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Draft Clean Water Strategy is released

2010 August 20

The Coming Together for Clean Water event and online discussion gave us a lot to think about regarding how EPA can most effectively pursue our nation’s clean water goals. After a lot of consideration, we’ve developed this draft strategy to outline how we hope to accomplish those goals.

We’re pleased to share this draft with you and welcome your comments. If you’re commenting about something specific, please include the section title, page and paragraph number to which you’re referring. Also, please indicate whether you’re commenting as a private citizen or on behalf of an organization (and if it’s the latter, please include the name of the organization as well).

The draft strategy will be available for comment until September 17. After that, we’ll start developing the final strategy, which we hope to have ready by late 2010.

Coming Together for Clean Water Disc Draft Aug 2010 FINAL

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

96 Responses leave one →
  1. September 15, 2010

    My comments are being made as a private citizen because time did not allow me to get the organization’s approval. However, the League of Women Voters has studied, advocated and educated members of our community on water resource issues since the 1950′s. The motion to express our deep concern about safe drilling and mining was approved this year at our national convention. “We support significant strengthening of regulation, oversight, inspection, and penalties. This strengthening should include the elimination of exemptions for drilling and mining, as well as additional legislation requiring the federal agencies to regulate drilling and mining in a manner consistent with the preservation of a healthy environment.”
    Please include additional oversight of ageing oil and gas pipelines with leaking sewers as part of your infrastructure concerns. One million gallons of oil flowed into my watershed in July.
    Small coastal communities which implement zoning to protect the health of the nations water resources can land up in court with big developers. Lawsuits create an environment of intimidation and promote closed back room negotiations. This can erode local zoning without public participation. We need more federal support over our coastal land uses.

  2. September 15, 2010

    I believe the overall draft strategy is both positive and broad reaching. The reason I am commenting on this project of the EPA and our Nation is that I feel that a new technology has been developed, patented and proven to help greatly in accomplishing the goals/themes of Healthy Watersheds and Sustainable Communities.

    This technology involves taking biosolids from municipal sewage treatment plants and converting it into a Class A EPA approved, slow release fertilizer. This process uses 75% conventional fertilizer ingredience with 25% biosolids. The fertilizer is so effective that it can be spread by airplane at much lower rates. This is all done in a 0 carbon footprint plant. This Truely Green Fertilizer all but eliminates runoff nutrients and ties up greenhouse gases that would be released into the atmousphere with conventional fertilizer. The 75/25 split along with lower rates due to effectiveness all but eliminates the concerns over standard metals from pipes ect. in biosolids. The only exit product is CLEAN WATER.

    This product completes the circle of life! Food is consumed, waste is created, the waste is turned into Green Fertilizer, this fertilizer is used to grow crops to be consumed. True Sustainability!

    This is a dream of mine to put this technology to work, and make the world a better place!

    The Company that was formed to further this cause is VitAg Corporation(www.VitAgcorp.com).

    I am a consultant for this Company and would gladly provide more data. This technology completes so many of the goals set forth in the “Coming Together for Clean Water” that it could provide positive views of government and anyone supporting it. This is a nobrainer! I have been looking at this critically for three years. There is no downside.

    Please consider this carefully. Future generations will thank you.

    Best Regards

    Greg Rhudy

  3. September 15, 2010

    This is a great opportunity for the EPA to change some antiquated methods (e.g. NTU for suspended solids) and move with the science to physically based units.

    We have known for a while (e.g. Gibbs, 1974, Suspended Solids in Water, and see summary of this problem in Boss et al., 2009, Limnology and Oceanography Methods) that NTU based measurements using different optical sensors can provide errors in suspended solid estimates of O(1000%) (Gibbs, 1974).

    Using physically based units (e.g. attenuation at a given wavelength in m^-1, backscattering at a given angle and wavelength in m^-1 Sr^-1) or total backscattering at a given wavelength (m^-1) the uncertainty in estimating suspended solids drops down to about a factor of 2 (e.g. Boss et al., 2009).
    Using more sophisticated measurements (e.g. those that constrain size, such as the LISST-100), uncertainties in particulate mass can be even further reduced.
    All the best,
    Emmanuel Boss
    School of Marine Sciences,
    University of Maine

  4. September 15, 2010

    This post regarding the August 20, 2010 draft Clean Water Strategy (“draft Strategy”) is made on behalf of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, Gulf Restoration Network, Iowa Environmental Council, Kentucky Waterways Alliance, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Missouri Coalition for the Environment, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Prairie Rivers Network, and Tennessee Clean Water Network, all of which are members of the Mississippi River Collaborative (“Collaborative”). It is hoped for and expected that organizations and individuals that are part of, or working with the Collaborative, will also post comments. Here, however, the listed organizations wish to stress a few key points.

    First, we wish to thank Administrator Lisa Jackson and Assistant Administrator Peter Silva for the Coming Together for Clean Water initiative. The nation’s water quality certainly needs the “leap forward” advocated by Administrator Jackson. The ugly fact is that restoration of the nation’s waters has been stalled for at least a decade. Water quality in many water bodies has not improved since the 1990s and in many places it has gotten worse.

    In large part this lack of progress is the result of the nation’s failure to control pollution from row crop agriculture and other nonpoint sources, as well as the failure to control the more diffuse forms of point source pollution including concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and urban stormwater. Also, budget constraints and political considerations at the state level are undercutting efforts even as to the industrial and municipal point sources that historically have been the focus of Clean Water Act programs.

    Accordingly, while the draft strategy contains many good elements, four elements, should be added or made more explicit.

    1. EPA must create stronger programs to control pollution from row crop agriculture and other nonpoint pollution and should create incentives for the states and tribes to establish effective nonpoint programs.

    It is no secret that most of the successes that have been achieved under the CWA since 1972 have occurred as a result of regulatory programs such as the NPDES programs. These so called “command and control” programs, at least where they have been properly implemented, have gone a long way to reduce pollution from factories, publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) and other traditional point sources.

    Unfortunately, the purely voluntary approaches that have been used with regard to most agricultural pollution have been far less successful. The result is that agriculture is the primary source for the nutrient and sediment pollution and habitat loss that the draft Strategy identifies as among the most serious water quality challenges.

    EPA, perhaps aided with new Congressional authority, must act to do more to address nonpoint pollution. Insisting on real “reasonable assurance” (see draft Strategy p.6) as part of TMDL implementation is a step that EPA could take under existing authority. Further, numeric nutrient standards should be developed immediately for states that do not have effective nonpoint programs. Without effective nonpoint programs, point source controls must be tighter and more precise.

    Beyond that, EPA and Congress should create incentives for states to do more to control nonpoint pollution. While the impact of agricultural pollution on interstate commerce certainly would justify a federal regulatory program, the federal government would best encourage the states to develop effective nonpoint programs through the TMDL program, enhanced federal aid for states with sound nonpoint programs and perhaps other incentives.

    2. EPA should exercise greater oversight over state CWA programs.
    It is fine to speak of state “partners” but many states are simply not pulling the load necessary to maintain and restore the integrity of the nation’s waters. Whether because of budget constraints or political inclination, many states are:

    -Allowing discharges that cause or contribute to violations of applicable numeric or narrative water quality standards (contra 40 CFR 122.2(d), 122.44(d))
    -Granting permits for new or increased pollution loading in circumstances in which such pollution conflicts with the federal antidegradation policy (40 CFR 131.12)
    -Using general permits under circumstances in which violation of water quality standards, including the antidegradation standards, is the unavoidable result, and
    -Failing to enforce against unauthorized discharges (e.g. CAFOs and residential discharging systems that do not have NPDES permits), and
    -Failing to develop necessary new or revised water quality standards.

    The final Strategy for Clean Water should acknowledge the reality that, despite the efforts of many dedicated state officials, many states are failing to implement federal CWA requirements. Further, EPA should consider how it will effectively address shortcomings in state programs and correct them. This should include expedited procedures for correcting state programs under 40 CFR § 123 and developing ways for EPA to take over state functions quickly to protect water quality when necessary.

    3. The strategy correctly identifies the need for strengthened antidegradation regulations and state implementation of the federal antidegradation policy.

    The draft strategy properly recognizes the need for changes to federal water quality standard regulations regarding antidegradation (p.6). EPA should require in its regulations that state/tribes explicitly set forth:

    -The method for ensuring that existing uses will be maintained and protected in compliance with Tier 1 antidegradation requirements, especially from impairments that are not directly linked to water quality changes.
    -That all reasonable alternatives to the new or increased discharge or other loading must be considered as part of a Tier 2 antidegradation analysis.
    -That, if a new or increased pollution loading is found necessary to accommodate important social or economic development after a Tier 2 analysis, that the least polluting reasonable alternative must be used and permit limits will be set based on the discharges that would be expected from use of the least polluting alternative.
    -The procedures for determining the potential alternatives to the proposed new or increased discharge or other proposed activity that will increase pollution.
    -The factors that will be considered in determining when a proposed polluting activity will accommodate important social or economic development and the method for making that Tier 2 determination.
    -The manner in which antidegradation will be applied in making decisions on proposed 401 certifications and general permits.
    -That the state will prepare a written antidegradation Tier 2 analysis if antidegradation is applicable to the decision to allow a new or increased load, or explain in writing why the new or increased loading fits within an exception to Tier 2 antidegradation requirements if the state/tribe finds that such an exception is applicable.
    -The manner and timing for the public to participate in the antidegradation review to ensure that public participation is meaningful and effective.

    In addition, we believe that 40 CFR 131.12 should be clarified and improved in a number of areas. First, based on its experience in application of antidegradation, EPA should revise 40 CFR 131.12(a)(2) to make clear that Tier 2 antidegradation should be applied by states and tribes on a parameter-by-parameter basis. It is contrary to the basic policy of the Clean Water Act to “restore and maintain … the Nation’s waters” (33 USC §1251(a)) to allow a water body to be unnecessarily degraded as to a pollutant for which it is meeting standards because it is not meeting standards as to another pollutant or pollutant parameter.

    The rule should, at a minimum, be clarified to require that state and tribal antidegradation rules apply Tier 2 protection to protect all water bodies that support any significant recreational or aquatic life uses. For example, all waters that currently support sport fishing should be covered by Tier 2 antidegradation even if it is not safe to consume fish from the water body in more than limited quantities. Such waters plainly support both recreation and aquatic life uses.

