This newsletter is available exclusively to SESWA Members
January 2021
Volume 16, Issue 1

President's Corner
Scott Hofer
On behalf of the SESWA leadership team, I would like to wish you a Happy New Year and thank you for your continued support and participation in our association. I'd also like to thank you for giving us the honor of serving you during these last two years.
There is no doubt that 2020 challenged us all, both personally and professionally. Along with the pandemic came a focus on family, connection, and human interaction. Through it all, SESWA has been able to continue all of its services providing much needed networking opportunities, educational content, and communication amongst stormwater professionals throughout the Southeast. I am happy to report that SESWA continues to experience strong membership numbers and high attendance at all events - last week's webinar had over 400 registrants from the US and beyond!
As we look ahead to 2021 I am excited by the resiliency SESWA has seen over the past year and hope for the continuation of this trend into the new year. In April, SESWA will host the Innovative Alternatives for Stormwater Funding Seminar. The Seminar will provide real-world experience and information on how to make the most of the resources you have while exploring ways to increase the bottom line. Please join us online as we learn about maximizing resources while sharing and connecting with other professionals. I hope to "see" you there!

Scott Hofer
SESWA President
Association News 
SESWA Stormwater Utility Report

SESWA surveys stormwater utilities within EPA Region 4 every two years. The Report provides easy access to questions and trends concerning rates, structure, billing methods, operations, expenditure patterns and many other practices in stormwater utilities. We need your help with the 2021 Survey. If your jurisdiction has previously participated in the stormwater utility report you should have received an email with your previous survey and asked to make any updates. If your jurisdiction has not previously participated but has a stormwater utility, please contact SESWA so we can include you! We would like to thank the sponsors of this report and all jurisdictions that participate.

465454CDM Smith
Did You Miss SESWA's January Webinar?
It's not too late to view the popular Re-wilding Streams and Floodplains to Enhance Ecosystem Services webinar. On January 21st attendees learned about the process and outcomes of re-wilding urban streams and floodplains. Streams and floodplains are important components of developed landscapes that can provide many benefits and services to communities. Re-wilding streams and floodplains can greatly enhance ecosystem services by reintroducing natural elements to the stream corridor. SESWA members can view the webinar recording online at no cost!
In This Issue
Communications Sponsors

SESWA Board of Directors

Executive Committee

Scott Hofer
Jefferson County DOH, AL

Vice President:
Cory Rayburn
City of Atlanta, GA

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.
The webinar was free to members, thanks to the generous support of SESWA's Communications Sponsors!

SESWA Seminar - Registration Open!
Join us as we explore Innovative Alternatives for Stormwater Funding. SESWA's 16th Annual Regional Stormwater Seminar will be held online on April 23, 2021.  The demands of today's stormwater management programs require a vast amount of resources. While these programs are typically funded by stormwater fees or other citizen funds, stormwater managers are often seeking creative approaches to meet growing demands.  This Seminar will give you real-world experience and information on how to make the most of the resources you have while exploring ways to increase the bottom line. Register before February 26, 2021 to receive the discounted, early rate. Don't miss the opportunity to take part in an important forum for stormwater professionals to learn about innovative stormwater practices from experts, build partnerships and share best practices.

SESWA Job Board - Post Jobs and Resumes!

The SESWA Job Board is an excellent resource for job seekers and employers in the stormwater profession throughout 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 SESWA's Community Forum 
During this time when many are working remotely, take the opportunity to visit the Community Forum and connect online with other stormwater professionals across the Southeast.  The Forum can be found 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
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  • 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

With the change in Administrations at the federal level, yet another change in defining what is or is not a "Water of the United States" can be expected. Although it is impossible to predict what specific approach will be taken by the new EPA on the WOTUS rule and when that might be accomplished, it is anticipated that significant changes will be proposed to the definitions contained in the June 2020 "Replacement Rule." For example, EPA has recently requested that officials at the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the US Department of Justice seek abeyances or stays of proceedings in pending litigation seeking judicial review of any EPA regulation adopted during the past four years. It is unlikely that EPA will seek to return to the 2015 WOTUS definitions; however, if that occurs, the challenge to the 2015 rule brought by SESWA and other parties remains alive as an added layer of protection.
Permitting for Groundwater Discharges
Kurt Spitzer, SESWA

