ARCHIVE SITE - Last updated Jan. 19, 2017. Please visit www.NACWA.org for the latest NACWA information.
The EPA’s Office of Enforcement & Compliance Assurance (OECA) finalized the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) e-Reporting Rule yesterday. The final rule requires that NPDES regulated entities provide monitoring information electronically, rather than via paper reports as was done previously. The Agency will implement the requirements in two phases, with Phase I beginning one year after the effective date of the final rule, and Phase II beginning 4 years thereafter. Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs) will need to be electronically filed with EPA, or authorized NPDES programs, within Phase I. Additionally, those permitted under the Federal Biosolids Program will be required to submit their Sewage Sludge/Biosolids Annual Program Reports directly to EPA as part of Phase I. Electronic submission of the remaining reports will begin five years after the effective date of the final rule, in Phase II. These include:
The Association submitted comments on the original proposal, as well as comments on the subsequent supplemental notice in January 2015. NACWA’s comments were based on feedback from Member Agencies affected by these changes. EPA lengthened the overall implementation period in the final rule, heeding NACWA’s comments, which pointed out that the roughly two years originally allotted for complete rule compliance was an overly aggressive timetable and would have put many permittees at risk for non-compliance. The Association is reviewing the complete final rule and will release a more detailed analysis in an Advocacy Alert next week.
The American Water Works Association (AWWA) joined the chorus of opposition this week to controversial legislation involving the Great Lakes, submitting a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee leadership urging removal of Section 428 from the Senate’s FY2016 appropriations package for EPA. AWWA argues that the provision would establish “…a new and immediate standard for treatment of wet weather flows, and by setting a new and immediate deadline for combined sewer overflow abatement, this legislation will undo decades of federal, state, and local government planning, design, and construction.” AWWA goes on it say, “These provisions will throw into upheaval local water infrastructure investment strategies throughout the Great Lakes region.” The letter also makes clear that this proposal would have severe and negative impacts on ratepayers, decreasing opportunities to invest in other priorities like drinking water infrastructure and green infrastructure.
NACWA joined several other water sector associations in requesting that Congress extend the deadline for full implementation of the Positive Train Control (PTC) rule that is scheduled to take effect on December 31. Deliveries of chlorine gas and anhydrous ammonia to water and wastewater utilities could be disrupted, since railroads not in compliance with the PTC will not be able to transport these chemicals, and many railroads have stated that they will not meet the deadline. NACWA and the American Water Works Association (AWWA), Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC), and the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA), sent letters to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation and the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure , requesting that a PTC extension be passed as soon as possible to avoid uncertainty for water utilities that rely on these chemicals for disinfection. The Senate has already overwhelmingly approved a three-year PTC extension as part of the ‘DRIVE Act’. NACWA will notify members if Congress finalizes an extension.
Late last week, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), American Rivers, the Clean Air Council, and local Waterkeeper groups filed four petitions asking EPA to exercise their residual designation authority (RDA) to permit private commercial, industrial, and institutional (CII) sites whose unpermitted stormwater discharges are contributing to violations of water quality standards. The petitions were filed in EPA Region 9 for the Dominguez Channel and Los Cerritos watersheds in Los Angeles, and with EPA Region 3 for Back River watershed in Baltimore and Army Creek watershed in Delaware. The petitions cite the fact that “municipalities bear the brunt of legal requirements to address the impacts of stormwater runoff pollution” under the current regulatory program, but further note it is necessary to manage runoff from areas such as CIIs outside a municipality’s control in order to fully address water quality impairment.
In 2013, these groups filed similar RDA petitions with EPA Regions 1, 3, and 9, which were all denied. NACWA has previously noted that the RDA concept is worthy of additional consideration as a method to better address water quality impairments from unregulated stormwater dischargers, and will closely track developments involving the most recent RDA petitions.
The Association of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA) met with NACWA this week to discuss issues around the Phase II stormwater rulemaking underway at EPA. ACWA members, which include the state water programs that implement surface water protection programs, would be ultimately responsible for implementing any changes to the Phase II program. NACWA and ACWA agreed that both municipal stormwater utilities and state water regulators have significant interest in the rulemaking effort, and that any significant changes to the current regulations could have negative impacts on both utilities and states. The two associations will continue to communicate and coordinate where possible as the rule is proposed this winter.
NACWA recently joined over 100 conservation groups in a letter to House and Senate appropriators urging that critical conservation programs supported through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) receive full funding support in the FY 2016 budget agreement. Programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentive Program, the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program provide resources to help farmers install and maintain conservation practices in order to address crucial conservation issues such as water quality and habitat loss. The proposed FY16 spending packages in both the House and Senate propose cutting these programs, which would slow down conservation progress on private lands. NACWA is committed to preserving these important programs.
NACWA looks forward to seeing many of its Member Agencies in Chicago next week at WEFTEC15. The Association will again collaborate with WEF to convene the Utility Leaders Morning on Tuesday, September 29, in Room S105abc at McCormick Place South. This event will feature the NACWA/WEF Water Policy Breakfast (8:00 am – 9:45 am), which Ken Kopocis, Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water, will keynote. The session will also examine critical issues, including controversial Great Lakes legislation, and feature a question and answer session with key EPA staff. The morning will continue with the WEF/NACWA Utility Executives Forum from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, which will focus on transformational change for water utilities and the sector broadly. The Forum will be keynoted by Jeff Malehorn, President & CEO of World Business Chicago.
Space for the Utility Leaders Morning is limited. Reserve your spot today. For ease of response, we have made the RSVP available for both the Breakfast and Forum. An agenda is available for the NACWA/WEF Water Policy Breakfast.
Correction: Year at a Glance . . . NACWA by the Numbers
This week, discussions on NACWA's online network, Engage™ have included:
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