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On April 8,  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan signed a final rule regulating six per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The final rule, which will become effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, sets individual maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for PFOA and PFOS at 4.0 nanograms per liter (ng/L), and for PFHxS, PFNA, and HFPO-DA at 10 ng/L. In addition to these individual MCLs, the rule establishes a hazard index (HI) of one (unitless) as the MCL for any mixture containing two or more of PFHxS, PFNA, HFPO-DA, and PFBS. Under the rule, regulated public water systems (PWS) must conduct and report their initial monitoring within three years after publication, and make any necessary capital improvements to comply with the MCLs within five years after publication.Continue Reading PFAS MCL Summary

Introduction

On November 30, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its Proposed Lead and Copper Rule Improvements (LCRI).[1] With this proposal, EPA aims to simplify and expand upon the 2021 Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR) and the original 1991 Lead and Copper Rule (LCR). The proposed LCRI outlines aggressive measures to achieve further reductions of lead in drinking water. This initiative brings to the forefront a critical question: Are the potential health benefits projected by EPA enough to justify the scope and extent of the rule and its related hefty price tag?Continue Reading The Long-Awaited Lead and Copper Rule Improvements Have Arrived

On November 20, with no fanfare at all, not even a press release, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its Draft Guidance: Applying the Supreme Court’s County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund Decision in the Clean Water Act Section 402 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit Program to Discharges Through Groundwater. This draft guidance is the agency’s second effort to guide implementation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020 decision, which extends applicability of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting program to include the “functional equivalent” of point source discharges of pollutants to waters of the U.S.Continue Reading EPA’s New Proposed Maui Guidance: Underwhelming and Sneaky

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized a new regulation to implement the Clean Water Act (CWA) section 401 water quality certification program. Continuing the recent practice of promulgating regulations and then promptly replacing them, EPA’s “CWA Section 401 Water Quality Certification Improvement Rule”(the 2023 Rule) replaces the “Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification Rule” that was finalized in 2020 (the 2020 Rule). The 2023 Rule was published in the Federal Register on September 27, 2023 and will become effective on November 27, 2023. This article provides background on the CWA water quality certification program, followed by a deep dive into the 2023 Rule and how it compares to the 2020 Rule.Continue Reading EPA’s New 401 Certification Rule: Expanded Scope and Unanswered Questions

A filing in a California federal court indicates that EPA is planning to apply its new Clean Water Act section 401 certification rule to all certification requests, including those that are currently pending and that were submitted in accordance with the 2020 Certification Rule. If EPA attempts to retroactively apply its new rule to pending certification requests, it will guarantee immediate litigation and the challengers will have a strong likelihood of success.Continue Reading Will EPA Apply the New 401 Certification Rule Retroactively to Pending Requests?

EPA has proposed to establish “baseline” water quality standards that would apply to all Indian reservation waters where the tribe has not received “treatment as a state” (TAS) authority, the state does not have authority, and the federal government has not already promulgated water quality standards. Under the proposal, tribes will have a limited opportunity to request that certain waters be excluded from the federal baseline standards, but that decision will ultimately be made by the EPA regional administrator. If a tribe receives TAS, promulgates its own water quality standards, and obtains EPA approval of those standards, the federal baseline standards would no longer apply.Continue Reading Another EPA Proposal to Overhaul the Water Quality Standards Program

On March 13, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took the long-anticipated step of proposing maximum contaminant level goals (MCLGs), as well as individual maximum contaminant levels (MCLs), for six PFAS compounds under the Safe Drinking Water Act. PFAS are a large family of synthetic chemicals that have been in use since the 1940s. Many PFAS have unique physical and chemical properties that make them highly stable and resistant to degradation in the environment, which is why they are sometimes referred to as “forever chemicals.”Continue Reading EPA Advances PFAS Strategic Roadmap With Proposed Drinking Water Standards

President Biden recently signed the Flood Level, Observation, Operations, and Decision Support Act (FLOODS Act), codifying an important leadership and management tool that helped modernize federal water policy in the United States. In 2018 a “federal water sub-cabinet” was informally established to coordinate water policy across the major federal agencies responsible for developing, managing, funding, regulating, and researching water resources in the United States. The original members included senior water officials within the Department of the Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture, Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Energy, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The subcabinet was formally established in October 2020 under Executive Order 13956, “Modernizing America’s Water Resource Management and Water Infrastructure.”Continue Reading Federal Water Policy Coordination Codified

Better late than never, but on January 4, EPA published its Fall 2022 Unified Regulatory Agenda. The Reg Agenda includes a few new rulemaking initiatives and a number of schedule changes that were largely expected since EPA has been running a few months behind on most of their major rulemakings (e.g., WOTUS, 401 Water Quality Certification, Steam Electric ELG, Lead and Copper Rule Improvements).Continue Reading Steam Electric ELG Surprise in EPA’s Fall Regulatory Agenda