This newsletter is available exclusively to SESWA Members
September 2020
Volume 15, Issue 5

President's Corner
Scott Hofer
The cooler mornings and nights have me excited about Fall in Alabama and throughout the Southeast. During these uncertain times, there is a comfort knowing what lies ahead as the leaves begin to change. I hope that you are able to take some time to enjoy it. 
 
The Fall is also a time to look forward to SESWA's Annual Conference. The online conference will be held October 7-9, 2020 and I hope that you can join us! After SESWA's successful Spring Seminar and webinars, the Annual Conference will again bring you valuable stormwater information and unique community interaction. 
 
Also, don't forget that September 30th is the deadline to renew your organization's membership. SESWA is a wonderful community of stormwater professionals that are just a click or an email away. Being a member gives you access to valuable information, access to free webinars, discounted rates for seminars and conferences, and access to an invaluable online stormwater forum.

Scott Hofer
SESWA President
Association News 
Don't Let This Be Your Last Newsletter!

Thank you for your membership in the Southeast Stormwater Association!  To assist during these challenging times we have extended the deadline for dues payments through the end of the 2020-21 first quarter. If not renewed, your membership will expire September 30th.  Don't let this be your last newsletter, renew today!  Not sure if your organization has renewed?  Contact SESWA, we're happy to help.  We look forward to welcoming you back for another year!  
Join a 2020-21 Committees 
 
All SESWA members are encouraged to serve on one of the Association's four programmatic committees - Communications, Conference & Education, Membership, or Stormwater Policy. 

Volunteering to serve on a committee is a great way to become more involved in SESWA, have a say in your Association's programs and network with other stormwater professionals throughout the Southeast. 

Committee re-appointments are not automatic! Whether you wish to return to a committee or be appointed for the first time, please complete a Committee Request Form. The incoming President will be making appointments by early November.

15th Annual Regional Stormwater Conference 
 
Are you registered?  Hurry, registration closes Friday, October 2nd.  You will not want to miss out on this year's Annual Conference with a preeminent schedule of presentations and esteemed speakers. The online conference will occur October 7-9, 2020 and will provide attendees with access to continuing education credits, provide opportunities for interaction and much more.  If you have never attended a SESWA conference, the online platform offers a great opportunity to participate!  Register now to save your seat!
In This Issue
Communications Sponsors




SESWA Board of Directors

Executive Committee

President:
Scott Hofer
Jefferson County DOH, AL

Vice President:
Cory Rayburn
City of Atlanta, GA

Secretary-Treasurer:
W. Dave Canaan
Mecklenburg County, NC

Immediate Past President:
Laurie Hawks
Hawks Environmental

Board Representative:
Synithia Williams
Richland County, SC

To access a full listing of the SESWA Board of Directors, please click here.
SESWA Job Board - Post Jobs and Resumes!

The SESWA Job Board is an excellent resource for job seekers and employers for stormwater professionals in the Southeast. SESWA members can post job openings on the Job Board for FREE for 30 days! 

Job seekers can also post their resumes for FREE for 30 days. SESWA members will be able to view the resumes and find the best fit for their vacancies! To post your vacancy or resume, visit the SESWA Job Board!
Join the Online Community - SESWA's Online Forum 
 
During this time when many are working from home, take this opportunity to visit the Community Forum and connect with other stormwater professionals across the Southeast.  The Forum is listed under the "Members Only" tab on the SESWA website.  Join this virtual gathering place to ask a question or post something that is happening in your area that might be helpful to others. Don't forget to subscribe to get updates!

Quick Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Forum
  • Subscribe - Subscribe to as many topics as you like. When you subscribe to a topic you will receive email alerts for any activity on that topic.
  • Favorites - Click "Favorite" to add a topic to your "My Favorites" list.
  • Search - Search for topics of interest by entering key words in the website search box at the top of the web page. You must be logged in to use the Search feature. 
  • Post - Click on the "Discussion Threads" link. Go to the "New Topic" button. Be sure to subscribe to this topic to receive automatic updates. 
  • Reply - Click the topic link and then click "Post Reply." Remember, to receive automatic updates you must subscribe to this topic.
Regulatory News 
WOTUS Regulatory Update
Kurt Spitzer, SESWA

