Which States Have Adopted the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule

December 10, 2018
It has been over a year since the EPA published the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule (GIR) and the states have been gradually been adopting the new rule, which makes over 60 changes to the hazardous waste regulations.
 
The GIR is currently in effect in the following states: Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Alaska.  It’s also in effect in American Samona, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.
 
When the states adopt the GIR, they must adopt the changes that are more stringent than the current state regulations, but they need not adopt any of the changes that are less stringent than the state regulations.
 
Learn more about how the rule impacts your site by attending Environmental Resource Center’s Hazardous Waste Management Training.
 
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Annual hazardous waste training is required for anyone who generates, accumulates, stores, transports, or treats hazardous waste. Learn how to manage your hazardous waste in accordance with the latest state and federal regulations.  Learn how to complete EPA’s new electronic hazardous waste manifest, and the more than 60 changes in EPA’s new Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule.  Environmental Resource Center’s Hazardous Waste Training is available at nationwide locations, and via live webcasts.  If you plan to also attend DOT hazardous materials training, call 800-537-2372 to find out how can get your course materials on a new Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet at no extra charge.
 
Rust-Oleum to Pay $168,000 for Hazardous Waste Violations
 
EPA announced a settlement with the Rust-Oleum Corporation to address alleged violations of hazardous waste regulations at its paint manufacturing facility in Williamsport, Maryland.
 
EPA cited the Rust-Oleum Corporation for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the federal law governing the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste.
 
RCRA is designed to protect public health and the environment, and avoid long and extensive cleanups, by requiring the safe, environmentally sound storage and disposal of hazardous waste.
 
Under terms of the settlement, Rust-Oleum will pay a $168,000 penalty, and has ensured EPA it will properly contain and manage hazardous waste in the future. The settlement reflects the company’s compliance efforts, and its cooperation in the investigation. As part of the settlement, Rust-Oleum has not admitted liability for the alleged violations but has certified its compliance with RCRA requirements.
 
Inspectors from EPA and the Maryland Department of Environment identified numerous monitoring, record keeping and hazardous waste storage violations during an inspection.
 
The facility, which has been in operation at this location since 1978, manufactures paints that are primarily contained in aerosol cans. The facility uses a variety of mills and tanks to mix, grind, and thin the types of paints it generates.  
 
For more information about EPA’s hazardous waste program, attend Environmental Resource Center’s hazardous waste training.
 
Former Owner of Tannery Plant Guilty of Felony Storage of Hazardous Waste
 
Robert Carville, age 56, formerly of Johnstown, New York, pled guilty to storing hazardous waste without a permit at the former Carville National Leather Corporation building in Johnstown.
 
The announcement was made by United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith and Tyler Amon, Special Agent in Charge of the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division (EPA-CID) in New York.
 
Carville National Leather Corporation was a family owned tannery business that operated in Johnstown from 1976 until it closed for financial reasons in September 2013. Robert Carville owned and operated Carville National Leather for approximately 10 years leading up to its closing.
 
In pleading guilty, Carville admitted that as the owner and manager of the tannery, he was responsible for the materials inside the tannery when it closed. Carville ultimately moved to another state and left behind, in the tannery building, hundreds of containers of hazardous chemicals, including some that had labels on them such as “corrosive,” “acidic,” and “hazardous.” Carville admitted that he did not have a permit to store hazardous materials at the tannery (or anywhere else).  Carville also admitted that he stored these chemicals illegally for more than 2 years.
 
Carville will be sentenced on May 20, 2019 by Senior United States District Judge Frederick J. Scullin, Jr.  He faces up to 5 years in prison and a maximum fine of up to $50,000 per day of violation. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, and other factors.
 
This case was investigated by EPA-CID and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael F. Perry.
 
Operator of Sewage Treatment Plant Indicted
 
Timothy Peer, of Springfield, West Virginia, was indicted this week by a federal grand jury sitting in Wheeling for violating permits and discharging untreated sewage from his sewage treatment plant, United States Attorney Bill Powell announced.
 
Peer, age 55, was the owner of Mountainaire Village Utility, LLC, a sewage water treatment plant serving the residents of Mountainaire Village near Ridgeley, West Virginia. Peer owned and operated this business from early 2008 to July 2016. From 2014 to 2016, Peer is accused of failing to maintain the treatment plant, resulting in untreated and undertreated sewage being discharged into the North Branch of the Potomac River, violating the Clean Water Act and his permit. Peer is accused of falsely reporting quarterly testing on the wastewater from the plant, and of continuing to charge customers for the treatment of their sewage despite the services not being provided.
 