    Also, EPA should revise and clarify the language in 131.12(a)(2) describing state assurances to achieve all cost-effective and reasonable best management practices for nonpoint source control. One option would be to clarify the situations in which point source dischargers may work with sources of nonpoint pollution to avoid degradation and achieve overall water quality improvements in the watershed.

    4. More should be done to protect and restore wetlands.

    We agree with the draft Strategy’s call for legislative or administrative action to restore CWA protections for our waters and ecological systems. (p. 6) Given the current stalemate in Congress regarding legislation to address the effects of the Supreme Court’s decisions in SWANCC and Rapanos, EPA should immediately go forward to enact regulations to enunciate the broad scope of the Clean Water Act. Insofar as possible, these regulations should restore CWA protections for all wetlands that affect interstate commerce.

    In addition to clarifying and restoring the scope of the CWA, EPA should use the full toolbox of authorities that it has to protect wetlands. These include:

    -Reviewing draft 404 permits and vetoing draft permits that do not fully protect wetland values.
    -Insisting that states utilize their authority under Section 401 of the CWA and the antidegradation rules (40 CFR 131.12) to prevent impacts on wetlands that will harm existing uses or avoidably degrade water quality.
    -Requiring that TMDLs recognize the value of wetlands and that TMDLs be supported by implementation plans that reasonably assure wetland protection or restoration necessary to prevent total maximum daily load limits from being exceeded.
    -Using its powers to review federal actions under the National Environmental Policy Act to assure that all development that will increase flooding, destroy habitat or add to the loading of polluted run off is prevented.

    Sincerely,
    Albert Ettinger
    Senior Staff Attorney for the Environmental Law and Policy Center, a member of the Mississippi River Collaborative

  5. September 15, 2010

    While much of this discussion is in the manager’s abstract level, my comment is regarding a specific change that should be made in our nation’s standards for monitoring sediments.

    The improvement that needs to be made is two-fold: first, water quality standards that concern with suspended sediment are antiquated, and refer to antiquated (but established) technologies. Specifically, standards call for turbidity as a surrogate for TMDL’s, even though there is extensive evidence in the scientific literature, supported by fundamentals of physics, that turbidity is affected not just by concentration, but also by particle size distribution, and by particle color.

    I am recommending that the EPA standards move toward more reliable and detailed methods for measurement of suspended sediment concentration. One such method, now extensively in use, is Laser Diffraction (ISO standard 13320-2009; AWWA standard 2560D and others). Not only would this yield correct TMDL estimates, it will also produce CORRECT data on particle surface area which is available for pollutant and toxics attachment.

    In the recent Deep Horizon incident, EPA did require the use of instruments based on laser diffraction. I am recommending that the use be mandated whenever serious data concerning suspended sediments are involved.

    I have also not seen laser diffraction as an approved method in the EPA’s listing. If I am not wrong here, then this obviously needs an update as well.

  6. September 15, 2010

    Izaak Walton League of America Comments on Coming Together for Clean Water: EPA’s Strategy for Achieving Clean Water

    The Izaak Walton League of America appreciates the opportunity to comment on the draft Strategy for Achieving Clean Water. The League is a national conservation organization with 38,000 members across the country who care deeply about water quality, wetland conservation, and outdoor recreation that depends on clean water and healthy habitat. Moreover, the League has 40 years of experience leading and coordinating citizen-based stream monitoring.

    The League commends the EPA for its renewed focus on clean water and achieving the fundamental, yet unmet, goals of the Clean Water Act. The draft strategy encapsulates key challenges and identifies important goals and action steps to address those challenges. Achieving the strategy’s first goal to “systematically assess the nation’s waters to provide a baseline for transparently tracking progress” is absolutely essential to realizing the overarching goal of improving water quality and more effectively reducing non-point source pollution. Focusing on maintaining healthy waters makes good sense and is the most cost-effective way to protect water quality. The Agency has also identified meaningful principles to guide implementation of the strategy, including using robust science, engaging a broader range of stakeholders, providing the public with more reliable information about water quality, and achieving measurable results.

    In addition, we applaud the Agency for restating its commitment to “support legislation and consider administrative action to restore CWA protections to wetlands and headwater streams…” As EPA Administrator Jackson and others have acknowledged, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions in SWANCC and Rapanos have dramatically narrowed the scope of waters protected by the Clean Water Act and seriously undermined the ability of EPA and states to effectively enforce the law. It is imperative for Congress to pass legislation to restore protections for streams, wetlands and other waters, and EPA’s continued support for such legislation is necessary and appropriate. At the same time, the Agency has a responsibility, which it clearly acknowledges in the draft strategy, to utilize its administrative authority to protect these resources, water quality, and public health as Congress develops a long-term, statutory solution.

    The League appreciates the opportunity to make the following recommendations for strengthening the final strategy.

    1) Recognize that Citizens Can Play Active Roles in Achieving Goals – The draft strategy clearly recognizes that the goals will be pursued on behalf of the American people and that citizens will benefit from improved water quality and more reliable information. At the same time, it does not acknowledge the direct role that citizens can play in achieving many of those goals or that citizens are key stakeholders in the process. Citizens nationwide are leading on-the-ground efforts to clean up, restore and protect waterways and are advocating at all levels for policies that will enhance water quality. The final strategy should acknowledge this engagement and seek to harness it. As the draft strategy recognizes, the challenges we face are compounded by, among other things, “fiscal pressures on states” and “dwindling resources.” Government alone can not tackle these challenges and accountability demands that responsibility for maintaining and improving water quality can not be delegated without limit to entities that discharge pollutants into the nation’s waters. Citizens remain an incredible, yet largely untapped, resource that can significantly and cost-effectively augment increasingly limited local, state and federal government resources. And experience has proven over and over that with basic training and experienced coordination, citizens can effectively perform a range of critical tasks – from collecting scientifically valid baseline data to implementing watershed restoration plans.

    2) Incorporate Citizen Monitoring in Systematic Assessment of Nation’s Waters – Like EPA, the League believes that it is imperative to dramatically increase baseline information about the nation’s waters. As the Agency knows, most of the information available today is woefully inadequate, outdated, and can be misconstrued by the public. For example, the Agency reports that only 19 percent of the nation’s streams have been assessed by states. This information is largely based on assessment and reporting by states in 305(b) reports, which are required by the Clean Water Act. Using current approaches to assessment and data collection and generally limited 305(b) reports, we have little or no basic information about more than three-quarters of our nation’s streams. Moreover, as the League has analyzed assessment information from each state, we have found that while summary information by state on EPA’s Assessment Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Tracking and Implementation System (ATTAINS) website leaves the impression that data is current, more often than not, it was collected many years ago or may be a running tally of assessments conducted over multiple years. As frequently presented, this information can be easily misinterpreted by the public.

    However, the fundamental problem is not data presentation – it is the absence of basic information about water quality at the local level. One of the root causes of this problem is collecting site-specific data is labor-intensive. The ability of local and state governments to collect this vital information has eroded over time as budgets for monitoring and assessment have been slashed or eliminated altogether. Unfortunately, this trend has only accelerated over the past few years, and there is little evidence that will change in the future.

    In an effort to partially compensate for declining resources, the Agency and some states have adopted statistical sampling methods such as EPA’s Wadeable Streams Assessment to provide information about water quality. Although the League recognizes that these approaches can be one tool to gather information and develop conclusions, we also believe that they have inherent limitations and over-reliance on them will contribute to – not solve – some of the problems the strategy is designed to address. For example, and this applies equally to shortcomings with current 305(b) reports, this approach does not provide the public with timely information about water quality because samples are frequently collected years before the assessment reports are released. Moreover, the significant time lag could provide the public with inaccurate information if pollution was discharged near sample sites after sampling was conducted. Water quality could have been very good when sampling was conducted, but discharges of hydraulic fracturing wastewater or development of a concentrated animal feeding operation near that sampling site could result in significantly different results at a later date. However, this information may not be reflected in the public assessment report because data collection is not closely connected with the reporting timeframe. In addition, unless a sample site is located in their community, this approach does not provide citizens with site-specific information about water quality where they live.

    Finally, this approach does not provide adequate – and absolutely crucial – site-specific information necessary to determine that specific waterways are meeting water quality standards. General statements can be made about water quality nationally and in large eco-regions by extrapolating from a relatively small data set. However, statistical samples cannot be a substitute for actually collecting data for every watershed because only that site-specific information will let the American people know if our waterways are safe for people, fish and wildlife, and give us the information we need to address water quality problems and develop place-based restoration plans.

    Systematically assessing our nation’s waters is appropriately the foundation on which this strategy should be built. A comprehensive assessment can only be accomplished by collecting data at as many sites within as many watersheds as possible – and citizens can and must play a central role in achieving this goal. The League pioneered citizen-based stream monitoring in the 1960s. For the past 40 years, League members and citizens nationwide have used the Save Our Streams biological method to collect quality-assured, scientifically valid water quality data. Other citizen groups and states have developed similar methods and achieve equally reliable and valid results.

    Proactively utilizing citizen monitors has multiple advantages and will directly contribute to achieving the strategy’s goals. Citizen monitors provide the human resources that are necessary to significantly increase data collection at a growing number of local sites. With citizens collecting baseline data and reporting it to regulators, governments can more efficiently and effectively target their limited resources to following up on potential water quality problems identified by citizen monitors. This also directly contributes to the goal of protecting healthy waters – with more information about good water quality, steps could be taken to safeguard those resources before costly remediation or treatment becomes necessary. If citizens are more actively engaged in data collection, the public could also receive more timely information about local water quality because sites would be regularly monitored and data could be quickly provided to regulators, residents, and others. Finally, monitoring is frequently the entry point for citizens to become more active in other efforts to protect and improve water resources. By expanding the number of people monitoring local waters, we will also expand the number of people working to restore watersheds and engaging in the policymaking process at all levels.

    As EPA finalizes this strategy, the League strongly encourages it to recognize the role citizens monitors can play in achieving its goals. As importantly, the final strategy should reflect steps that the Agency can take with existing resources and authorities to facilitate more widespread citizen monitoring. We believe EPA can take several specific steps. First, it can encourage the states to more proactively work with citizen monitors and nonprofit organizations. Some states, including Virginia, Ohio and New Jersey, work closely with citizen networks and have leveraged these resources to regularly collect data at hundreds of sites in each state. However, these relationships are not as well developed in most states. EPA can play an important role in fostering these partnerships by encouraging states to engage these networks, sharing examples of best practices from states that are especially active in this area, and funding efforts to support the development and maintenance of statewide volunteer monitoring networks. Second, EPA should continue to work to ensure the national STORET database is user-friendly and readily incorporates citizen data, including biological monitoring data. EPA needs to develop interfaces between citizen group databases and STORET rather than relying volunteers themselves to develop these interfaces using the Water Quality Exchange. Third, EPA should develop budgets that renew funding for the Volunteer Monitor newsletter, national Volunteer Monitoring conferences, and provide other tools and resources directly to citizen monitoring groups.

