Inspector General Directs the EPA to Improve Oversight of Public Drinking Water Regulations

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued a report that found the EPA is failing to properly monitor state-level compliance for violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Federal regulations mandate that public water systems notify consumers of violations of the national drinking water standards or in situations that pose a risk to the public. These violations and situations are divided into three tiers with specific notice requirements. Under the SDWA, 49 states and certain territories are responsible for implementing the
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EPA Taps Public for Comment on Water Reuse Plans

Water scarcity is a growing concern for the EPA, as discussed in depth in its National Water Reuse Action Plan issued this week. The plan outlines ways that the EPA can work with state and local governments to promote water reuse and support research into new technologies. Due to various pressures, 80 percent of U.S. states anticipate water shortages in some parts of their states in the next decade. Over the past several decades, agriculture, industry, and communities have faced
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SSRA 2.0: New Jersey Makes Changes to its Privatized Site Contamination Remediation Law

On Friday, August 23, 2019, Gov. Murphy signed into law an amendment to New Jersey’s 2009 Site Remediation Reform Act (SSRA)—a law that privatized many responsibilities previously handled by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) concerning the remediation of contaminated sites. The SSRA created what is called the Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP) program; LSRPs are experienced, private sector environmental professionals that are licensed by the state and hired by Responsible Parties (RPs) to direct and oversee environmental
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Lead Alert: Unapproved Water Additive Leads to Lead Contamination in Chicago Suburb

Illinois has filed suit against a company that provides water to a Chicago suburb after it made changes to the chemical additives in the water supply without permission from state regulators. The suit goes on to allege that the change caused lead to contaminate the village’s drinking water. The problems started in 2017 when Aqua Illinois switched the source of the village’s water from groundwater wells to the Kankakee River. The suit alleges a chemical added to the water system
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Newark Water Crisis Still an Issue as City Distributes Bottled Water to Residents

As previously addressed in the Environmental Law Monitor,  lead was found in Newark, New Jersey’s water supply. The city has now attempted to assuage fears by providing water filters to residents in affected areas. According to the EPA, that isn’t enough, and the city has begun offering water bottles to concerned residents after a sample demonstrated that filters are not sufficiently removing lead from drinking water. On Friday, the EPA sent a letter to the city and state advising bottled
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Tug-of-War: EPA and States Take Opposing Action on 1,4-Dioxane

On June 28, 2019, the EPA released its draft risk evaluation for 1,4-Dioxane. The EPA’s initial determination was that 1,4-Dioxane poses no unreasonable risks to the environment and no unreasonable risks to occupational non-users. However, the EPA also concluded that the chemical presents unreasonable risks to workers in certain circumstances. The same day, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control held a public workshop on 1,4-Dioxane risks, and the department is actively considering further regulation. Just two days earlier, the New York legislature
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Regulatory Alert: EPA Publishes Draft Risk Evaluations for 1,4-Dioxane and HBCD

Last week, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued controversial draft risk evaluations for 1,4-Dioxane and Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster (HBCD), two of 10 chemicals subject to scrutiny under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Under the Frank Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act which amended the TSCA in 2016, the EPA is required to publish information regarding “hazards, exposures, conditions of use and potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulations,” regarding the enumerated chemicals. These risk evaluations are
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WOTUS Woes – Federal Judge Remands Obama-Era CWA Rule

Last week, a federal district judge in Texas remanded the Obama-era Waters of the United States rule to the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (US ACE), citing the agencies’ failure to use proper procedure when publishing the rule. ​The 2015 rule, generally referred to as WOTUS, allowed for a drastic increase to the reach of the Clean Water Act (CWA), in part, by defining “waters of the United States” to include waters adjacent to waters that had traditionally been considered covered by the CWA.
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New Analysis of Public Data Highlights Emerging Contaminant Prevalence in New York

Just this week, the New York Public Interest Research Group released a report that analyzes an array of public federal data pertaining to unregulated emerging contaminants and their prevalence in New York State. The report is noteworthy for its study of more than 20 different emerging contaminants impacting the state. The report, titled “What’s in My Water?”, clearly notes that the mere existence of emerging contaminants does not necessarily mean that the public’s health is at risk. However, the report
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Oh, Nuts… California to Enact Ban on Use of Chlorpyrifos

Earlier this month, California state officials announced plans to ban chlorpyrifos, a widely used farm pesticide on crops such as oranges, grapes, and almonds. Chlorpyrifos is still approved for those uses by the EPA. The current EPA administration has been defending the chemical against court challenges after the Obama administration took steps to prohibit its use. In April, chlorpyrifos was formally listed by the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) as a “toxic air contaminant,” which California law defines as “an
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