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EPA Releases Water Policy Memo for Reducing Nutrient Pollution

EPA has released a new policy memorandum from Radhika Fox, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water, addressed to State Environmental and Agriculture Secretaries, Commissioners, and Directors; and Tribal Environmental and Natural Resource Directors, on “Accelerating Nutrient Pollution Reductions in the Nation’s Waters.” The new memo affirms EPA’s foundational principles and approaches described in previous Office of Water nutrient policy memos, and emphasizes EPA’s key area of focus to accelerate progress in controlling excess nutrients entering our nation’s waters (and drinking water sources). This includes scaling up existing and outcome-based approaches and more broadly deploying new data assessments, tools, financing approaches, and implementation strategies that can maximize the delivery of water quality improvements and other benefits. It provides governing principles and three primary strategies to:

  1. Deepen Collaborative Partnerships with Agriculture
  2. Redouble EPA’s Efforts to Support States, Tribes, and Territories to Achieve Nutrient Pollution; and Reductions from All Sources
  3. Utilize EPA’s Clean Water Act Authorities to Drive Progress, Innovation, and Collaboration

Of interest to state drinking water programs, EPA will use the urgently needed funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to expand its support for the work of partners for priorities that include:

  • Strongly encouraging states and tribes to use a One Water approach and Nutrient Reduction Strategies to deliver a range of water quality benefits including protection of drinking water sources.
  • Publishing a web-based tool to help states and tribes identify federal funding sources to protect drinking water sources and encourage cross-program coordination for shared water quality benefits.
  • Supporting state collaboration with USDA to improve the health of waters including source water protection through the National Water Quality Initiative and other targeted investments through USDA conservation programs.
  • Helping states, territories, and authorized tribes use the CWA Section 319 grant program for projects that help to protect and restore drinking water sources.
  • Providing clear guidance for the State Revolving Funds to outline Office of Water’s expectations for using new authority in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to make grants and provide additional subsidization to address and mitigate the impacts of nutrient pollution in these communities.
  • Working with entities that can help support state adoption and implementation of strategies to better support disadvantaged communities, including the Environmental Council of the States, the Association of Clean Water Administrators, and the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators.

For more information and to read the memo, view the press release and visit the EPA website.