The Washington, D.C. Roundtable with the Interstate Council on Water Policy (ICWP) and the Spring (174th) Council Meetings will be held on April 1-4, 2014, Tuesday through Friday. The events will be held at the Crystal Gateway Marriott which is located at 1700 Jefferson Davis Hwy, (METRO Blue & Yellow Lines) in Arlington, Virginia.
To confirm a hotel reservation at the special rate of $229/night for ICWP and WSWC members, contact reservations by calling 1-(800) 228-9290 or use this Marriott link. Reservations must be made no later than March 10, 2014. The hotel is otherwise sold out that week, and reservations requested after this date will be accepted only based upon availability.
For the schedule of meetings, agenda, and additional details as they become available, click here.
Ecology is currently looking to fill its vacant Program Manager position in Lacey, WA. This is an exempt management position (EMS 3) reporting directly to Ecology’s deputy director. This recruitment is open until filled, with initial screening scheduled on December 6, 2013. To be considered for initial screening, please submit an application and required materials on or before December 5, 2013. Please click here if you are interested.
On November 7, the WSWC sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) commenting on a draft EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) study that synthesizes peer reviewed literature on the connection between small, isolated waters and larger bodies of water. Once finalized, EPA has indicated that the study will serve as the basis for a forthcoming rule it is developing with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the extent of Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction. The SAB will review public comments on the report during a public meeting on December 16-18, in Washington, D.C.
The WSWC’s letter states: “We are concerned that the report may be misinterpreted inappropriately to suggest that a scientific connection between waters alone is sufficient to establish CWA jurisdiction. The report only discusses well-known scientific principles of hydrology and geohydrology regarding the interconnections between waters, but does not and can not describe how these principles apply to the legal and institutional boundaries that Congress and the Supreme Court have placed on CWA jurisdiction.”
“The overriding question in the rulemaking is not one of science, but of legal authority, namely the extent of federal authority over water resources under Justice Scalia’s plurality opinion and Justice Kennedy’s concurring opinion in Rapanos. For example, under Justice Kennedy’s test, a mere scientific connection or ‘nexus’ between waters is not sufficient to determine CWA jurisdiction. Instead, [his] test requires a fact-intensive, case-by-case physical and legal inquiry to determine whether that nexus is ‘significant’ enough to establish CWA jurisdiction. Since the report does not describe how its scientific findings apply to this test or Justice Scalia’s plurality decision, it is insufficient alone to establish or support CWA jurisdiction.”
“The report should not be used to support a rule that improperly asserts that the scope of the CWA is essentially unlimited. We recognize that there are differing interpretations of Rapanos, but it is undisputed that the Court rejected the EPA’s and the Corps’ pre-Rapanos interpretation of CWA authority. A rule that attempts to return CWA jurisdiction to the pre-Rapanos ‘status quo,’ using the report’s findings of global hydrologic connectivity would be contrary to the limits that Congress and the Court have established, and would be an improper use of the report and federal rulemaking authority. [T]he CWA does not apply to ground waters, which are protected and allocated by western states, and which recognize the hydrogeologic connections. Any reference to ground waters, including ‘shallow subsurface flows,’ is inappropriate in any related rulemaking.”
“As stated in our position regarding the draft CWA guidance, efforts to expand CWA authority beyond the limitations the Court established in SWANCC and Rapanos ‘would likely lead to further litigation’ and would do little to resolve the current uncertainty regarding the extent of CWA jurisdiction.”
“We are also concerned about the lack of state expertise and state representation on the [SAB panel that will review the report]. Not a single member…is a state agency expert or administrator. As stated in our April letter, the states have on-the-ground expertise and knowledge of water quality conditions and challenges within their borders.”
“[W]e urge you to recognize the limitations of the report as it does not address the legal limits of CWA jurisdiction and authority, and how those limits apply to the scientific principles discussed in the report.”
Of note, the letter is based on WSWC position #330.5 and a related April 2013 follow-up letter regarding EPA’s now withdrawn draft CWA guidance. Please contact the WSWC for a copy of the letter. (WSW #2053)
For stills of the photos above and access to the Fall Council Meeting information, including presentations, click here.
Tony’s email following the meeting:
“We hope by now everyone has arrived home safely! Having shortened our meetings to allow for an early departure on Thursday, I am aware that many were able to drive or catch early flights out that day. Several of us stayed in Rapid City to await Friday flights that were cancelled repeatedly due to the blizzard. The city lost power Saturday, which wasn’t restored until Sunday evening, and the airport wasn’t opened until Monday.
Council staff and [some council members] were at one hotel, while [others were stuck at another adjacent hotel]. Several of us finally drove our rental cars to Salt Lake City and Denver on Sunday, with a few still in Rapid City awaiting flights Monday morning.
We are grateful that despite the inclement weather and inconvenience everyone appears to have made it out safely. Thanks for everyone’s patience and understanding with the abbreviated meetings! We will post some pictures on the website later to provide some evidence of the magnitude of the storm! Anyone that would like to share photos, please email them to staff.”
