Citing delegated States as the primary enforcers of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the promotion of federalism, Assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Environmental and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) Jeffrey Bossert Clark recently issued a memorandum promoting the use of enforcement discretion for certain civil CWA matters where a state

On July 27, the Michigan Legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) filed new administrative rules and rule amendments concerning Michigan’s drinking water standards with the Michigan Secretary of State’s office. Included among the new rules are maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for seven different types of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). All of the new

The California State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) has issued Order WQ 2020-0015-DWQ, requiring Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs) with dry weather design flows greater than 1 mdg to test for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in influent, effluent, biosolids, and, in some cases, groundwater. POTWs with existing groundwater monitoring programs may be

In the past two weeks, two federal district courts reached seemingly opposite conclusions regarding the implementation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (“the Agencies”) Navigable Waters Protection Rule (“the Rule”). The Rule, which took effect on June 22, narrows the term “waters of the United States” and,

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

As businesses across the country begin to re-open, many will be hypervigilant about the safety of indoor spaces. While stay-at-home orders may be lifting, business owners and their employees may have significant trepidation about the risks of returning to their workspaces and public venues. Building owners and property management companies will be called upon to address concerns about the safety of their tenant spaces and public areas, and the adequacy of measures taken to ensure the protection of building occupants. However, while building owners and property managers must necessarily focus on addressing the concerns arising directly from potential exposure to the COVID-19 virus, they should not ignore other potentially significant concerns associated with reopening their properties. One such concern is the stagnant conditions that may develop in a building’s water system during periods of extended disuse, which can lead to an enhanced risk for the spread of the Legionella bacteria that can cause Legionnaire’s disease, creating potential health risks for tenant, worker, and other user populations.
Continue Reading After the Stay-At-Home Order: Water Management Best Practices for Re-Opening Buildings

As anticipated, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on June 18, 2020, that it will not regulate perchlorate, a substance primarily found in rocket fuel and munitions, under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Before determining to regulate a chemical or substance under the SDWA, the EPA must consider whether (1) the contaminant may have an adverse effect on the health of persons; (2) the contaminant is known to occur or there is a substantial likelihood that the contaminant will occur in public water systems with a frequency and at levels of public health concern; and (3) in the sole judgment of the Administrator, regulation of such contaminant presents a meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction for persons served by public water systems. 42 U.S.C. § 300g-1(b)(1)(A). In its announcement, the EPA concludes that perchlorate does not meet these criteria for regulation.
Continue Reading EPA Declines to Set Drinking Water Limits for Perchlorate

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) recently amended its rules under the New Jersey Safe Drinking Water Act (NJ SDWA) to address per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). NJDEP adopted the amendments on March 31, 2020, and published them in the New Jersey Register on June 1, 2020. 52 N.J.R. 1165(b). The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began the process for establishing drinking water standards for certain PFAS compounds in February 2020; however, with these amendments, New Jersey now has some of the most stringent PFAS drinking water requirements in the United States.
Continue Reading New Jersey Adopts Stringent PFAS Drinking Water Rules and Adds Compounds to List of Hazardous Substances

On June 1, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a final rule clarifying substantive authorities and procedural requirements for water quality certifications under section 401 of the Clean Water Act (CWA). EPA’s August 2019 notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) (summarized in our previous post) articulated the Agency’s first-ever statutory interpretation of section 401 since its enactment nearly 50 years ago, and proposed sweeping substantive and procedural changes to its section 401 regulations in conformance with its interpretation. EPA’s final rule largely adopts the regulations in its NOPR, but makes important changes in adopting new regulations that preserve authority of states and Native American tribes exercising “Treatment as a State” (TAS) authorization to ensure that discharges from federally licensed and permitted activities meet state and tribal water quality requirements.
Continue Reading Long-Awaited EPA Rule Overhauls Section 401 of Clean Water Act

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