Peer is charged with one count of “Knowing Violation of Permit Conditions,” five counts of “Knowing Discharges of Pollutants in Violation of Permit,” one count of “Knowing Discharge of a Pollutant Without a Permit ,”  six counts of “False Statements on Discharge Monitoring Reports,” and one count of “Mail Fraud.” 
 
“Violating environmental laws often does long term damage to our environment and risks the health of the people in our communities.  Such violations must be prosecuted and those responsible held accountable,” said Powell. 
 
“EPA’s sewage treatment regulations are designed to protect both humans and wildlife,” said Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Lynn of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in West Virginia.  “EPA will work with its law enforcement partners to pursue those who falsify data and disregard laws that are critical to protecting clean water and public health.”
 
Peer faces not more than 3 years; not less than $5,000 (if a fine is imposed) and not more than $50,000 per day of violation; or $250,000; or twice the amount of gain or loss; for the first count. He faces up to two years incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000 for each of the discharge counts and faces up to 20 years’ incarceration and a fine of up to $250,000 for the mail fraud count. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
 
NY Sues to Force EPA to Protect New Yorkers from Out-of-State Smog Pollution
 
New York Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood, leading a coalition that also includes New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the City of New York, has moved to intervene in a lawsuit against the EPA to force the Agency to cut pollution that blows in from upwind states and, in large part, is responsible for unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone – aka “smog.” According to the American Lung Association’s 2018 “State of the Air” Report, 9.4 million New Yorkers – almost 50% of the state’s population – are breathing unhealthy air due to smog.
 
Attorney General Underwood and the coalition is seeking to join consolidated lawsuits brought by Maryland, Delaware, and public health and environmental organizations. These lawsuits challenge EPA’s refusal – in the form of a denial of petitions made by Delaware and Maryland under the federal Clean Air Act – to require pollution sources in upwind states to reduce their emissions of smog-forming pollution. Since these same pollution sources contribute to unhealthy smog levels in New York, and because New York has a similar Clean Air Act petition currently pending before the Agency, EPA’s denial of the states’ petition has direct implications for the health and safety of millions of New Yorkers.  
 
New York has some of the strictest air quality regulations in the country, and the pollutants that cause smog – such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – are rigorously controlled within the state. In fact, New York has among the lowest emissions of NOx and VOCs in the country. Despite these extensive efforts, however, a number of areas in New York have struggled for years to meet the federal health standard for smog; for example, according to the American Lung Association’s 2018 report, the New York City metropolitan area is the tenth most smog-polluted area in the nation.
 
The EPA has concluded that there are a number of dangerous health impacts associated with elevated levels of smog, including lung tissue damage and aggravation of existing conditions, such as asthma, bronchitis, heart disease, and emphysema. Exposure to smog is also linked to premature death. Some groups – including children, the elderly, and those with existing lung diseases like asthma – are at especially heightened risk from smog pollution.
 
To address the unfair burden that states such as New York face in reducing unhealthy smog levels where the pollution is beyond its control, section 126 of the Clean Air Act specifically allows downwind states to petition EPA for a finding that upwind sources are emitting air pollution in violation of the Act’s “Good Neighbor” provision. That provision requires the EPA to step in and adopt plans to reduce interstate smog pollution when the actions of upwind states are not sufficient to ensure that federal smog health standards can be met and sustained in downwind states like New York. EPA’s obligation under the Act to adopt such plans – known as “Federal Implementation Plans” or “FIPs” – reflects the Agency’s unique position and authority, as a federal agency, to ensure that the individual efforts of multiple upwind states will be sufficient, in aggregate, to solve regional air pollution problems, such as smog.
 
Attorney General Underwood has been active in seeking to force EPA to live up to its legal obligations under the Clean Air Act to address the smog pollution that blows into the state from upwind states. In June, Attorney General Underwood won a lawsuit against the EPA, forcing the Agency to comply with the Clean Air Act’s “Good Neighbor” requirements to adopt FIPs to reduce smog pollution from several upwind states.
 