The latest revisions to the definitions of Waters of the United States (WOTUS) became effective in June 2020. The "Navigable Waters Protection Rule" replaces the 2015 definitions with a new set that are significantly narrower than those that existed in 2015 and also those that proceeded the 2015 amendments. The definition of what is or is not a jurisdictional water is important as many CWA-related permitting programs (e.g. NPDES, dredge and fill, etc.) hinge upon whether a waterbody is subject to federal jurisdiction. Although technically effective at the present time, there are at least 11 lawsuits filed in various federal courts around the country challenging the new rule and it will likely take several months before a clear direction will be seen concerning the cases. In the meantime, SESWA's lawsuit challenging the 2015 WOTUS rule has been maintained as an "insurance policy" in the event that current efforts to repeal or replace the 2015 rule are unsuccessful. See SESWA's Advocacy Page for more information.
Groundwater Discharges May Need CWA Permit
Kurt Spitzer, SESWA

The Supreme Court ruled on April 23, 2020 that wastewater treatment operations and other dischargers of pollution cannot avoid permitting requirements under the CWA based on the new "functional equivalent" test. In County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, SCOTUS found that the discharge of polluted water into the ground which reaches a nearby jurisdictional water still requires the discharger to comply with the CWA. But the Court rejected the broader standard embedded in the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court that permits are required when pollutants are "fairly traceable," and sent the case back to the Ninth Circuit Court for further proceedings consistent with its decision.

Under the "functional equivalent" test several factors can be considered, such as: transit time, distance traveled, the nature of the material through which the pollutant travels, the extent to which the pollutant is diluted or changed, the amount of the pollutant entering the navigable waters relative to the amount of the pollutant that leaves the point source, the manner by or area in which the pollutant enters the navigable waters, etc. Time and distance are the most important factors.

The Maui decision will have immediate impacts on similar cases now pending in other US Circuit Courts. EPA is expected to craft implementation guidance documents based on the Maui decision.
Around the Southeast
Funding Opportunities for Green Infrastructure
Laurie Hawks, Hawks Environmental

As local governments are tightening budgets, alternative sources of funding are increasingly important. There are several federal grants available that may help with programs to increase resiliency/reduce flooding including installation of green infrastructure or in some cases buying property. Below are links to a few of these grant opportunities. 

FEMA - Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA)/Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) - There is $660 million available for these two programs combined this year. FEMA's two competitive mitigation grant programs provide states, local communities, tribes and territories (SLTTs) funding for eligible mitigation activities to strengthen our nation's ability to build a culture of preparedness by reducing disaster losses and protecting life and property from future disaster damages.

The application period opens on September 30, 2020. Eligible applicants must apply for funding using the new FEMA Grants Outcome (FEMA GO), which is now the management system for HMA and BRIC. Please submit applications in the FEMA Go Portal no later than 3 p.m. EST on January 29, 2021.

USDA - This program covers retrofitting residential yards with green infrastructure in Georgia and probably other states. There's $80K allocated for each county. They've also agreed to hire graduates of local workforce development training groups to help with the actual install. See the GCAP website for more information.
Engaging Stakeholders in Lake Lanier Watershed Research
Steve Leo, Constantine Engineering

Lake Lanier is a critical water resource to the North Georgia region. In an effort to better protect this resource, The Water Tower, a new water innovation center in Gwinnett County, in partnership with Gwinnett County's Department of Water Resources, is currently in the process of developing a 5-Year Applied Research Plan that will provide answers to stakeholder questions and concerns. This effort, to be completed in October 2020, has engaged Lake Lanier Watershed stakeholders including utility personnel, regulators, environmental groups, planning organizations and other interested parties. Individuals from each of these groups were invited to respond to a survey and then participate in online meetings where they were asked to identify lake and watershed management questions and concerns. A committee of technical experts were then engaged to formulate research project descriptions, which will be prioritized by stakeholders and published within the 5-year plan. It is anticipated that by speaking with one voice, the stakeholders will enhance the likelihood of gaining funding to implement the prioritized research projects. Proposed projects will address issues such as BMP effectiveness, stormwater management, and water quality monitoring, to name a few. More information on the project is available here and the project will be presented at this year's SESWA Annual Conference.
Florida's Statewide Stormwater Design Criteria 
Kurt Spitzer, SESWA

Legislation passed during the 2020 Session in Florida that requires the Department of Environmental Protection to update its rules governing the design criteria for stormwater systems.  Runoff from stormwater systems design in accordance with state criteria is presumed to be in compliance with water quality standards; however, studies have shown that such a presumption is often inaccurate.  Senate Bill 712 requires the Department to initiate the rulemaking by January 1, 2021.
Delegation of Dredge and Fill Permitting to Florida
Kurt Spitzer, SESWA

The State of Florida has been seeking authority to administer the federal dredge and fill permitting program for the past three years. In September, EPA announced that it has received a complete application from Florida for the State to assume responsibility for the administration of the permitting program under Section 404 of the CWA. The Notice in the Federal Register starts a 45-day clock during which time EPA will receive comments on the proposal. Additionally, two online public hearings will be held in October. For more information, visit EPA-HQ-OW-2018-0640 or FDEP's webpage
Tennessee Stormwater Permits Update
Crystal Bishop, Hamilton County, TN

