October 2019

Don’t Let Seasonal Low Groundwater Levels Get You Down

For most of us, late summer/early fall is a welcomed time of year as we transition from the heat and humidity of summer to the more comfortable fall climate. Some well field operators, however, have come to dread this time of year as they struggle to maintain capacity in the face of seasonal low groundwater levels.  Depending on the system, seasonal groundwater level declines can combine with other factors to limit/reduce production well capacity, resulting in undue stress and pressure on the well and the well field operator. However, the more we understand the factors contributing to a well’s performance, the better equipped we are to manage and/or avoid a crisis during this challenging time of year.

Lead Standards for Soil – Are Changes Coming?

Revision to standards are sometimes necessary as understanding of risks associated with chemicals changes. As has happened before, lead standards are presently in a state of flux. Blood level targets and model inputs used to develop standards for lead have changed over the past few years. These changes already resulted in a change to standards for lead in dust and will likely lead to new soil standards in the future.

US EPA Issues Final Report of the Superfund Task Force

In September, US EPA (EPA) issued a final report on the recommendations developed in response to the EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s May 22, 2017 request on how the Agency could restructure the cleanup process, realign incentives to promote expeditious cleanups, reduce the burden on cooperating parties, incentivize parties to remediate sites, encourage private investment in cleanups of sites, and promote revitalization of properties across the country. The EPA Superfund Task Force, which consisted of hundreds of personnel from US EPA, the Justice Department, and the Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials (ASTSWMO), identified more than forty recommendations under five overarching goals.

The five goals include:

  • Expediting Cleanup and Remediation
  • Re-Invigorating Responsible Party Cleanup and Reuse
  • Encouraging Private Investment
  • Promoting Redevelopment and Community Revitalization
  • Engaging Partners and Stakeholders

I found the report to be generally hard to follow and more self-serving than illustrative. For instance, the performance measures listed on the last page of the Executive Summary are more a collection of vague, open-ended statements rather than specific metrics.

New Michigan Guidance for Background Concentrations of Metals in Soil

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), Remediation and Redevelopment Division (RRD) recently published the “Soil Background and Use of the 2005 Michigan Background Soil Survey Resource Materials”. The document outlines procedures for determining whether concentrations of metals in soils at a site can be attributed to naturally occurring sources and incorporates their 2015 update to the Michigan Background Soil Survey.

October 2019 WOTUS Update

On October 22, 2019, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register the rule repealing the Obama-era 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. The repeal rule will be effective on December 23, 2019, and the USACE and EPA claim that this will restore the regulatory text that existed prior to the 2015 rule.

This is the culmination of the first step in the Trump administration’s repeal and replace policy (as required in President Trump’s February 2017 Executive Order), however, several environmental groups and some states have said that they plan to file suit to stop the implementation of the repeal. In February of this year, the USACE and EPA published the proposed rule re-defining WOTUS. The agencies have been addressing the comments that they received on the rule by revising the proposed rule. The revised rule that redefines WOTUS is expected to be released in early 2020.

As stated in last month’s newsletter article on this topic, based on the contentiousness of this topic, it is unlikely that the court cases regarding the WOTUS will end following the enactment of the redefined WOTUS rule.

Cox-Colvin & Associates, Inc.

Project Spotlight

Coming Soon in the November Newsletter

  • Modeling PFAS in groundwater
  • Managing Hazardous Waster for Small Businesses
  • And more…..

Upcoming Events

Cox-Colvin & Associates, Inc. personnel are actively involved in the technical and regulatory aspects of the environmental field as it evolves. Cox-Colvin will be participating as presenters, sponsors, or exhibitors at the following environmental conferences in the coming months.

Craig Cox and Laurie Chilcote will be presenting at a series of Global Enviro Workshops in November.  

Workshops are scheduled in:

· Dublin – Tuesday, November 12th

· Manchester – Wednesday, November 13th 

· Madrid – Friday, November 15th