    3) Develop a National Restoration Plan – We are encouraged that EPA highlights the importance of restoring degraded waters, including the Chesapeake Bay. Although focusing on the Chesapeake Bay may be a good first step, the League believes a national strategy should reflect a broader approach to restoration. As the Agency knows, other nationally significant watersheds, including the Great Lakes, face equally serious challenges. It is important that the final strategy explicitly highlight how the experience gained in the Chesapeake Bay will, as the draft strategy states, be used as a “model for watershed protection in other parts of the country.” We believe the final strategy will be stronger if EPA identifies specific steps it will take to apply lessons learned in the Chesapeake Bay to other parts of the country.

    4) Ensure Science Guides Decision-making – We applaud the EPA for making clear that this strategy will “rely on robust science” and “achieve and document measurable results.” With these essential principles in mind, the League believes it is important for the Agency to carefully consider the use of “trading offsets and other market-based tools” to address water quality problems. We are concerned that the science is not well developed in this area and for non-point source pollution in particular, accurately measuring, documenting, and verifying results remains problematic. Without more robust science and proven and verifiable techniques to measure non-point source pollution reductions, water quality could suffer. It is impossible to measure results without baseline data or some objective and documented starting point. In most cases, little if any baseline data exists about the amount of pollution that flows from specific fields, lawns, parking lots, and other non-point sources. Without this information, the EPA, states, landowners, and the public can not document measurable results associated with pollution reduction strategies.

    Without such documentation and measurement, it is not possible to trade purported “reductions” in certain parts of a watershed for increased pollution in other parts. Although it is possible that measuring techniques could be developed and baselines established in the future, the EPA has an obligation to utilize protective standards in the meantime to ensure that water quality is not adversely affected through use of trading or market-based mechanisms that are not objectively verifiable, measurable, and transparent.

    Once again, the Izaak Walton League commends the EPA for its commitment to safeguarding and improving water quality and water resources. We encourage the Agency to carefully consider our comments as it finalizes this strategy. The League and its members nationwide look forward to working with EPA to achieve our common goals.

  7. September 14, 2010

    Moving forward to ensure protection of our pristine waters and to stop current mining abuses impacting US water there are some points in the report that need to become a priority for eventual rule making.

    * Revise the regulatory definition of “fill” to exclude mining and other wastes.

    * Revise the wastewater treatment system exclusion so that it applies only to man made waters.

    * Clarify and restore protections to the nation’s at-risk waters through a “Waters of the United States” rulemaking.

    *Close the two Clean Water Act loopholes could potentially prevent mining in areas with extensive wetlands, streams, and lakes, such as the fragile Salmon Trout River in Michigan where the Kennecott Mine is moving forward, Lake Superior watershed where the PolyMet mine is moving forward and the headwaters of Bristol Bay where the massive Pebble Mine is being proposed in Alaska.

  8. September 14, 2010

    The Washington Wildlife Federation (WWF) believes one of the most importatn roles of government is to ensure the health and welfare of its citizens in part by protecting the natural resources that form the foundation of our gobal, regional and local ecosystems. That means we and EPA must do everything possible to prevent pollution of any kind from entering our waterways.

    We feel it is important to revise the regulatory definition of “fill” to exclude mining and other wastes. This is more important than ever as energy and mining companies feel compelled to increase their efforts for mineral extraction and energy development. Under the current definition, EPA and the Corps treat the discharge of tailings from hard rock mines and overburden from surface coal mines as fill material subject to Section 404 rather than regulate these discharges as the disposal of industrial wastes. For hard rock mining, the practical implication of this regulatory change is that toxic mining wastes discharged into waters are no longer governed by the CWA program designed to regulate these discharges and are not subject to the strict pollution standards adopted by EPA in 1982. WWF urges EPA and the Corps to revise their regulatory definitions of fill to exclude waste disposal.

    We also believe that that the wastewater treatment system exclusion needs to be revised so that it applies only to manmade waters. Mine developers, relying upon the waste treatment system exclusion, have obtained Section 404 permits authorizing them to build dams across the mouths of valleys. The mining company is then allowed to dump its wastes into the rivers, lakes, and wetlands behind the dam because they are considered part of a “waste treatment system” rather than “waters of the United States.” The use of this exclusion by mine developers has resulted in the wholesale destruction of these ecosystems and harmed the people, fish, and wildlife that depend upon them. EPA expressly limited the exclusion to manmade bodies of water in 1980. To make full use of CWA tools to protect healthy watersheds, WWF encourages EPA and the Corps to close this loophole and bring consistency and clarity to the waste treatment system exclusion by revising their regulations to restore EPA’s 1980 clarification that the waste treatment system exclusion applies only to manmade bodies of water which were not created in waters of the United States or impoundments of these waters.

  9. September 14, 2010

    From my decades of experience in rangelands of the West, most rangeland water quality impairments stem from riparian systems that no longer function properly to dissipate the energy of normal high waters, do not stabilize stream banks against the cutting action of frequent high flows, do not recharge aquifers with floodplain access, and do not support the stabilizing vegetation that effects valuable ecosystems services. Fish and wildlife habitat, capture storage and safe release of water from water catchments, and water quality for many other land and water uses could be much improved by empowering natural recovery mechanisms of riparian vegetation and riparian systems. Because of the mutual benefits derived from improving riparian functions, ecosystem services can be kept from risk and restored through collaboration with land owners and watershed users. The National Riparian Service Team (BLM, FS, and NRCS) and the Cooperative Riparian Restoration Network can provide further explanation.

  10. September 13, 2010

    Comment Document
    Drinking Water Strategy – Contaminant Grouping
    September 13, 2010

    Background: Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) is the source of drinking water for 500,000 Iowans. Source water for DMWW include the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers, both of which are impaired for coliform bacteria and nitrates and appear on Iowa’s 303(d) list of impaired waters. In the last 3-5 years the utility has experienced high levels of ammonia in the Raccoon River, cyanobacteria blooms in the rivers, and flooding that threatens infrastructure. A Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) was completed on the Raccoon River in 2007 and the Des Moines River in 2009. In addition to providing high quality safe drinking water, DMWW is committed to water resource improvement and protection through education and advocacy.

    Overall Position: DMWW can support grouping contaminants for the purposes of treatment, monitoring, and regulation. Grouping provides an opportunity to achieve cost effective efficiencies. The concept of Treatment Technique (TT) is a results based approach that provides more efficient and sustainable treatment technologies to deliver drinking water at a reasonable cost.
    However, grouping contaminants is not without its drawbacks. Two concerns are mentioned below.

     The regulatory strategy should not be implemented in a manner that facilitates utilities with water quality problems at the expense of utilities with relatively contaminant free water, in terms of additional regulations, monitoring costs, implementation of required treatment, etc.
     Delivery of the information to customers is extremely critical. How will this information be presented to customers? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should not rely on utilities to educate their customers on this highly technical information. A standardized message must be delivered across the country to avoid customer confusion.

    Customers can barely grasp the details of the current Consumer Confidence Report (CCR). Communicating data to customers, especially in a format as that required for the CCR, is already extremely challenging. Will customers understand the concept of grouping? Treatment Technique? Hazard Index? Relative Potency Factors?

    Items that will need further clarification:
     Will the distribution system monitoring be required to meet the same standard levels as that required following the treatment process?
     Will monitoring require multi-parameters of a contaminant group or will each group have an indicator that signals the presence of others.

    Comments as Requested – Four Principles of the Drinking Water Strategy
    Topic 1: Address contaminants as groups rather than one at a time so that enhancement of drinking water protection can be achieved cost-effectively.
    a. What are some potential approaches for addressing contaminants as groups?
     A framework based on similar health effects seems appropriate and more easily understood by customers.
    b. If you or your organization has experience addressing groups of contaminants, what factors have you considered that worked and which factors have not worked?
     DMWW monitors for Cyanobacteria total numbers, which provides the indicator that others may be present.
     Develop monitoring protocols similar to radium monitoring where if something is found at one level, it triggers monitoring at another or higher level.
    c. Have you identified potential group(s) of contaminants and what challenges or questions have you encountered in identifying potential group(s)?
     (As noted in item “b” above)
    d. What are some of the key scientific and implementation aspects that EPA should consider as we move forward?
     Implementation communications is crucial to the public’s understanding of the initiative. Translation from highly technical data and information language to very elementary language will be required.
    e. Can you provide examples of contaminant groups that may present a meaningful opportunity to protect public health and reduce risk?
     Plausible contaminant groupings are radiological, multi-groups of microorganisms, organochlorine, and organophosphates.
     The grouping of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) is already occurring. However, going forward EPA should consider separating the group into two factors, one pharmaceutical and the other personal care products.

