NACWA Meets with EPA Office of Inspector General on Harmful Algal Blooms

(September 23, 2020) – In early August, EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) began evaluating how EPA is addressing harmful algal blooms (HABs) and the Agency’s operational efficiency in using federal funds to achieve greater public health and environmental protections. OIG recently reached out to NACWA to help inform this review.

NACWA staff convened a call on September 14 with several EPA OIG staff that are charged with this evaluation. It was clear from the call that EPA OIG is in its early stages of preliminary research and that its evaluation was self-initiated at the sole discretion of OIG.

While wastewater treatment facilities do not discharge HABs, NACWA has been on the record several times recently in comments to the Agency (e.g., nutrient criteria for lakes/reservoirs; microcystin and cylindrospermopsin ambient water quality criteria) on the increasing regulatory burden on point sources to meet stringent nutrient standards, which are only one ingredient of the ecological soup that contributes to the creation of eutrophication and algal blooms in fresh water resources.

NACWA discussed with OIG the efforts of many utilities that are active in reducing nutrient inputs at the watershed level, including utility relationships with farmers and others in the agricultural community to make meaningful and appropriate reductions in nutrient loading.

If members have questions, please contact Emily Remmel, NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs.