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In The Works

In the Works

Volume 21, Issues 1 – 2, January and February 2020

NATIONAL

EPA and USDA Announce Continued Commitment to Support Rural Water Systems

WASHINGTON- Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that will help rural water systems face the challenges of aging infrastructure, workforce shortages, increasing costs, limited management capacity and declining rate bases. Through this MOA, EPA and USDA will conduct joint activities to help rural water systems continue to provide access to safe drinking water and protect their water resources.

“Rural water systems play a key role in the lives of all Americans,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water David Ross. “Investing resources in rural system infrastructure and management supports EPA’s goal of ensuring that rural communities have the infrastructure necessary to become sustainable, protect public health and support the rural economy.”

“We are pleased to continue this important work with EPA to support rural water and waste infrastructure,” said USDA Rural Utilities Service Administrator Chad Rupe.”Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to working collaboratively with our federal partners to help rural systems thrive and serve their communities because when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

To ensure that rural systems have a strong foundation to address 21st century challenges, this MOA formalizes ongoing collaboration by EPA and USDA to help implement innovative strategies and tools so that these systems can achieve short- and long-term sustainability. This MOA focuses on four key areas. First, EPA and USDA will continue supporting sustainability and resilience by providing resources such as training and education to incorporate these strategies into utility management. Second, the agencies will continue supporting water system partnerships, including by educating communities and utilities on the array of tools that are available to support partnerships that can increase sustainability. Third, actions under the MOA will also continue supporting the water sector workforce, in part by continuing to raise awareness of rural water sector careers through promotional initiatives. Finally, EPA and USDA will also continue supporting compliance with drinking water and clean water regulations, including by making these rural systems a funding priority.

This action supports EPA’s 50th anniversary celebration and its February theme of protecting America’s waters—including surface water protection, safe drinking water and water infrastructure investments.

Background

Nationally, more than 97 percent of 153,000 public drinking water systems serve fewer than 10,000 people and 78 percent of the 15,000 wastewater treatment plants treat less than one million gallons per day. These small systems are often in rural settings and face unique challenges in providing affordable drinking water and wastewater services that meet federal and state regulations as well as ensuring that operations are sustainable in the future. Strategic approaches are needed to help rural areas improve the quality of water for rural residents.

CONNECTICUT

RecycleCT Foundation awards more than $17,000 in grants for composting, waste reduction, and recycling at 16 Connecticut schools

The RecycleCT Foundation has awarded more than $17,000 in grants to 16 Connecticut schools as part of the RecycleCT School Grant program and in support of its mission to promote the importance of recycling and to encourage people, government, businesses and organizations to adopt recycling as part of their lives and every day operations.

The RecycleCT School Grants will fund projects in schools across the state and include linking food-sharing tables, installing water bottle filling stations, reducing single-use items in the cafeteria, collecting food scraps and milk cartons, expanding worm composting education and operations, and posting signage to strengthen or expand recycling efforts.

“Recycling awareness starts in the classroom and educators are great partners and champions for this work. We had so many wonderful applications this year, many of which included initiatives designed to reduce food waste and single bottle use, as well as encourage recycling and composting,” said Katie Dykes, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner and RecycleCT Chair.

“This program is important to not only engage our students in this civic activity, but to help them as they develop incredible programs to reduce, reuse and recycle waste at their schools,” said Diane Lauricella, a RecycleCT Board member and waste management consultant in Norwalk.

The RecycleCT Foundation received 24 applications in the 2019-2020 application cycle seeking over $32,000 in grants. Since 2016, the foundation has distributed $51,284 to schools and $175,635 to non-profit organizations and municipalities. All Connecticut-based K-12 schools, including public, charter and magnet schools that are exempt from federal taxation under the Internal Revenue Code Section 501, were eligible to apply. Preference is given to registered CT Green LEAF Schools. Grant recipients included:

  • Bethany – *Bethany Community School, $1,500 – food waste reduction, food sharing composting
  • East Hartford – *CT River Academy, $250 – research school waste and create a showcase to promote to school and general public
  • Easton – Samuel Staples Elementary, $1,000 – Waste reduction promotion, assembly, water bottle filling station
  • Fairfield – *Osborn Hill Elementary School, $1,480 – “zero waste lunch” awareness program
  • Fairfield – *Burr Elementary, $500 – Reduce paper consumption with early dismissal software
  • Glastonbury – *Glastonbury/East Hartford Magnet School, $1,300 – cafeteria collection station, liquid separation and food recovery fridge
  • Greenwich – *Parkway school, $575 – worm composting in classrooms; make garden structures from upcycled materials; expand outdoor compost system to additional classrooms
  • Mansfield – Goodwin Elementary/Mansfield Middle School and Southeast Elementary School, $2,500 – reduce cartons, straws and single use cups; milk dispensers and reusable tumblers and portion cups.
  • Middletown – Middletown High School, $250 – improve food scrap collection; recycling education video
  • New Haven – *Common Ground High School, $750 – improve food scrap collection for on-site composting, institute biennial audits; student training
  • New Haven – *Bernard Environmental Studies Magnet, $1,500 – collect food scraps for off-site composting; recover shareable food
  • New London – The LEARN Transition Academy, $1,400 – expand their WormED project; vocational training of vermicomposting
  • Southport – *Mill Hill Elementary, $1,500 – form RecycleClub; workshops, books, carton recycling
  • Weston – *Weston High School & Weston School District, $800 – signage, bin stickers, posters, educational video
  • Westport – Staples High School, $750 – food scrap collection bins; signage
  • Woodbridge – *Beech Road School, $1,000 – water bottle filling station, reusable water bottle campaign

The RecycleCT Foundation was created as a result of legislation in 2014 to raise public awareness and participation in recycling. The legislation also called for the recycling diversion rate to increase to 60 percent by 2024.

