June 2020

The EPA has published the final Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.

As discussed in our February WOTUS update, the new rule eliminates Clean Water Act protections for more than 18% of our streams and a majority of the nation's wetlands.

It also removes protections for ephemeral streams, which flow only after rain or during snowmelt. Hydrologists note that although these streams are often dry, there are times during the year where torrential downpours rain or snowmelt can carry significant pollutants downstream into more consistently flowing waterways, impacting recreation areas and drinking water intakes.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, ephemeral streams account for more than 18% of waterways nationwide but are more common in the arid West: accounting for more than 85% of the streams in Nevada.

Nationwide 12 Permit Vacated

The U.S. District Court for Montana vacated the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12).

Specifically, the case involved the challenge by the Northern Plains Resource Council (plaintiffs) to the USACE’s authorization of the use of NWP 12 to permit the discharge of dredged or fill material to waters of the U.S. in connection with the construction of TC Energy’s Keystone Pipeline.

The court held that the USACE had failed to comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by not consulting with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) regarding the effect of NWP 12 on ESA-listed species when it reauthorized NWP 12 and the other NWPs in 2017.

Dane Nguyen & Aaron Wilson Join Blackstone
Welcome! Dane Nguyen , Project Engineer, has joined Blackstone's Overland Park, Kansas office. He holds a Master of Science and a Bachelor of Science both in Environmental Engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri.

As part of the Blackstone team, Dane will focus on landfill CQA, permitting, GIS modeling and statistical analysis.

Prior to Blackstone, Dane was a graduate assistant at Missouri S&T. His work included work remote sensing, drone integration, hyperspectral imaging and machine learning, plant nutrient availability, measuring evapotranspiration using thermal energy, and detecting early failures in levees using UAVs and thermal imaging.

Dane was born in Pasadena, California and grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. He was an active member at his local Makerspace during his undergrad years. In his spare time, he is either working on his coral reef tank or 3D printing new parts for his drone. 
Welcome! Aaron Wilson , Environmental Geologist, has joined Blackstone's St. Louis, Missouri office. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Geology and Geophysics, with a Minor in Geological Engineering, from the Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri.

At Blackstone, Aaron will focus on soil classification and investigation activities, groundwater monitoring and statistical analysis, wetland assessment, gas probe monitoring and NEPA compliance.

Before Blackstone, Aaron interned at the Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc. and the Unites States Geological Survey. His work included testing of stack emissions chemistry at power plants, auditing emission reports, editing/reviewing topographic map data, cataloging hazardous materials and Coal Combustible Residue and water chemistry inspections.

Aaron was born and raised in Farmington, Missouri. In his free time, he enjoys running, backpacking and building computers.
What is Your Packer Test Actually Measuring?
A critical part of the process for citing new or expanding existing solid waste facilities in Missouri is characterization of the underlying geological and hydrogeological conditions to evaluate their suitability for landfilling activities. Identifying and characterizing the uppermost confining unit beneath the solid waste disposal area is a major part of this characterization. Using bedrock coring and in-situ permeability testing, the uppermost confining unit can be identified and characterized to ensure regulatory requirements are met.

One of the more commonly used methods for determining in-situ permeability in low-permeability formations is the Packer Test. This in-situ test uses bladders, or packers, to seal off the borehole section of interest. Using water, a constant pressure is then applied to the sealed borehole interval and the resulting changes in water flow rate are measured (i.e. loss of water to the formation).

Out & About & Virtual Events
Visit our calendar for career and professional events coming up this summer and fall.
August 31 – September 3

September 15 – 17
KOR Works 2020, Topeka, Kansas

October 5 - 7

October 20 - 21

November 10
Moline, Illinois
Overland Park, Kansas
Des Moines, Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa
St. Louis, Missouri
Moline, Illinois
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