A stream in the forest.

As we move into fall, we are keeping an active eye on this Supreme Court case, Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency, for environmental regulations impact. The High Court is deciding what test should have been used determining which wetlands are “waters of the United States” (WOTUS). The ruling in this case could cause the EPA to redefine WOTUS and reset Clean Water Act authority.

Also of note was the EPA’s announcement of the establishment of the Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights. This new national office will dedicate 200 EPA staff across 10 regions to advance environmental justice and enforce civil rights laws in underserved communities. The office has also been tasked with the implementation and delivery of the $3 billion climate and environmental justice block grant program created by the Inflation Reduction Act.

In other environmental updates, we highlight the following in our Compliance News:

Ask an Expert: Urban water reuse

BC expert Melanie Holmer shares insights from her recent presentation at the 2022 Water Reuse Europe Conference and Exhibition on Innovations in Water Reuse. Read “Ask an Expert”

IRA bolstering Clean Air Act

The Inflation Reduction Act represents a large investment in U.S. climate resilience efforts, offering many incentives for companies to decarbonize.

PFAS designation change hits snag after OMB review

A review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) of the EPA’s proposed rulemaking to designate PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under CERCLA identified the proposal as “economically significant,” triggering a regulatory impact analysis.

Stricter air quality regulations on horizon

Having failed to reach the 2008 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone by July 20, 2021, the EPA announced a final proposed action to downgrade five regions from “serious” nonattainment status to “severe.”

Ask an Expert: Water reuse evolution

In this month’s feature, BC expert Melanie Holmer shares insights from her recent presentation at the 2022 Water Reuse Europe Conference and Exhibition on Innovations in Water Reuse.

Melanie Holmer is the Water Reuse National Practice Lead for Brown and CaldwellWater reuse is not a new concept.

Dating back to the Bronze Age, humans have used wastewater and stormwater for irrigation of crops. Since that time, reuse has evolved with applications moving beyond agriculture to include non-potable uses such as cooling and toilet flushing and potable uses such as groundwater and reservoir augmentation. Shifting factors such as population growth and climate change impacting water supply have driven this evolution.

Many reuse projects in the private and public sector have been aimed at mitigating the impacts of these shifts. Los Angeles County’s Montebello Forebay Groundwater Recharge Project, which began in 1962, applies recycled water to the spreading grounds to recharge a drinking-water aquifer. The result of this project is a new water supply roughly equivalent to the demands of 250,000 people.

“Urban” water cycles often end with water moving through the community to a wastewater treatment system and back to the river, ocean, or land. Advances in indirect potable reuse and direct potable reuse (DPR) allow water to complete the cycle by including additional treatment to supplement potable water supplies returned back to the community.

The City of Los Angeles’ Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant is a new advanced water purification facility (AWPF) that will provide approximately 1.5 million gallons per day of purified water to Los Angeles World Airports and internal Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant. Source water is primary effluent and AWPF facilities will consist of fine screens, aeration basins, and purified through membrane bioreactors (MBR), reverse osmosis (RO), and ultraviolet-advanced oxidation process (UV-AOP). This facility will serve as a proof of concept for the ultimate expansion of the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant to an advanced reuse facility.

As public and private entities approach DPR projects, it is important that they consider:

  • Constituents of emerging concern (CECs): CECs and their limits vary by location. A project may benefit from understanding presence of CECs and appropriate treatment technologies, evaluating alternative treatments technologies and exploring innovative approaches.
  • Enhanced source control: What happens at the source matters in all of the downstream processes. Enhanced source control incorporates increased outreach, education, and monitoring paired with development of individual permit limits or local limits.
  • Public perception: The idea of drinking recycled water because of the origin of the source water can lead to challenges with public acceptance of reuse. Education is a key component of changing public perception. Some water utilities are holding events to showcase the safety and drinkability of treated water with sampling of purified water, beer made with purified water, and even gelato made with purified water.
  • Regulations: DPR regulations vary by state and are constantly evolving. Staying connected with local regulators and considering future regulatory drivers can steer a DPR project in the right direction.

About the experts

Meghan Krishnayya, Indianapolis, is the Director of Technical Practices for Brown and Caldwell, with 25 years of experience in municipal and industrial markets. She guides strategies to deliver client value through differentiated technical solutions and expertise, with a personal passion around compliance; permitting; and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals.

Melanie Holmer is the Water Reuse National Practice Lead for Brown and Caldwell. She is based in California and has over 20 years of experience in the strategic planning, design, and construction of major water, wastewater, and water reuse projects for a total treatment capacity of over 1 billion gallons per day.

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