    Topic 2: Foster development of new drinking water technologies to address health risks posed by a broad array of contaminants.
    a. What technological approaches and contaminants will confront utilities in the future?
     Super system pressure monitors for short pressure blips which has the potential to expose a distribution system to contaminants for a split second.
     Monitor for physical parameters instead of monitoring water. If transients are identified you can deal with them.
    Are there technologies EPA should consider for small systems?
     Treatment technologies can in many cases be too burdensome for small systems (3,000 people or less), in that the cost is many times prohibitive, too complex to operate and maintain for the level of operator, and point of use treatment if not properly maintained can generate additional problems.
     Much of the drinking water infrastructure in the US is beyond its useful life cycle; and it is unreasonable to contemplate replacing it in its entirety. One way for EPA and states to approach multiple concerns with small systems is to promote consolidation of systems. Consolidation strengthens a system’s ability to deliver safe drinking water, ensures better compliance, expenses are spread over a larger base, and the cost-benefits to customers is greater.
    b. Have you or your organization identified critical elements that should be included in developing innovative drinking water technologies, especially for small systems?
     Emphasis should not always be placed on developing new technologies, but on effectively regulating of what is coming to the system that requires treatment.
     New technologies will require a high level of reliability and be easily operated and maintained.
    c. Have you or your organization been involved in developing treatment technologies that can cost-effectively and reliably reduce health risks, through control of a broad suite of contaminants?
     Off stream water storage in lakes and ponds is being used to reduce nitrate levels.
     “Solar bee” technology for is used for off-stream storage treatment of nitrates.
     River bank filtration
     Gallery system
    d. What are the driving factors utilities consider when evaluating technologies that could address broad arrays of multiple contaminants in large and small systems?
     Public Perception
     Cost Effectiveness
     Reliability
     Regulations- current and proposed
    e. What is needed to convince the public and the private sector to invest in advanced drinking water technologies?
     Defined benefit
     Energy and waste alternatives to improve processes and shrink our carbon footprint
     Fund changes to expedite adoption
     Regulating and enforcing all industries equally

    Topic 3: Use the authority of multiple statutes to help protect drinking water
    a. EPA is focusing on regulated contaminants and those that are on the Candidate Contaminant List 3. Are there other contaminants you believe EPA should focus on?
     Non-point source – For example, forcing every wastewater facility (which are regulated) in the state to upgrade their facility, add treatment, etc. has the potential to improve less than one percent of the water quality problems. Only when non-point sources are regulated will we begin to see water quality improve.
     Harmful algae blooms
    b. EPA has the ability to limit or restrict the use of chemicals, if warranted. What kind of requirements or criteria should EPA consider for chemical contaminants using authorities other than SDWA?
     Regulation of non-point source
     Regulation of organochlorine and organophosphates
     Improved enforcement and additional regulation of pesticide applicators. Standardize regulations when applicators cross state lines. Determining effects on the population, community, and facility when applicators are flying in and out of airports.
     Require increased and improved chemical company labeling to better define the health risk effects of fertilizers and pesticides.
    c. How often and who should be conducting monitoring to determine occurrence? Should it be states, public water systems, or pesticide manufacturers?
     Chemical manufacturers should be required to monitor, possibly through a third party, for chemicals and degradates under their purview to determine the fate in water resources.
    - The manufacturer should submit a monitoring plan for approval in each state.
    - Monitoring results should be available to the public at all times.
    - If a chemical is found to impair a surface or groundwater source the manufacturer should be responsible for the timely fix.
     Through a comprehensive state water plan, states and water utilities could coordinate water monitoring activities that would provide a comprehensive picture of the state’s water resources. Including a systematic (monitoring) assessment to establish a baseline for tracking progress. Coordination would eliminate duplication of efforts and more effectively use the public money for monitoring.
    d. What other opportunities do you suggest for EPA to use authorities to protect drinking water?
     Stronger regulatory enforcement of non-point source.
     Nutrient and bacteria from livestock waste, including where livestock waste is deposited, stored, and applied.

    Topic 4: Partner with states to develop shared access to all public water systems (PWS) monitoring data.
    a. What do you think are the opportunities and barriers to public water systems submitting data electronically to states?
     We support submitting date electronically to a state agency for storage and accessibility by the public.
     DMWW currently submits data electronically, but it is difficult due to the incompatibility of systems in sending, storing and accepting data.
     The format by which data is stored must provide for easy access by the public. Having to know the stream segment or utility identification number does not allow the public easy access.
     The Safe Drinking Water Information Systems (SDWIS) is not easily accessible to the general public.
    b. Do you have ideas about how EPA should share occurrence data with the public to communicate the quality of drinking water transparently?
     When an incident occurs it would be helpful to have access to the mode of how the incident occurred. This would raise awareness and alert a utility to check for potentially similar conditions, which they can evaluate and prevent additional incidents.
     EPA’s flood site is very accessible, easy to move around in and provides good data. A similar site for water quality data would be very valuable to the public.

    c. What concerns do you have about EPA receiving all the data systems report to the states?
     The ability to handle the volume of data in a timely manner.
    d. How can systems and EPA ensure data quality?
     Data quality is prescribed in the SDWA
     Audited by the state
     Control transmission errors
     Verify data being sent

    Thank you for the opportunity to comment. Another question that should be addressed is the human capital needed to implement this change.

    Respectively submitted,
    Linda Kinman
    Policy Analyst/Watershed Advocate
    Des Moines Water Works

  11. September 13, 2010

    KDHE appreciates the opportunity to comment on the draft document and offers the follow comments:

    I. Know what you’ve got
    1. Use National Aquatic Resource Surveys to set national strategy; let States use the Integrated Report (IR – [305b/303d]) process to customize their restoration and protection strategies within their jurisdictions. Avoid attempting to unify IRs among states for the purposes of HQ reporting needs.

    II. Protect what you have
    1. The strategy mentions using various methods to identify health watersheds across states using CWA funds (319, 106, 604b). Since those monies appropriated by Congress for state programs, we request EPA not earmark portions of those funds for specific activities that EPA specifies. States are better positioned to determine expenditures in their respective states.
    2. Support of legislation to restore CWA protections. As this pertains to the Clean Water Restoration Act and other similar legislative efforts, we are supportive of clearing up issues associated with the SWANCC and Rapanos cases, but EPA should not use this vehicle to expand CWA controls beyond what states have traditionally considered waters of the nation subject to CWA controls.
    3. Propose regulations changes to antidegradation. EPA is recently held listening sessions to determine if antidegradation regulations needed changing. The draft strategy seems to presume changes are a foregone conclusion. We encourage EPA to continue to work with stakeholders to determine if regulatory changes are the best avenue for addressing antidegradation.
    4. Assure state and EPA are applying antidegradation effectively. The strategy leaves a large hole for waters in Indian Country. EPA has the authority to adopt standards and issue permits where tribes have not sought treat as states. EPA has yet to adopt WQS for all of Indian Country that has not developed their own WQS, therefore antidegradation provisions do not exist for the majority of Indian lands. Similarly, EPA does not assess waters as per 303d of the CWA for Indian Country because there are no WQS to evaluate against.
    5. Healthy Watersheds: watersheds vary in scale, EPA needs to establish a tiered list of healthy watersheds by HCU14s, HUC12s; HUC10s; and, if they exist, HUC8s.
    6. Explore the use of anti-degradation provisions under WQS to address activities other than NPDES permitted discharges on Tier 2.5 and 3 waters.

    II. Fix What’s Broken
    1. Use of trading offsets. EPA needs to establish the guidelines for legal offsets and trading in light of the Friends of Pinto Cr (Carlota) decision.
    2. Requiring AFOs to be considered CAFOs. It is assumed that the proposed 308 rule will help identify AFOs in states where there are currently no state programs. It is further assumed that when AFOs are identified there will be an evaluation of whether the facility is in need of an NPDES permit. While it is agreed that AFOs can significantly contribute nutrients to watersheds, there is a concern that these rules be over burdensome to state resources.
    3. Audit CAFO programs to assure full CWA implementation. It is agreed that consistency in program delivery is important; however, no guidance document has been published by EPA regarding the 2008 CAFO rule. An audit to determine program compliance would be difficult based on continuing litigation.
    4. Implement improvements to the stormwater program. This item carries a large cost to states to implement. EPA needs to sufficiently fund this activity, or it will be of marginal benefit.
    5. Develop requirements for SSOs. There is a very large cost associated with repair of buried infrastructure – so large it could easily exceed EPA’s economic threshold for utility rates many communities. EPA needs to look at balancing the cost of SSO correction vs treatment so that the cost of SSO correction does not have a city reach the economic user rate threshold and leave no funds for treatment that might be more beneficial. A good first step would be backing off from the interpretation that use of high rate treatment during peak wet weather flows constitutes a bypass of treatment.
    6. Managing excess nutrients. We think the approach outlined by EPA is excellent – focusing on load reduction strategies.
    7. Reasonable Assurance guidelines regarding non-point source reductions need to incorporate an adaptive implementation philosophy to allow for goal setting, focused implementation, assessment of post-implementation conditions and iteration of goals, targets and implementation techniques. An ordered sequence of corrective actions between point and non-point sources should be encouraged to allow an equitable spread of the reduction burden among sources and shift source reduction emphasis after one sector completes its designated activities.
    8. Promote 319 as the social support mechanism for watershed planning and management, supporting plan development, stakeholder and coordinator functions, monitoring, technical assistance, demonstration projects and information and education ventures. Promote other state conservation and USDA funding mechanisms as the primary financial assistance source for BMP implementation on a targeted basis tied to the priorities established through TMDLs and 9-Element 319 watershed plans.
    9. Within the year, EPA needs to convene a forum to discuss extrapolating the Chesapeake Bay watershed approach to smaller scale watersheds where predominant State/local interests shape restoration goals.

  12. September 9, 2010

    I want to make a few brief comments here and am happy to elaborate if you find it is worth your time.

    First, thank you for shining a light on areas that have been in the dark related to watershed management and improving water quality.

    Secondly, I would like you to consider eliminating an elementary component to the regulatory system that is preventing us from accomplishing the vision/goal of the Clean Water Act: to make ALL waters of the United States BOTH fishable and swimmable.

    Currently States have primary and secondary classifications which means that not all waterways are treated equally. For example, in North Carolina a “Class C” waterway could have a higher level of bacteria because it is generally not tested because Class C denotes that the State regulatory authority does not recognize the waterway as a place where swimming or “frequent organized human body contact” is occurring. If you looked to a map of western NC, dependent upon tourism (swimming, boating, etc.) streams are overwhelmingly classified as Class C rather than the swimming label of Class B. These are the two fundamental classifications.

    I note in your DRAFT that underpriviledged communities are priority areas for water quality improvements. If you do not, however, eliminate this classification loophole in stream management and regulation, you will NOT find improvements in the water quality. The reason is that they will not be identified as “use” priorities and the substandard classification will prevent investigation or monitoring.

    North Carolina is not the only case. I am aware of many states’ classifications having the same outcome. There was a petition in Missouri to address this in their State.

    To get a stream reclassified or upgraded to Class B in North Carolina is a three year process. The burden is on the petitioning person or organization. The bottom line is that we should not carry the burden on providing the worth of a water body when the law of the people is very clear that ALL waters of the US should be both fishable and swimmable.

    Please contact me if you have any questions regarding this matter.
    Sincerely,
    Phillip Ray Gibson
    Founder and former French Broad Riverkeeper
    Asheville, NC

  13. David Babcock permalink
    September 9, 2010

    (1) Water is a common resource given to us to manage wisely. In addition to EPA, it seems states and tribes need to work with EPA on a watershed basis to develop this strategy in order for it to be most effective.

    (2) Please specify the CWA tools referenced near the bottom of page 5 and again on page 6.

    (3) Antidegradation seems appropriate for a high-quality watershed or where future use is impaired with any degradation. However, there are areas such as former industrial areas where antidegradation may not be a wise use of available resources.