Additionally, New York, leading a coalition of nine states, petitioned EPA to expand the “Ozone Transport Region,” the group of states established under the federal Clean Air Act that must act in concert to reduce smog pollution within the region. The Trump EPA denied that petition in 2017, stating – ironically – that the Agency “preferred” to use other provisions of the Clean Air Act – such as the Good Neighbor provision and petitions under section 126 – to address the interstate transport of smog pollution. New York is leading an eight-state coalition in challenging EPA’s denial in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
 
New York also petitioned the Trump EPA in March of this year to take action under section 126 of the Clean Air Act to reduce emissions of smog-forming pollution from sources in upwind states. While this petition is currently pending before the Agency, its future is uncertain if EPA were to apply the same flawed legal standards and factual findings applied in denying the Delaware and Maryland petitions. 
 
The consolidated lawsuit in which Attorney General Underwood and the coalition is seeking to intervene is also before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
 
Shipping Company Fined $630K for Air Quality Violations
 
MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A. paid $630,625 in penalties to the California Air Resources Board for violating the Ocean-Going Vessel At-Berth regulation. The violations were discovered during a routine audit of the company’s 2014 visits to the Port of Oakland and the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The investigation by CARB revealed more than 2500 violations for both the Oakland and LA/LB fleets for failing to reduce auxiliary engine power generation by at least 50 percent and for exceeding limits for auxiliary engine run time as required by the At-Berth regulation.
 
“Ocean-going vessels are significant contributors to air pollution,” said CARB Enforcement Division Chief Todd Sax. "Even in port, their auxiliary engines generate toxic diesel particulate pollution that impacts not only port-adjacent communities, but also entire inland regions. This regulation helps to protect all Californians and is necessary to ensure we meet our clean air goals.”
 
Adopted in 2007, the At-Berth Regulation was designed to reduce emissions from diesel auxiliary engines on container ships, passenger ships and refrigerated-cargo ships while berthing at a California port. Vessel operators can either turn off auxiliary engines and connect to grid-based shore power or use alternative technologies to achieve equivalent emission reductions while in port. The regulation ultimately requires a fleet operator to reduce at-berth oxides of nitrogen (NOX) and particulate matter (PM) emissions from its vessels’ auxiliary engines in port by at least 80 percent by 2020.
 
Based in Geneva, Switzerland, MSC is one of the largest worldwide container shipping companies. MSC cooperated with the investigation and subsequently converted its California fleets to include 100 percent shore power-equipped vessels and has had no further violations of the At-Berth regulation. The fine was paid to the California Air Pollution Control Fund to support air pollution research, and the company agreed to comply with all requirements of the regulation.
 
Oklahoma DEQ Seeks Information in Illegal Dumping Case
 
The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is seeking information regarding a case of illegal dumping in Oklahoma City. Sixteen 55-gallon drums containing unidentified liquids were deposited at a property located at 3400 NE 4th St. in Oklahoma City. The drums are believed to have been dumped on November 21, 2018, and were discovered the following morning.
 
Samples of the materials contained in the drums have been collected by investigators and sent to the State Environmental Laboratory for analysis. Investigators are currently following up on several leads from evidence gathered at the scene.
 
Anyone with any information regarding the open dumping of liquid waste at this property should contact Investigator Michael Freeman of DEQ’s Criminal Investigation Unit, at (405) 702-1176. Callers may remain anonymous.
 
EPA Finds States Meet Good Neighbor Obligations for the 2008 Ozone Standard
 
EPA has acknowledged the progress states have made reducing ozone concentrations. Based on EPA air quality projections, the Agency has determined that the 2016 Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) Update satisfies “good neighbor” obligations for the 2008 national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone. “Good neighbor” obligations under the Clean Air Act (CAA) require upwind states to control their emissions so as not to cause air quality problems in downwind states.
 
“Under President Trump, EPA has reformed the way we set and implement national standards for ground-level ozone. These reforms are helping states meet these standards and avoid additional costly requirements,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “For power plants covered by this program for cross-border ozone, nitrogen oxide emissions dropped by over 20 percent - roughly 80,000 tons - just since the 2016 ozone season.”
 
The latest EPA air quality data and modeling predict that, by 2023, there will be no remaining nonattainment or maintenance areas for the 2008 Ozone NAAQS in the CSAPR Update region (which encompasses most of the eastern United States). Once the 2016 CSAPR Update is fully implemented, upwind states in this region are not expected to contribute significantly to nonattainment or interfere with the maintenance of the 2008 ozone standards in any downwind state.
 
