Clean Water Current - October 2
NACWA released results this week of its analysis on the expected compliance costs related to a Senate proposal that would eliminate combined sewer overflows (CSOs) to the Great Lakes, showing the collective price tag of the proposal would exceed $72 billion for the more than 180 permitted CSO facilities discharging to the Great Lakes. The controversial provision is included in the Senate’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 spending package for the Environmental Protection Agency (Section 428). The $72 billion figure is based on survey responses and a detailed engineering analysis of direct and indirect dischargers to the Great Lakes that would be impacted by the proposal if it were enacted.
The extent to which Great Lakes communities would be negatively impacted by this proposal was also part of a discussion during a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative oversight hearing this week in the House Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee. During a question and answer exchange between Mayor John Dickert of Racine, Wisconsin and Congressman Reid Ribble (R-WI), the Mayor indicated that Racine would face a $700 million price tag – far exceeding what ratepayers could afford to pay and for what the Mayor argued would be a poor return on ratepayer investment. In his testimony, Mayor Dickert referred Committee Members to a joint letter by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities, National Association of Counties and the National Association of Regional Councils submitted for the record explaining why these national municipal organizations are opposed this proposal.
NACWA and its members descended upon the Windy City this week along with more than 20,000 other representatives from the water sector for WEFTEC 2015. With record-setting attendance, the committee meetings, technical sessions and special events in Chicago were well-attended and featured discussions of the top clean water issues and utility innovations.
Water Policy Breakfast and Release of UOTF Annual Report
NACWA continued its tradition of holding a special policy discussion during WEFTEC with Tuesday’s joint NACWA/Water Environment Federation (WEF) Water Policy Breakfast. Nearly 150 NACWA and WEF members gathered for an excellent discussion on the challenges facing the Great Lakes, in particular the current legislative proposal on overflows and blending that would impose additional costs in excess of $72 billion on Great Lakes’ communities. Collaboration was a major theme of the breakfast, including mention of the coalition of organizations mounting an effort to defeat the Great Lakes legislation and discussion of the broader collaborative efforts between NACWA and WEF among the top staff and elected officers from both organizations. Ken Kopocis, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water at EPA, also provided an overview of his office’s priorities and a number of other senior EPA officials were on hand for the dialogue. NACWA is pleased to partner with WEF on this important event.
Highlighting the water sector’s collaborative efforts, NACWA’s CEO Adam Krantz announced at the start of the breakfast the official release of the 2015 Water Resources Utility of the Future Annual Report . The report provides an update on developments in the utility of the future (UOTF) arena since the original UOTF Blueprint was released in 2013. The document also highlights an emerging understanding that clean water utilities often do not act alone, but instead are a critical component of an "innovation ecosystem" comprised of technology developers, consulting engineers and scientists, state and local government, the finance community and a wide range of professional organizations that represent the clean water sector. The Annual Report provides greater insight into how each of these stakeholders is contributing to the increasingly widespread adoption of UOTF practices and approaches.
Also at WEFTEC
NACWA Member Agency representatives participated in countless events during WEFTEC and provided presentations during technical sessions on topics ranging from the Utility of the Future to bacteriophage.
The Operation’s Challenge was again a highlight of WEFTEC and NACWA extends its congratulations to all the winning teams, including those fielded by NACWA Member Agencies who placed in the top three in their divisions: Trinity River Authority; Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County; Littleton-Englewood Wastewater Treatment Plant; and Renewable Water Resources.
This week, the Associated Press (AP) released two segments of a multi-part series of stories focused on challenges facing cities and water and wastewater utilities. The series will examine issues including drought in the West, wet weather concerns, and the challenges from aging infrastructure. The articles released thus far have largely addressed drinking water. Since the AP is owned by contributing newspapers, radio, and television stations all across the country, which regularly use material written by AP staff journalists, the stories have gotten widespread publication. NACWA anticipates that subsequent stories will also address wastewater issues.
NACWA filed pre-proposal comments with EPA this week on the upcoming rulemaking that will make changes to the Phase II municipal stormwater program. The Association noted that the proposal should be as narrowly tailored as possible and should not attempt to define the “maximum extent practicable” (MEP) standard for municipal stormwater dischargers. NACWA also encouraged EPA to ensure that any changes to the Phase II program do not significantly change the current Phase II regulations or impose additional administrative burdens on the municipal stormwater community.
The Agency recently entered a settlement agreement with environmental activist groups establishing a schedule for the rulemaking, which includes a deadline of December 17, 2015 for a proposed rule and November 17, 2016 for a final rule. NACWA will continue to engage with EPA, and welcomes any member feedback that will inform their response during the public comment period on the proposed rule.
There are only 10 days left to secure your hotel reservations for the 2015 National Clean Water Law Seminar, November 4 – 6, 2015 in Henderson, Nevada. NACWA’s Law Seminar is the only conference of its kind focused specifically on the legal and regulatory challenges facing the municipal clean water community – with an agenda designed to benefit both lawyers and non-lawyers alike. Panel discussions, roundtables and presentations on negotiating permits, enforcement, integrated planning, affordability, and stormwater management are also planned. In addition, the program will feature several new topics including: The Era of Big Data: Opportunities & Legal Considerations; Stealth Regulation: A Mountain or a Molehill?; Get Off My Lawn! The Role of Clean Water Utilities on Private Property; and Empowering Innovation: The Role of Clean Water Lawyers in Advancing the Utility of the Future. There’s plenty here to help you better understand these challenges and stay ahead of the curve.
Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits will be available, including ethics credits. CLE information is now available and will be updated as more approvals are received. Registration information, an agenda and additional details are also available. Contact the Westin Lake Las Vegas to reserve your room and register for the Seminar today. Hotel reservations must be made by Monday, October 12th to receive the discounted conference rate of $155 single/double, plus applicable taxes, while rooms are available.
Wastewater Associations and Wipes Manufacturers Discuss Flushability Guidelines Development Continues
Discussion continued this week on updating the guidelines for determining if a wipe can be labeled and marketed as safe to flush. NACWA, the Water Environment Federation (WEF), the American Public Works Association (APWA), the Canadian Water & Wastewater Association (CWWA), and INDA (the trade association of the nonwoven fabrics industry) are updating the current industry flushability guidelines, with a focus on making the testing protocol protective of real sewer conditions. NACWA’s representative to the workgroup, Frank Dick, Industrial Pretreatment Coordinator for the City of Vancouver Department of Public Works in Washington state and Vice Chair of NACWA’s Pretreatment & Pollution Prevention Committee, participated in the meeting. This effort is partially supported by NACWA’s Targeted Action Fund (TAF). The new guidelines should be completed by June 2016.
The associations are also planning to review and potentially revise the Code of Practice (COP) of the wipes industry that specifies how non-flushable wipes should be labeled. The wastewater associations would like to see more prominent “do not flush” labeling on baby wipes, cleaning wipes, and other high-strength wipes that should not be flushed. An updated COP is expected in early 2016.
Words of Wisdom from a Law Seminar Fan
This week’s blog from our own Amanda Waters discusses our 2015 National Clean Water Law Seminar and gives you four reasons why you should attend – and they are not the traditional ones. What are they? Read on to find out more – or better yet, subscribe to The Water Voice and never miss a post!
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