Water Quality Standards Review (2 positions)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Washington, DC, US


*Applications will be reviewed on a rolling-basis.

Two research opportunities are currently available at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Water (OW), Office of Science and Technology (OST) located in Washington, DC. The Standards and Health Protection Division (SHPD), located in EPA’s Office of Science and Technology (OST) within the Office of Water (OW), directs the national water programs for water quality standards under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

The selected participants will be trained in the Division’s Regional Branch (RB), one of the two Branches in the Division that work on water quality standards. RB assists EPA Regional Offices in reviewing State and Tribal water quality standards submissions, promulgates federal water quality standards for States when necessary, conducts technical and economic analyses in support of achieving water quality standards, and coordinates with the National Branch (NB) in developing policies and procedures.

The goal of this research project is to support the review of State and Tribal water quality standard packages. The research participants will be involved with EPA’s Office of Science and Technology and regional offices in reviewing state and tribal water quality standards submissions, conducting technical and economic analyses in support of achieving water quality standards, and coordinating with the National Branch (NB) in developing policies and procedures. This project will include evaluation of the effectiveness of various technical assistance tools and guidance/policy documents.

The participants will explore the role of water quality standards in achieving the goals of the CWA, and the relationship between standards and related core CWA programs such as the NPDES permit program and the Section 303(d) listing and TMDL programs. The participants will analyze and learn how to evaluate state-developed standards to determine their adequacy in light of CWA requirements. In addition, the participants will develop skills related to applying relevant EPA regulations and guidance documents. These opportunities will provide excellent exposure to: (1) a broad range of water pollution control technical and policy issues; (2) the process of applying technical data and information to policy development; (3) interpretation of statutory and regulatory language and its application to state-specific water quality standards proposals and submissions; and (4) synthesizing technical and policy information for presentation to EPA managers and staff and appropriate stakeholder groups.

The participants will be exposed to decision-making discussions with EPA managers, including opportunities to brief those managers. The participants will also be able to collaborate with EPA employees and managers across a wide range of disciplines and EPA offices. The participants will also hone the skill of communicating complex scientific or technical information to a non-technical audience.

The mentor for this opportunity is Jim Keating ([email protected]).

Anticipated Appointment Start Date: Spring 2020 (flexible)

This program, administered by ORAU through its contract with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to manage the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), was established through an interagency agreement between DOE and EPA. The initial appointment is for one year, but may be renewed upon recommendation of EPA and is contingent on the availability of funds. The participants will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience. The annual stipend will be as follows depending on education level: $47,000 (Bachelor’s), $58,000 (Master’s), and $70,000 (Doctoral). Funding may be made available to reimburse the participant’s travel expenses to travel to workshops, trainings, or conferences related to their research appointment. No funding will be made available to cover travel costs for pre-appointment visits, relocation costs, tuition and fees, or participant’s health insurance. Proof of health insurance is required for participation in this program. The appointment is full-time at EPA in the Washington, DC area. Participants do not become employees of EPA, DOE or the program administrator, and there are no employment-related benefits.