The US Supreme Court's April 23, 2020 ruling that pollutants discharged to groundwater that (in certain circumstances) make their way to surface waters cannot avoid permitting requirements under the CWA remains the subject of debate in the court system.  The new "functional equivalent" test as identified in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, 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.  EPA was expected to propose implementation regulations in early 2021 but the change in EPA leadership will likely delay that effort.
Around the Southeast
Don't Let the Winter Weather Chill Out Your Education Program
John Butler, Gwinnett County, GA

Winter can seem like a good time to take a step back to focus on other aspects of your program, but don't let the cold weather chill out your education program. Winter is a great time for education, both indoors and out!

Consider stream cleanups and invasive species removal. Although you want to avoid getting your feet wet, this is a great time of year for stream cleanups. Focus on floodplains and even roadways in winter to take advantage of the decreased understory and the lack of spider webs! Also, privet is almost the only green plant left standing, so identification by volunteers is much more trustworthy. This is also a good time to scout out potential sites for spring and summer.

One silver lining to the limitations of COVID, is our new level of comfort with virtual meetings. Set up a virtual fireside chat, literally, to present information on NPS, detention ponds, and other stormwater topics with your target audiences.

Another great option for winter is attending Expos. Home shows, real estate expos, plant nursery expos, and Science Fairs often take place in winter and can provide an excellent opportunity for you to set up a table with information and giveaways for an audience you may not otherwise interact with.

So this winter, bundle up, get outside and keep spreading the good word about our favorite subject - Stormwater!

Florida Legislative Updates
Steve Peene, Applied Technology and Management

In the 2020 session, Florida legislators tackled water quality issues throughout the state.  The Legislature passed the "Clean Waterways Act" which addresses a multitude of issues including biosolids application, septic systems, wastewater treatment, agricultural runoff, and of course, stormwater.  Many of the key components of the legislation came out of the Blue-Green Algae Task Force, a group of nationally recognized experts who provided guidance on regulatory changes to improve Florida's water quality.  One key change is that regulatory oversight of septic systems will move from the Florida Department of Health to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), reflecting concerns about septic system impacts to water quality.  Relative to stormwater, new rules will be developed to improve water quality with specific focus on nutrients and their contribution to harmful algal blooms.  The FDEP has formed a Technical Advisory Committee as a forum to "provide recommendations to the department for strengthening the stormwater design and operation regulations."  The rule development process has only just commenced. Some expected changes include low impact design BMPs, design criteria that increase removal of nutrients from stormwater discharges, and more rigorous verification of assumed stormwater treatment levels being achieved.  
Environmentalists Challenge Transfer of Permitting Authority
Kurt Spitzer, SESWA

Less than 30 days after the signatures on the documents had dried, a coalition of environmental groups filed a federal lawsuit challenging the agreements between EPA and the State of Florida to shift "Section 404" permitting authority to Florida for projects that affect wetlands.  The complaint argues that EPA and other federal agencies did not comply with the provisions of the Clean Water Act nor federal administrative procedures when delegating such permitting authority.  Florida would be the third state to which such authority had been delegated, if upheld by the courts.
SB 0113 Proposes to Eliminate Stormwater Fees on Properties with SCMs
Dave Mason, CDM Smith

SB 0113  has been introduced in Tennessee's 2021 legislative session. The bill would require a municipality to abate the stormwater fees owed by a property owner until such fees equal the construction costs of any stormwater control measure (SCM) constructed on the property. Stormwater Managers in Tennessee fear this would significantly impact revenues if passed, and could set a dangerous precedent for surrounding states. Stay tuned for updates as SESWA will be closely monitoring this issue. 
Updates Regarding  Tennessee's Statewide Post Construction Stormwater Rulemaking
Dave Mason, CDM Smith

