ARCHIVE SITE - Last updated Jan. 19, 2017. Please visit www.NACWA.org for the latest NACWA information.
NACWA sent a joint letter with other national water associations to Congressional appropriations leaders this week calling for robust funding levels for water and wastewater infrastructure. The letter emphasized the large water infrastructure investment gap and the importance of federal funding for communities to deal with these issues. Specifically, the group called on Congress to 1) maintain funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund at $1.45 billion; 2) fund the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund at $1.186 billion; 3) support $50 million for the Department of Interior’s water reuse program; and 4) fully fund the “Water infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act” (WIFIA) at $25 million. With Congressional negotiators now hammering out appropriations packages by December 11 to fund the federal government for remainder of Fiscal Year 2016, the letter serves as timely reminder of the importance of ensuring strong funding for municipal water priorities.
In a related development, NACWA also signed a letter this week urging conferees to the Surface Transportation Reform Reauthorization (STRR) Act to make a critical modification to the WIFIA in the final transportation bill now being negotiated by the House and Senate. As originally passed, the authorization bill for WIFIA includes a provision prohibiting communities from funding water infrastructure projects with a combination of WIFA loans and municipal tax-exempt bonds, which could potentially discourage municipalities from using the WIFIA program. The Senate included a provision to remove this limitation in its proposed STRR package. The joint association letter urges conferees to accept the Senate’s repeal proposal and include the “WIFIA fix” in the final transportation package to ensure additional clean water funding opportunities.
NACWA organized and hosted a meeting this week with a number of municipal, local government, state, and water sector associations to discuss current stormwater issues and coordinate activities to advance the Association’s key stormwater advocacy initiatives. Central to the discussion was EPA’s upcoming Phase II rulemaking proposal that will make changes to the Agency’s regulatory program for small municipal stormwater systems and is expected to be released in December. NACWA and the other associations at the meeting reviewed the new rule’s expected impacts and identified potential areas of mutual collaboration once the proposal is released to ensure that municipal and local government concerns are addressed. The group also discussed recent stormwater legal developments of note. NACWA also used the gathering as an opportunity to promote the Association’s new National Stormwater Advocacy Network.
Groups participating in the meeting were the National Association of Counties (NACo); the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM); the National League of Cities (NLC); the Water Environment Federation (WEF); the Association of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA); the American Public Works Association (APWA); the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS); and the National Association of Flood & Stormwater Management Agencies (NAFSMA). NACWA has been a leader in recent years in ensuring these organizations maintain regular coordination on stormwater issues, beginning over 5 years ago when EPA started to develop the now-deferred national post-construction stormwater rule. The value of coordination cannot be overstated in light of the ever-increasing focus on stormwater management and its impact on all levels of municipal government. NACWA is committed to continued coordination with key stakeholders to help advance the Association’s overall advocacy goals.
Registration is now available for NACWA’s 2016 Winter Conference, Back to Basics . . . Will Compliance Concerns Derail Efforts to Innovate?, February 21 – 24, 2016, at the Westin San Diego. Join us as we explore the increasing regulatory requirements and external drivers that both present compliance challenges and impact the water sector’s ability to move in the direction of the utility of the future. The program will also feature NACWA Committee meetings and our first-ever Smart Utility Forum, a discussion among technology/solution providers and utility managers on the role of ‘big data’ and how real-time decision-making and data analysis can help utilities better address the growing list of requirements they must meet.
Hate choosing between NACWA's Winter Conference and The Utility Management Conference when planning February travel? Problem solved! In 2016, NACWA's Winter Conference and The Utility Management Conference are co-locating in San Diego – providing attendees the ability to benefit from both exceptional offerings and save time and money. Join us for NACWA's Winter Conference, and The Utility Management Conference, February 24 – 27 at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront. We hope to see you there!
Late last week NACWA submitted two nominations to EPA for an expert workshop planned for 2016, which will review the Agency’s work to develop water quality criteria focused on viruses. EPA is targeting the use of coliphage, a type of bacteria that infects viruses, as an indicator for the presence of illness-causing viruses in water. NACWA has been working with the Water Environment Federation (WEF) to raise concerns with EPA regarding implementation challenges, as well as concerns over whether a sufficient link has been demonstrated between coliphage, the pathogens of concern, and risk to public health. EPA is convening the expert workshop in an effort to address these and other concerns.
NACWA nominated Dr. Geeta Rijal, Head of the Analytical Microbiology & Biomonitoring Section at NACWA Member Agency the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, as well as Dr. Charles Gerba, Professor, Microbiology & Environmental Sciences, Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science at the University of Arizona, based on the recommendation of several Member Agencies. NACWA will provide more details about the workshop, including whether it will be open to the public, as soon as they are available.
The Water Sector Coordinating Council (WSCC) and the sector’s Government Coordinating Council (GCC) met this week in Washington, DC, to discuss ongoing and future projects related to security, emergency preparedness, and resilience for drinking water and wastewater utilities. NACWA’s two representatives to the WSCC – Patty Cleveland, Assistant Regional Manager with the Trinity River Authority, Texas, and Chair of the WSCC, and Jim Davidson, Manager of Safety & Security for the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District – both participated in the meeting.
A major topic of discussion was the study of water sector resilience that is being conducted by the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC). The NIAC was formed by President Obama via Executive Order to assess resilience challenges and provide recommended changes across the sixteen core infrastructure sectors. NACWA President Adel Hagekhalil leads the study group that is guiding the development of the water sector report. A NIAC team attended the meeting to gather input from the WSCC and GCC about the water sector’s current state of resilience, as well as what is needed to continue improvement in security (including cybersecurity) and resilience from all hazards. Several members of the WSCC are also participating in the NIAC study group.
International Knowledge-Sharing for Stormwater Resiliency
Guest bloggers Shree Dorestant and Alan Cohn of NACWA Member Agency the New York City Department of Environmental Protection discuss their newly announced knowledge-sharing collaboration with the City of Copenhagen, Denmark on resiliency. Recognizing the opportunity for cities to learn from each other, this agreement to share best practices on various strategies of rainfall retention – as well as models for estimating economic savings of robust stormwater management systems – is the first of its kind for both cities. Read on to learn more about this agreement and what both utilities hope to gain by working together.
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