EPA’s rule therefore determines that the Agency and these 20 states have no obligation to establish additional requirements for sources to further reduce transported ozone pollution to satisfy “good neighbor” obligations under the 2008 ozone NAAQS.
 
In this action, EPA finalizes minor revisions to the existing CSAPR Update regulations to reflect that the federal implementation plans (FIPs) issued for the covered states, as well as any CSAPR Update State Implementation Plans approved by EPA to replace the CSAPR Update FIPs, fully address the CAA’s “good neighbor” provisions for the 2008 ozone NAAQS.
Earlier this year, EPA provided projected air quality modeling results for ozone in 2023, including a list of potential flexibilities, for “good neighbor” state plans under the 2015 ozone NAAQS.
 
EPA issued the proposal for this action on June 29, 2018. The Agency held a public hearing on August 1, 2018 in Washington, DC, and accepted public comments through August 31, 2018. EPA considered these comments as the final rule was developed.
 
KX Technologies Settles with EPA for Alleged Pesticide Import Violations in Connecticut
 
Under a recent settlement with the EPA, KX Technologies LLC of West Haven, Conn. and an associated entity, KX Technologies Pte. Limited, of Singapore have together agreed to comply with federal pesticide laws designed to protect public health and the environment.
 
The companies also agreed to pay $76,362 in penalties to settle EPA claimed that they produced and imported water filtration devices, classified as pesticidal products, without submitting the required reports to EPA, in violation of federal environmental law.
 
"It is critically important that companies who produce, market or import pesticidal products carefully adhere to United States requirements that protect peoples' health and our environment," said EPA New England Regional Administrator Alexandra Dunn. "EPA oversight of pesticides used and marketed in the U.S. is a core agency function that ensures Americans are protected while allowing economic growth and innovation to thrive."
 
The agreement and order filed by EPA settled claims by the agency that the West Haven company did not file reports called "Notices of Arrival" before importing regulated devices in 2016 and 2017 and that both companies failed to file production reports for 2016 for their respective facilities, all in violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). This law regulates pesticides and devices. Under the agreement, the companies certified that they have fully addressed the violations and are now in compliance with the law.
 
Under federal law, importers of pesticidal products must provide data to EPA regarding pesticides or devices that may be entering the U.S. This is accomplished by submitting Notice of Arrival forms to EPA for review before pesticides or devices enter the country. The forms contain important information, for example, active ingredients, quantities, countries of origin, identity of producing establishments, carriers, ports of entry, and contact information. This information helps EPA decide whether pesticidal products may pose unreasonable adverse risks to public health or the environment and, also, provides contact information in the event of an emergency related to the movement of potentially harmful pesticides or devices.
 
The annual production reports that are required under the federal pesticide law provide essential data to help EPA determine where and in what manner pesticides and devices are being produced, sold, and distributed. This lets EPA enforce the law and assess and reduce risk, thus protecting human health and the environment. The reports also help EPA maintain reliable data on the production of pesticides nationwide.
 
EPA Proposal to Remove Carbon Capture Requirement for Coal Fired Power Plants
 
EPA has proposed to revise the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for greenhouse gas emissions from new, modified, and reconstructed fossil fuel-fired power plants. EPA has proposed, under Clean Air Act (CAA) section 111(b), to revise its determination of the best system of emission reduction (BSER) for these plants. This determination would replace EPA’s 2015 determination that partial carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology was the BSER for new coal units.
 
Consistent with President Trump’s executive order promoting energy independence, EPA’s proposal would rescind excessive burdens on America’s energy providers and level the playing field so that new energy technologies can be a part of America’s future,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “By replacing onerous regulations with high, yet achievable, standards, we can continue America’s historic energy production, keep energy prices affordable, and encourage new investments in cutting-edge technology that can then be exported around the world.”
 
“Today’s actions reflect our approach of defining new, clean coal standards by data and the latest technological information, not wishful thinking,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation Bill Wehrum. “We take seriously our responsibility to protect public health and the environment in a manner consistent with the requirements of the Clean Air Act and will continue to do so. U.S. coal-fired power will be a part of our energy future and our revised standards will ensure that the emissions profiles of new plants continue to improve.”
 