    (4) One way to implement watershed-wide efforts is to provide more authority to river basin commissions rather tahn state governments for matters such as discharge requirements. Benefits are on a watershed basis not on a statewide basis. Teh Delaware River Basin Commission is an example of a river basin commission that the last I know did have permitting authority and seemed to be applying its authority effectively.

  14. September 9, 2010

    Dr. Ron Sheffield, Dr. Dan Thomas, and Dr. Brian LeBlanc from the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center pleased to offer these comments on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) plans to initiate national rulemaking under the Clean Water Act targeting changes to its water quality-standards regulation.

    We support the overall intent of the agency’s efforts to improve state water-quality standards under the Clean Water Act. In the case of the July 30, 2010 announcement, we support the agency’s plan to improve and strengthen the implementation of the Act’s antidegradation requirements. However, we encourage the Agency to focus more resources and efforts toward stakeholder education programs, the development of tools to assist in the targeting and placement of best management practices, and question the expansion of the NPDES program to regulate all livestock farms as confined animal feeding operations.

    Specific Comments:

    Comment 1. We support the Agency’s plan to improve and strengthen the implementation of the Act’s antidegradation requirements.

    Drs Sheffield, Thomas, and LeBlanc support a Clean Water Act that protects our nation’s waters and the beneficial use of those waters. The Act should address nonpoint source pollution from watersheds and also point-source pollution from sanitary sewer overflows, combined sewer overflows, and storm sewer discharges. The antidegradation policy needs to be strengthened to allow the agency to establish regionally determined, science-based minimum requirements for its implementation at the state level.

    Agency regulations need to protect the beneficial uses of the nation’s waters and to be flexible enough to allow innovative practices and means to achieve the Act’s goals. Water quality should be protected at the source through cooperative partnerships that utilize financial incentives. Financial programs such as market-based incentives should be pilot-tested before wide-spread implementation is considered. Emphasis of new target rules should focus on protecting water quality and habitats from adverse impacts of wet weather flows, including non-point sources and urban stormwater, and during periods of prolonged low-flow conditions.

    Comment 2. The EPA should focus more of its programmatic and financial resources on educating stakeholders, land owners and industries about non-point source pollution control as a mechanism to meet water quality goals.

    The Agency’s strategy focuses on expanding its regulated community and increasing inspections and enforcement actions. The draft strategy focuses only on increasing the awareness of EPA programs and water quality conditions for state agencies and policy makers. It is inferred that through better and more-educated policies that improvements in water quality will follow.

    We believe that without including stakeholders, land owners, and industry professionals in the educational process within a watershed planning process, the best made plans have a low-probability of success. Additionally, educational programs need to focus on assisting stakeholders, land owners, and industry professionals on selecting, installing, and maintaining relevant best management practices (BMPs) which address point and non-point source pollution reduction goals. We also believe that well developed and financially supported educational programs have a greater return on investment, in terms of water quality improvement, than the expanded enforcement-based strategy proposed by the Agency. Examples of such successful regional and nationwide educational programs include:

    • Farm*A*Syst/Home*A*Syst (www.wisc.edu/farmasyst/);
    • Livestock and Poultry Environmental Stewardship Curriculum and the Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center (www.extension.org/animal+manure+management);
    • Project NEMO (nemo.uconn.edu/); and,
    • Louisiana Master Farmer (www.lsuagcenter.com/en/environment/conservation/master_farmer/)

    Comment 3. The EPA should work with the Administration to reorient its “societal challenge” areas and develop multiple agency (including USDA) research and extension priorities to address economical environmental solutions.

    In 2010, in direct reflection of the Administration’s policies, the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) supported interdisciplinary, multi-functional projects in five “societal challenge” areas to achieve significant and measurable outcomes and achieving goals. The five goals included:

    1. Keep American agriculture competitive while ending world hunger;
    2. Improve nutrition and end child obesity;
    3. Improve food safety for all Americans;
    4. Secure America’s energy future through renewable biofuels; and,
    5. Mitigate and adapt agriculture to variations in climate.

    The change in research priorities, however important they may be, has eliminated funds to support research and extension programs that would facilitate improvements in water quality from non-point source pollution. Without these programs the EPA has been greatly limited in its ability to develop working partnerships in watershed, develop innovative technology that will reduce nutrient enrichment to waterways, as well as document and educate stakeholders as the appropriate technologies to be utilized to achieve the Agency’s water quality goals. The EPA should therefore work with the Adminstration and other agencies to develop a comprehensive research and extension program to address the development of economical water quality solutions.

    Comment 4. The EPA should work closely with the USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service and local Soil and Water Conservation Districts to develop and implement science-based decision making tools to target BMPs to address nutrient enrichment in surface waters.

    Within rural communities in Louisiana and across the country, the USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) are at the forefront of water pollution control in terms of installing agricultural BMPs and providing technical assistance to landowners. In many areas SWCDs have also begun to work with stakeholders to address non-point source pollution from construction sites and established neighborhoods. These agencies work with state cost-share programs, where available, and federal programs such as EQIP provisions within the Farm Bill. These programs, in addition to EPA-319(H) funds have supported the installation of agricultural BMPs across the country. These programs implement BMPs based on either 1) the farm’s needs to address soil, water, habitat, or air quality concerns, or 2) the requirements of a specific program to install a specific BMP or to address a narrowly scoped resource concern. Although these programs as very successful and needed by landowners to provide assistance in installing BMPs in watershed, they typically rely on random participation by landowners who may or may not wish to install or implement the practices required to reduce non-point source pollution and achieve nutrient reduction goals.

    The EPA should work closely with NRCS, state agencies, and local SWCDs to develop and implement science-based decision making tools to assist in the targeting and placement of BMP cost share funds within watersheds. Funds, computer infrastructure, personnel, and training should be made available to develop a systematic program to collect and analyze data, provide BMP cost-share funds, and monitor the effectiveness of the program to reduce nutrient enrichment in surface waters. Models such as AGNPS and SWAT have been available for many years and can easily be used by groups to plan and monitor the progress of targeted BMP cost-share and installation programs. The results of model scenarios can be used within community and stakeholder education programs. Our experience has been that when landowners and local governments see how they are adversely affecting water quality and that when they are educated of where specific BMPs should be implemented that BMP implementation begins to happen; many times without waiting for cost-share assistance. Without “smart” planning tools the EPA will be investing in an expensive program of inspections and enforcement and relying on the random non-targeting installation of BMPs within rural communities to achieve nutrient reduction goals.

    Comment 5. The expansion of the NPDES program may have a detrimental effect on the economic stability of farm families as well as the nation’s and world’s food supply.

    History has shown that the cost of agricultural commodities will go up as a direct result of increased regulation. Some agricultural operations will not be able to handle the additional financial burdens and will go out of business, thus potentially affecting our ability to grow the food stuffs what we need in the US. This change may results in dramatic changes in our current food production paradigm where crop and fiber producers seek more profitable outlets for their products, in support of our changing energy paradigm, as we seek alternatives to achieve a self-sufficient energy program.

    comment 6. The expansion of the NPDES program by proposing rules to regulate all animal feeding operations is a reaction to recent court actions against previous CAFO Rules and unfairly singles out livestock operations with an additional economic burden compared to other agricultural stakeholders.

    The expansion of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program to regulate all animal feeding operations (AFOs) as confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) would create an unnecessary financial burden on livestock agriculture, the states, and agencies such as NRCS and state Cooperative Extension Services which provide technical assistance to these farms. The EPA’s Notice of Data Availability (2001) published in support of draft Rules for CAFOs estimated that there were between 520,000 and 640,000 AFOs in the US compared to an estimated 26,000 to 32,000 CAFO operations. The major difference between CAFOs and AFOs is the number of animals (regulatory threshold) that can be raised on a farm before falling under the regulatory jurisdiction of the EPA’s NPDES program. AFOs, because of their size are typically operated as family farms or family farm corporations. They are not “industrial animal factories.” Many of these farms raise animals and livestock as a means of financially diversifying their family incomes or agricultural operation by adding value to their land or crops by producing eggs, milk, or meat for a greater financial return than their crops would provide alone.

    The EPA’s current National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting requirements and Effluent Limitations Guidelines (ELG) for CAFOs are in response to the decision in Waterkeeper Alliance, et al. v. EPA, issued by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in February 2005. The final rule was published in the Federal Register on November 20, 2008 (73 FR 70418). The EPA in 2001 proposed several key changes which would have greatly expanded the regulated community by requiring all dry-litter farms (broilers and pullets) to have a NPDES permit even though the farms only affect water quality as a result of stormwater runoff. It is unclear by the language in the Draft Strategy if the EPA will repackage their initial proposal to circumvent the Second Circuit Court decision or if it will only seek a 2000 percent increase in the number of regulated farms by requiring all AFOs to apply for a NPDES Permit.

    Livestock operations, regardless of size, like all agricultural operations, may have an adverse impact on water quality through contributing to non-point source pollution. Row-crop farms apply large amounts of nutrients (N, P, K) just as their neighboring livestock farms, but are not targeted under this strategy as being a key issue in reducing nutrient enrichment to surface waters. This policy and point of view is both short-sighted and inconsistent with the EPA’s goal of reducing non-point source pollution.

    Requiring small and mid-size livestock operations to have all of the same structures and environmental plans as larger CAFOs is an expensive proposition that can be avoided through education and targeted non-regulatory cost share programs. The Dairy Waste Lagoon Clean-out Program in southeast Louisiana is an example of such a successful program:

    An Excerpt from: “An Economic Analysis of the Dairy Waste Lagoon Clean-out Program in Louisiana” John Westra, Vinicius R. Moreira and Ronnie Bardwell. Louisiana Agriculture. 53(2): 12 – 13.

    “Beginning in 1989, one-cell waste lagoons were being constructed on Louisiana dairy farms as new installations or were modified from established two-stage, aerobic and anaerobic cell lagoons using financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP). Building these types of waste installations continued through 2000.

    A best management practice (BMP) associated with these installations called for the solids to be removed every four years or so because of the design standards used in their construction. Cleaning out the waste lagoon, however, requires equipment most Louisiana dairy producers do not own. As an alternative, custom cleanout services are available in the region. Unfortunately, the costs exceed most producers’ capacity to pay because of thin profit margins under which most dairy producers operate.

