The year may be winding down but regulatory actions have not slowed.

ASTM International’s Environmental Assessment, Risk Management and Corrective Action Committee released a revised standard practice for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs). Several substantive changes in the revision include:

  • Key terminology revisions and new definitions
  • Restructured and updated historical records review section
  • Revised report requirements
  • Emerging contaminants (e.g., PFAS)
  • Detailed site reconnaissance requirements

Watch for more information from Brown and Caldwell about how these changes may affect your ESAs.

Additionally, the EPA and Corps of Engineers announced proposed updates to the definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS), returning it to the pre-2015 definition. This proposed definition reflects recent Supreme Court decisions and a broader scope than previously set in the Trump administration but narrower than the Obama administration definition. Public comments can be submitted through Feb. 7, 2022.

As 2021 comes to a close, here are more regulation and compliance items to keep an eye on:

Ask an Expert: Climate change

Join BC’s Climate Risk and Resiliency Expert Dr. Tess Sprague as she shares insight into how utilities and communities can best prepare for the effects of climate change. Read “Ask an Expert”

Infrastructure bill and the EPA
The recent bipartisan infrastructure bill allocates a significant amount of funding to advance environmental justice, including drinking water system updates, cleanup of polluted sites, climate change mitigation, and more.

National Recycling Strategy unveiled
EPA’s 2021 National Recycling Strategy aims to create a stronger, more resilient, and more cost-effective domestic recycling system.

Proposed Clean Air Act Methane Reduction Rule
The EPA announced a proposed rule to cut methane emissions nationwide by addressing existing sources within the oil and natural gas industry and encouraging innovative new solutions.

Ask an Expert: How can we best prepare for climate change?

In this month’s feature, BC subject matter expert Dr. Tess Sprague talks about how utilities and communities can best prepare for the effects of climate change.

Question: Climate change is an important topic for us and our community. We are beginning to understand the impacts of climate risk on water and wastewater systems, but want to know how this applies to us and what is our best path forward?

Answer: Dr. Tess Sprague Climate change is and will continue to affect our communities, resources, and utilities in many ways whether from drought to flooding to sea level rise, among other extremes. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to climate change for any given municipality, company, or community. However, there are innovative and adaptive solutions you can apply to understand climate risk, reduce negative impacts, and pursue opportunities to adapt and realize multiple benefits. Our goal is to build long-term climate resilience.

The approach starts with understanding motivations for addressing climate change risks. These depend on regional and local drivers such as the need for urban flood risk mitigation, drought management, water quality improvement, and more equitable distribution of adverse climate impacts. Approaches should also consider federal, regional, and local regulations, policies, and funding opportunities, especially grants. The scope and scale of your journey can range from small, conceptual studies aimed at identifying critical risks and system vulnerabilities, to large, complex modeling efforts and detailed designs of adaptive strategies (reducing impacts) and mitigation actions (reducing emissions).

Many communities are looking to build their climate resilience by creating climate action or adaptation plans, through drought mitigation plans, or through updating their master plans by leveraging resilient and flexible designs. Others are unsure where to start. An adaptive approach to preparing for climate change risks helps communities chart their path forward for the short and long-term.

This approach, combined with proactive, prioritized investments will pay dividends to those who have prepared and planned for impacts. According to the National Institute of Building Sciences 2017 Interim Report, every $1 invested in risk mitigation has the potential to save up to $6 in recovery. By investing in reducing these risks, we can realize long-term cost savings and reduce the operational, financial, community, and reputational risks associated with climate change.

About the experts

Meghan Krishnayya, Indianapolis, is the Compliance & Permitting Service Line Director for Brown and Caldwell, with expertise in environmental regulatory program strategy development and implementation.

Dr. Tess Sprague leads Brown and Caldwell’s national strategies for integrating climate resilience planning into our projects. She specializes in water resource planning, climate change, risk, and resilience with an emphasis in policy and stakeholder outreach and communication. Dr. Sprague is a researcher, author, and lecturer on resilience and planning topics.

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