According to EPA, this proposal will ensure that any new coal plants built in the United States use the most advanced, clean coal technologies that have been adequately demonstrated. The revised standard will be based on what the Agency calls reality and comport with the requirements of the Clean Air Act.  By revising the NSPS, EPA says that the Agency will protect the environment while helping to provide room for American energy production to continue to grow and diversify, which is critical for long-term energy security and global competitiveness goals. EPA projects this proposed rule will not result in any significant carbon dioxide emissions changes or costs.
 
After further analysis and review, EPA proposed to determine that the best system of emission reduction (BSER) for newly constructed coal-fired units is the most efficient demonstrated steam cycle in combination with best operating practices. This proposed BSER would replace the determination from the 2015 rule, which identified the BSER as partial CCS. The primary reason for this proposed revision is the high costs and limited geographic availability of CCS.
 
This proposal includes four distinct actions based on a revised BSER:
  • To revise the standards for newly constructed steam units as separate standards for large and small units.
    • For large units, the proposed emission rate would be 1,900 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour on a gross output basis (lb CO2/MWh-gross).
    • For small units, the proposed emission rate would be 2,000 lb CO2/MWh-gross.
  • To create separate standards of performance for newly constructed coal refuse-fired units.
    • Regardless of size, the proposed emission rate would be 2,200 lb CO2/MWh-gross.
  • To revise the standards for large modifications of steam generating units to be consistent with the standards for large and small newly constructed units.
  • To revise the standards of performance for reconstructed fossil fuel-fired steam units – which are also based on the best available efficiency technology – to be consistent with the emission rates for newly constructed units.
 
EPA is also taking comment whether and how to address concerns raised by stakeholders regarding the increased use of simple cycle aeroderivative turbines, including as back-up generation for wind and solar resources, whose operation may exceed the non-base load threshold described in the 2015 rule. Any follow-up regulatory actions would be achieved through a separate and subsequent regulatory proposal.
 
Finally, EPA is taking comment on the regulatory threshold under section 111(b) that a source category “causes, or contributes significantly to,” air pollution. EPA asks for the public’s views on the proper interpretation of this phrase, the agency’s historic approach to this requirement, and whether this requirement should apply differently in the context of greenhouse gases than for traditional pollutants. 
 
EPA will take comment on the proposed Standards of Performance for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from New, Modified, and Reconstructed Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units, for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register and hold a public hearing. Details on the public hearing will be available shortly. 
 
Lawsuits Across New Jersey Targeting Polluters in Lower-Income and Minority Communities
 
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe announced the filing of eight separate lawsuits focused on addressing pollution and environmental hazards in minority and lower-income communities across the state. The lawsuits marked a new “environmental justice” initiative designed to support communities that have historically suffered some of the worst environmental harms in the state.
 
“Environmental justice means that everyone, no matter race, ethnicity, color, national origin, or income, deserves to live and work in a healthy and clean environment,” said Attorney General Grewal. “But too often, the same communities suffer the worst environmental problems over and over again but don’t get the support that they need. Today, in New Jersey, we’re taking an unprecedented step forward in changing that. We’re filing eight lawsuits to protect the environment in these areas. Our first-of-its-kind statewide environmental justice action should make one thing clear to the polluters that have run amok in these communities: Not on our watch. We’re going to make New Jersey a national leader on environmental justice.”
 
“Cleaner environments promote stronger communities. For too long the residents of urban areas and other communities have not had their voices heard and have had to bear the burden of disproportionate sources of pollution and the consequent health effects,” said DEP Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe. “It is imperative that we take actions such as these to substantively address these issues and restore the confidence of residents and their elected leaders that New Jersey is committed to improving day-to-day life for all New Jersey’s people, especially our most vulnerable populations.”
 
The eight actions encompass a broad range of communities. As the accompanying fact sheet lays out in detail, the lawsuits concern sites in Camden, Flemington, Newark (2), Palmyra, Pennsauken, Phillipsburg, and Trenton.
 
The suits also include an array of enforcement actions. The lawsuit involving Pennsauken is a Natural Resource Damages (NRD) case—the fourth NRD case the State has filed this year. The lawsuit involves Puchack Wellfield, a series of wells that provided drinking water to Camden residents decades ago. The State alleges that the defendant was responsible for hazardous pollution that resulted in termination of the wells. The State is seeking NRD damages, as well as cleanup and removal costs that have been incurred and will be incurred at the site.
 