On September 17, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers withdrew their proposed Clean Water Act (CWA) guidance. At the same time, the agencies announced that they have submitted a draft rule to clarify CWA jurisdiction to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for interagency review.
After the review, the agencies will publish the draft rule for comment. EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Water Nancy Stoner said the rule “…will provide greater consistency, certainty, and predictability nationwide by providing clarity for determining where the [CWA] applies and where it does not. These improvements are necessary to reduce costs and minimize delays in the permit process and protect waters that are vital to public health, the environment and economy.” Please see: http://blog.epa.gov/
The report makes three initial conclusions. The first states: “Streams, regardless of their size or how frequently they flow, are connected to and have important effects on downstream waters. These streams supply most of the water in rivers, transport sediment and organic matter, provide habitat for many species, and take up or change nutrients that could otherwise impair downstream waters.” The second conclusion states: “Wetlands and open-waters in floodplains of streams and rivers and in riparian areas…are integrated with streams and rivers. They strongly influence downstream waters by affecting the flow of water, trapping and reducing non-point source pollution, and exchanging biological species.” The third conclusion states: “[T]here is insufficient information to generalize about wetlands and open-waters located outside of riparian areas and floodplains and their connectivity to downstream waters.”
EPA is requesting public comment on the draft report by November 6, which the SAB will consider during a public peer review meeting later this year. Comments received after November 6 may be considered, but not at the public meeting. For more on the rulemaking and how to comment on the report, see: http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/cfm/
Of note, the WSWC has expressed concerns about the draft guidance, and wrote EPA and the Corps in April, asking the agencies not to issue the guidance and stating that formal rulemaking would be a better mechanism for the agencies to use in clarifying CWA jurisdiction. However, the WSWC’s letter urged EPA to view the states as co-regulators and to ensure “…that state water managers have a robust and meaningful voice in the development of any rule regarding CWA jurisdiction, particularly in the early stages of development before irreversible momentum precludes effective state participation.” (WSW #2029)
The U.S. Geological Survey held a congressional briefing today featuring state and regional water stakeholders who spoke about vital uses of comprehensive water information that would be met by the National Water Census called for by the SECURE Water Act of 2009. Alongside representative Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Eric Evenson of the USGS Water Census program, and Bob Tudor of the Delaware River Basin Commission, WSWC Executive Director Tony Willardson spoke of the importance of tools, data and monitoring to water managers that are faced with greater competition and greater scarcity.
To read more about the congressional briefing, please click here for the USGS press release.
We are debuting several new items highlighting programmatic data and monitoring needs in the West, as well as some of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) water programs that are valuable to western water management. Please enjoy!
NOAA, Drought and the NIDIS Program - 1.4 MB
The 173rd Council meetings will be held in Deadwood, South Dakota on October 2-4, 2013. The meetings are being held Wednesday through Friday, which is typical of our usual meeting pattern. The event will be held at The Lodge at Deadwood located at 100 Pine Crest Lane, Deadwood, South Dakota 57732..
To confirm a reservation, call the room reservation department at 1-877-393-5634. Attendees should request the Western States Water Council Group to receive the rate of $99 (single/double). Reservations must be made no later than September 1, 2013. Reservations requested after this date will be accepted based upon availability.
For the schedule of meetings, field trip registration, agenda, and additional details as they become available, click here.
The Western States Water Council, and the California Department of Water Resources are cosponsoring a workshop on quantifying drought impacts, to be held in San Diego on August 5-7, 2013. Better measurement and reporting of observed drought impacts help identify lessons learned from droughts, and help define resources needed to mitigate future drought impacts. Data quantifying impacts of drought, if available, are often not readily accessible in a manner useful for water agencies. The purpose of this workshop is to develop a strategy for building a centralized information source, by bringing together state, local, and federal agencies to discuss ways to improve quantifying impacts and making information available. Last year’s widespread drought across much of the West illustrates the opportunities and challenges associated with improving measurement of drought impacts. The workshop will begin Monday, August 5 at 1:00 pm and conclude Wednesday, August 7 by 12 noon.
LOCATION/LODGING: A block of rooms has been reserved and will be held through July 15, 2013. Please contact the Doubletree San Diego Downtown reservations department directly at ( 619) 239-6800, or central reservations at (800) 222-TREE, and announce the Western States Water Council room block. You may also make reservations online at: www.doubltreesandiegodowntown.com/. Reservations are subject to availability at the time of booking. Room rates will apply three days before and after the meeting, subject to availability. Reservations received after the cutoff date of July 15, 2013 will be confirmed on a room availability basis at the rate in effect at the time of the request. Reservations must be made by the July 15 deadline to obtain the rate of $110 single or double occupancy.
Please note: The Hotel maintains a forty-eight (48) hour cancellation policy for individual guest room reservations.