s water quality standards to algal blooms, and therefore EPA failed to require that the Shenandoah River be listed as impaired by excessive algae and that as a result EPA also failed to promulgate a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the pollutants causing the impairment in violation of its obligations under CWA § 303(d)(2).  Continue Reading Suit against EPA Claims CWA Violations for Approving Virginia’s Water Quality Assessment Integrated Report

Wortzel_Andrea-WebTroutman Sanders LLP announces the additions of Andrea W. Wortzel to the firm’s Richmond, Virginia office.  Andrea Wortzel, who joins as an of counsel attorney, has a diverse and dynamic environmental practice, handling a variety of complex water quality and  water quantity matters. She was previously at Hunton & Williams and is joining Partner Brooks Smith who joined Troutman Sanders’ Environmental and Natural Resources Practice in August (Read the Law 360 story here).

Continue Reading Wortzel Boosts Troutman Sanders’ Richmond Environmental Team