In other cases, the State’s actions seek to force companies to clean up the soil and groundwater contamination for which they’re responsible. In some, the lawsuits seek not only site clean-up by the responsible parties, but also payment of financial penalties because the individuals or companies ignored prior orders to clean up the properties. Another seeks an order directing removal of illegally-dumped solid waste from a property in Trenton. And multiple of these actions seek to recover tax dollars the State had to spend cleaning up polluted properties.
 
Attorney General Grewal and Commissioner McCabe announced the State’s legal actions during a press conference held in Camden, at the headquarters of the non-profit community organization Camden Lutheran Housing.
 
In addition to filing eight legal actions, Attorney General Grewal added that his office is restructuring a new unit to bring additional focus to environmental justice issues. The section, to be called the “Environmental Enforcement and Environmental Justice Section,” will repurpose existing resources and hire additional attorneys to bring enforcement actions and promote environmental justice across the state. Attorney General Grewal announced that Kevin Jespersen, who previously served in multiple leadership roles in the AG’s Office – including as Executive Assistant Attorney General and Chief Counsel to the Attorney General – will oversee the Section while the office undertakes a nationwide leadership search.
 
Earlier this year, Attorney General Grewal and Commissioner McCabe announced a “new day” for environmental enforcement in New Jersey, and the lawsuits build on that effort. In August, the State filed six separate lawsuits to recover damages caused by pollution across New Jersey, including the first three “Natural Resource Damages” (or NRD) cases in a decade. As part of the announcement, Attorney General Grewal and Commissioner McCabe vowed to continue this effort, which is likely to include additional lawsuits in the coming months.
 
Online Map Shows Community Water Systems with Lead Fittings
 
A new digital map that highlights which California community water systems have reported the presence of lead pipes and fittings is the latest legislatively-mandated action to target the health risks of lead in drinking water and set a timetable to replace the potentially hazardous hardware.
 
The map uses data from nearly 3,000 community water systems throughout California and places the information on an easy-to-read, color-coded document that is expected to change as testing continues statewide.
 
Community water systems were required by Senate Bill 427 to submit the results of a lead user service line inventory to the State Water Board’s Division of Drinking Water. The deadline was July 1, 2018.
 
A general overview of the first generation of the map shows plenty of good news – many water systems are entirely lead-free, indicated in gray – while also offering plenty of inconclusive information. In fact, upwards of 400 water systems have yet to provide enough complete data to provide an accurate picture of how much lead piping remains in the water supply infrastructure, indicated by large swaths of purple in many parts of the state map.
 
“The good news is that we only have four water systems that report having lead lines,” said Kurt Souza assistant deputy director for drinking water operations in Southern California. He added, another 31 water systems have lead fittings. “The State Water Board doesn’t anticipate seeing much more lead found”, said Kurt Souza, “based on the data reviewed so far.”
 
According to the new map, many of the lead pipes and fittings are in the San Francisco Bay area and Sacramento, much of it installed during World War II and shortly afterward. Lead pipes were banned in the 1980s.
 
California has been addressing the issue in a multitude of ways, including passing legislation requiring testing for lead in the drinking water at schools and, most recently, daycare facilities. The State Water Board is also awarding millions in grants for schools in economically disadvantaged areas to replace lead fixtures or offer alternative ways to access safe drinking water.
 
The data for the new map were collected in a 2017 electronic annual report. Those water systems with lead pipes and fixtures are required to provide the State Water Board with a schedule for replacement by July 1, 2020.
The online map is created in a such a way that any member of the public can click on a specific service area to open a pop-up window that provides inventory data. That way, viewers can glean information about the condition of pipes and fittings within their service area.
 
The law defines the lead hardware as anything that connects the main water line to individual water meters.
 
The map is divided into four categories: 1. Lead in the system, 2. No lead in system, 3. Unknown service lines or material and 4. Incomplete information.
 
Souza said the collected information included plenty of omissions, critical data fields left blank and errors, requiring State Water Board staff to spend months calling many water systems to confirm the data. Over 1000 water systems were considered incomplete following the first download of data. Details will continue to be filled in the coming months and the map will undergo updates to reflect changes.
 
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