    In 2001, funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies became available through the Lake Pontchartrain Restoration Act for the purpose of improving water quality of the lake. Among other things, this act established the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, which in turn allocated $100,000 annually to establish a cost-share program for dairy producers in the Louisiana parishes north of Lake Pontchartrain. Under the program, 75 percent of the cost of cleaning out a dairy waste lagoon was covered, and the producer paid the remaining 25 percent of the cost. The number of producers who participated each year was limited by the availability or supply of funds from the foundation.

    Funding from this program helped producers maintain functioning dairy waste lagoons and prevented them from becoming inefficient at retaining nutrients on the farming operations. Additionally, this program allowed producers to recycle organic matter and nutrients on their farms by pumping the waste onto pastures and cropland. The consequence of these BMPs was that more nutrients stayed on the land and less ended up in Lake Pontchartrain, improving water quality.

    Since 2001, 121 dairy producers have had wastewater from 148 lagoons pumped onto pastures and cropland and incorporated into the soil – 28 lagoons from Washington Parish and 120 from Tangipahoa and St. Helena parishes. The amount of wastewater pumped out of each lagoon varied considerably over the nine-year period, but the average amount removed was 637,416 gallons. There was considerable variation in wastewater nutrient content as well, but on average, it consisted of 4,461 pounds of nitrogen, 2,834 pounds of phosphorus and 1,771 pounds of potash.”

    Programs such as these can be developed across the country to address watershed-specific water quality objectives (nutrients, bacteria, etc) while using the limited available funds which are currently available from federal or state governments to assist in the planning, design, construction and maintenance of BMPs that will have a greater likelihood of improving water quality than the proposed strategy.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Dr Ron Sheffield, Associate Professor & Water Resources Extension Engineer, Department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center

    Dr Dan Thomas, Professor & Department Head, Department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center

    Dr Brian LeBlanc, Associate Professor & Roy and Karen Pickren Professor of Water Resources Callegari Environmental Center, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center and Louisiana Sea Grant

    September 9, 2010.

  15. September 9, 2010

    I am glad to see EPA thinking holistic. I work with small rural communities that are developing and/or managing water or wastewater systems. Many of these communities have very aged infrastructure that break often or improperly work. Water systems have major leaks and waste water. Sewer systems have massive I&I that leads to sanitary overflows. Improvement upgrades are needed to these systems, but the small towns cannot afford to pay for these. These systems need grant funding and long term interest loans – 40 to 50 years. What happens upstream at a multitude of small communities manifests itself downstream in a concentrated problem, example Gulf hypoxia. All with help to rebuild these systems, funding to help build the human infrastructure needed to keep these systems sustainable in the future is needed. Technical assistance from organizations like mine have been doing this for years, and with more funding we can do more. Most people do not understand that this nation is on the brink of a catastrophic nightmare that will occur when these aged systems fail. Harm to human life and to the environment and natural resources wll be tragic. Some rural systems have not had the population base to generate adequate revenue to make regular upgrades to their water and wastewater systems.

  16. September 9, 2010

    This all seems to be an initial realization that there are some major problems with our watershed’s health and our water resources. Everyone knows it’s a problem, but there is a lack of a detailed understanding. We are using water at a much faster rate than it recharges and we’re polluting it by every means possible. Think about how much water is used in our everyday activities. We can talk about it all we want, but it comes down to taking action. The only way people will take action is if they know the details, because then they might care. So who can fix it? America’s workforce. But only if they have a passion and an understaning. In my experience, not many do. It always comes down to the money and people’s “best” interests. In summary: MORE EDUCATION IS KEY!

  17. Dave Taylor permalink
    September 8, 2010

    Although I appreciate the effort involved in creating this document, it is not really a strategy. It is more of a “wish list” in that it does not identify priorities, resources or timelines. This “strategy” basically says to clamp down on everything and go after everybody who does not comply. It does not address the fundamental issue of prioritization between different aspects of the environment (and costs to the taxpayer as well). We can make the water cleaner, but that will use more energy. Is the extra energy worth it? Even with non fossil fuel based energy sources, we are talking about increasing energy use, rather than using such investment to decrease our fossil fuel utilization. EPA should modify these strategies to identify “points of diminishing returns” where small increases in water quality are no longer warranted in that they cause large increases in energy utilization (and large costs). Just imagine if a similar “strategy” were written to reduce fossil fuel emissions. It would call for minimizing new actions that use a lot of energy. Such a “strategy” would sound great, but it would be in direct conflict with this document. EPA must modify this strategy to balance energy and economic issues, rather than ignore them. This “strategy” represents the fundamental problem with how EPA deals with issues. Each issue (water, drainage, wastewater, solid waste, carbon emissions, economics, etc) is dealt with alone. This leaves the local agencies without any direction as to how to best balance these things. The laws of physics do not allow us to clean one thing without making a mess somewhere else. All EPA efforts must recognize this and provide clarity about how to balance and prioritize competing environmental priorities.

  18. September 8, 2010

    I appreciate this opportunity. I represent a small public water system, considered such as we supply 60 year-round residents. I think your goals are admirable, and I fully support them. As you draft specifics, please be aware of those of us who represent small systems, and who don’t have the financial resources nor complicated infrastructure to do everything which is required for large systems serving towns and municipalities. I have been the primary operator at the abbey’s water system for a few years now, and in that time the regulations have “blossomed.” Small systems like ours are generally not polluters, nor have we storm drains to maintain. Thank you.

  19. Robert Apgar permalink
    September 7, 2010

    I would suggest that an additional bullet be added to the “Strategies to Achieve Clean Water Goals” section. One of the EPA’s key strategies for dealing with the ongoing problem of water pollution should be to increase the public’s awareness and understanding of the impacts that various personal choices have upon national water quality. Along the same lines, a bullet should be amended or added in the “Key Actions for Strengthening Water Protections” section, specifically highlighting the need to educate the public on this connection. As this document points out, much has already been gained from point source regulation. Non-point source pollution, however, remains a persistent problem, and this is the result of the many personal decisions that Americans make on a daily basis. If we are to achieve our clean water goals, it is essential that all Americans understand what constitutes good decision-making from an environmental perspective.

  20. September 7, 2010

    I commend the EPA for approaching clean water as an overall goal, rather than as a patchwork of regulations that may not always work in tandem to achieve the same goal. In my experience as an environmental engineer in Ohio, working both in manufacturing and electric generation, large corporations are usually heavily regulated (including self reporting and frequent inspections) and are not the source of the current problem.

    Unless a program aggressively begins to address the nutrient pollution caused by agricultural and animal husbandry practices and urban sprawl, clean water in our rivers, streams and lakes will be unachievable. This summer, the excessive heat and years of heavy nutrient loading have caused large outbreaks of blue-green algae in numerous lakes across Ohio, causing massive fish kills and water toxic to humans and animals. Nutrient loading has caused a similar problem off of the coast of southern California, resulting in hundreds of deaths of sea mammals. There are known dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico and other areas from nutrient loading.

    Possible future damages related to climate change pale in comparison to continued degradation due to nutrient loading, stream and wetland destruction, and other current practices that are are lightly regulated.

  21. Albert Meilleur permalink
    September 6, 2010

    In my opinion the first thing we need to look at is how we develop farmland and infrastructure. Green infrastructure plays a vital role in reducing the bad effects of development and we could learn a lot from other places like Scandinavia and Holland.

  22. September 6, 2010

    Water is very important resource in our daily life. You will realize when you are out of water. Without water a life without breath. So this is why we are going to address the water issues facing this country we need to engage, if not all, at least a majority of Americans. How does EPA propose to motivate us to care enough to invest in our water future? We should get fresh and clean water in our daily life. This is our right.

  23. September 3, 2010

    Hello,

    We are implementing a program called the BLUE certification program in communities around Lake Champlain. It is a legally binding certification that helps residential property owners reduce stormwater runoff from their properties by following simple practices, such as redirecting downspouts and using non-toxic pesticide alternatives. As a part of the certification process, BLUE helps educate property owners about stormwater runoff and water pollution issues. Once BLUE certified, the property owner receives a BLUE logo sign for their yard. You can learn more by visiting http://www.WeAreBLUE.com

    Programs such as BLUE are essential to integrating communities into stormwater runoff solutions. Such “interactive” programs provide enough incentives and motivation for property owners to do their part to improve water quality. Otherwise, people simply will not understand the implications of stormwater runoff.

    I would love to see more community-based programs incorporated into EPA’s plans for improving water quality.

    Thank you,

    Ross Saxton
    BLUE Program Manager
    ross@WeAreBLUE.com
    http://www.WeAreBLUE.com

  24. September 2, 2010

    Under “Protect What You Have-Increased Focus on Protection of Healthy Water”, page 5 —- I do not see any protection sales of drinking water/aquifers to foreign and commerical businesses. Why is there not this protection?

  25. September 2, 2010

    The EPA approach definitely represents positive change.

    However, when you refer to stakeholders, you surely include industries who pollute because it is cheaper than “being green.” These stakeholders use variety of approaches to continue polluting: greenwashing, advertising, sponsoring good causes, supporting conservative talk radio, and electing cooperative politicians. Legislative change takes 60 Senate votes. Conservative judges are also a problem.

    We in the Hudson Valley have many high quality college and private environmental programs. Internships in cooperation with EPA cooperation would be a cost effective way to move the CWA along while adding to recent college grads’ resumes.

    As one who has seen questionable activities and things effecting environmental, I would like to see more public education. How about the equivalent of a green 911 we could call to report possible problems?

    There are lots of us who would help with the right leadership.