Tennessee Multi Sector Permit (TMSP) - The previous TMSP reflected the 2015 federal Multi Sector General Permit (MSGP), which expired on June 4, 2020. EPA has proposed a 2020 MSGP that is fundamentally different from the previous permit and from Tennessee's 2015 TMSP. The comment period for the federal MSGP ended June 1, 2020, and the final permit is not anticipated until November 12, 2020. Rather than wait for EPA's final 2020 permit to inform Tennessee's 2020 TMSP, Tennessee Department of Environment Conservation decided to reissue the 2015 TMSP, unchanged, for a term of two years. This will provide an opportunity to review the final federal MSGP prior to proposing any changes to the TMSP. Reissuing the 2020 TMSP for a two-year term will avoid impacting new industrial facilities who would be unable to receive permit coverage without an active TMSP in Tennessee. The TMSP was reissued and became effective on July 20, 2020. Visit the TDEC's NPDES Permit page for TMSP forms and links to other resources.

Tennessee Board of Water Quality, Oil & Gas Meeting - The Notice of Rulemaking Hearing on the draft MS4 rules was conducted in July 2019. The Division is currently working on finalizing the responses to the comments received and aiming to be finished by the next Tennessee Board of Water Quality, Oil & Gas meeting on October 20-21, 2020. Any changes to the rules and response to comments will be posted on the TDEC's TN Board of Water Quality website prior to the meeting.
Building Resilience with BRIC
Angie Mettlen and Lisa Wells, W.K. Dickson & Company

As we learned with the Three Little Pigs, using bricks to build your house can save you from the proverbial Big Bad Wolf. Using FEMA's new BRIC program is analogous to the moral of this classic fairy tale. FEMA's shift with this new program focuses hazard mitigation funds to prevent or lessen catastrophic infrastructure impacts that result from disasters rather than using most of these funds to rebuild following such an event.  BRIC also integrates community-based planning by targeting projects that touch one or more of the seven community lifelines: safety & security; food, water & shelter; health & medical; energy; communications; transportation; and hazardous materials. These lifelines are the infrastructure and systems that keep a community functioning before, during & after a disaster. Through integrated planning and mitigation efforts across these lifelines, communities can become more resilient in the wake of a disaster. Just like the Three Little Pigs, the community that effectively uses the foundation set by the rationale of BRIC will remain standing. The BRIC application period on the new FEMA GO portal opens on September 30, 2020 and will close on January 29, 2021.
NACWA Corner
Provided by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies 
Emily Remmel, Director of Regulatory Affairs

EPA Takes Historic Step to Revise Affordability Methodology
 
It may have only taken two decades of tireless efforts by NACWA and other water sector partners, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken a major step towards overhauling its financial capability assessment methodology to better account for the impacts on economically disadvantaged communities. On September 18, the Agency published its Proposed 2020 Financial Capability Assessment for Clean Water Act Obligations in the Federal Register. 

This is a monumental development where there is a real possibility to move EPA away from its sole reliance on median household income (MHI) as an indicator of affordability in the Clean Water Act context. 

The road to getting to this development has been winding and arduous. In a report from 2017, the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), responding to a Congressional directive to review EPA's dated 1997 Combined Sewer Overflows - Guidance for Financial Capability Assessment and Schedule Development, acknowledged several deficiencies and proposed the Agency make improvements on residential indicators and financial capability indicator components, among others. These recommendations were a positive step forward in showcasing areas of improvement; however, the NAPA report failed to propose a new framework or methodology for a revised financial capability assessment approach that encompasses these recommendations.

NACWA's most recent advocacy on this issue was based on a series of recommendations in a report developed jointly with the American Water Works Association and the Water Environment Federation, which was sent to EPA in early 2019. This report outlined new metrics for evaluating financial capability that could better account for impacts on low-income populations. And, in a parallel step with the NAPA report, highlights the need to include the costs of drinking water and stormwater when considering the average household costs.

Since that time, the water sector associations have been working in lockstep to engage EPA and encourage the Agency to change its methodology. While EPA's proposed approach continues to rely, in part, on its old metrics, key elements from the water sector report have been incorporated into EPA's new draft document that directly influence the determination of financial burden based on impacts to low-income communities.

Comments are due to the Agency by October 19, 2020. Contact Emily Remmel, NACWA's Director of Regulatory Affairs for more information.
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Southeast Stormwater Association
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