Renewal of the State's MS4 permits have been on hold for several years due to an on-going legal battle between TDEC, MS4s and the Home Builders Association regarding the MS4 permit post construction stormwater rules. On February 16, 2021, the State will be issuing for approval a new statewide post construction stormwater rule to the Tennessee Board of Water Quality, Oil & Gas. If approved, this rule will be incorporated into MS4 permits. View the proposed rule language on the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation's website. 
NACWA Corner
Provided by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies 
Emily Remmel, Director of Regulatory Affairs

EPA Memorandum Sets Forth PFAS Monitoring Strategy for NPDES Permittees
In a memo released November 22, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Water transmitted interim strategies and recommendations for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in federally issued National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. This memo was published after the 2020 Presidential election when the Biden-Harris transition team was already preparing for the incoming Administration. It is unclear at this point how the new administration will deal with the memo.

It is important to note that this memo only contains recommendations, not binding regulatory requirements or directives. These recommendations only legally apply in areas where EPA is the permitting authority, but it is likely that many state permit writers will consider incorporating these recommendations upon permit renewal.

According to the memo, EPA formed a workgroup of representatives from each of the 10 EPA Regional Offices to explore options and develop an interim strategy to address PFAS through the NPDES permitting scheme. The workgroup made three recommendations:
  1. Include permit requirements for phased-in monitoring and best management practices, as appropriate, taking into consideration when PFAS are expected to be present in point source wastewater discharges, 
  2. Include permit requirements for phased-in monitoring and stormwater pollutant control, as appropriate, taking into consideration when PFAS are expected to be present in stormwater discharges, and
  3. Information sharing on permitting practices and the development of a permitting compendium, an information sharing platform, and continuation of the workgroup. 
One of the most challenging aspects of understanding PFAS pollution is not only the ubiquitous occurrence of these chemicals in our environment, but our analytical capabilities to detect them are more advanced than ever before. Because our detection capabilities are now in the parts per trillion range, it is paramount that the analytical methods are steeped in scientific methodology - that is the methods must be accurate, reliable, and reproduceable.
While the memo notes a preference for 40 CFR approved methods, it clearly states "if no approved methods are available at 40 CFR Part 136, then the permitting authority has discretion to specify the use of suitable methods." EPA has not approved a methodology for addressing PFAS in wastewater or surface water.

As the Agency continues to work towards finalizing their multi-lab SW-846/Method 8327 for detecting PFAS in wastewater and surface water, NACWA has serious concerns because this method tossed out 11 of the 24 analytes for problems with reproducibility, response and recovery. It is anticipated this method will be finalized in early 2021, and EPA will begin a more preferable multi-lab validation study using SW-846 isotope dilution later in 2021.

NACWA is aware that EPA Region 1, particularly in Massachusetts where EPA is the CWA-permitting authority, has already drafted a phased-in monitoring approach in some NPDES permits. In these specific permits, permittees are required to monitor for PFAS six months after EPA's multi-lab validated method is "made available to the public on EPA's Clean Water Act methods program website, or two years from the effective date of the NPDES permit, whichever is earlier." NACWA is concerned that, in these cases and with the recent memorandum, phased-in monitoring could move forward within a short time period of EPA making methods available to the public or publishing the multi-lab validated methodology on its website, and not after a public notice and comment period or formal method approval under 40 CFR Part 136.

The second recommendation references stormwater, particularly municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s). On a positive note, the interim strategy clearly identifies the maximum extent practicable (MEP) standard as the legal pollutant reduction standard for MS4s and clarifies the inherent flexibility MS4s have under the CWA to reduce discharges of pollutants. However, it is unclear what stormwater pollution controls the Agency envisions will reduce or mitigate PFAS contamination in MS4 discharges or how this will be implemented. NACWA is interested in learning more from MS4 communities if they have had conversations with state permit authorities on PFAS monitoring and stormwater pollution controls.

If SESWA members have questions about EPA's PFAS initiatives or this memo, please contact Emily Remmel, NACWA's Director of Regulatory Affairs.
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