  26. August 28, 2010

    NPDES PERMITS NEED TO EVALUATE CONSTRUCTION STORMWATER RUNOFF TO THE WATERSHED OF THE RECEIVING STREAM
    The EPA incorporated requirements for delineating watersheds and calculating stormwater discharge from construction sites as part of the NPDES permitting process. However, there are basic deficiencies in the requirements considered by state agencies authorized by the EPA to issue NPDES permits. Specifically, in West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, the authorized state agencies are misinterpreting the definition of a watershed for purposes of evaluating stormwater discharge calculations. All hydrology textbooks, as well as hydrology calculation manuals provided by the EPA, the NRCS, the USFWS, the USFS, and the various state Departments of Transportation identify the watershed to include the area which drains into a receiving stream, including the areas downgradient of the project site. Stormwater calculations are supposed to incorporate representative runoff coefficients based on the variable soils groups present within the watershed. A project may have several stormwater culverts draining toward a receiving stream within a watershed which will greatly increase the amount and velocity of stormwater entering the receiving stream. Even if there is no sediment at the discharge point (that is, the stormwater culvert), the greater amount and velocity of stormwater will cause streambank erosion and, consequently, sedimentation downstream. Rather than using this approach to understand the impacts of the stormwater discharge from construction sites, the authorized state agencies mentioned above are only requiring delineation of the “watershed” area that drains to a stormwater discharge culvert. By doing this, they ignore the overall impact of stormwater issuing toward a stream from more than one stormwater discharge culvert and they ignore the additional downgradient construction stormwater runoff from areas between the discharge culvert locations.
    Numerous EPA documents and hydrologic studies refer to the article written by T. Schueler for the Center for Watershed Protection, entitled “The Importance of Imperviousness” (Watershed Protection Techniques, 1(3): 100-111). The basic premise documented in the article is that stream degradation occurs at relatively low (approximately 10%) levels of imperviousness. The conclusions presented in the article also address the negative impacts to aquatic headwater organisms where stormwater is great enough to cause streambank erosion. Greater streambank erosion causes increased sedimentation in headwater streams, resulting in the loss of good-water-quality species (stoneflies, mayflies, and caddisflies) that shred leaf litter, graze rock surfaces, and filter organic matter. These aquatic species form the base of the food chain. If NPDES permits do not require evaluation of the receiving stream watershed, especially headwater streams, the permit is useless for protecting our water resources.
    In addition to the negative impacts of greater sedimentation due to streambank erosion caused by greater stormwater discharge, a rise in water temperature also results from increased stormwater discharge into headwater streams. Deforestation in headwater areas causes an even greater rise in temperature because the amount of shade required by the aquatic headwater organisms is reduced. Trout are particularly sensitive to sedimentation and temperature changes. Deforestation also obviously results in decreased groundwater recharge, causing reduced base flows to supplement stream water in times of drought.

    EPA SHOULD CATEGORIZE AREAS FOR MINIMAL OR NO CONSTRUCTION
    A “bold” step by the EPA would be to evaluate areas that have particularly vulnerable water resources, such as headwater stream areas. There should be a policy of minimum construction in these vulnerable areas to maintain a specified percentage of highly pervious areas (such as forested ridges). This policy should include the ability of the EPA to specify areas where there should be no construction in order to protect our water quality and water quantity. This “bold” step would allow the EPA to evaluate eco-regions at a cumulative-impact level. For example, in the Applachians in WV, VA, and PA, thousands of acres of forested ridges are targeted for construction of industrial scale wind turbines. These projects include construction of haul roads that are typically 100 feet wide and up to 70 feet high. Such construction results in the creation of considerably less pervious areas than the initial forested ridge. Additional regional construction related to mountain-top removal and drilling for the radioactive Marcellus Shale gas creates enormous negative cumulative impacts for the entire region. The cumulative impacts affect the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, as demonstrated by studies presented in April, 2010 at the Canaan Valley Institute (Davis, WV) Conference, entitled “Highland Problems and Downstream Connections: An Environmental Summit for the Mid-Atlantic Highlands”. Only by setting limits on the places where construction can occur will there be adequate protection of our water resources, with regard to both water quality and water quantity.

  27. August 27, 2010

    As I see it, the bottom line is that where there is a conflict between clean water for the long term vs short term profits for monied interests; the former should take precedent.

    All of the science is relatively clear cut….the conflict is generated by monied interests that can afford to buy their own “experts” to stifle regulation designed to preserve and protect the interests of clean water and of the long term future.

    This is not really a problem of science but one of sheer political/economic power. Sadly, many of the people who end up working for the regulators end up in a revolving door that has them eventually working for polluters, that’s another part of the problem.

    I wish public policy was based on what was objectively/scientifically best for the long term for the most people….but we don’t yet live in that America. One can only hope that some of the regulators, some of the time will find the courage to stand up for what is right and to be willing to “blow the whistle” when she/he sees the perfidious influence of the greedy polluters.

    A prime example of this is the hydraulic-fracture gas drilling industry that has caused untold ruination of water tables throughout the nation, yet operates its dirty business with impunity. Only when the people of NY state rose up and made a big stink did the legislature issue a moratorium.

    So, yes, let’s talk and let’s keep informed…..but the bottom line continues to be the organized will of human beings/people who care about health and the future vs greedy corporations and individuals who only care about making a quick buck at any cost.

    We need MUCH stronger regulation and enforcement and a ban of the “revolving door” between regulators and the industries they’re supposed to regulate.

    We can live quite well without carbon based fuels……we can’t live without clean water.

  28. William Kruse permalink
    August 27, 2010

    EPA’s effort to direct attention to non-point, land development related sources of pollution is laudable. (Sustainable watersheds/land development). EPA should focus its attention on encouraging states to work with local governments to get the message out to individual citizens. There needs to be a clear link to improved public education of both children and adults. Unless the average American understands how to live in a more sustainable manner (reduce, reuse, recycle) we’ll never reach the goals of the CWA. (We’ve been trying to do this since the “Sec. 208″ days!)

  29. Sandra Caldwell permalink
    August 27, 2010

    I think the main way to regulate water quality is to constantly monitor corporations, who are the largest polluters. Those who don’t meet requirements should be fined heavily. Although, anyone who thinks that will happen is living in a fantasy world. The most realistic options, in my opinion, is for the USDA to offer farmers higher subsidies for farms to expand environmentally sound practices. At the same time, the subsidies for crop yields should be cut. By the way, I am a 2nd generation farmer. Also, everyone needs to cut or eliminate consumption of bottled water. The corporations that produce this are taking fresh water from U.S. communities. Contrary to most people’s perception, bottled water is less tested and less regulated than tap water. These are just some of my opinions.

  30. Ed Eichner permalink
    August 26, 2010

    Generally, it is a good start. I’d like to have seen a few clarifications about:
    1. How EPA is going to encourage integration across various watershed scales? Within the larger estuary watersheds in Massachusetts, there are often tens of lakes. And while we might develop a TMDL for nitrogen in the estuary and the watershed model may address the nitrogen removed by the lakes, the phosphorus that is impairing the lake is not integrated into the holistic management of the watershed.
    2. How we might broaden the definition of “green infrastructure” to use and restore natural systems to provide improved ecosystem function for that particular natural system as well as the water quality benefits it can provide for downstream systems? For example, Massachusetts’ streams often have mill ponds at their downstream terminus just before they discharge into an estuary. Since many of these ponds are over 200 years old, they often have lost volume due to sediment collection and do not provide as much nitrogen removal as they used to for the downstream estuary and have lost much of their open water due to plants thriving on all the phosphorus they contain. Restoration of the volume of these types of ponds could improve water quality in the pond and the estuary and save hundreds of houses from having to upgrade wastewater infrastructure from septic systems to sewers. If this is regarded holistically and encouraged in regulatory situations, the whole watershed benefits.
    3. How is EPA going to integrate the definitions of management of individual water body characteristics with the tendency/need to fit water bodies into large classifications? Each water body assessment we complete reveals unique features about that lake, pond, or estuary that should be part of their overall management strategy. Yet, in an acknowledged effort to streamline management, most regulatory approaches try to simplify and group systems. Perhaps it would be useful to acknowledge that simplified assessments based on large groupings are first steps and that they will be re-reviewed on a set time schedule (e.g., every 5 years).
    4. How long term improvements will be measured? Monitoring of water systems is the heartbeat of their health and there are numerous mentions in the draft about increasing monitoring. I would have liked to have seen a commitment by EPA to encourage through funding citizen-based surface water monitoring. Not only does this provide meaningful data with proper training, guidance, and review (at a university level?), but it encourages stewardship and ownership of resources. This effort would provide more extensive data than if this relies exclusively on government staff.

  31. August 26, 2010

    I live in a small town in Northern Wisconsin that borders Chequamagon Bay/Lake Superior. I’ve been looking into what can help our town and other nearby towns that also border the Lake prevent pollution from entering our lake. Pollution mostly caused by littering,smoking. I started looking into starting a business of parking lot,sidewalk,walking & biking trails Compact Street Sweeping to sweep/vacuum up this litter before it get’s into our storm water drains and down to the lake. I’ve been interested in the Advance RS 501 equipment. They are a lot smaller than your typical city street sweeper so are transportable to bring to other local towns to clean their areas of concern. They are lighter and narrow so can be used on city downtown shopping areas and on walking/biking trails. I had one shown to me and we did a deno cleaning for several businesses and all were impressed with it’s performance.
    Here’s my question. Are there any grants available that our local towns could use to help me start up this pollution solution? Grants that aim at helping stop the pollution before it gets to our storm drains. We have alot of festivals during our summer months and this equipment can be delievered to the festival grounds to clean up after each event. It can be used year round depending on snow depths. When I started looking into this equip. I looked at all the trash that builds up just around spring thaw. I was surprised how much litter goes down our drains. I will end here. Would appreciate any information that might be available.
    Thank you. Don J.

  32. August 25, 2010

    For Phase II MS4 communities, it would be more productive and less costly to establish one (1) MS4 entity for each individual county as opposed to the current stucture where several MS4s may exist in one county.

  33. August 24, 2010

    Reducing pollution entering our waters at the source makes sense. Keep it Clean. However, Good Housekeeping practices for cleaning OUTDOOR surfaces at developed sites, i.e. point sources has not been addressed.

    One quart of use motor oil contaminates 250,000 gallons of fresh water. Most businesses with high traffic areas, use pressure washers to clean outdoor hard surfaces for cosmetic purposes for removing automotive fluid spills, gum and dirt.

    The problem is that the wash water generated by pressure washing contains the toxic cleaning agents, as well as the contaminates removed from the surface being cleaned. Most people who use pressure washers let their wash water flow to the nearest storm drain.

    A few examples of businesses with high traffic areas or places where people congregate are gas stations, parking structures/lots, convention centers, amusement parks, airports, railroads, shipping ports, shopping malls, colleges and universities.

    700,000 pressure washers are sold each year. One quart of used motor oil contaminates 250,000 gallons of fresh water. If only 100 pressure washers are used each day, 2.5 million gallons of our fresh water is polluted, every day.

    Most cleaning activities take place nights and weekends when there aren’t Water Quality Control Inspectors on duty.

    Janitorial companies are unregulated by Water Quality Control and they are mobile, traveling from job site to job site, making these types of businesses extremely difficult to monitor.

    It should be a priority of Water Quality to hold businesses accountable for proper management of the wash water generated by outdoor cleaning activities.