MASSACHUSETTS

Baker-Polito Administration Plan Will Significantly Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Boston — The Baker-Polito Administration recently announced that it plans to propose regulations, concurrent with similar efforts in the states of Maine and Rhode Island, to prohibit the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions nationally and in Massachusetts. HFCs are currently used in certain end-use products, such as aerosols, air conditioners and chillers, refrigeration units and foams. The proposed regulations will help to significantly reduce local GHG emissions, and will place the Commonwealth in line with 16 other states adopting comparable HFC regulations or legislation, coordinated by the U.S. Climate Alliance (USCA).

“I am proud to join with the other governors in the U.S. Climate Alliance in moving to prohibit the use of HFCs and bring Massachusetts closer to achieving its ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “For the Commonwealth to meet our goal to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, we will need to act to curb high-emitting sources like HFCs, and this plan represents a great opportunity to combat climate change and preserve our environment.”

“We must use every tool at our disposal to take urgent action on climate change,” said Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo. “In the absence of federal leadership, I’m proud to stand with governors on both sides of the aisle who recognize the dangers of HFCs. It’s time to regulate these harmful pollutants.”

“HFCs are the heavy hitter of climate change, inflicting significantly more damage than CO2 in much smaller doses,” said Maine Governor Janet Mills. “With safer alternatives now available, the gradual phase out of these super pollutants makes sense for consumers, businesses, and our environment. I am proud to join with other governors from the U.S. Climate Alliance in taking this step. Our actions show that, regardless of what happens – or doesn’t happen – in Washington, states can forge important progress in fighting climate change.”

In 2018, HFC emissions in Massachusetts reached 3.69 million metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent (MMTCO2E), and HFC emissions are expected to reach 5 million metric tons in 2030 if action is not taken.

The Executive Office and Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) expect to develop a draft regulation this spring, which will be available for public review and comment. A public hearing will also be scheduled. In anticipation of that announcement, MassDEP held stakeholder meetings last November across the Commonwealth, providing an overview of a model HFC rule developed by the U.S. Climate Alliance, and solicited feedback on the model rule.

“HFCs are one of the fastest-rising sectors of greenhouse gas emissions, and they will continue to impact our environment unless we take action to eliminate them from common use across our society,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “These new regulations – along with similar efforts across the country – mark an important step in reducing emissions, protecting the environment and safe-guarding the public health.”

The U.S. Climate Alliance (USCA) is a bipartisan coalition of governors committed to smart, coordinated state action that can ensure that the United States continues to contribute to the global effort to address climate change. The principles of the USCA include:

  • Implementation of polices that advance the goals of the Paris Agreement, aiming to reduce GHG emissions by at least 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025;
  • Tracking and reporting progress to the global community in appropriate settings, including when the world convenes to take stock of the Paris Agreement; and
  • Accelerating new and existing policies to reduce carbon pollution and promote clean energy deployment at the state and federal level.

HFCs are synthetic gases and, historically, replaced ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as a refrigerant.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

EPA Completes Reviews of Four Superfund Site Cleanups in New Hampshire During 2019

New Hampshire. – Federal EPA has completed comprehensive reviews of site cleanups at four National Priorities List Sites (Superfund Sites) in N.H. by performing required Five-Year Reviews of each site to evaluate the continued protectiveness of previous site remediation. The Superfund program, a federal program established by Congress in 1980, investigates and cleans up the most complex, uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites in the country and endeavors to facilitate activities to return them to productive use.

“EPA performs Five-Year Review evaluations at Superfund Sites to ensure that our implemented site remedies continue to protect public health and the environment,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator Dennis Deziel.

Bob Scott, Commissioner for the N.H. Department of Environmental Services said, “The Five-Year Review is a critical component of the CERCLA process to evaluate the protectiveness of a remedy. Important questions are answered such as: Are the exposure assumptions, toxicity data, cleanup levels, and remedial action objectives used at the time of remedy selection still valid. This is especially important when dealing with emerging contaminants such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).”

The Superfund Sites where EPA has completed Five Year Reviews in 2019 are below. The links will direct users to each Superfund Site page, where you can find the Five-Year Review report in the “Site Documents and Data” section.

Completed Five-Year Reviews during FY19 of private facilities in New Hampshire

  • Ottati & Goss/Kingston Steel Drum, Kingston, N.H. www.epa.gov/superfund/og
  • Sylvester, Nashua, N.H. www.epa.gov/superfund/sylvester
  • Tinkham Garage, Londonderry, N.H. www.epa.gov/superfund/tinkham

Completed Five-Year Reviews during FY19 of federal facilities in New Hampshire

Background

Throughout the Superfund process of designing and constructing a cleanup remedy for a hazardous waste site, EPA’s first goal is to make sure the remedy will be protective of public health and the environment. At many sites, EPA continues to ensure protectiveness by requiring reviews of completed cleanups every five years. It is important for EPA to regularly check on these sites to ensure the remedy is working properly. Five-year review evaluations identify potential issues and, if called for, recommend action(s) necessary to address them.

EPA is actively involved in Superfund studies and cleanups at 22 sites across N.H. There are many phases of the Superfund cleanup process including considering future use and redevelopment at sites and conducting post cleanup monitoring of sites. EPA must ensure the remedy is protective of public health and the environment and any redevelopment will uphold the protectiveness of the remedy into the future.

More information on EPA topics pertaining to New Hampshire: https://www.epa.gov/nh

Massachusetts Joins Other New England States to Propose Regulations Prohibiting Use of HFC Pollutants

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