    Developing national policies which streamline the regulatory authority to support and facilitate commercialization of new technologies is a key component if we are to succeed in stopping this controllable source of significant water pollution.

  34. August 24, 2010

    1) I agree with Bryson and Ehlers observation that the “strategy” is
    much too vague to allow any type of tracking of success or failure.
    2) Why do you choose the Chesapeake as an example to follow ??
    After 40 years of Clean Water Act it remains the most polluted Estuary
    of the Nation, where the program is “voluntary”, it is very unclear as to who is in charge, over 120 Committees and a recent letter by the
    administration that it will not pay its share to DC sewerage clean-up.
    3) You mention EPA and State programs, but you do not tell us how
    many and what type of Professionals are needed to do. What you suggest. Do federal and state programs have the staff and budget to implement what you propose ?
    4) You mention watersheds but say nothing of political and national
    boundaries that prevent effective action. Have those problems been resolved?
    5) You mention scientific complexity but to not list priorities in research needed to carry out the program.
    6) EPA’s culture emphasizes paperwork over information on pollution. A recent presentation on the new look at Pesticides
    by an EPA expert gave 1 hour PowerPoint on paperwork but could
    not tell us a single stream in Pa. with a serious Pesticide problem.
    7) Your strategy does not mention institutional issues that might
    prevent implementation of the strategy such as the fact that each
    state has a very confusing contradictory mix of laws that govern
    land/water relationships.
    In summary your strategy sounds much too good in the face of
    many of the obstacles that NEED TO BE OVERCOME.

    Walt Lyon

  35. August 24, 2010

    I applaud Administrator Jackson’s efforts to develop a Strategy for Achieving Clean Water. Many others of us have been calling for such a revitilization of the CWA for several years. The Strategy is focused on fully utilizing the existing framework of the CWA, while this is important, it does not go far enough to fully address all the sources of water quality impariments that exist today, or will exist in the future. Myself and many of my colleagues believe that is time for a fundamental restructuring of the CWA to eliminate the most noteable exclusion, that being non-point sources. The existing framework of the CWA needs to be dramatically changed to address all sources. The CWA has resulted in significant improvements in water quality over these last 35-40 years, but as currently constructed, can not result in futher “significant” improvements without being able to effectively deal with all non-point sources.
    I am in total agreement with the Strategy that we must remove the internal barriers/silos to water quality improvement by taking a more holistic and compreshensive watershed-based approach which is locally driven and developed. I am not advocating for a reduction in the underlying protection activities currently in place, but rather a re-focusing on a integrated watershed approach, where multi-objective approachs can be developed with an eye toward the highest and best use of the available economic and human resources.
    I am a firm supporter of water quality credit trading programs. I would encourage EPA to continue to encourage and facilitate practical solutions to complex water quality issues using nautral, sustainable approaches such a credit trading.
    I would encourage the Administrator to look carefully at how the other major federal Acts (SDWA, CAA, ESA, etc.) can be better utilizes to compliment and support the activities carried out under the CWA. There are numerous examples of how these various acts can and do work against each other in the pursuit of healthy watersheds.
    One area that the Strategy does not specifically address to the revitalization of the watershed planning process (Section 208). I would strongly encourage EPA to evaluate how to revitalize this “planning” section in coordination with its increased focus on assessments.
    Again, I am encouraged by the Strategy, but without a fundamental revision to the framework of the CWA to expand it’s scope to include all sources of water quality impariments, EPA will continue to have significant restrictions placed on its ability to fully address the sources of greatest impact today and in the future.

  36. August 24, 2010

    Please describe “Healthy Watersheds” and ” Sustainable Communities”. Who do you intend to penalize and how much cost is involved in reaching these points.

  37. August 24, 2010

    I’ll be more specific than broad about the strategy.Two elements of the strategy are of particular concern to me: 1) repeated mention of the ‘best science available’ flies in the face of regulatory actions taken with little or no science input from outside EPA, and 2) no concern for economic tradeoffs that will be necessary to achieve goals of the strategy. Just because the CWA does not require costs to be considered does NOT mean that it is good political strategy.

  38. August 24, 2010

    Greetings,
    The focus on watersheds is essential. This can be expanded by developing ‘watershed intelligence’ – understanding how the landscape is being managed that is similar to the vast data base we carry on production intelligence for farm crops. The EPA goals must be unified with retailers’ sustainability goals. The effort before us is not to construct many eco-markets but a real and new bio-economy. ecocommerce101.com

  39. August 24, 2010

    Hello,
    How are you quantifying this? For example, by what metric will we know EPA has achieved the goal of a “sustainable community”?

    Thank you.

    Sincerely,
    James Ehlers
    Lake Champlain International, Inc.

  40. August 23, 2010

    This is all good! I suggest you engage social scientists who have been working to understand effective ways to structure community processes for building healthy watersheds. I worry that when the report says “broadly engage local communities in decisions that impact local and state waters. For example, capitalizing on green infrastructure, water/energy synergies and integrated water management are key features in this new approach,” technological solutions will be emphasized and short shrift will be given to supporting institutional arrangements that are fair, effective and built on a solid foundation of local steering committees of landowners, recreation and wildlife advocates, agencies and other affected local parties. There are good examples and good research has been done to understand what works and why. In order for new technologies to be effective, the new strategy needs to provide strong guidance and support for the social aspects of resolving the problems long term. Healthy watersheds require multiple generations of committed residents to continue on the long path to recovery.

  41. August 23, 2010

    On the positive side, there is greater recognition of the need to protect waters that are not impaired, to develop transparency in reporting, and to create broader engagement.

    On the negative, there is no explicit recognition of the need to reduce the production of pollutants, esp. nonpoint source pollutants; we continue to rely largely on “end-of-pipe” approaches that don’t work well. For example, stormwater ponds do not effectively remove soluble P, road salt, or fecal coliforms. All require source reduction.

    There is also little focus on research, both on the biophysical aspects of pollution (how does P move through an urban landscape? what is the fate of road salt?, etc.), but also on behavioral drivers associate with pollution generation (e.g. fertilization practices in urban areas), on the effectiveness of public engagement in actually reducing pollution, or on the adaptive governance. After 40 years of failing to reduce nonpoint source pollution, a renewed focus on research is badly needed.

  42. August 23, 2010

    I did not finish my comment due to a computer glitch. There is no discussion of accountability of how the strategy will be tracked by the various EPA programs to insure that it is truly being implemented. Without some measure of accountability on the various programs the document becomes a lot of interesting platitudes and will sit on a shelf gathering dust until the next strategy is written. I urge you to add a section on how the full implementation of the strategy will be monitored and tracked by senior management within EPA. The results of the tracking and monitoring should be made available to the public on a semiannual basis so that we can hold EPA accountable for action or inaction.
    My other comment is that I hope EPA will ”just do it!” Please implement the strategy. It is sorely needed!!

  43. August 23, 2010

    The strategy is excellent but has a couple of major holes in it. Those are as follows:

  44. August 23, 2010

    Hello,
    Water is a common resource so it would seem if we are going to address the water issues facing this country we need to engage, if not all, at least a majority of Americans. How does EPA propose to motivate us to care enough to invest in our water future? I do not see any mention of how this will be accomplished.

    Thank you for the opportunity.

    Sincerely,
    James Ehlers
    Lake Champlain International, Inc.

  45. August 23, 2010

    The draft policy contains many important ideas for improving water quality protection for which EPA should be applauded.

    I’d like to recommend that more focus be given to the issue of hydrology and the need, particularly with the specter of global climate change, to restore hydrologic functioning as a key component of any clean water initiative. The hydrologic connectivity between headwaters and estuary; surface water and ground water; and landscape, floodplain and stream channel should be protected to produce the pattern and range of flows necessary to support beneficial uses and a functional ecosystem. A functional hydrologic system will better be able to withstand the stressors associated with pollutant loading, urbanization, and modified climate.

    Consideration, specifically, should be given to mechanisms by which groundwater recharge can be promoted as groundwater resources become more and more over-extended.

  46. August 23, 2010

    When it comes to non-point sources, land use directly impacts water quality. Many of our past and current land use and development practices and policies have negatively affected water quality and aquatic ecosystems. It will be difficult to make significant progress in the non-point source arena unless this issue is appropriately addressed.

    If we continue to develop the way we have in the past (paving the watershed with impervious surfaces, not appropriately valueing ecosystem services in making decisions, etc.), our nation’s water quality will continue to decline. In the future, we will have to manage and develop land differently to avoid the adverse impacts associated with growth. Green infrastructure can play a significant role in helping to minimize impacts of development and is mentioned in several places in the report. However, it may be helpful to more explicitly draw the connections between land use and water quality in the report.

  47. August 23, 2010

    More and more today, water quality is being based on the levels of pollution a community can afford along with the level of pollution a body of water can handle. The good ole saying, “The solution to pollution is dilution.” is making a mighty comeback. With this the use of technology is being limited to what a community is willing to pay and more so on what they can get away with discharging. This doesn’t leave much “wiggle room” for additional pollution sources from other pathways. People of this nation are more inclined to pay hundreds of dollars for personal gadgets than they are for clean water. And companies will always choose what hurts the bottom line the least. There needs to be more emphasis on requiring the best available technology and less on what level of pollution a body of water can withstand. We should be ELIMINATING the discharge of pollutants not trying to find a level that can be handled by all living things.

  48. August 23, 2010

    Excellent document. I love the focus on a watershed approach and green infrastructure.

    One suggestion: early in the document (bottom of 1st page), hydrology is listed as an important factor affecting water quality. In our part of Central Florida, we believe that restoring hydrology is a critical factor in influencing water quality. I would love to see hydrologic restoration, especially using green infrastructure, receive more emphasis in the beneficial role it plays in long-term water quality improvements.

  49. August 21, 2010

    It’s a good document.

    My key comment is that the Smart Growth principles deserve at least a mention, as a powerful tool for watershed protection and restoration. Green infrastructure is cool, and received a lot of mention, but not Smart Growth? (Perhaps Smart Growth should actually be one of the GI BMPs. For example: Density as a BMP.)

    Paul Crabtree, PE, CNU-A, APA, ULI, LGC, ASCE

  50. August 21, 2010

    Hello Mr. Silva,

    I notice that Tribes are very briefly mentioned in the conclusions.

    I wonder at this, knowing that many Tribes are directly affected by contaminated waters (drinking water included) that threaten their lives, culture and future.

    Would you consider including a Tribal component to the Clean Water Strategy? If so, we would be glad to assist.

    Best Regards,
    Jon Waterhouse

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